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petrucci
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Hi! I am new to the forum and will be here some time. Like everyone i have questions and i think this is a right place to discuss them.

I am learning Bel canto, going into musical school etc. I am a tenor but i cannot sing high notes. I sang them twice, b1 flat but i dont know how i did that. Some ppl tell me that i think too much. Usually after i hit e1 or f1 i began to sqeeze my soft palate and my throat which is painful. My teacher just say me you are not singing from your diaphragm! :\ I dont know if i am singing from diaphragm or not. I dont want to learn singing in nose| mask. One of advices my teacher give me is that i close my nose with my fingers and the sound must not go in nose etc. The problem is i dont know the feeling of high notes. I dont know the soung of my high notes so i dont know in which direction should i go. I am so obsessive about high register. Last question i dont know what is head voice.

I need some concrete advice, something i can do right now.

Sorry for my bad English.

Thank you.

p.s. What program should i use if i want to upload my singing so you can hear me?

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For file sharing, I use dropbox. Others use box. Those are relatively foolproof systems to share your sound files on. And a song that you can upload will have a link that you can use here.

Also, a tenor sings, generally from C3 to C5, with variations, of course. So your subscript of 1 would be the wrong octave and so I assume that are meaning E4 or F4, instead of E1 or F1.

And if you don't want to sing into the mask, using nasal resonance, then you won't be able to sing. Using the sinus cavities for resonance does not make a nasal sound. Plugging your nose off does. In fact, even when you speak, you are using some nasal resonance.

As for head voice, it's all in the head, even low notes. But specifically, head voice is opening the resonating cavities in the head to resonate the higher notes.

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http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40418061/A04-09-11_17.32.wma

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40418061/A04-09-11_17.30.wma

Here are two shameful examples of me singing high. Please give me some useful youtube links. Because i still dont understand head voice. :\

And when i sing like this i amoust feel my voice chords. :\

I dont know how to relax soft palate and throat. :\

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You must be using the system where C0 is middle C, common in europe. Most of us on this forum use the system based on the 88 note piano octaves. We are used to middle C being C4 and high tenor C being C5.

Singing through the passagio up into the head voice can be a difficult thing to learn even for tenors. I don't want to bash any teachers, but I'm a tenor too, and when I was taking lessons at the university level, I couldn't sing tenor high C either. In fact just getting up to high A was pretty difficult. Now I'm able to sing up to high Soprano C every day. High Tenor C is easy me now. And I'm using standard Bel Canto technique. I learned how to sing up to tenor C and beyond in a relatively short amount of time. It helps to learn from someone that can demonstrate how to do this. I can sing tenor Arias now that I never dreampt of being possible back when I was actually taking lessons.

The trick is vowel modifications and learning how to thin the folds as you go up. There are a lot of different explanations of what head voice and chest voice is, but the one that make most sense to me is the one that says head voice is when the CT muscle is dominant rather than the TA muscle. We all need to start modifying the vowels at around E4. But the point at which CT becomes dominant changes - tenors like me make this change around A4. If you don't modify the vowels by changing or tuning the formants in your vocal tract, you can experience pain and it can be harmful. That's one part. The other is the acheiving a seamless blending into head voice which requires a subtle backing off of the TA as you go up. If you go up and reach a point where your voice "breaks" it is because the TA - at full strength - can only go so high. You've got to learn how to relax it gradually. That is the tricky coordination part - and this take a lot of practice - the right kind of practice. Most teachers won't even talk about this so as not to "confuse" the student. I just like to know the reasons for things.

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Ok I have soooo many questions! Can you explane me what is CT and TA muscle? :) And modifying a vowels into "ee", "o", or which vowel? :)

Vocal tract is if i understand tongue and soft palate?

How do you practice if i can ask, i rely dont know what to practice when a do a vocal exercise?

The main question, how to see what i do inside from the outside? example how to see soft palate moving on the mirror?

I dont know any tenor for now who can show me because in my school there are only female teachers. :\

Please give me advice and tell me how to practice and what to think on while practice.

