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trying to bridge between registers for a lighter feel..please help

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Carol M
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Since I play in a country band, "Crazy" is a song I really should have in my repertoire, but can't believe how challenging it's been! I can't seem to belt it well without busting a gut, even down in A, so I've been working on a new (for me) style, a lighter, what, bel canto?? way of doing it.

How am I doing?

http://soundcloud.com/carol-m/crazy

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carol, you might get more responses if you place this question into the "critique my singing" section.

I got one reply over there, about like the previous two I posted. I noticed that people seem to post clips a lot in this forum and thought there was more traffic here.

Anyway, sorry...I think I know why the light reponse. My singing sucks.

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Please, pardon my use of profanity. Your singing does NOT suck.

You are simply in a forum where a number of regular posters are wanting to emulate Lou Gramm (Foreigner,) Axl Rose (Guns n' Roses,) And Brian Johnson (AC/DC.)

But I totally get wanting to post in an area with more traffic. Some regulars have posted here to get the opinion of the vocal instructors. Vocal Instructors post mainly in the technique section and almost never post in the critique section.

Your voice is fine. You're just singing to an audience that doesn't pay that much attention to torch songs. However, I do. I bet I've got one up on you. I have an ORIGINAL ceramic pressing of a Billy Holiday album. Beat that.

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In fact, Carol. I will go one further. I am aquainted, through my wife, with Ray Wylie Hubbard, who wrote the song, "Redneck Mothers," which was a big hit for Jerry Jeff Walker.

And, I have seen a few times, Shake Russell, who helped Clint Black write "Nothing but the Taillights," back when Black was just starting out. Russell plays coffee houses and pubs and stays within Texas, since his wife's job moved them to Houston, Texas.

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One more item, for others who have a familiarity with country music. Hubbard makes a reference to Robert Earl Keen, an absolute Texas treasure. Who was, by the way, roommates with Lyle Lovett at Texas A & M University (College Station) back in their salad days.

I have way too much trivia in my head.

Somebody stop me...

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You have good pitch and feel. You're almost there and don't realize it.

It sounds like what's holding you back is that you don't hold your breath back.

To explain, it sounds like you're slightly breathy when you sing. Try singing the song again and this time think about singing while holding your breath. That's what all the best singers do. There is very, very little airflow that comes out of their mouth when they sing. If you do it correctly you migh be amazed of how much this matters. It's actually ok to sound breathy sometimes, as an effect (think Marilyn Monroe), but it robs you of almost all of your power as a singer. Cheers!

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ron, speaking for myself, your assumption that folks on the forum don't apprecaite "torch" songs is incorrect.

carol,

that is a beautiful, yet challenging song. it requires dynamics, wide intervals, vibrato, accurate phrasing, support of the soft tone, and a ton of feeling and emotion.

you just have work on it a bit. you'll get it. it's one of those songs that sounds easy till you go to sing it.

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I actually thought this was pretty good. One thing I liked was the the legato on the interval jumps was generally maintained pretty well. Me, I'm a Sinatra fan, and really appreciate this style of singing that allows notes to slide a bit more freely without jumping too immediately to the next note. Obviously Patsy Cline did something similar too, and being able to slide around just a bit while still pegging them on the head is pretty challenging.

You definitely don't suck and for this style of music, having a breathier delivery can be beneficial as long as it doesn't become a crutch. I suppose the main thing I heard, was on some of the sustained notes, it seemed like there was a bit of a battle between maintaining the soft tone, and digging in a bit deeper. Maybe working a bit more support on supporting the tone would help, or deciding to start with a little less of a breathy voice as others said when beginning those longer notes, might help too.

Anyway, although this is out of place here, maybe it's good you posted this here, because it has reminded me to look into the singing critique section. I've never been much for technicalities, I don't tend to discuss them much, but you have a warm voice, that has a lot of potential to my ears given the right genre. There are some genres that really need an organic sound to sound believable, and while you could use a bit more polish in your performance, as most of us could, you've got a really good feel for this style, and I'd encourage you to explore it a bit more. Given the right song and backing, you're already good enough to express something, but you can be better so keep shooting for that.

