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chuy67

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My last post was about vowels, which unfortonetly was not fully answered. But on the other hand, I also spoke about strain in my neck which day by day is being relieved more and more. My next trouble is tone. Lets just say I don't have a very pleasing tone,especially when getting closer to my bridge. My overall question is, how does tone work and what is a good way to achieve better tone and why when going higher in my range it sounds bad. O and I doubt i'm pulling up chest voice.

Thank you :)

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Its always easier for people to answer if you have a clip of your voice. For my voice, my main tone issue is getting better cord closure, but you may have a different issue. Generally though, the mechanics are to get a good, relaxed buzz in your adducted chords which get amplified in the cavities of your mouth, nose, head, chest etc.

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Here is a very short clip of the intro to In My Room by The Beach Boys, http://www.box.net/shared/20d90y89gc . As you can hear the tone is not that great and it sounds pretty weak. As I go higher in my range, it gets even worse. What can this be? It disappoints me when I have a wide range but can not use all of it. Once again thank you.

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Youve just got the typical probs we all have to deal with from what I as an amateur hear, nothing that cant be fixed.

"...Where I >>can go<<" round about here you can hear a little woofiness or hollow sort of lack of ring starting there and carrying on towards the end. You carried on in that mode to the end because you got stuck in wrong configuration, mainly around the quote I posted.

Thats typical poor cord closure. Instead of getting your cords close up and buzzing nicely, they're hanging apart and the air is passing through making them flap loosely in the wind rather than buzz. If you try to speak those words at roughly the same pitch (dont worry about being particularly in tune for this, just be roughly in the same range in a *speaking voice*), you may hear you have a better sort of crunch in your tone, a "bite" as its often called. Thats the cords vibrating better and closer to each other. I taught myself incorrectly to try to get depth and volume by being woofy in the throat, Rick Astley is a good example of that if I recall his voice correctly, when want you want is almost a tiny, tinny, even, relaxed, little squeak, like a cat meow, coming from the cords, and then you learn to get the depth and richness by learning to amplify that in your head and chest cavities. Really, all its about is relaxing everything, but thats easier said than done.

Your voice is a little unsteady too from the weak cord closure and fluctuates a little both in pitch and volume. You have the same probs as most of us have/had and there are a ton of exercises and discussions on these issues - in fact they're the most common problems. You seem to have both head and chest voice going though, which is good news.

My 2 cents anyway.

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Tone, range, strain are all effected by resonance placement. If learning to play guitar is about WHAT STRINGS NOT TO MUTE then learning to sing is about WHAT MUSCLES NOT TO RELAX, as training the voice is largely about learning to relax extrinsic muscles and trust the technique. This relaxation is a hurdle that comes prior to and during the hurdle of strengthening and gaining coordination in your mechanism. There are many factors involved in tone (volume or space of resonating chamber, formant, energy, your flesh and bone structure,...).

I am trying to point out that the answer your are looking for is not do this to sound like that; rather, first the singer must have proper resonance placement and relaxed extrinsic muscles then they can play with tone by changing formant (placement and shape of lips, tongue...). Raising your soft palette, opening your throat are two of many factors involved in the tone equation.

I think your voice does not sound weak. I think the range demonstrated is not a large range (not that you don't have a huge range, just that this clip doesn't require a lot of range). Feel free to sound bad, demonstrate your best and worst over your entire range. Then the problem(s) become more apparent and the next step is more easily distinguishable.

Most voices struggle at the passaggio. Maybe this is why pros love to sing right on the passaggio to prevent casual singers from singing their songs 8~)

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You carried on in that mode to the end because you got stuck in wrong configuration

you want is almost a tiny, tinny, even, relaxed, little squeak, like a cat meow, coming from the cords, and then you learn to get the depth and richness by learning to amplify that in your head and chest cavities. Really, all its about is relaxing everything, but thats easier said than done.

Great points here!

Resonance is key and relaxation of extrinsic muscles.

The thing is it will blow your mind how much easier it is to sing when resonance is placed properly. If extrinsic muscles are involved then there is a chain of reactions that tightens muscles and prevents your voice from setting up the way it needs to. Notice how pros and opera singers talk about using vibrato to help with high pitches. Natural vibrato is the result of balanced support and relaxed extrinsic muscles.

This too is the Top Down NOT Bottom Up talk track you see from The Vocalist Studio all over these threads. Top Down phonation involves the healthy and efficient characteristics we are discussing while Bottom Up phonation involves use of extrinsic muscles, pushing pitches up, singing from the throat...

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Maybe this is why pros love to sing right on the passaggio to prevent casual singers from singing their songs 8~)

Lol, just think the same, it seems like all these good singers try just to make melodies no one else can sing. And the next problem is some teachers that tell you " you know if can sing that naturally or without strugling is just to high for your voice, you will never sing like that it will hurt you" hahahahahaha.

Back to the problem i want to add something i feel about the tone in higher range. When i get to Bb/B (second passagio) it seems like my voice is suddenly " zipping " too much, it can be robust till A ( not as robust as i want of course, i got a lot and lot of work to do..) but suddenly, it zip up too much and i loose my original tone.

ANy advices?

Thanxs ;-)

Josh

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Youve just got the typical probs we all have to deal with from what I as an amateur hear, nothing that cant be fixed.

"...Where I >>can go<<" round about here you can hear a little woofiness or hollow sort of lack of ring starting there and carrying on towards the end. You carried on in that mode to the end because you got stuck in wrong configuration, mainly around the quote I posted.