What do you think classical piano or keyboards is better for practicing because of different sound?

Thank you!

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Here is a link to a thread I posted a while back on head voice, the TA and CT muscles. Check the links that I have in this post:

http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?id=2568

You can also look up "head voice" and "chest voice" in wikipedia - it has some great explanations and animation.

TA is the muscle in the vocal fold itself. When activated it make the folds thicker, and you get deeper vibrations in the folds which give you get a "chesty" tone because of the more complex wave form that it produces. In head voice, CT stretches the folds for higher pitches. Generally the folds start to thin and the TA has to let go. But if it lets go abruptly, your voice cracks into head voice or falsetto. The head voice wave form is more simple than chest because the vibrations are not as deep. You get more of a "flute like" tone. A flute produces mainly the fundamental tone, and less overtones - same with head voice.

Back to the TA - the seamless transition between chest and head requires a very gradual reduction in TA handing over dominance to CT gradually. Some people can naturally do this. Others, like me, have to learn how. For me this is the most difficult thing in singing, next to vowel modifications. Vowel mods come first and are essential for this to happen.

Personally - I learned how to sing really high using the KTVA dvds. With the first dvd it took me only a few weeks to break into the soprano range. I recommend this program. Of course this is Robert Lunte's forum and he also has instructional dvd's that are great too. There are a lot of programs out there.

Here is a link to Tony's VocalPower videos which are also excellent, and free. He demonstrates how to sing high. http://www.vocalpower.co.uk/Videos.php

The vowel mods are often compared to the sensation of "crying". What you are doing is changing the 1st formant to align with the harmonics as the pitch goes higher (starting at E4 or you would say E0). Some people describe this feeling as "yawning". The "ah" vowel modifies to "uh", the "ee" vowel modifies to "eh", etc. Tony talks about the applying the "tilt". This tilting takes place when CT becomes dominant and starts stretching the folds.

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Pettruci - I checked out your clips. They don't sound bad. On the second one at the very top - Bb4 is where you break into head. It's not bad, but it sounds like you are waivering. This is the critical spot where your CT is taking over, and you are maintaining TA so that's good. This is the very tricky area where you need constant breath support. In general your clips are showing what people call "pulling chest" which is maintaining thick folds as you go up. You need to learn how to thin the folds (reduce TA) as you go up, so you can seamlessly transition into head. The other thing I noticed is that you don't seem to be modifying the vowels yet. Once you learn this it will make the transition to head much easier.

The whole coordination between TA and CT at Bb4 takes a lot of practice and muscle memory, and a little muscle building as you have to get used to a different ratio between TA and CT than you are used to. Some people recommend learning this transition singing very lightly. I didn't - I learned with more of a full strength (like what you are doing), and lately I've been working on lighter phonation through this area. Learning the lighter phonation through this area has a lot of advantages.

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That all very helpful! Thank you! I will try to analyze what you wrote, and will learn it. Will post response in a few days. Till then i will practice!

P.S. The clip where i sing higher is the clip where i was in agony while singing. I was "pushing" my tone. When i do it like that it hurts. :) Must learn now what you wrote.

Thank you! :)

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Geno is right. In that second clip, Petrucci, drive that with a little more air and a little less worry about compressing the folds. It's going to feel light and you may think it's girly but it won't be. This is part of thinning the mass of the involvement of the vocal folds as you sing a higher pitch.

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Agree with the pointers, but perhaps not two of them, unless I'm misunderstanding you guys.

Geno, vowel modification is not the same thing as crying/applying the "hold", because you can f.ex. sing I, O and Uh, which are common vowel modifications in the passagio, without any cry at all.

And Ronws, sometimes guys here recommend driving MORE air, which I don't really get, because, in fact, using LESS air is probably THE most important thing for singers. Using more air on high notes is like blowtorching your vocal cords. They are small and can't handle too much air. And the higher you go up in pitch, the less air your should use, to the point of holding back your breath almost completely. The old opera way was to sing in front of a candle and not let the flame flicker or put it out. That's how little air you need. Perhaps you meant it in a different way, but I think that the common guy out there will read that and think that he needs to be breathier than he already is. Breathy = bad, when it comes to high, powerful notes.