As for thinking you suck, a lot of my favorite artists thought they sucked. John Lennon admitted to burying his voice in double tracking and slapback echoes, because he was insecure about it and felt the need to hide it. For me, I think he has one of the best voices of all time. I don't care if someone else has twice the range, or some technical advantage, because his voice speaks to me. I've read stories of the early days where Jimi Hendrix was embarrassed to sing and would hide away in his vocal booth and ask other people to leave him alone so he could concentrate without embarrassment. Yet, could you imagine Purple Haze without him?

What you have to understand is that having an insecurity about your voice isn't necessarily connected to how good you are or aren't. What you have to do, is give your absolute best effort to sound your best, work on any weakness that is hindering you, and ultimately work on expressing yourself as best as you can. At the end of the day, when you do that, and you continue to do that, I believe most people barring some major roadblock (I got injured), can probably find something that works if they are willing to work hard enough. I think you are pretty close and should be proud of what you've accomplished and should keep reaching.

I'd also suggest to anyone and everyone to try writing your own music too, that showcases your voice in just the right way. I was a burgeoning songwriter, prior to losing my voice, and when you can truly express something unique with your voice, it can change your perspective. Where it's not about 'comparing' so much to the original it can really help you see more what you really have to offer as a unique artist.

When you feel the fire inside, the drive to express yourself with your voice, that can combat insecurity or self esteem problems which many of us have. Find that fire, and burn that fire so brightly that it dwarfs those problems. That's how John Lennon did it, that's how Jimi Hendrix did it, and that's how you can do it.

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Good posts. Just as jonpall said, youre sounding fine, and just a millimeter away from sounding really nice, seemingly because you sometimes let air blow your chords apart a little. Whenever you lean into a note and get comfortable in it, you get a nice jazzy touch

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Thanks everyone...I didn't mean to get all whiney, and wasn't completely serious as I also feel like I'm getting closer. It's just that *sometimes* I think guys hold back with women, or something, out of fear of hurting their feelings. I work with guys almost exclusively and it's hard to know what they really think, without getting whiney, or worse, trolling for compliments. So I sort of acted out here instead. I've never been so insecure as when I went from playing-only to singing and playing. :(

What I'm really really worried about, is that I try Crazy with this kind of bridging and the guys think haha she broke to falsetto and that it sounds wimpy.

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Carol M, I'll let you in on a secret that can be rather liberating, but this secret isn't only for women, it applies to men too.

Falsetto is in fact awesome and nothing to be ashamed of.

Falsetto is sexy, it's groovy, and you should never feel bad about doing something that cool.

Anyone who says otherwise, is probably out there feeling insecure while the Kendricks of the world are surrounding themselves with screaming fans who can't get enough of that badass vocal delivery. While they sit in their bedrooms criticizing falsetto vs head voice, he was getting laid and selling records. That's harsh, but it's true.

My advice: don't fear falsetto. You should be aiming for a 'sound' that communicates what you want to communicate and falsetto is one way of getting there. For your voice, I honestly thought your softer delivery was working well, and trying to toughen it up and make it too thick might run the risk of not communicating that as effectively. Who knows?

Work on improvements, but don't let some kid out there shame you into fearing your voice. You weren't singing heavy metal, and if you were sounding like Bruce Dickinson singing Patsy Cine, I would have laughed my ass off. Do your thing, and work on your thing. There's room for a lot of different kinds of singing.

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well I thought "falsetto" was a male registration, and that men can get away with maybe a more unnatural sound. I started with that falsetto sound but am trying to fatten it up and make it sound like one continuous range. What I don't want is to sound flutey, hooty, weak, breathy or flat in head voice. I still have trouble especially in the lower notes but it seems to get better as I approach C5.

