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Perception vs. reality??? How do you feel when you sing?

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izzle1989
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Many topics on this forum can be extensively debated and argued about, but what cannot be the topic of our arguments is how "WE" feel when we sing. Each and every one of us will describe different sensations and feelings when we are doing certain things with our voices. All of the things we describe are very subjective to the individual person. Before we can make progress we must realize that our perception of reality may or may not be the perception of another individual.

My questions for you all are:

1.What do you feel when you are singing?(Freedom, relaxation, tension, fluidity, elasticity, etc.)

2. How does this differ from what you feel when you are speaking?

3. How does this differ from what you feel when you are being silent?

4. Do these things conform with the "natural" laws of physics?

5. How can "your" experience be translated or correlated to what another being experiences?

6. When things are working "correctly" what does it sound like to you? What does good singing sound like to you as a listener of another performer?

7. What can be visually seen when you watch great singers work their magic?

These questions are things that should not only be addressed when singing, but reflect life in general. "I feel" that kinesthetic, visual, and aural awareness are the foundation of learning or performing every task.

Any thoughts????

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1 feels easy and good, also much stronger. Using a more technical description, I can feel my voice placed higher, almost all on the front of my mouth on the lower range. Nothing at all on the larynx/throat, and pressure from support.

2 its easier than speaking, but there is more application, or good effort. speaking feels like a leas polished use of the voice

3 not sure I follow, there is no sound, no sensation of resonance and no pressure

4 Yes. The sensations of resonance, are not resonance itself, but simpathetic vibrations. But these are real, and they are very intense and, if achieved through carefull ajustments rather than just forcing it to happen, are a solid reference that its working correctly.

Support is easier to feel and check if its working. Pressure wants to come out, so by letting the intercostals relax, a large ammount of air is released. And the control of air flow and be done without using the larynx to close the airway. Can be checked by listenning for the glotic closure sound or a laringoscope, but the easier way is by feeling, your larynx feels as if its on the inhaling coordination.

5 By carefully building the necessary conditions and working slowly towards the spots where there is a problem, using what is correct as a common ground.

6 Its very hard to hear myself precisely with resonance working, unless using a monitor, and even so, it gets in the way. The other feelings are much stronger and easier to keep track.

And here we must define what is good singing. You mean healthy singing? Basicly the tonal quality has no strain on it, its something that depends completely on my perception, I can hear it with a certain degree if precision, and no, just listenning to some technical maneuvers is not enough.

Now if its good singing as in, good to listen too, the ideas are completely different. First and foremost, homogeneity, vowels do not wave all around when changing intensity, pitch and the vowels itself. Its the crucial difference that makes or brake any voice. If the technique thats being worked does not lead for this, its useless.

It does not depend on technique, as you can force the vowels into a more homogeneous production, and thats why you have comercial material with singers that strain, and supposedly technical singers that are impossible to listen for a whole song.

7 depends on what you define as great hehehe. The ones I consider as references, are the ones that I see just having a good time, no veins jumping out on the neck, no strange faces trying to make something happen, just singing. A way to describe it, is that they have the song totally under control, from the first note, you know that the whole thing will come out smoothly.

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I could just quote Felipe's whole post as my response. Difference is, he has a south american accent and I have a combo of west coast and hick accent. Although, a native texan can usually tell that I am not from Texas even though I have been here since 1974, having moved from California.

My questions for you all are:

1.What do you feel when you are singing?(Freedom, relaxation, tension, fluidity, elasticity, etc.)

I feel all the the things described in your question. And the less I analyze them separately, the better off I am. Because, to me, they must all be present. You might have to slow down and back off the gas to work one thing that is bothering you but get it back into the melieu of the voice as soon as possible.

2. How does this differ from what you feel when you are speaking?

In singing, the breathing is "engaged." Bob describes it as dealing with the core, I think. I am not quite sure what he means by that but we could be talking about the same thing. "Support" is not just a massive push of air. It is an ever-changing requirement that needs to mobile and agile. Which often means having some good muscle tone in the abs. But not moribund rips and cuts like a body builder. The idea is for the trunk of the body to be fluid and elastic.

In speaking, I speak as most everyone else does, with nothing more than the residual pressure from a collapsing diaphragm. Unless I need to elevate the volume of my voice and "project." Then, without thinking, I "punch it," so to speak. My speaking voice sounds, to me, quite a bit like Felipe's from the skype conference, save for the difference in accent. Others who have heard me speak may have a different appraisal of that.

