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Speech level singing for Metal....uh oh

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dr rock
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i took a few lessons with a speech level singing vocal coach over here

i was intrested to see how the speech level singing methods would differ, and why theyre soo raved about

keep in mind before this i was using methods from

the 4 pillars of singing, vocal power (jim gillette), the raise your voice system and stuff like that..

upon arrival he told me sls is great for metal and that ozzy uses it.

and he made me do mums and stuff to lower my larynx while singing in the "mix"

when it was over he told me that singing with a high larynx will take you down a path of vocal doom

and that some of my idols couldnt sing anymore or sing as great as they used to because of this

he brought up Rob Halford and Dave Coverdale and said they sang with a high larynx which caused them to deteriorate

i heard that sls didnt do it for James Lugo when he was singing metal

and Robert Lunte also told me that a high or tilted larynx is needed for rock and metal singing, which makes perfect sense.

the sls instructor also said there was no safe way to add grit.

let me know what you guys think about this

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Silliest thing I've ever heard.

On the other hand...have to wonder what's "missing" from the other programs you mentioned? Apart from curiosity, were you not satisfied with those other methods? I'm assuming the several lessons weren't cheap...so do you have a "missing link" vocally (that you were hoping SLS could fix?)

Hope this is not coming off wrong...I'm slowly turning into a vocal nerd and it seems the better I get..the more intrigued I am about different methods/approaches to voice:)

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well the ONLY reason i went to him was because he was like one of the top vocal coaches in my city

and i couldnt find anything related to rock or metal over here so i went with sls

the 4 pillars of singing and those other 2 i mentioned are really all i needed

however there comes a time when you want an expert to check out what your doing and what youve been practising even

if you know your making great progress yourself.

and since i dont have the resources for an internet lesson yet, i decided to try out the next best thing which was find someone over here. but a lot of what he said contradicted what i was learning and doing.

the lessons were 60 bucks for 30 minuits

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dr rock,

SLS is only good for metal in the sense that its good for just about most genres (it isnt genre specific) because its goal is about getting you to a place where vocally your totally freed up and there is no big effort in producing your own tone of voice any where in your range be it chest middle/mix or head voice. if you can achieve that you can then more easily monitor your voice to shape it to the way you want whether that be added effects such as grit ect. if the SLS instructor said there is no safe way to add grit i would say this is wrong and that that view is not held by all SLS instructors.

for most untrained singers a high larynx will most often bring about activating the constrictor muscles in the throat, which is definitely a no no however it is possible to deactivate the constrictors but sing with a high larynx.this however requires more stamina and effort on the singers part usually for greater support and also from the use of the elevating muscles of the larynx. if the stamina runs out due to aspects such as age, very long/frequent periods of use the constrictors come straight back in to play.

the larynx needs to tilt and does tilt for any high voiced coordination. this happens regardless of the school of technique as far as i know because its something that has to take place and it can appear as if the larynx has risen minutely. the muscles that really lift the larynx up as well as the ones that pull the larynx down are different muscles and have nothing to do with the process of changing pitch. this doesnt mean that you cant use them for aspects such as changing the shape of the vocal tract for different tonal colours it just means that you have to be aware that you are using more musculature, which ultimately means more effort.

SLS is about trying to get the most out for the least effort possible but of course some genre/styles of singing are going to require more effort than others to get the desired result but its about finding that minimum.

as the late, great Richard Miller said

" Differing viewpoints exist with respect not only to aesthetic preference but to the most appropriate physical means for producing the desired sound. the success of any technical approach to singing must be measured by how nearly it arrives at the planned aesthetic result with least cost. Freedom of function in singing ought to count heavily in determining which vocal sounds are most pleasing. the highest possible degree of physical freedom may well be the best indicator of the reliability of aesthetic judgement on the singing voice."

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if you look at this video (which is of the technique singing success-which is basically SLS under another name)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRog7y4wD1o

the sound that kelly is producing when he sings "when a man loves a woman" isnt really any different from what a lot of the power metal guys do. replace the words with "when a man kills a dragon" and your listening to melodic power metal!

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thanks Center, i know what you mean.

hahaha "when a man kills a dragon"

and yeah that "and a man loves a woman" does sound pretty cool, is his larynx neutral for that? and what register is he singing in? mixed voice?