It sounds worst when the recorder is running. :P

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I guess it depends on what terminology you'd use. In classical singing, falsetto is traditionally only male, but with those who study the voice scientifically it's seen as mostly identical in function between males and females. We aren't really all that different as far as our voice boxes and how our voices work. As far as I know the main physical difference is size which changes the acoustics of the sound.

Now, the difference in sound is usually more pronounced with men making a more disconnected flute like sound on average, sure. It's been my experience that of the untrained women I've known, they seem to have an easier time getting a more connected sounding falsetto where as men usually have to train a lot to get more defined or connected like Kendricks had. I've suspected the same might be true for tenors too, and the lower you go, the more you have to train to sound less separated.

Keep in mind I'm far from an expert on the voice, and less so on female ones, but at least to my ears, a female singer who I quite like the sound of her voice, had a very 'falsetto like' delivery at times and could be very effective with it:

She was definitely not exclusive to that style of voice, and had some powerful full voiced vocals, but most of her biggest hits were actually softer and wispier, some would even liken her to a female Smokey Robinson.

Anyway, I agree you should aspire to working on your full voice and developing those skills, but all I'm saying is you might not want to write your 'falsetto' way of singing off completely, particularly if you plan to sing popular music. At worst, it's a good tool to have in the tool box that can express certain things, and at best it's sold millions of records and created timeless classics. I just think it's a shame that people feel shamed by this kind of singing like it's 'fake or wrong' when historically people actually really enjoy it when done well, myself included.

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Anyway, I agree you should aspire to working on your full voice and developing those skills, but all I'm saying is you might not want to write your 'falsetto' way of singing off completely, particularly if you plan to sing popular music. At worst, it's a good tool to have in the tool box that can express certain things, and at best it's sold millions of records and created timeless classics. I just think it's a shame that people feel shamed by this kind of singing like it's 'fake or wrong' when historically people actually really enjoy it when done well, myself included.

Not ashamed, been using it for yodeling effect for years. It's just that, in the context of what I wrote, to the (untrained) guys I work with, you go to falsetto when you can't hit the note with your "real" voice. My job is to make sound like part of my "real" voice so they don't have that reaction. The problem is basically in the passagio area, deciding which way to go at each part.

One of the hipper players took note of my yodel effect and asked if I did any Joni Mitchell...I realize now it was a big hint to use my upper register more.

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It sounds to me like she is alternating between registers, which is what I am trying to learn to do. Then she seems to use a harsh "middle" voice registration around 2:10, which I learned a bit from Roger Love's Set Your Voice Free, though I haven't used it much except as a way to fatten the head voice sound. I would like to try using it in rock, like in something by Heart, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

As to the differences in volume and intensity, right now it's really hard to use that kind of lightness with a loud honking band, even though I have good in ear monitors. I can hear myself just fine but they often tell me I'm not loud enough, and I know it's because I'm not hollering in chest voice all the time now. Any real dynamics like Morrisette uses will have to be strictly on the side. I toyed with doing Crazy last night, but the crowd was big and wild and we were trying to keep the energy level up..there was just no way. SOMEday... :(

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Two things come to mind for me. The first isn't even voice related, but have you looked into live compression? Virtually all studio vocals are compressed to some extent or another (some to ridiculous extents), and I'm pretty sure most pro level vocals that use falsetto in a live setting with a large band/crowd constantly competing (Alanis, Radiohead, etc) would probably have something there to equalize the sound a little bit.

Compression is something you've got to be careful with, because you'd need just enough to be heard and keep a cut throughout your dynamic range, but if you put too much into the vocal it can start sounding flattened, like a lot of dance pop, or actually a lot of the singers in popular music.

The other thing I believe about that register, is adding a bit of feel of a 'cry and/or a twang' to it can seem to add a bit more body and volume and help it stay more connected without wanting to crack out. That's more technique and since I'm not a singer anymore due to my injury, I'd always advise you have someone else show you that and/or corroborate what I say because I'm not a fan of giving 'definitive' advice as an injured singer. It's just to my experience, if you do it right, it works.