Ron has a good point, when he said that it's gonna feel light. Quite often it can be helpful for singers to just improvise random melodies and words on high notes with extremely low volume and a relaxed throat - then very gradually put slightly more volume on top of it. However, never increase the volume so much that your throat hurts.

My first thought is that you would benefit from a better vocal coach, btw.

And the usual disclaimer, I don't mean to take a shot at Ron, or Geno. I'm just a boy whose intensions are good, please don't let me be misunderstood.

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Well, jonpall, I was trying to not describe everything in Anthony Frisell terms. But his term is called intensified stream of air. There are people that might generate enough air pressure for speaking, maybe, and certainly not enough for singing. Sometimes, they don't generate enough pressure for speaking a whole sentence, or adduct enough, that would be another thing. People that mumble and their sentences trail off.

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Geno, vowel modification is not the same thing as crying/applying the "hold", because you can f.ex. sing I, O and Uh, which are common vowel modifications in the passagio, without any cry at all.

jonpall - You're right - some vowels seem to have the formant tuning "built-in" and it is why you change from one vowel to another. Each vowel has different formants. When people say "cry" they don't always mean the CVT definition of "Cry/hold". Tony is coming from Bel Canto not CVT and calls it cry. Seth Riggs calls it the cry. They are not from CVT but what they teach is totally consistent with Bel Canto. Tamplin doesn't call it cry, but it is still the same thing. The configuration they are teaching modifies the sound of vowels from "spoken" vowels by adjusting the back of the throat to align the first formant to the harmonics.

I always remember this video from the professional opera singer Søren Lillkung who describes CVT in terms of Bel Canto. He basically confirms that Curbing (cry/hold) is what Bel Canto uses through the passagio. This guy is a master of Bel Canto - and this video is great for people coming from Bel Canto and wanting to learn or understand CVT.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrJT5vf7w50

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Hi! I am new to the forum and will be here some time. Like everyone i have questions and i think this is a right place to discuss them.

I am learning Bel canto, going into musical school etc. I am a tenor but i cannot sing high notes. I sang them twice, b1 flat but i dont know how i did that. Some ppl tell me that i think too much. Usually after i hit e1 or f1 i began to sqeeze my soft palate and my throat which is painful. My teacher just say me you are not singing from your diaphragm! :\ I dont know if i am singing from diaphragm or not. I dont want to learn singing in nose| mask. One of advices my teacher give me is that i close my nose with my fingers and the sound must not go in nose etc. The problem is i dont know the feeling of high notes. I dont know the soung of my high notes so i dont know in which direction should i go. I am so obsessive about high register. Last question i dont know what is head voice.

I need some concrete advice, something i can do right now.

Hi, Petrucci! Welcome to the TMV Forum.

Your post has raised some curiosities for me. If you would be so kind as to let us know:

How old are you?

How long have you been studying 'Bel Canto'?

As others have responded already, there are a number of techniques that can be used to address your situation. Reading your fourth sentence above... ' Usually after i hit e1 or f1 i began to sqeeze my soft palate and my throat which is painful...' gives me the impression that you have some of the very common challenges of all male singers, not just Tenors... singing the notes around middle C too heavily, needing to smooth them out and connect the lower and higher sections of your voice together. If this connection is not made well, then the higher ranges will always be tense and your range limited.

In my opinion, this is something that your teacher should be working with you. I think its not enough for a teacher to say that you are 'not singing from your diaphragm'. Your teacher should be teaching you how to do it, so ask them for some help.

I will let you work that out with your teacher. Meanwhile, here is a specific exercise that you can easily do which incorporates the principles undergirding the ideas that guitartrek and ronws have been describing... which helps stimulate diaphragm engagment during the sung tone, promotes the stretching/thinning of the vocal bands.

the two-octave siren sung slowly while laying on your back.