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yes as he states just afterwards the larynx is in a floating, neutral level position. in the floating, neutral position it may come up or go down minutely like it does when you speak normally but it isnt pulled up or down.

although there talking about mix the register he is actually singing in there is head voice but it is sometimes referred to as high mix which is confusing i know (but there are reasons for why they call it that sometimes). as we have discussed before here it would be better to call that type of production strong/full head voice.

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I also watched that video of James singing the high "when a man loves a woman" and paid close attention to how he got into his mix. I use his method now to help me get into my Bruce Dickinson head tone. I found it took most of the strain away and it was actually pretty easy to sing those notes. I'd like to have heard more from James singing a few more lines from that song actually. Some phrases are harder than others when sung with power.

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...

for most untrained singers a high larynx will most often bring about activating the constrictor muscles in the throat, which is definitely a no no however it is possible to deactivate the constrictors but sing with a high larynx.this however requires more stamina and effort on the singers part usually for greater support and also from the use of the elevating muscles of the larynx. if the stamina runs out due to aspects such as age, very long/frequent periods of use the constrictors come straight back in to play.

Its interesting that you would make these points. Amongst some classical singers with higher voices, larynx height seems to track with the ascendance of the pitch without ill effect... provided that constriction does not get out-of-hand, and the muscles between which the larynx is cradled (up and down) are not fighting each other. For these higher notes, its fine for the pharynx to narrow in a gentle way, and also for the larynx to assume a higher position, if it is not forcefully hauled up.

True, not every higher-voiced singer uses this strategy, but some certainly do!

By way of external comparison. I think of larynx position and motion a bit like swinging a tennis racquet. If the motion is free and unencumbered, you can position the head of the racquet wherever you need to when meeting the ball, in what is a smooth and coordinated stroke. If, however, the arm muscles are rigid and fighting in antagonism, then the motion is not fluid, and the positioning of the raquet head is awkward and poorly timed.

Its quite true that the resonance characteristics of the voice are strongly influenced by larynx height in the throat. If this positioning can be optimal without undesired constriction or 'height-fight', then the downside can be avoided, and the benefits of advantageous vocal-tract resonance tuning can be enjoyed.

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Wow, what a bag of worms this one could become...

For most vocalists, a "balanced" laryngeal position will not give you an amplified "cut" in the head voice, or a real convincing rock/metal sound. If you want that kind of sound, for most singers, you need to calibrate different degrees of twang configurations, characterized by tilted thyroid cartiledge... among other things Im too tired to go into here.

If I could cut to the chase, NO... SLS is not the vocal technique to be training with if you are a rock/metal guy that wants to have amplified, "cut" in the head tones. I suspect those that claim it can be a viable solution for this, simply are not practiced in this art form and are just defending their camps doctrine.

I think Steve Fraser is rather supporting the raised configurations and goes on to say "so long as it doesnt engage constriction"... Yes, I agree totally. If your raised configurations are triggering the constrictors, then your not isolating enough and are not doing it right. It takes the right voice coach that really knows how to train head voice twang to get you through this because it can be a close run thing and "touch and go" at times... training isolated, non-constricted, aggressive twang configurations in the head voice is very cutting-edge and its very hard to find someone that can do it. I dont think you will find it from "neutral larynx all the time" advocates.

BTW... 30 minute lessons in my opinion are a waste of time. You cant even get warmed up and bridged inside of 20 minutes for most people, so taking $60 for a 30 minute lesson is kinda not much value for the money. For $60, I can offer you an internet/skype lesson for an hour and have you doing exactly what you want to be doing in about 45 minutes, provided that you can hear pitch and have some fundamentals under your belt. Or at least get you moving in the right direction.

Lastly, try to not worry too much about "mixed voice" it just complicates things... think of your voice in just two registers, head and chest. Keep it simple... "mixed voice" I believe does exist for some people, I think Im actually feeling mine more recently as my compression in my lower head tones is getting stonger ( a good thing) ... but if you dont have to talk about it, then dont... know one really knows what "mixed voice" really means ... the best professionals can offer is that its more of a feeling that essentially sits somewhere in your lower head voice region and has very light compression ... its one of those mystery "buzz" words in voice pedagogy that gets thrown about too often and 9 out of 10 times... only serves to bamboozle students.

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I think Steve Fraser is rather supporting the raised configurations and goes on to say "so long as it doesnt engage constriction"...

