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Tips on extending vocal range, and how to achieve this kind of sound..

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Goggalor90
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So to start, I'm a bass, with a range of D2-G4(The G is still a bit shouty, I must confess). I've been trying to break into the A's for over a year now, but no luck. If I shout at the top of my lungs, yeah, I can hit an Ab4, but that's awful technique and sounds awful to boot. As for the type of sound I want, I absolutely love the way this man hits the A at the end. It almost sounds like straight chest, and has a resonant, full sound to it:

I know how to achieve that sound on the lower notes, from C4-F4, but carrying that up to an A is my dream.

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You might need more twang, more support and more relaxed throat.

I'm not sure what you mean about twang, but I agree, I need more breath support and I need to relax, otherwise I'm going to kill my voice. The highest I can go before I have to push and strain is E4, otherwise from there I find myself needing to almost belt, which again, is poor technique and probably doesn't sound the greatest either.

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I would if I had a mic, but unfortunately I don't :(. Also, I have no problems(don't confuse this as being arrogant or me saying I'm a great singer) around the A3 range, I don't even have to try until I get to the E4 as I said. It's just once I get beyond that, I feel the urge to tense up, which is exactly what you don't want to do as I've been told. Once I get to F4-G4, I tense up and try to belt and power through, which is bad technique, I know. I'd say my modal voice lies somewhere between F3-A3, just judging by trying to sing a note with no pitch alteration, just my natural voice. I don't know if I would consider myself a true bass as my lowest note is a D2, I'm probably more of a low baritone currently.

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Don't work on the notes you can't hit... you'll never get them by forcing it. Work on the notes you CAN hit, and specifically the few pitches encircling what you consider your easiest note/notes. If you're having problems in the A4 area, my guess is that the root of your problem exists as low as A3.

As in don't work on ones that you literally can't physically reach? I guess that makes sense, and would explain why I haven't been able to touch the A after years of trying. It's probably just not within the physical limits of my vocal folds. I think if I get a teacher, I'm just going to work on controlling the F and G natural. I mean I don't know a ton about music theory, but would D2-G4 be a decent range for a bass?(I realize it's not about range, but how you use it, and plan on working on all aspects of singing if I get a teacher, just asking).

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Here's my take - those notes ARE within the limits of your vocal folds, but you have other habits you need to develop and ingrain before you can let the folds live up to their potential.

My guess is your F and G natural are jacked too... take a big step back, brother, and get ready to reevaluate your whole voice. Start down around A3 and practice singing things REALLY lightly, as though you were a tenor. You're probably fooling yourself into thinking you're "bassier" than you really are, cuz you're trying to sing in something that's too similar to your speaking voice. That's just my guess.

Starting in on this business, you'd better be ready for some Sisyphus shit - a real existential challenge. You'll suffer for years and you'll realize again and again how pointless and hopeless it all is, but it's important to keep pushing that rock homie! Even if for no other reason than the fact that it's your rock.

Edit: just read that thing saying your A3 is effortless... just pick a note like a major third below your first strained note, I guess. I'm not a teacher or anything, but it's always been my experience that the problem exists WAY lower than you think it does.

I respect that, and I agree, I'm not as deep of a bass as I once was. I used to be able to comfortable sing a C2, but now I struggle to get any volume out of an E2 as my voice has developed and I've aged. I wouldn't say my F and G are absolutely awful, but I agree, they really need some work and proper technique. I need to loosen up and learn proper breath support. I have a lot of vocal weight as well, if that helps you get a picture of my voice any better without recordings(probably doesn't, but ah well). I can sing lightly, but it takes a lot of effort(I don't know if this is because of lack of practicing, or if my voice is just naturally heavy, which is what I've always been told and what I hear when I sing). I notice, and I've heard this is bad, that when I use my upper range, I use my diaphragm a lot and use more volume, which on top of being bad technique, throws off my consistency, instead of just using forward placement and breath support(if I do this, I can't get above C4). I think I'm just trying to be more than I am right now. I've always believed that ego only gets in the way of progress, but I'll be damned if it isn't tough facing the facts.

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Smart man, I'm sure you'll go far. One thing that stood out to me - it does take a lot of support to sing in a full bodied, totally blended classical voice at an extremely low volume, but if you can't just sing softly in a normal "lullaby voice"... like a layperson would, just soft and relaxed, even a little breathy... then my guess is that you need a few days rest. It's not a big deal, so don't be afraid of nodes or anything just yet... just happens sometimes.