Its pretty easily done. You use a little stack of books, or other flat weight, about 2 lbs (1Kg) as a prop. Lay down on your back, on any comfortable couch, or even the floor, and use a small pillow for your head. Bend your knees to the point that your feet are flat on the couch or floor. Representing this with a little stick-figure drawing, head on the right, your body will now be in a position somewhat like _/\___o .

Take the books or weight, and put them on your abdomen so that they fit in the area between your navel and the bottom of your sternum, when diagrammed, like this _/\_=_o The = represents the little stack of books.

That gets you into position. Now, here is the exercise.

Step 1: Put your hands on the cover of the top book, so that you can feel the motion of the books as you breathe and sing. Relax all the muscles in your body you can, and take several slow, low breaths with your throat open. By 'low', I mean so that you can feel the books rise upward as you inhale, and that they lower as you exhale. Do this for however long it takes so that the books go up and down with the breath without much thinking.

Step 2: Take a normal inhalation, and at the end of it, prevent the exhalation from happening by continuing to inhale very gently for about 10 seconds... so that the books stay absolutely stationary, not going up or down. Relax to exhale. Repeat this a few times until you get familiar with the sensation of balance at the end of the inhale, the point where the books have been raised, but have not yet begun to lower.

Step 3: Add to the end of one of the step 2 inhalations, with the books raised, say a long, slow S consonant (as in the Italian word 'si', English: 'see' ) for about 15 seconds. Repeat a few times. The idea is to do two things at 1 time: make the consonant while keeping the books from falling rapidly. Be patient with yourself if this is initially challenging. Repeat this a few times until you get the idea.

Step 4: Change the S sound to a Z sound, as in the Italian word 'uso' (English: 'use'), as softly as you can make it, low in your range. Sustain the consonant for 10-15 seconds if you can. Thinking of keeping the books raised as you do so will help.

Step 5: Add the siren. During the pronunciation of the sustained Z sound, slide the pitch upward slowly and smoothly, keeping the Z soft and steady. Don't worry about how high into your range you go at the moment. The goal of this exercise is to learn the sensations of this kind of phonation... with the slow exhalation. Repeat this siren for about 20 minutes, and as you gain familiarity with it, you can siren more rapidly and higher into your range, but you should not let it get too loud for now.

As practice, repeat this 5-step series each day for 2 weeks. The whole exercise takes about 1/2 hour. At the end of two weeks you will have become familiar with these new sensations, of the sirened pronunciation of the Z using very little air. At that point, you can shorten the exercise to just steps 3-5, and then perform them without the books, standing, but with your two hands lightly touching your abdomen where the books were. Done correctly, the area stays expanded, as if you were still lifting the books... without the books :-)

Overall, it will likely take 6-8 weeks of use of this exercise for these sensations to become so familiar that you can achieve it automatically and repeatably without much thought. Even before that, in week 3 or 4, you will have enough familiarity to use that sense of expansion for the notes around middle C, where I think you will find greatly reduced constriction.

I hope this helps. Let us know.

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Well, jonpall, I was trying to not describe everything in Anthony Frisell terms. But his term is called intensified stream of air. There are people that might generate enough air pressure for speaking, maybe, and certainly not enough for singing. Sometimes, they don't generate enough pressure for speaking a whole sentence, or adduct enough, that would be another thing. People that mumble and their sentences trail off.

Cool, now I understand. Thanks for clarifying that.