Robert: Just to confirm your impression... yes, I am supporting the raised configuration provided that constriction is not engaged, and the laryngeal suspension muscles are not fighting each other. Perhaps you included that latter point in your constriction comment.

I saw the results of a very interesting study, using x-rays taken of some classical sopranos' throats (from the side,) while each was singing some notes high in their range. The researchers were looking to establish the actual laryngeal height in comparision to the hyoid cartilege.

The result: very many of them sang the higher notes powerfully with a high larynx in a relaxed throat. The reason? The sopranos got more resonance singing that way.

There is a tone-quality effect on singing with the higher larynx which is worthy of mention at this point. Since the length of the vocal tract shortens as the larynx is raised, the positions of the vocal tract formants rise. For any given sung fundamental, the formants will align well, or poorly, with the harmonics, affecting tone quality. If the resulting tone quality is not desirable within the aesthetic of the style, then we might say that the 'technique' of using that particular laryngeal height for that note/vowel combination does not 'work' in that style.

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Steven, i dont think any harm can come to the voice (vocal folds) from using an unconstricted high larynx its just that i think it requires more effort on the singers part. thats an aesthetic choice that one should have control over to use or not. also there are degrees to what exactly is a high larynx. for instance if you have a relaxed position larynx and you sing a not so rounded EE vowel and the larynx comes up a bit its a very different thing than the larynx being elevated up by musculature. if your singing with a relaxed throat with no gripping constriction on the sides of the throat, no rock hard stiffness of the muscle under the chin, no tension in the jaw, tongue, soft palette or overt tension is the cheek muscles but you have a higher larynx then i cant imagine its the most awful coordination.

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Steven, i dont think any harm can come to the voice (vocal folds) from using an unconstricted high larynx its just that i think it requires more effort on the singers part. thats an aesthetic choice that one should have control over to use or not. also there are degrees to what exactly is a high larynx. for instance if you have a relaxed position larynx and you sing a not so rounded EE vowel and the larynx comes up a bit its a very different thing than the larynx being elevated up by musculature. if your singing with a relaxed throat with no gripping constriction on the sides of the throat, no rock hard stiffness of the muscle under the chin, no tension in the jaw, tongue, soft palate or overt tension is the cheek muscles but you have a higher larynx then i cant imagine its the most awful coordination.

Centre: Though there are some circumstances which can injure the vocal process without constrictive tension present, I agree with most of what you wrote above. I am curious, though, why you think it would be 'more effort'?

The muscle action you describe in the last sentence are symptoms of the constrictive tension I think is harmful, and vocally limiting. I believe from your note that we are thinking about the same thing, and both have an open mind about the position of the larynx if the singing is done without that constriction.

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this mixed voice, on paper it looks like its a good technique for demanding singing styles.

what would happend if you threw a twang mode into a mixed voice.

in jaime venderas book he says there the "falsetto then the mixed voice (which he states is good for pop and country) and then the full voice.

so by this im assuming that, the mixed voice has a certain weak sound to it or something?

which wouldnt do well for rock and metal singing.

as its in the middle of falsetto and full voice

the way people explain mixed voice tho make it seem like it makes singing soo much easier

look at what this guy says

http://www.answerbag.com/articles/video/Mixed-Voice-Training-For-Singing/14375dd2-706d-e03e-6270-9fb0164cc923

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steven, the high larynx postions i am talking about, that require more effort sound and look like this.

metal tenor high notes/screams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH5gmbugmxM

(i used to be VERY much into this style of singing and did it ALL the time when i was younger. although there is no side grip constriction the larynx is pulled up with the elevator muscles and the cheeks are tensed/pulled up which activates the muscle under the chin. their is a lot of musculature involved in this type of production, in other words extra effort. if you see these type of faces being pulled when seeing singers do this type of production that extra musculature IS happening. PERIOD . - as a side note this is why the great metal/rock singers such as rob halford and ian gillan can no longer do these screams constistantly now they are older. they simply do not have the stamina and muscular strength any more )

belt voice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRUeEJQSKbs (3:45)

(6:29)

i have been experimenting with these type of belt sounds (i think i am able to actually do one where the elevator muscles are not engaged). not hard to do for short periods of time but because it requires so much support and there is a stretch of the palette and mouth becomes fatiguing to the body and muscles quite quickly which is when constriction can creep in.

however i am NOT talking about this type of production.

the larynx may be floating up possibly but there is no real extra musculature going on and its pretty easy to produce. i cant get it as full or loud as that but singing say high E´s above tenor high C requires little effort and is really not fatiguing at all even if the larynx comes up a little.