I fully believe that we do NOT sing as we speak. That we mess ourselves up by trying to sing like we speak. And that totally has to do with what is required in speech for volume and level of intensity, as well as the language that is spoken and in which dialect. In addition to that, one's own psychological. Structure aside, some people speak softly because they wish to not be noticed or draw bad attention to themselves, a result, sometimes, of psychological and physical trauma.

3. How does this differ from what you feel when you are being silent?

I totally relax everything and breathing sometimes alternates between nose and mouth, depending.

4. Do these things conform with the "natural" laws of physics?

Laws of physics are natural. Einstein's work are still theories and much of Quantum Mechanics is based on Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty, a mathematical conundrum. If I talk about Schroedinger's Cat, I will bore you to tears.

Singing, like any instrument, is acoustics. Which is physics. Whether a person chooses to accept that, or not. A few times, people have accused Ronnie James Dio of being deceptive when he said he had no formal singing lessons. In an interview, he said he learned about breathing for singing from playing horn instruments, namely trumpet and french horn. And how often have we done the reverse? Likening singing to some instrument? For, in playing a wind instrument, you must learn breath support. You must learn the varying shapes and compressions of embouchre. In a trumpet, there is no reed, just your lips. But even a reeded instrument like a clarinet or oboe requires varying the embouchre and breath pressure. The rest is resonance, which does follow the principles of acoustics, which is physics.

5. How can "your" experience be translated or correlated to what another being experiences?

I have taught electrical work. Informally, on the job, with new helpers. Formally, in a program funded by the DOL for "youths at risk." I like to think I am an effective teacher. Organic, hands-on, learn as you go, absorb all these basic things at once. And you learn by doing. I can teach you the basics but you need to go on your own and mangle some pipe into a pretzel until you learn by physical memory what the pipe bender does. The same with your voice. If you are a voice teacher, you can teach a student some basics. He needs to go home and make a "pretzel" out of it, find out what it is that his voice does.

That being said, I would not necessarily be a good voice teacher. Teaching is a skill and an art. And being good at teaching one thing does not necessarily mean that you will be good at teaching another thing. To me, teaching is organic. And a good instructor can also slightly vary his pedagogy to match the needs of the students, though some basics may always apply, across the board.

Even so, I have often spoke of what images I use to do something. Some people find it helpful. I have so many rep points because people like what I say, not because I am smart or an expert. Or that I am correct on something. So, you milage may vary.

6. When things are working "correctly" what does it sound like to you? What does good singing sound like to you as a listener of another performer?

Clear and resounding. Or soft and warm, depending on the requirements of the song. Often, I have a sub-text, a point of view. If that comes across, I feel I have succeeded. I've never been that much into myself creating rasp, even though I have admired other raspy singers. Sometimes, I can get a rattle and it is totally by feel, up in my head and is a result of relaxation. Otherwise, I sing as clean as my voice is capable of. I feel my head ring. I feel like the note is a ball at the meeting of the soft and hard palate. I don't aim for that. I get out of my own way and feel I am in the pocket when I feel it there. I feel my abs moving in and out and compress at onset. I feel like I have no throat. As soon as I start to become conscious of my throat, I stop, back up, re-group. I feel my jaw drop on really high notes. I don't think "drop jaw to get a high note," I just noticed that it's happening. Who knows, I might be dampening some larynx, just a smidge, though that is not my aim, either.

But are we talking about technical accuracy? "Help from my friends." The Beatles do a great job with this song and Paul is a technically good singer. And I still prefer Joe Cocker's version. I don't say that to be ironic. I like plenty of other stuff by the Beatles, though. I don't consider Joe Cocker a technically accurate singer, though some may disagree with me.

7. What can be visually seen when you watch great singers work their magic?

Relatively straight upper body alignment, though not rigidly so. Especially while actually singing. Moving around the stage, that's something else. Axl Rose , for example.

Some singers bow their heads forward just a smidge for high notes. I think this facilitates jaw drop, when necessary. Halford does it, so does Steven Tyler.

The great singers look at the audience. It's okay to close your eyes on a high note. Maybe it helps you, certainly gives a dramatic presentation. But then, open them again, engage the audience. The singer is usually the frontman and that means being out front. So, act like you want to be there.