Here's a great example of a song with Kendricks bridging his full voice cleanly into his falsetto, as far as I can tell it sounds like he uses both a bit of a cry/curbing whatever you want to call it (Stevie Wonder ish sound) and twang to get some cut. Don't mind the pimp suit.

If I wasn't injured and wanted to reinforce/bridge into my falsetto, I'd be studying that carefully. Hell, I'm injured and I still study it carefully.

Anyway point being falsetto can be reinforced. Women on average are less 'in need' of that to make a commercial sound out of it. You used Joni Mitchell as a great example and she sounds fantastic with a flute like purity in the register. Guys would have a lot more trouble selling that same technique on average, not saying it's impossible. People would be more likely to call us Mickey Mouse when we tried cause it sounds more different for us. But just as there isn't only Yogi Bear for chest voice, there isn't only Mickey Mouse to work with in falsetto.

You'd be on the right path with lessons and above all, I'd really advise you have people show you things and watch you do things so they can correct you if you're doing it wrong or misunderstanding. I'm in a situation where I learned a whole lot of things on my own successfully, but as far as I know I must have done a single thing that injured me out of a slew of things that helped me. Now I've been stuck not knowing 100 percent sure what it was that even injured what (though I suspect it was a 'hold your tongue out' exercise, or a 'gug' exercise), because I didn't have teachers or formalized education steering me along. I was trying singing exercises that might have simply been bad news or done incorrectly so while there are many who know what they are talking about, you should always be wary of online advice, even smart or well meaning people can be mistaken, mislead, or misunderstood.

So stay on the good path there, it may seem hypocritical to give a couple ideas, and then tell you to take that same advice with a huge grain of salt, but I actually think that might be the best way to communicate given the situation. As far as I know, my injury is not connected to this subject, but hey, I'm injured all the same and am not an expert.

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Two things come to mind for me. The first isn't even voice related, but have you looked into live compression? Virtually all studio vocals are compressed to some extent or another (some to ridiculous extents), and I'm pretty sure most pro level vocals that use falsetto in a live setting with a large band/crowd constantly competing (Alanis, Radiohead, etc) would probably have something there to equalize the sound a little bit.

Compression is something you've got to be careful with, because you'd need just enough to be heard and keep a cut throughout your dynamic range, but if you put too much into the vocal it can start sounding flattened, like a lot of dance pop, or actually a lot of the singers in popular music.

The other thing I believe about that register, is adding a bit of feel of a 'cry and/or a twang' to it can seem to add a bit more body and volume and help it stay more connected without wanting to crack out. That's more technique and since I'm not a singer anymore due to my injury, I'd always advise you have someone else show you that and/or corroborate what I say because I'm not a fan of giving 'definitive' advice as an injured singer. It's just to my experience, if you do it right, it works.

Here's a great example of a song with Kendricks bridging his full voice cleanly into his falsetto, as far as I can tell it sounds like he uses both a bit of a cry/curbing whatever you want to call it (Stevie Wonder ish sound) and twang to get some cut. Don't mind the pimp suit.

If I wasn't injured and wanted to reinforce/bridge into my falsetto, I'd be studying that carefully. Hell, I'm injured and I still study it carefully.

Anyway point being falsetto can be reinforced. Women on average are less 'in need' of that to make a commercial sound out of it. You used Joni Mitchell as a great example and she sounds fantastic with a flute like purity in the register. Guys would have a lot more trouble selling that same technique on average, not saying it's impossible. People would be more likely to call us Mickey Mouse when we tried cause it sounds more different for us. But just as there isn't only Yogi Bear for chest voice, there isn't only Mickey Mouse to work with in falsetto.

