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Singing in a "dead" room

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Hi, hope you guys can give me some feedback on this. :)

I have found my singing varies a great deal from room to room.

1/ My rehearsal room. It's totally dead acoustically. An old garage with lots of dampening material on the walls, carpets on the floor, lots of gear. So the sound doesn't reverberate much. This room makes me feel uncomfortable, i feel my voice sounds lifeless there, and i'm probably straining quite a bit to compensate for whatever I feel is missing in my sound.

2/ At the music school. Love to practice there! Have been singing in most of its rooms, and the sound is so much better.

So why is it i feel I can sing well in some rooms, and not others?


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Resonance in the rooms help one's voice sound fuller. Also, your hearing hears sounds coming from head bones, mouth, and now the room.

Likely, when you sound better, you feel more motivated. With more motivation and more positive feedback, you probably feel better about your singing.

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This is why singers need to learn to SEE how they produce sound, and FEEL their voices, instead of trying to listen from inside to what's going on outside. When singers can't hear themselves they tend to push. Try this experiment. Record yourself in the room where you feel good about your singing. While you are singing, use a mirror to notice your posture and your facial expressions. See if you are loose, or if there is any tension in your face or body. Notice where in your face, head, throat, body you feel the sound. Try to retain those feelings and images. Then, go immediately to the other environment. Use the mirror. Sing the way you just sang and record yourself. If you don't adjust for the new environment, the sound you record should be similar to what you recorded in the other space, just without the nice, friendly resonance added.

We like to sing in rooms with echo and in the shower, in part, because the bouncing sound fills in our voices and makes them sound richer and fuller. You can learn to make a richer, fuller sound, however, without the amped-up acoustics. What you are hearing in the dead room may be the real deal. Most likely, you can change that.

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It's totally natural that you are feeling that way in the "dead room". How a singer hears themselves can play a big role in their performance. That's why in a vocal booth at a studio which is totally dead, the singers always wear headphones. And they pump reverb into the headphones to make you feel like you are in a more lively room. And when you are singing on stage, like in a rock band, the vocal monitors are so important - and the monitor mix will usually involve a reverb as well, to simulate a room sound.

As you get better and better though, the comfort of the room sound becomes less important. Like Patricia said, you start to "feel" yourself singing and you start to rely on those feelings rather than the "room" sound.

Having said that, I always prefer to practice in front of a mirror, usually in a bathroom. The acoustics are good with the hard walls, and I can monitor my mouth / tongue / softpallet positions and facial expressions. But I'll practice in a variety of environments include my car.

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Thanks all of you!

Yes I definitely think I rely too much on my ears, when I sing. And not enough on my inner hearing and sensations. Come to think of it, I have the same problem when I play live sometimes, when I can't hear myself properly...

Patricia: I'll try your experiment. I can't compare my rehearsal room and music school room as they are too far apart. But maybe I can pick two rooms at my school, a live and a dead one, and compare those.

So this whole thing is just something I'll get used to with time? As my awareness and vocal abilities grow?

Also, I'm not very self-confident (to say the least), so this "friendly resonance" from the room acts like a confidence boost, which in turn makes me relax and sing better.

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you may get to point after a couple of years where your singing becomes a matter of aiming the breath stream into specific resonating areas always seeking a pocket(s) where the note takes on this huge ring or ping and you begin to sense a release of effort and an accuracy of tonal production starts to develop. (this is a non-techical explanation.) you will know it when you hear it (and feel it) and it will accompanied by a feeling of accuracy...your pitch will be spot on.

you can't "pre-know" (a made up word...lol) this when you are just starting out. the next thing you know your vocal instrument memorizes these sensations and incorporates them into your singing.

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