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Newbie figuring out my voice

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So I'm a bass-baritone with no formal training other than books and videos. I've sang on my demos for years but always had a real lead singer in my bands. Now I'm trying to do this a little more seriously.

I've always been able to hit E2 with G2 being comfortable even cold. I've always hit a trouble spot about C#4.

In the last 3-4 months I've gotten some tapes and have been doing exercises. Only in the last few weeks really working on passagio or the break or whatever it is.

For lack of a better description, by forcing my voice up into my nose, I can now hit G4 usably. Practicing, I can do this with very little strain, just a little contraction somewhere just above my palate. I can now do two octave slides without too much tension E-G. Unfortunately, live, I catch my self just belting hard for these notes and of course they are unreliable and I know I'm not doing my voice favors.

I use an "ng" kind of feel to make this happen. I can push this up into A4 or even higher but it gets so quacky or brassy that's it's really unpleasant. I certainly feel a brand new resonance in my head when I do this.

Alternately, if I start in falsetto, and then tighten above the palate, the tone becomes much more solid (not quite as solid as the previous but not airy) I can then push up to E5. This is harsh as hell, and but actually has less tension than the higher notes in the other type. I absolutely cannot glide this back down without an obvious break.

To be honest, I don't know if I'll really ever need more than G4. My real goal is improving tone and control for the E2-G4 that I have now.

But I'm curious what I'm doing wrong. It feels like I have two separate breaks, one of which I'm learning to smooth through and the other one I don't even know how to describe.

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The really high one definitely made me think "This is what Mark Slaughter is doing!" and it sure as heck feels like a reinforced falsetto. On the lower end of the sound I can mellow it out and it sounds a little like a classical countertenor.

But your advice sounds good, I won't waste time trying to connect whatever that is.

I'd like to do some skype lessons, but I want to pick the right teacher. My goals are more mellow and folk-y style rather than metal. From what I've seen, if you want to do metal, Rob's the man. I just need to figure it out before I spend the cash.

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If you've had no formal training, Robert Lunte, Ken Tamplin or any of the others mentioned by Owen is a good choice. At this point, it's better to get the fundamentals down instead of worrying so much about what style of music you want to sing. Who knows? A few years into vocal lessons you might want to sing other types of music. You never know.

Here are sample videos for each vocal instructor:

Ken Tamplin


Eric Arceneaux

Kevin Richards

James Lugo

Jaime Vendera

Robert Lunte



Btw, they all have youtube channels.

Ken Tamplin: http://www.youtube.com/user/kentamplin

Eric Arceneaux: http://www.youtube.com/user/EricArceneaux

Kevin Richards: http://www.youtube.com/user/RocktheStageNYC

James Lugo: http://www.youtube.com/user/jameslugo

Jaime Vendera: http://www.youtube.com/user/venderaj

Robert Lunte: http://www.youtube.com/user/roblunte

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Alright those are good points. Clearly the foundation is the foundation.

I'm a guitarist so I get it. People say "Do you play acoustic or electric?" Well I play both but the basics are the basics.

I'm checking out the various videos tonight. Thanks for the feedback.

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chamcham you forgot Rob lol.

Hey what do you know, Rob has a video on style vs. technique!


Here's a video of him doing a BLUES vocal workout...of course it's not without a little bit of his metal style thrown in here and there for his own fun, but for the rest of it, you can hear that the sound of his technique can fit right in with any style.



I updated my post. I was looking for Rob's videos and then got sidetracked.

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Hey Negoba, a few words of advice...

Even if you plan to not do much singing above G4, you should still learn to use your full vocal keyboard. The voice is capable of three octaves or more and IMO as a fellow bass-baritone, I think we lower voice types tend to have even wider ranges once we've developed them (though not always). I started out where you are, my low being E2 and hitting my break right around D/Eb4. I can now sing up to Bb5. Now I wouldn't consider anything in excess of E5 to exactly be a quality note. But practicing the full extent of my vocal range has helped me develop an incredible amount of control in the lower parts of it as well.

High notes can sound really bad if your technique is off. With lower pitches bad technique is noticeable. So learning to sing well in your upper register will benefit your entire voice from top to bottom.

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That sounds like good advice. It sounds daunting because E4-E5 is basically all brand new territory for me. Even having two good octaves felt like a big deal at first.

Anytime you're in new territory, the learning curve is steep and that's very exciting. I'm still there, discovering new things about my voice almost every day.

While I may never be able to sing Take Hold of the Flame, I think I could do a nice Silent Lucidity..maybe someday.

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Remy gave good advice. And he certainly has a larger range than I do. By his own description, he can sing everything in my range and a decent deal below it.

Everyone here gave good advice and your analogy is spot on. There are some fine differences between electric and acoustic guitars but basics are basics.

As for the upper break mentioned by Owen. Around the D5 area, there is a tonal shift, even in tenors. Because the size of the resonating pocket for notes that high and higher is so small that there is no room for the overtones of separate vowel sounds. What many think of as total headvoice. And it feels different, to some. And it's totally fine. It's not really a "break." It's a physics thingy.

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Thanks Ron,

I'm learning, and just this weekend cemented the fact that I sound better with a slightly lighter approach. As I'm using this more and more, I realize that the difference is really just where the resonances sit, for the most part center of the head above the soft palate rather than pushed hard into the mask.

Clearly I need a teacher to help and I will when there is time. That's always the problem. I have plenty of time while commuting to practice, but time for lessons is harder.

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