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this mixed voice, on paper it looks like its a good technique for demanding singing styles.

what would happend if you threw a twang mode into a mixed voice.

in jaime venderas book he says there the "falsetto then the mixed voice (which he states is good for pop and country) and then the full voice.

so by this im assuming that, the mixed voice has a certain weak sound to it or something?

which wouldnt do well for rock and metal singing.

as its in the middle of falsetto and full voice

the way people explain mixed voice tho make it seem like it makes singing soo much easier

look at what this guy says

http://www.answerbag.com/articles/video/Mixed-Voice-Training-For-Singing/14375dd2-706d-e03e-6270-9fb0164cc923

not sure if your talking about the mix/middle voice or mix as in strong head voice but either way both can be full voice sounds so im not sure exactly what Jaime is saying there. if he means it doent sound like a shout or scream quality i would agree there but then you dont have to use those qualities to sing rock or metal. many singers dont use those type of productions especially the ones on the more melodic side of things. you can learn the shouty, screamy stuff too but as i have been saying it requires more stamina and effort.

oh by the way i remember reading on another singing forum that Jaime likes to use a neutral level larynx for a lot of his rock singing ;)

its not something i experience constantly yet but yes singing in the mix can feel so easy it ridiculous! it makes me laugh sometimes :) as im like, whoa that was TOO easy! obviously if your really going for it volume wise your gonna support a bit more but there is nothing going on in the throat, mouth etc.

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Robert: Just to confirm your impression... yes, I am supporting the raised configuration provided that constriction is not engaged, and the laryngeal suspension muscles are not fighting each other. Perhaps you included that latter point in your constriction comment.

I saw the results of a very interesting study, using x-rays taken of some classical sopranos' throats (from the side,) while each was singing some notes high in their range. The researchers were looking to establish the actual laryngeal height in comparision to the hyoid cartilege.

The result: very many of them sang the higher notes powerfully with a high larynx in a relaxed throat. The reason? The sopranos got more resonance singing that way.

There is a tone-quality effect on singing with the higher larynx which is worthy of mention at this point. Since the length of the vocal tract shortens as the larynx is raised, the positions of the vocal tract formants rise. For any given sung fundamental, the formants will align well, or poorly, with the harmonics, affecting tone quality. If the resulting tone quality is not desirable within the aesthetic of the style, then we might say that the 'technique' of using that particular laryngeal height for that note/vowel combination does not 'work' in that style.

Brilliant. Thank you Steve-O, exactly what I have been trying say, but more eloquent and backed up with data.

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Steven, i dont think any harm can come to the voice (vocal folds) from using an unconstricted high larynx its just that i think it requires more effort on the singers part. thats an aesthetic choice that one should have control over to use or not. also there are degrees to what exactly is a high larynx. for instance if you have a relaxed position larynx and you sing a not so rounded EE vowel and the larynx comes up a bit its a very different thing than the larynx being elevated up by musculature. if your singing with a relaxed throat with no gripping constriction on the sides of the throat, no rock hard stiffness of the muscle under the chin, no tension in the jaw, tongue, soft palette or overt tension is the cheek muscles but you have a higher larynx then i cant imagine its the most awful coordination.

Its called "anchoring" Centre! Here is a statement from Dr. Ronald Scherer after listening to my RODE M1 demonstration video where I do a lot of this kind of configurations...

Hi Robert,

I watched the video and it is wonderful! You are "screeming" at about 1600 Hz! Very impressive, and I look forward to learning more.... I have joined your website www.themodernvocalist.com! Very impressive website.

I recorded your screaming into Praat software as you were vocalizing on the video, and measured your fundamental frequency (the pitch of your voice), and it turned out to be about 831 Hz (NOT the 1600 Hz I mentioned in the last email - I was off by an octave). This pitch is a high G5-sharp, between the tenor high C and the soprano high C, essentially (nearly) an octave above concert A 440!! That is pretty darn high-pitched! That needs to be scoped to see the larynx to tell how you are producing this pitch! I bet you can make the pitch without the scream noise. Is this a pitch easily produced in your clear falsetto?

Got to grade some homework.

Take care.