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Ron I really appreciate the detailed post that you have written. I agree with you on about 99.9% of the things you have stated. I'm not here to argue on this post just your perspective and how it relates to others. I feel that your response as well as the responses to follow can be a vocal clinic of their own. Maybe we can find more commonalities among vocalists.

Again I would like to thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with the world.

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Felipe I would like to thank you for your response. I feel that you have a lot to bring to the singing community. We as vocalists have to stop arguing about who is right or wrong and only focus on what works and what doesn't. What works for you may not work for me or Ron, but if we can find commonalities between what works for the majority then and only then can we make progress.

Thanks again.

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Actually, I think a thread like this can be helpful. We all have our own perspectives, paradigm, weltanschauung, whathaveyou. And it can hinder or help us.

And while I value science and a few other members here get a lot of benefit from a scientific explanation, even to the point of assigning math and percentages, it is still a mental model and we are still singing by feel and thought.

And therein lies the difference. What is a person thinking or feeling when they sing?

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Exactly! I feel that this is the most important aspect. Sometimes we get too caught up with how things work by observation instead of what we should be doing to achieve these things that are being observed.

I feel that we can directly benefit from each other.

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I hesitated to take this on. I do not want to start another debate. I do like you guys.

I look at things a little different maybe because I am an East Coast Hillbilly

I know that you were looking for physical sensations But I gotta be me. Singing to me is more emotional. Maybe you could pass this on to a psychology major and see if there is any help for me.;)

1.What do you feel when you are singing?(Freedom, relaxation, tension, fluidity, elasticity, etc.)

Connection to others

2. How does this differ from what you feel when you are speaking?

Dis connected

3. How does this differ from what you feel when you are being silent?

Dis connected but alert

4. Do these things conform with the "natural" laws of physics?

I'm not sure

5. How can "your" experience be translated or correlated to what another being experiences?

We all expierience things differently

6. When things are working "correctly" what does it sound like to you? What does good singing sound like to you as a listener of another performer?

I feel a connection with the singer and the message of the song

7. What can be visually seen when you watch great singers work their magic?

Emotion and intent.

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MDEW I appreciate your post just as much as I appreciate the other posts. I really enjoyed you perspective of singing and how you feel about singing. I am a firm believer that emotions have direct control over how well we communicate and the physical actions we take to communicate.

Thanks for you input as it is beneficial to me and I'm sure it will benefit others ;)

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1.What do you feel when you are singing?(Freedom, relaxation, tension, fluidity, elasticity, etc.)

When I'm having a good day it feels very free and full. Also joyous :)

2. How does this differ from what you feel when you are speaking?

Mostly the full feeling is the difference. When I speak, I have nothing of that resonating feeling as I have when I sing.

3. How does this differ from what you feel when you are being silent?

That too depends. Sometimes silence can feel really relaxing, but sometimes it can almost feel more strenous than singing, say if you are watching a exciting movie and your body reacts subcounsciously. I can almost feel myself straining in the throat, even though I'm quite.

4. Do these things conform with the "natural" laws of physics?

That they must :P Physics is physics. I agree 100% with Ron on this one.

5. How can "your" experience be translated or correlated to what another being experiences?

That depends both on me and the other person. I can simply talk about my experiences, and if I'm lucky the person I'm telling this too can relate. If not, I would try to find another way of communicating this until I feel confident enough we are talking about the same thing.

6. When things are working "correctly" what does it sound like to you? What does good singing sound like to you as a listener of another performer?

When it's working correctly it sounds like alot of sound, kinda like a subsound behind all the lyrics. Good singing depends, as I think not all good singers are technically efficient.

7. What can be visually seen when you watch great singers work their magic?

Sometimes alot of strain, but that usually comes with a worse sound than their studio recording. But if talking about technically good singing, I would characterize that as looking quite comfortably. You don't get that dread feeling that the singer will botch the high note, you just lean back and relax and let it happen.

Cheers!

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Thanks Mivke! I really appreciate your response. I also like to explain until I feel that we are on the same page. I can understand what you mean by the extra sound as I tend to strike a lot of over tones when I'm doing things correctly.

I glad we can all agree with each other for the most part on how it feels when things are working correctly.

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In an interview, he said he learned about breathing for singing from playing horn instruments, namely trumpet and french horn.