Oh, I mean I can do that, just not past the D4 really. I suppose if I learn to control those notes at a lower volume, it'll be easier in the future to sing them in a more full voice. I've only received a small bit of formal training, otherwise the rest I've gotten from listening to other singers and working on range, diction, and mouth placement and things. Of course that can only take you so far, so I think getting a teacher would be the best route.

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What you are describing is extremely common on those exact notes. You need to start modifying your vocal tract from E4 on up to G4. The way we speak vowels works well for the normal chest voice range - all the vowels we speak are "designed" for chest voice. When going higher, the vowels need to modify. It comes naturally to some people, but most of us have to learn how. The other thing is that we have to start handing over pitch control to the CT muscle (from the TA muscle that is used for chest) - the CT starts tilting the thyroid and stretching the folds - thinning them out. If you don't do this, and stay with TA dominant pitch control, you'll carry too too much weight as your folds are too thick. It becomes a barrier to going higher. So in summary - you need to start modifying the vowels and thinning the folds.

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Starting in on this business, you'd better be ready for some Sisyphus shit - a real existential challenge. You'll suffer for years and you'll realize again and again how pointless and hopeless it all is, but it's important to keep pushing that rock homie! Even if for no other reason than the fact that it's your rock.

Jesus raphaels...I need some of what you havin'. Nice!

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It's probably just not within the physical limits of my vocal folds.

It IS within the limits of your vocal folds. With good technique you might find yourself working on A5 someday in the not so far future. The challenge is you (believe you) have a deep voice, and deep voices have a harder time with the necessary thinning that must occur while going higher.

But man, modal voice in the F3+ range is definitely not where I would expect a bass to be :p

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It IS within the limits of your vocal folds. With good technique you might find yourself working on A5 someday in the not so far future. The challenge is you (believe you) have a deep voice, and deep voices have a harder time with the necessary thinning that must occur while going higher.

Right on! Yes - you can sing as high as females if you want. (this is often hard to believe, especially if you haven't learned how yet) It doesn't matter what voice type you have, males and females have the same upper range potential.

It takes the right kind of practicing to expand your range. If not done correctly it can be harmful. But once you unlock your head voice (not falsetto) you'll be able to add an octave to your range pretty rapidly. The transition from chest to head is called "passagio". Traversing the passagio is the trickiest thing to learn (for most of us).

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Goggalator90: Welcome to the forum. Its great to see another bass here!

While G4 is a good top for a bass, I agree with the other posters that there is more, and you won't know how much more until you get over the 'con belto' approch to the notes from middle C up.

I am in complete agreement with the other posters... the passaggio transition is more difficult for bass, but for all of us (male) singers we have more or less the same challenge.. to learn to lighten the registration... letting the vocal folds lengthen/thin without losing the connection to the rest of the voice.

One reason we may face this mutual challenge is the acoustics of the male voice. Depending on voice type, there is a resonance 'sweet spot' at the top of the upper middle voice where the alignment of the 2nd harmonic and the first vowel resonance is perfect. This alignment makes it very easy to oversing without paying a price for it. However, in the notes right above, this alignment is lost and the voice experiences loss of resonance, and growing strain. To compensate, the enthusiastic male singer almost always tries to sustain the earlier production, rather than let it gradually change to a laryngeal configuration and vowel formation appropriate for the higher range.

There are many exercises you can use to help in this process. A forum search on the word 'passaggio' will take you to many discussions we have had on the topic in the past years. You will find many useful perspectives and suggestions, some of them mine.

Speaking for myself as a lyric bass, the lower end of the passaggio is found at lower notes than for the baritone and tenor, whose entry points are increasingly higher. Of all the vowels, those with the lowest entry points (the place where the 2nd harmonic rises above the 1st resonance (aka the 1st Formant, or F1) are /i/ and /u/ (ee and oo). You can find where your passaggio begins for these vowels using a siren... a vocal slide... beginning on A2, the A a bit more than an octave below middle C. Begin the /i/ on that note, comfortable volume, and glissando (slide) your fundamental slowly up to A3, the A below middle C, keeping the vowel and volume easy and constant.