You'd be on the right path with lessons and above all, I'd really advise you have people show you things and watch you do things so they can correct you if you're doing it wrong or misunderstanding. I'm in a situation where I learned a whole lot of things on my own successfully, but as far as I know I must have done a single thing that injured me out of a slew of things that helped me. Now I've been stuck not knowing 100 percent sure what it was that even injured what (though I suspect it was a 'hold your tongue out' exercise, or a 'gug' exercise), because I didn't have teachers or formalized education steering me along. I was trying singing exercises that might have simply been bad news or done incorrectly so while there are many who know what they are talking about, you should always be wary of online advice, even smart or well meaning people can be mistaken, mislead, or misunderstood.

So stay on the good path there, it may seem hypocritical to give a couple ideas, and then tell you to take that same advice with a huge grain of salt, but I actually think that might be the best way to communicate given the situation. As far as I know, my injury is not connected to this subject, but hey, I'm injured all the same and am not an expert.

killer, i'm battling a vocal polyp, and i'm determined to beat his (f&^%$#) thing or shrink it to the point where i can live with it. i'm hell bent on avoiding surgery. i'm doing everything known to man to help shrink it. i'm definitely feeling improvement...

what is your injury? don't give up!! do you know joanna kazden?

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killer, i'm battling a vocal polyp, and i'm determined to beat his (f&^%$#) thing or shrink it to the point where i can live with it. i'm hell bent on avoiding surgery. i'm doing everything known to man to help shrink it. i'm definitely feeling improvement...

what is your injury? don't give up!! do you know joanna kazden?

As best as I can tell, it's a muscular/skeletal kind of problem in the hyoid area, but even that isn't certain. It seemed to come about around the time I did a 'hold your tongue out and sing exercise,' and it's been ongoing for 3 years, where I have these extremely painful throat spasms (one lasted over 24 hours and I went to the ER). I've got constant hypertension and significant pain when speaking and eating.

I'm definitely considering getting in touch with Joanna, she responded in my thread here, which is a bit longer than I intended: http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?id=2860

But as of this moment, my laryngologist said he was going to call and set up an appointment for botox and a speech therapy session so I wanted to know his plans first. That phone call hasn't come yet, so I don't know. It's been a long road as I had reflux and we thought it might have been related so we went through some dead end treatments. My doctor has said he's never seen anything like this before, and that he doesn't know what to do. On the last visit, he suggested 'botox, speech therapy, or a second opinion.' He didn't have much confidence in any of them.

I'm at a point where speech therapy is torture because the problem happens when I don't speak, and it's not really something that speaking more correctly has been able to improve at all thus far. I've had speech therapists looking at my vocal cords through a scope saying 'oh you're doing a great job what great tone' when that is the most painful noise I made all day. I've had others seeing me when my throat is in spasm and I can't speak at all who tell me 'you speak completely wrong.' Thing is, some days I literally can't speak at all because I lock into spasm and other days I can speak properly enough to convince a speech therapist under scope with a lot of pain. For my own pain management, I don't speak much these days.

Like you with your polyps, I wish I knew why, how it came to be and what's worse I don't have a clear plan of what to do about it. It was like one month I was ok, and better than ever, and the next I got into these horrible spasms and never recovered. I had a laryngitis kind of thing too that came about at the time.

But yeah, even though I don't know if speech therapy will ever be able to help I'm willing to try it again. It's just incredibly frustrating and painful because to my experience it's involuntary and I can't use a technique to 'make it stop.' So I've been stuck in a situation where it's 'all pain, no gain.' Still maybe someone can figure it out. I would be forever grateful, it's pretty much ruined my life. I'd love to get back into having everything back again and not living in fear when the next spasm is going to take me down. I can't even socialize reliably anymore. It's very isolating.

Seriously I would reiterate to everyone to keep in touch with teachers and stick to things that are more formally understood. Things that people can demonstrate and watch you do them, because maybe someone could have spotted something, or said something simple like 'don't pull on your tongue, that's unnecessary or dangerous' or who knows? If someone might have stopped whatever it was I was doing that was bad, I wouldn't be in this situation?

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