Ive heard this so many times, but Ive never been able to find that interview. You wouldnt happen to have a link?

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mine is a simple answer...

for me it's all about the sound and the emotion. it varies by song too. some songs you can sing nice and relaxed, others are a physical feat.

if you are going for a really intense sound where every nuance of that song, every word, every syllable has to be sung strongly, with guts, you really have to bleed those lyrics (regardless of volume) you will be working.

i don't care how free your throat is, how relaxed you want to feel, how unconstricted you want to be, you are going to be working when you sing certain material.

and...this is a big "and"....you will be fighting to minimize tension.....depending on the song.....you will not completely eliminate it, you will minimize it...but you not eliminate it.

and while it will get easier the better you get, certain songs will remain on your "tough list."

even the pros have "tough lists."

now as far as what do i feel when i sing, when i'm on and (hopefully) free of phlegm, and things are going really well notes come out of me more "efficiently."

there's this "efficiency" feeling, where you just know exactly where to place the tone. there's a feeling like i'm not banging into any dull spots in the resonators, that i sent the narrow air stream exactly into the right cavity/cavities.

there's a feel like you're singing through a tunnel at times. like the voice has taken on this depth.

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Hey, Matt, sorry, the interviews where Ronnie has mentioned were written as part of band histories and bios. I don't have a specific link of video, as yet, though one may exist.

I remember that you once mentioned that you got to interview him. I wished you had asked him, then.

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excellent reply, Owen. And something you said reminded of what I have been doing, as well. Staying away from vocal fry, especially in speach. I'll stop and then approach the word more softly, which means engaging breath support, but that's okay. And this is not a matter of trying to connect speach and sining. This is more along the lines of stopping myself from creating or continuing a habit that could detune me.

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damn, RJD still didnt talk about singing technigue...He's probably telling the truth, though. Some people just fall into singing easily. My dad played with a rock band called IF in the 70s and after they lost their singer, they never bothered replacing him, since all the musicians just naturally had reasonable enough voices to replace him. Heres one with the drummer singing, f.ex. He wasnt a singer at all, but when he needed to, he was quite adequate:

the bassguitarist:

The pianist:

the guitarist:

my dad:

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All three were groovy, Matt. Your dad's cut took me by surprise. It was a little more like the Beatles, and then the surprising Ian Anderson - ish flute comes in. Way cool.

I had bell bottoms in the 70's, too. And regulation Navy dungarees, which had bell like cuffs.

Takes me back, a bit.

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;)

from what I can hear, the high harmonies seem to be dad. as a sax and flute player, he would have had a similar background to ronnie. Hmmm, he's doing an A# in the harmonies in a quite strong passagio in the guitarists track "pick me up," around 1:20, without ever taking a singing lesson or even being particularly enthusiastic about singing

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As for RJD, it' already been decided by others that he could not sing that way without lessons. So, if he had any natural talent or ability or heart for singing, it means nothing. It's been said that he could not have done what he did without some training. Ergo, RJD was lying. Of course, it's easy to accuse a dead man of lying. He's not around to refute such claims.

And maybe he was lying or being deceptive. I don't have a problem admitting when I am wrong, if I am wrong.

Maybe he liked the mystery. The common joe buying the album probably didn't give a second thought to it. They just liked the sound that he could make.

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As for RJD, it' already been decided by others that he could not sing that way without lessons. So, if he had any natural talent or ability or heart for singing, it means nothing. It's been said that he could not have done what he did without some training. Ergo, RJD was lying. Of course, it's easy to accuse a dead man of lying. He's not around to refute such claims.

And maybe he was lying or being deceptive. I don't have a problem admitting when I am wrong, if I am wrong.

Maybe he liked the mystery. The common joe buying the album probably didn't give a second thought to it. They just liked the sound that he could make.

brother ron,

there is no need to insinuate regarding who made the comments about dio having had voice training.

you know as well as i do it was me.

all i'm stating is my opinion, and that is that virtually every professional vocalist who makes a living by live touring and concert performances is going to at least brush up against or run into issues with their voice sooner or later.

everyone.................it's inevitable.

at some point in their career (regardless of what they say or don't say) it seems pretty logical to assume this...don't you agree?

and to me if you are using your voice in a habitual manner, you are essentially training your voice in way or another.

do you see where i'm coming from?

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