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I dont know what to say, i didnt know that there is a place where people share this kind of information for free! Realy thank you all. Steven Fraser ill let you know how progress is going, for now this practice look realy promising! I m 21y old and i am learning bel canto 3 full years, and once i made to b4 flat and i rely dont know what happened but it didnt hurt at all, i was trying to yawn all the time and tried to imitate Roberto Alagna. So i know i can sing the high notes but my professor think that you dont have to know everything you just have to do it and she says that i am not relaxed and that is the main problem for me. I tried to relax, and tried to yawn and to lower larynx and everything but i just push to much. I just dont know what you mean by "siren" do you mean singing like siren with my mouth closed? :)

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Ok, now i have another question. :) When i try to move up soft palate and to move my tongue down i cant sing high notes and more i practice it is more complicated. But when i dont practice some periond and try to sing high notes it is a lot easier. The position is there, and i think it is because i just relax tongue, throat and soft palate and the tone finds its natural path. It is not in the nose but on some place on hard palate. When i manage to relax my larynx go down and my soft palate up by itself, without effort. Is it possible that i just think too much and that i am not relaxed?

Something about psychology of singing. I think i am afraid of high notes and that my voice will crack. So when i go up i push and think that i need more air and it is not good thing. But when i try to sing, and to feel like i am speaking i dont push tone and i see what i am doing wrong.

Is pushing tone psychological state thing or good or bad technique?

When i listen Adam Lambert i totally demoralize myself because he is so young and sing high C so easy... :|

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petrucci: my responses interspersed.

Ok, now i have another question. :) When i try to move up soft palate and to move my tongue down i cant sing high notes and more i practice it is more complicated. But when i dont practice some periond and try to sing high notes it is a lot easier. The position is there, and i think it is because i just relax tongue, throat and soft palate and the tone finds its natural path. It is not in the nose but on some place on hard palate. When i manage to relax my larynx go down and my soft palate up by itself, without effort. Is it possible that i just think too much and that i am not relaxed?

Yes. Establishing some release/relaxation in the throat is a very good thing. Sometimes, we just care to much ... get overly concerned/worried. That gets in the way of finding the vocal freedom.

Something about psychology of singing. I think i am afraid of high notes and that my voice will crack. So when i go up i push and think that i need more air and it is not good thing. But when i try to sing, and to feel like i am speaking i dont push tone and i see what i am doing wrong

Is pushing tone psychological state thing or good or bad technique?

In my experience, its a bit of a viscious cycle, one that must be escaped... there are variations, but it goes something like this:

The intelligent, energetic young male (age 13-15 or so) experiences vocal instability while speaking, and so raises the muscular force of exhalation and of laryngeal adjustment to keep things from cracking. This is a kind of 'overspeaking'... (too-thick fold phonation), and becomes a familiar habit in just a few months: It works for speaking, and for singing in the lower and lower-middle range, but attempts to maintain that sense of security while ascending higher will cause the situation to be compounded... getting worse the higher the singer goes until the limit is reached, and a crack can no longer be avoided.

There are tried-and-true ways to stop this, but they all have at their basis the re-establishment of balanced muscle action for exhalation and at the level of the larynx. While it seems funny to put it this way, the most direct manner to accomplish it is itself indirect, via the use of concepts which provoke gentler muscle action within the body, posture which reduces the effect of gravity on the force of exhalation, and which overall sets up the circumstances in which a less-muscular vocal band adjustment can occur. I like to combine these with body positions and exercises that help the singer to learn the new sensations without tying them up in a knot. Relax, chill, breathe.....

Psychologically and technically, this work can be challenging. It takes dedication and persistence to replace a familiar vocal habit with an unfamiliar one, but the guidance that Forum members have provided will get you there.

Very, very many male voices have this same situation. Do not feel alone in it. It is the very rare male singer who gets to age 18 without this issue to one degree or another, and many guys on this Forum have done it themselves.

When i listen Adam Lambert i totally demoralize myself because he is so young and sing high C so easy... :|

What you do not see is the hours and hours of practice and coaching that Adam has had to get to this point. He has been preparing since he was 10. He was born in 1982, so next January, he will be 30. He has a 20 year head start on you.

Who knows what YOU will be able to accomplish by the time you are his age. ;)

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Thank you. Your words give me hope because i spent so many months thinking what is the problem and when i hear that i am right that my larynx is not in the relaxed position it feels good! Ill keep on posting and reading the stuff i can find here on forum. Will post how i sing again in some time to tell me if i am better, and if my work was good.

Best wishes!

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