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Newbie Q: tension vs. compression

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keoladonaghy
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Aloha all. I've been working with SS for a few months now, feel I'm making good progress but kind of banging my head against the wall with this one. In a Skype lesson I had last month, I learned a bit about getting some compression, something I think both my speaking and singing voice were lacking in the extreme. Learned some exercise, and think I have a bit better idea of the feel and sound when I have some good compression going.

However, sometimes I feel like this is simply more tension in the throat, and get more breaks through the bridge than when I don't consciously try to get some compression in the sound. I also feel like I'm less in control of what's going on and finding the results and sound erratic in terms of tone quality and pitch accuracy.

So the question is - how can I best tell that I'm getting good compression without bringing negative tension into the process? I'm not even sure if I'm stating the issue correctly, but hopefully you'll get the gist of it from my description.

I tend to work out for about an hour a day with occasional days off, and have not had any issues with soreness or tightness after a workout or the next day, so hopefully that's a good sign.

Thanks in advance.

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Who did you have your skype lesson with?

What do you mean by "compression"

It sounds like your working with twang configurations in the head voice, but lets be sure first. Can you send us a link of you working out?

Cool that your training.

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Mahalo Robert, will record something when I get home tonight.

The lesson was with Jesse Nemitz at Brett Manning's studio. I'm still learning the terminology and hope I don't misrepresent what he had me doing. His observation was that as I was beginning exercises that I was losing a lot of air on that initial attack, and had me doing some exercises to keep the vocal chords together going into those vocalizations. I'd characterize the sound as being tighter and a bit edgier. However, I have to focus on that and found it more difficult to get and keep resonance going in the mask, and the overall feeling was one of my head being less open because of focusing on what he was referring to as compression of the vocal chords.

It actually feels pretty good in chest, but when I get to the bridge it seems to make getting through the exercises harder.

I know and audio sample will say more than I can in text, will get something up this evening, many thanks.

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Hi,

sounds to me like you are infact over compressing which results in a sort of "pressed voice". if you over compress you will find that the voice feels stuck and heavy. you need to find the middle ground where you are applying enough/the kind of compression that you are getting the cord closure but not so much that you are experiencing a stuck, inflexible, heavy voice.

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Aloha all. I've been working with SS for a few months now, feel I'm making good progress but kind of banging my head against the wall with this one. In a Skype lesson I had last month, I learned a bit about getting some compression, something I think both my speaking and singing voice were lacking in the extreme. Learned some exercise, and think I have a bit better idea of the feel and sound when I have some good compression going.

However, sometimes I feel like this is simply more tension in the throat, and get more breaks through the bridge than when I don't consciously try to get some compression in the sound. I also feel like I'm less in control of what's going on and finding the results and sound erratic in terms of tone quality and pitch accuracy.

keoladonaghy: If you are sensing tension in the throat, then you are doing too much. Here are some exercises you can do to help bring things back into balance, and the reasons they work.

The efficiency of phonation comes from correctly balancing the muscle actions of adduction (bringing the vocal bands together), the registration (the pitch-controlling muscles) and the breath energy. The three items are interrelated. If any of them are out of balance with the others, the sound will not be clear, easy, and sustainable.

BY FAR, the most common problem with an earnest novice student is providing too much breath energy for the level of laryngeal muscle activity. In common terms, blowing too hard. This is why so many voice teachers focus on breath management or breath control.... to provide the right amount of breath energy for the given adjustment of the laryngeal muscles.

While there are many ways to approch this situation, some of my favorites are simple... making soft, clear sounds in physical positions that automatically prevent the forces which push air during exhalation. Here is one of them.

In a comfortable chair, slouch (as if watching a dull sport on the TV) and let your stomach muscles relax to the point that they are soft... what I like to call a 'jellybelly'. For the fit, this low level of physical involvement often takes a little time to achieve :-) Take in a very slow, easy breath for about 10 seconds without lifting the chest, to about 1/3 full, and then slowly exhale for the same amount of time. Repeat these slow breaths in and out for 5 minutes, at as low a level of physical intensity as you can manage without falling asleep.

When a person breathes in and out slowly in this fashion, the speed of the inhalation and exhalation is being directly managed by the diaphragm... automatically. The transition from inhale to exhale is accomplished by just _slightly_ changing the level of diaphragmatic muscle action, which happens just because you desire it.

After about 5 minutes, go on to the next exercise:

When you reach the end of the 10 second inhale, slow down the speed of the inhalation until you reach the balance point where you are neither inhaling or exhaling. Right there, the forces of inhalation and exhalation are perfectly balanced. Hold that feeling for 5 seconds, and then allow the slow exhale to occur. Repeat this for a few minutes, until you have sensed that you can stop your inhale at any point ... stay at balance for a moment, and then continue inhaling or exhaling at will. After about 5 minutes, you should be ready for the next part of the exercise.

Now, we add phonation. Take in a slow 5-second breath, slow and stop it at the balance point, and say a soft, short, clear 'ah' in your speaking voice, while trying to maintain the balance. The sensation should involve no appreciable tension or constriction anywhere in your body, though you may sense some action.

This latter skill, of phonating while maintaining the sense of the balance, will be awkward for awhile, so practice it for 15 mins a day, for a couple weeks. As you become more comfortable with it, you may increase the volume of your spoken sounds, provided you can maintain the sense of balance, with a completely relaxed throat, and no appreciable tension anywhere as you make the clear sounds.

After 2 weeks or so, you are likely to be familiar enough with the sensations that you can perform the exercises while standing. As you transition to that position, remember that your inhalation should not involve the motion of your chest upward, nor move downward as you exhale. Wherever it is, leave it there. :-)

A very wise teacher I know has likened this approach to the sensations one has while 'fogging the glasses' with a 'warm, moist' breath. However you think about it, the desire to inhale and exhale slowly causes the diaphragm to become active to manage the process, without the person having to think much about it. Absolutely, this balance provides a much better starting point for the matching of the laryngeal muscle actions of singing with the breath energy. In fact, this skill... to sing on this balance, is the core technique of breath management.

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Aloha Steven, I'm truly humbled by you taking the time to explain all of this in such great detail. Your instructions are great and I can see that while this sounds relatively simply it is not. I will add it into my routine, for sure. Jellybelly is no problem for me - normal state, I would say :P

It turns out that I did over-exert myself with those exercises while adding compression/adduction. I took a day off after first posting about this. While I felt no discomfort when speaking, when I returned to practice the following day I found it quite uncomfortable to do most of the exercises that I've been doing with ease for a few months now. So I took another four days off and everything seems fine.

Mahalo again,

Keola

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(breathing exercise)

I have to say, I tried this for about 5 minutes and then went back to my scales and I heard and felt an immediate improvement. It's a very peculiar feeling to have this slight but controlled feeling between the abdomen and the vocal cords :o

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I have to say, I tried this for about 5 minutes and then went back to my scales and I heard and felt an immediate improvement. It's a very peculiar feeling to have this slight but controlled feeling between the abdomen and the vocal cords :o

Mr Bounce: How have things been over the past few days? Its been my experience that awareness of this subtle sensation improves with practice.

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