Right in the middle of that slide, you will find a note that feels and sounds really resonant and easy. That is the note just below the lower end of the passaggio for /i/ in your voice. As you continue to slide upward, you will likely feel a reduction in resonance, and somewhat greater effort is being provoked in you to retain volume. You are in the passaggio for /i/. The key here is to not force, but to shift the vowel ever so slightly toward /I/ (ih) for a few notes. The vowel change will immediately change the resonance profile, and you will feel the easyness return.

You can transpose this exercise up by semitones. In each case, be sensitive to that place where the vowel change is made. When you get to middle C and the notes immediately above it, I think you will experience a sense of ease that you will enjoy.

The purpose of this siren is to learn the sensations of a lightened registration without having to 'sing lighter'. If you do the exercise as described, the lightening will happen all on its own. Its the beginning of the re-tooling... not the end result.

Also very useful will be the prior posts (elsewhere in the forum) about the benefits of using semi-occluded voiced consonant sirens.

I hope you find this helpful.

(BTW: the 'hanger' A on the barbershop arrangement is not the bass... its the lead. He is singing a vowel shade of eh that works perfectly in his voice for that note.)

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Geno,

These are pretty good! I think what might be also useful is a diagram that shows, by voice type, the passaggio regions for each vowel. I am pretty sure that Berton Coffin figured all that out, and published it in 'Overtones of Bel Canto'. I will look it up and see if its workable to diagram.

In my own voice, the first formant for /i/ is on the E above middle C, so my passaggio starts just above the E below that. For a deeper bass, it will be shifted even lower than that, perhaps a whole step or minor 3rd.

Training on /i/ and /u/ in that region acquaints the singer with the laryngeal sensations which occur when strong resonance is not present.

I hope this is helpful.

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Yes - A diagram for each voice would be cool. The other thing I wanted to diagram is how the F1 and F2 change with each vowel as they start modifying. So the Vowel Formant Chart is based on normal speaking pitches, or chest voice. But these frequencies start to change when modifying the vowels. Is it just F1 that changes, and F2 stays? And what frequencies do they change too? And at what fundamental does each vowel need to start changing? I'd love to chart that out, but I don't know the answers.

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Yes - A diagram for each voice would be cool. The other thing I wanted to diagram is how the F1 and F2 change with each vowel as they start modifying. So the Vowel Formant Chart is based on normal speaking pitches, or chest voice. But these frequencies start to change when modifying the vowels. Is it just F1 that changes, and F2 stays? And what frequencies do they change too? And at what fundamental does each vowel need to start changing? I'd love to chart that out, but I don't know the answers.

Gino: There are lots of moving parts in this consideration. Lets start a new thread to use as a collection-place.

Both F1 and F2 move in vowel modification, and the point in the scale at which modification is begun varies vowel-by-vowel.

It should be fun to figure out a way to put all this together.

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Goggalator90: Welcome to the forum. Its great to see another bass here!

While G4 is a good top for a bass, I agree with the other posters that there is more, and you won't know how much more until you get over the 'con belto' approch to the notes from middle C up.

I am in complete agreement with the other posters... the passaggio transition is more difficult for bass, but for all of us (male) singers we have more or less the same challenge.. to learn to lighten the registration... letting the vocal folds lengthen/thin without losing the connection to the rest of the voice.

One reason we may face this mutual challenge is the acoustics of the male voice. Depending on voice type, there is a resonance 'sweet spot' at the top of the upper middle voice where the alignment of the 2nd harmonic and the first vowel resonance is perfect. This alignment makes it very easy to oversing without paying a price for it. However, in the notes right above, this alignment is lost and the voice experiences loss of resonance, and growing strain. To compensate, the enthusiastic male singer almost always tries to sustain the earlier production, rather than let it gradually change to a laryngeal configuration and vowel formation appropriate for the higher range.

There are many exercises you can use to help in this process. A forum search on the word 'passaggio' will take you to many discussions we have had on the topic in the past years. You will find many useful perspectives and suggestions, some of them mine.

Speaking for myself as a lyric bass, the lower end of the passaggio is found at lower notes than for the baritone and tenor, whose entry points are increasingly higher. Of all the vowels, those with the lowest entry points (the place where the 2nd harmonic rises above the 1st resonance (aka the 1st Formant, or F1) are /i/ and /u/ (ee and oo). You can find where your passaggio begins for these vowels using a siren... a vocal slide... beginning on A2, the A a bit more than an octave below middle C. Begin the /i/ on that note, comfortable volume, and glissando (slide) your fundamental slowly up to A3, the A below middle C, keeping the vowel and volume easy and constant.

