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BEGINNER (SORTA) NEEDS HONEST HELP AND FEEDBACK! SVP!

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xolin
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Hey guys,

So I've been singing about a total of about 2 years now (im 24, but before that always failed when i tried).

I'm a rock singer.

At the time I started I wasn't able to find any notes and could sing about up to a D above middle C with a lot of effort.

So I started looking into SLS exercises after a few months and I've been trying to get into mix and sing with that, but it just hasn't happened. I even saw an SLS instructor for 2 lessons (ran out of money :/), who got me into mix a little bit softly, but hardly enough to sing (I think I was just starting to pull chest to F# above middle C then).

All the exercises have really done for me is get me to be able to pull my chest voice up to Ab above middle C...and when really lucky, Bb above middle C...but with terrible tone.

All the other facets of my singing are pretty awful in my opinion, too. I have bad intonation usually, bad tone, poor accuracy, and I pull for everything.

Here is a clip of me singing - in one take - an excerpt from the Alice In Chains song "Would?"

I am just starting to get off a bacterial throat/sinus infection, so most of my difficulties are even more pronounced here, which is probably better at demonstrating my troubles. (you hear me cough at the end and had to cut it short, but I figured one take wont ruin me too much).

I'm looking for constructive advice for exercises and pitfalls and maybe even more troubles people can see in my voice and how to work on them.

Thanks!

I'm hoping this forum will help out a bunch!

EDIT: ACTUALLY I'VE SET UP A MYSPACE FOR MY SINGING PROGRESS SO HERE IT IS:

http://www.myspace.com/colinlearningtosing

PS: fyi, I also have played bass for many years and recently play bass while I sing in my grunge/metal band. how I do it?? ...poorly! :)

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My personal take, others may disagree:

Youre tensing up mentally a lot before each sentence in Would, which is making you pull chest and tighten your throat muscles. You're probably mentally preparing for each sentence sort of like one does when getting ready to do heavy benchpresses, and that doesnt work. I think you're also trying to push air from your throat muscles and hence cutting off the air from your diaphragm. I dont do any official SLS or other schooling, but I absolutely try to speak when Im singing. It keeps my throat no more tense when singing than when speaking up to about A above middle C

It takes a little time to notice when your voice switches over from speech to the old habit of affecting a fake voice and "bad singing mode". What I would do in your case, is speak the lyrics at the right tone, but without holding the tone any longer than I would if I was speaking. I often imagine myself speaking the lyrics to my mum. Thats probably fairly easy to get into, but then comes the bit that tricks you: trying to hold on to the note. That, for me, is when its easy to slip back into my old bad habits, so my trick when warming this up is to speak the sentence: "Look, would you like me to speak in slow motion?"

When I get to "slow motion", I hold the word as if demonstrating almost sarcastically to someone: "Look, would you like me to speak in sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow moooooooooooooooooooooootiooooooooooooooooooooooon?"

The first part of the sentence puts me into speech mode, and the elongated part doesnt turn into "bad singing mode", because Im saying it as if to demonstrate to someone how I would sound if I was speaking in slow motion. This lets me feel what its like to speak long notes, and after warming up like this, I apply that to a song.

I like to do that "look, would you like me to speak..." at higher and higher pitches, as if raising the pitch somewhat in exasperation. You can and probably do say sentences to people at for. ex. G above middle C in fairly normal conversation without tensing up anywhere near as much as you would when you try to sing the same pitches.

Hasty, slightly exaggerated example, (havent sung for a few days, so sounds pretty crap, but just to show that what sounds like speech in my head when I produce it, comes out sounding like singing) below. The notes are fairly strong, but Im actually speaking the notes as if I were raising my voice just a bit to speak to someone in the next room, nowhere near the power I would use to shout or yell or "sing". Im using the same power and the same way as if I were in the tv room raising my voice a little to say to my girlfriend in the kitchen: "bring me a beer with you, hun" (I'd never dare do that in real life)

http://www4.speedyshare.com/data/976153702/18573328/56064118/lithium.wav

This is speaking at around g#

http://www7.speedyshare.com/data/655942380/18573525/48140760/slow.wav

Thats a reasonably high note that is easily produced speaking and with a bit of polishing and tidying up it quite easily becomes a usable singing mode. If I want to darken and it up a bit and make it more masculine and muscular (which I would if I wanted this to sound good), I just mentally say the lyrics in a sterner voice.

You're not far off really though, you're just in a slightly confusing grey area at the moment.

My two cents ;)

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Thanks for the advice matt, however I would never speak in a G above middle C because when I do it's entirely head voice. When I speak I speak normally around D to B BELOW middle C.

