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Singing Runs

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Hi everyone,

I'm a huge fan of listening to runs and riffs. I really enjoy how some singers can change notes extremely quickly. Unfortunately, I can't replicate it... I do notice that when people sing runs, their bottom jaw seems to move along with the changing pitch. Any ideas on why? I'm guessing that their jaws are in a relaxed state.

Here are some examples:

1) Most obvious in this video, but song contains bad language:

2) Great voice, noticeable jaw movements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XufhmIy4Zc

3) You can see her jaw move in the runs:

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Maybe it is to change the sound of the vowel through the run for style? Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, who has really wonderful and easy runs in my opinion, sings many small embellishments in this song. He hardly moves his jaw and the vowel during the run stays constant.


I would have thought that the control of pitch occurs almost 100% at the vocal cords, so I am very interested to hear some input on this topic!

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i think Mr Bounce is probably on track and i would imagine that a lot the jaw movements etc. are happening from other outer muscles trying to assist in the task rather than it ideally being at a laryngeal level. however unlike outer muscle trying to assist with aspects such as power etc. i wouldn't think it was that problematic unless their was a lot of tension in the regions that are assisting though i know some teachers would say its not proper technique and may be unsightly. my internet was playing up at the time, but from what i could make out the jaw movements i saw on the videos Puissance provided didnt show that much movement compared to some r n b type singers i have seen but i will have a look again later. also i think there is a difference if your reestablishing a sound over and over again such as "yeah yeah yeah" to differentiate each note in the sequence, where by the jaw will move than just flapping your jaw around.

i think Mr Bs video is a good example that indeed the assisting muscles dont have to be present.

Puissance, not that im an expert at all that ornamentation stuff though i play around a little but one thing i have found is that the better my technique has become and the more relaxed, loosened up/freed up my voice has become (which ultimately has been down to training to not engage constricting and large assisting musculature) the better and easier that stuff has got. one training tool would be to work out what the notes are in the melodic sequence of the run or riff and then do it very slowly and staccato(emphasising each note separately rather than letting them blend into one another) on a sound like WHOAH as in the word TOE or WHOO as in the word TO and slowly increase the speed faster. this would make the jaw move as mentioned above but the assistance can be helpful at first. once you feel your able to do the above exercise at a fast pace, approaching or at the speed of the actual run take away the beginning consonants so your just left with the vowel sound. when this is done there should be no need for the jaw to move. so WHOAH would become OH and WHOO would become OO and once again sing each note in the sequence separately gradually increasing the speed of the run or lick to full speed.

Martin, please dont take this as some sort of "and this means SLS is better" comment (or "and this means CVT is rubbish" comment because i dont believe that and am i not trying prove or point that out. i am merely pointing out an objective observation not "point scoring" on some sort of technique vs technique crusade :cool: ) because im not even sure if SLS has any standard way of teaching ornamentation and CVT does at least have a stab at it but i think the CVT method is one of its weak points. it kind of outlines some exercises like i did above but it talks about doing it through hammer ( or sometimes known as machine gun or sheep) vibrato or laryngeal vibrato but seems to favour the hammer vibrato method because thats what seems to be demonstrated mostly by Catherine Sadolin in the ornamentation exercises from what i can hear (though i could be wrong) but i have to say that i dont think this is what is going on with those runs and licks type ornamentation because it sounds and feels quite different from the CVT stuff. i personally couldnt say whats actually going on and i would guess that it is close to some sort of vibrato fold type coordination/movement but i have to say i dont think its the ones demonstrated by Catherine.

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No pune taken :)

Though, the hammer vibrato actually IS a great way to achieve the fast runs.

I'm not using that much of ornamentation but here is a clip I did. It's not perfect at all, but I think it shows that hammer vibrato actually is a great tool for this kind of style. :


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