Ron

"Neutral/Balanced All the time" doctrine must be updated... I believe Steve Fraser and Dr. Ronald Scherer have great credibility. If anything I was doing were amiss or unhealthy, I would have heard about it long ago... instead, its seen as leading edge and very interesting to these guys. Apart from the fact that I teach and do this about 15 hours a week with nothing but success. Lets deal with facts and credibility here based on real experience and research. I would invite you to share with us a recording of your "rock" head tone without anchoring and without calibrating for a twang-like configuration.

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steven, the high larynx postions i am talking about, that require more effort sound and look like this.

metal tenor high notes/screams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH5gmbugmxM

belt voice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRUeEJQSKbs (3:45)

(6:29)

i have been experimenting with these type of belt sounds (i think i am able to actually do one where the elevator muscles are not engaged). not hard to do for short periods of time but because it requires so much support and there is a stretch of the palette and mouth becomes fatiguing to the body and muscles quite quickly which is when constriction can creep in.

however i am NOT talking about this type of production.

the larynx may be floating up possibly but there is no real extra musculature going on and its pretty easy to produce. i cant get it as full or loud as that but singing say high E´s above tenor high C requires little effort and is really not fatiguing at all even if the larynx comes up a little.

Centre... ok, the first sample is Jim Gillette singing a metal scream... ok, whats the big deal other then he has stuffed a sock in his pants... this video is famous for that? The 2nd video is some dude engaging constriction and nasty tension creep all over his body as he screams out to the trailer park chewing a piece of gum? How about bringing in some videos of James LeBrie from Dream Theater or Geoff Tate from the classic Tokyo Live footage ... both you can find on YouTube as good examples.

The reason some famous singers dont sing some of their high notes anymore is because they are not staying in shape! They are not training their voices anymore and not taking care of their health. Vocal training is something you have to stick with, just becaue you become famous, it should not mean you let technique go out of shape. Proper technique has to be drilled... Please do NOT blame these individuals inability to hit a high note they could sing 20 years prior on vocal techniques that are contrary to your obsession with defending "neutral larynx all the time" beliefs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRUeEJQSKbs (3:45)

This is a belted head tone... with twang.

(6:29)

This is the same artist, same note singing a belted twang configuration in the head voice... OH, BTW... she is lip-synching... so this was pre-recorded in a studio. Watch her lips, its obvious!

however i am NOT talking about this type of production.

When this guy sings his high note... he is anchoring in his chin and upper torso.

You state above that you have been working on these vocal sounds, etc... I ask you again... would you PLEASE share with us your vocal samples of you singing a convincing head tone with your configurations, without anchoring, without lifting the larynx. Its time we get to hear samples of you singing the configurations and techniques you continue to argue for.

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ummm center i think im talking about the "strong head voice" kind of mixed voice.

is that the kind of sound u get when you pull head or something

i dont know how that comes about or is it right above the break or actually before the break and you can access it if you choose?

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steven, the high larynx postions i am talking about, that require more effort sound and look like this.

metal tenor high notes/screams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH5gmbugmxM

(i used to be VERY much into this style of singing and did it ALL the time when i was younger. although there is no side grip constriction the larynx is pulled up with the elevator muscles and the cheeks are tensed/pulled up which activates the muscle under the chin. their is a lot of musculature involved in this type of production, in other words extra effort. if you see these type of faces being pulled when seeing singers do this type of production that extra musculature IS happening. PERIOD . - as a side note this is why the great metal/rock singers such as rob halford and ian gillan can no longer do these screams constistantly now they are older. they simply do not have the stamina and muscular strength any more )

Thanks for the urls to the vids. Very interesting.

I have to say that I am not convinced that singing in the high larynx position, on its own, takes more effort. What I hear is very high energy singing, with a substantial amount of subglottic pressure. I think its those characteristics of the scream (and not the laryngeal height) that require the higher effort.

Cool discussion.

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Speech level singing sure helps with metalsinging, it probably helps all styles. And the larynx issue... Gonna let my imaginary Martin chime in and give a response.

"If the larynx is high or low is not the problem, tensions is the problem" Martin H

The thing is speech level singing also relies on twang, but the twang is not as distinct as in for instance rocktechniques.

Thats why it's so easy to spot a rocksinger from the first note he sings :P you hear that rockytwanged tone right from the start.

I personaly think rob halford and ian gillans voices gotten worse probably by the rock n roll lifestyle. Theyve probably done a thing or two during their time in the spotlight. And lets face it more than one voice has been destroyed by that.

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