Right in the middle of that slide, you will find a note that feels and sounds really resonant and easy. That is the note just below the lower end of the passaggio for /i/ in your voice. As you continue to slide upward, you will likely feel a reduction in resonance, and somewhat greater effort is being provoked in you to retain volume. You are in the passaggio for /i/. The key here is to not force, but to shift the vowel ever so slightly toward /I/ (ih) for a few notes. The vowel change will immediately change the resonance profile, and you will feel the easyness return.

You can transpose this exercise up by semitones. In each case, be sensitive to that place where the vowel change is made. When you get to middle C and the notes immediately above it, I think you will experience a sense of ease that you will enjoy.

The purpose of this siren is to learn the sensations of a lightened registration without having to 'sing lighter'. If you do the exercise as described, the lightening will happen all on its own. Its the beginning of the re-tooling... not the end result.

Also very useful will be the prior posts (elsewhere in the forum) about the benefits of using semi-occluded voiced consonant sirens.

I hope you find this helpful.

(BTW: the 'hanger' A on the barbershop arrangement is not the bass... its the lead. He is singing a vowel shade of eh that works perfectly in his voice for that note.)

Thank you for that very helpful post. I notice that when singing, the easy and resonant note that you spoke of is around D4 for me. I'm not sure if there's a name for the technique, but I sort of slide my jaw down and forward, to create a fuller, resonant, kind of trumpeting sound, sort of like what Tim Waurick(the Tenor from the video I posted) does, only obviously not as powerful or good sounding. I find this easiest to do and maintain at the D4. I can do it on E and F, but like you said, it takes more effort and I feel strained. I'm loving all the great suggestions itt, and when I get a teacher I plan on working on these things. I think I'll look more into head voice and how to train it, as well as mixing if I get to that point. I wasn't aware vowels made a difference either, that's very interesting.

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I know the advice for singing those higher 4th octave notes is always to use head/mix, but would it theoretically be possible to do it in chest? I mean if I can learn to control the G4 in chest, could I possibly extend that up a note to the A4? Because I can tell I'm not using head when I sing E4-G4 so it doesn't seem completely out of the realm of possibility.

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I know the advice for singing those higher 4th octave notes is always to use head/mix, but would it theoretically be possible to do it in chest? I mean if I can learn to control the G4 in chest, could I possibly extend that up a note to the A4? Because I can tell I'm not using head when I sing E4-G4 so it doesn't seem completely out of the realm of possibility.

taking chest weight up into those notes is potentially damaging to the vocal folds. if you're a tenor, you want to train to hand it over to head after d4 or e4. if your a diy singer, (not seeing a vocal instructor) you're taking a risk.

this is from personal experience.

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What you are describing is extremely common on those exact notes. You need to start modifying your vocal tract from E4 on up to G4. The way we speak vowels works well for the normal chest voice range - all the vowels we speak are "designed" for chest voice. When going higher, the vowels need to modify. It comes naturally to some people, but most of us have to learn how. The other thing is that we have to start handing over pitch control to the CT muscle (from the TA muscle that is used for chest) - the CT starts tilting the thyroid and stretching the folds - thinning them out. If you don't do this, and stay with TA dominant pitch control, you'll carry too too much weight as your folds are too thick. It becomes a barrier to going higher. So in summary - you need to start modifying the vowels and thinning the folds.

great explanation geno.

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I don't feel any pain or strain, but I could still be damaging my chords? Interesting. I don't think it's a full chest on my upper range actually, as I don't feel the vibration in my chest when I touch it. I can feel my adams apple go significantly higher though when I sing E4 and above.

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I know the advice for singing those higher 4th octave notes is always to use head/mix, but would it theoretically be possible to do it in chest? I mean if I can learn to control the G4 in chest, could I possibly extend that up a note to the A4? Because I can tell I'm not using head when I sing E4-G4 so it doesn't seem completely out of the realm of possibility.

As you develop, you'll be able to retain the sound of chest really high. What it will sound like is one continuous chest voice. Technically you are transitioning to head, but it will sound like chest. But it really depends how you define chest and head and mix - there are many definitions. I like to think of it as one continuous voice. At a certain point in the range CT becomes the dominant pitch control muscle. You don't want to fight this or your chest will have a limit - and it doesn't sound real good up at that limit.

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