I did like you said and spoke the lyrics to the chorus of Would : "Into the flood again, same old trip that was back then." But when I say that "In-to" (F) or the "Back" (Ab above middle C) it's in head voice. I can't use that little air and do anything but a full head voice which is not what I'm going for at all...:/ when I add more power to that head voice it just sounds like a soprano is "saying" it, ha. Not good.

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however I would never speak in a G above middle C because when I do it's entirely head voice

I posted the speaking wav afterwards, did you have time to listen to it? Its not really that high when speaking but can be very high if youre trying to sing it incorrectly, its the sort of pitch one might reach if slightly exasperated for example. I wouldnt try to sing exactly the same notes initially, just vaguely in the area until I start to feel comfortable:

Roughly like this, which I think is somewhere in the same range:

http://www9.speedyshare.com/data/386303596/18573714/58365063/Would.wav

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IN FACT

I just found now that when I just speak...I go into head voice ALREADY at C# above middle C! Unless I put a tiny bit of effort in and raise chest (which is easy for me to do), I can't get over middle C.

My first "BRIDGE" starts around D, Eb, so that makes sense.

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I posted the speaking wav afterwards, did you have time to listen to it? Its not really that high when speaking but can be very high if youre trying to sing it incorrectly, its the sort of pitch one might reach if slightly exasperated for example. I wouldnt try to sing exactly the same notes initially, just vaguely in the area until I start to feel comfortable:

Roughly like this, which I think is somewhere in the same range:

http://www9.speedyshare.com/data/386303596/18573714/58365063/Would.wav

I just listened. It sounds like you're speaking like a british characature.

When I do this I start right out in head voice and flip back and forth from head to chest and back to head.

I can't say it like you are. :/

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Yeah, never realized what an awful cockney accent I have lol

Hmmm. I think I would start speaking the lyrics lower and work my way up, but probably you need to adress this with sirens and connecting the voice etc, which is perhaps the biggest topic on this forum. You should find lots of tips in the Vocal Technique section. Personally, I'd still advise talking lyrics like this but at a level that is comfortable to you to just get that mode engrained into your muscle memory and in time bring it up a little higher, but never tensing, each time you practice.

"When I do this I start right out in head voice and flip back and forth from head to chest and back to head"

Those notes are right in your weak passagio in other words, one of the major deals about learning to sing. Perfectly normal issue.

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when I add more power to that head voice it just sounds like a soprano is "saying" it

Alarm bells ringing. Are you trying to power it up with "singing" or are you speaking it as if to someone in the next room, casually asking for a beer?

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Sounds to me, that when your voice cracks at "same", you're not speaking, but falling back into bad singing mode habits, e.g. using loads of little muscular adjustments in your throat to finetune the sound in realtime to try to make it more pleasing to your ears (which I think is the wrong direction). Your cracked "same", is the same note roughly as the previous "Flood", which wasn't cracked and which sounded more like speech to me. I think you tensed up after a few words in and began to "sing" again. The experts here will get into different vowel exercises since flood is an easier vowel than same, but Im a bit lost on that stuff.

But certainly, you need to strengthen your voice in that passagio area, which entails exercises like sirens, lip rolls, things like that. You're losing chord closure when your voice cracks, your chords blow wide open and you get a shaky sound that yodels through closed chords and open chords (falsetto). You should be doing creaking exercise too.

These are the 3 basic exercises I think you should do for a month or two:

1. Creaks/cackling

2. Sirens

3. lip rolls

I also think you should definitely get a second opinon from someone like Steve or Robert.

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Its a siren that you're strangling as you go up. a siren needs to be relaxed all the way. A common trick is to, as you approach where its starting to get high, reduce the volume to a tiny little voice as you continue through the passagio, and after some practice you'll notice that as you pass through and upwards through the tricky bridge and leave it behind you, you'll find it easier to return to normal volume.

Lip rolls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0CvItiNMsA

Combination of siren and creaking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmByAiyXeAQ

(couldnt find a pure siren example right now, but I know theyre out there at youtube)

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No, thats flipping over to falsetto. E.g., youre not learning to keep your vocal chords buzzing in close proximity as you go up, instead youre letting them part and flap about which gives you a weak resonance, much like the difference between letting air out of a balloon with a wide open valve which wont give much tone, or letting the air out of the balloon with the valve stretched together with tight closure which will give a stronger tone

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well in siren 3, around the Ab above mid C area, its just really airy head voice. there's no tone to it at all :/ I can sing that one note like that and sustain but I cant make it sound like anything decent unless i pull up larynx slowly into it and then that's just bad for me :/

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Vocalizing isnt about sounding good at all though, some of the exercises sound downright embarrassing when meeting the neighbors later.

Sirens are basically to learn to keep chord closure through the bridges and iron out whats causing them to flap apart making the voice falter in that area. Making it into a pretty sound is step 2. Try creaking,"vocal fry" all through the siren like a squeaking door, or try the robot voice. Both train you to keep your chords closed:

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