Thats typical poor cord closure. Instead of getting your cords close up and buzzing nicely, they're hanging apart and the air is passing through making them flap loosely in the wind rather than buzz. If you try to speak those words at roughly the same pitch (dont worry about being particularly in tune for this, just be roughly in the same range in a *speaking voice*), you may hear you have a better sort of crunch in your tone, a "bite" as its often called. Thats the cords vibrating better and closer to each other. I taught myself incorrectly to try to get depth and volume by being woofy in the throat, Rick Astley is a good example of that if I recall his voice correctly, when want you want is almost a tiny, tinny, even, relaxed, little squeak, like a cat meow, coming from the cords, and then you learn to get the depth and richness by learning to amplify that in your head and chest cavities. Really, all its about is relaxing everything, but thats easier said than done.

Your voice is a little unsteady too from the weak cord closure and fluctuates a little both in pitch and volume. You have the same probs as most of us have/had and there are a ton of exercises and discussions on these issues - in fact they're the most common problems. You seem to have both head and chest voice going though, which is good news.

My 2 cents anyway.

Do you have any exercises in mind that would help?

I understand Brett Mannings had some but I mean more in dept

Also thank you very much you are being of much help for me.

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Great points here!

Resonance is key and relaxation of extrinsic muscles.

The thing is it will blow your mind how much easier it is to sing when resonance is placed properly. If extrinsic muscles are involved then there is a chain of reactions that tightens muscles and prevents your voice from setting up the way it needs to. Notice how pros and opera singers talk about using vibrato to help with high pitches. Natural vibrato is the result of balanced support and relaxed extrinsic muscles.

This too is the Top Down NOT Bottom Up talk track you see from The Vocalist Studio all over these threads. Top Down phonation involves the healthy and efficient characteristics we are discussing while Bottom Up phonation involves use of extrinsic muscles, pushing pitches up, singing from the throat...

Any tips on relaxing extrinsic muscles? The ones i have trouble with are the ones below you ear and the back of the skull. They tend to get tight sometimes but as I said before its becoming less prominent.

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When i get to Bb/B (second passagio) it seems like my voice is suddenly " zipping " too much, it can be robust till A ( not as robust as i want of course, i got a lot and lot of work to do..) but suddenly, it zip up too much and i loose my original tone. ANy advices?

I am not sure if I am understanding your post clearly, but none the less I will write with hope of helping. You mention the second passaggio so you are referring to the passaggio between head register and flageolet (whistle) register. If this is true then what you write about the sensation of hyper adduction is logical. As you approach the second passaggio or as you approach the flageolet register from head register then the larynx will tilt progressively LESS (reduce twang). Bridging this passaggio occurs with a NEUTRAL laryngeal configuration (the same feeling you have when you sing in a FALSETTO timbre). Once in the FLAGEOLET register keep the larynx neutral; at these extreme pitches the tone will not sound fluety. Basically, while in flageolet register think falsetto (lay off the twang). Reverse this process descending into head register from flageolet. You will need to start twanging then twanging harder to prevent keeping the neutral configuration as you descend into head. Once in head register apply face melting twang. It is my experience that descending from flageolet to head is more challenging than ascending from head to flageolet.

Note how many great singers use some vibrato and express a free tone in this register. Watch any of the Pillars instructionals on Robert Lunte's youtube channel and listen to Randy Loran when he bridges into flageolet and sings in flageolet.

How does Mariah Carey and others control whistle, nail pitch, maintain a straight tone all in whistle? I'm not there yet, so let me know if you know.

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Any tips on relaxing extrinsic muscles? The ones i have trouble with are the ones below you ear and the back of the skull. They tend to get tight sometimes but as I said before its becoming less prominent.

My own experience is drastic increase in range and removal of gripping and the engaging of extrinsic muscles when I started using a Top Down phonation rather than the throaty Bottom Up phonation. Basically, when you are singing in chest register make sure you are firing the energy and resonance at the back of your top teeth (top partial). It will likely seem a little unstable trying to sing this way in chest register if you do not currently sing this way; however, stability will quickly come as well as progress in tone, range, power of voice, and overall healthier future for your voice.

For now you can smile a while you sing. As you ascend to the passaggio between chest register and head register, relax your jaw and allow your mouth to shape like you are about to take a bite out of a big apple (your lower jaw will be dropped). Keep smiling. DON'T muscle your way. FINESSE is key. Think gymnast not powerlifter. Once you have a Top Down Phonation and you Establish a Resonant tract http://www.youtube.com/user/roblunte#p/search/0/CCF1a2P0bCU (train muscle memory resulting in proper resonance placement) then you can start changing your formant (smile - bright tone; don't smile - darker tone) and really torque the twanged tones. You can start experimenting with formant and apply more aggressive energy to your singing after you are using a Top Down phonation. When in doubt use FINESSE NOT MUSCLE.

Robert could help you with Top Down phonation and a whole lot more in a SINGLE hour skype lesson.

There are some great collections of vocalizes, practice audio, demonstration video - voice training systems from teachers that are Subject Matter Experts. I can recommend some. Before you train any vocalizes over and over into your muscle memory you need to be using a Top Down phonation.

Need sleep...more later.

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Robert could help you with Top Down phonation and a whole lot more in a SINGLE hour skype lesson.

Before you train any vocalizes over and over into your muscle memory you need to be using a Top Down phonation.

I could agree with Mark more. My one hour Skype lesson was incredible (hoping Robert doesn't mind me pimping him). His explanation of the top down phonation and "lift-up, bull back" has been a revelation. The lesson was a week ago, but every day I can feel the phonation and buzzing stronger, with less air required to do it each time. Getting through the passagio wasn't going so smoothly at because I was trying to maintain that full buzzing sensation through-out, and realized I need to give a little of it up (for now) to get the coordination down through the passagio. Above all, patience is my king right now, and trying to serve him well.

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Patience is a cruel monarch...I couldnt find any good examples, so Im going to upload a short adduction lesson and hope noone gets angry at me:

http://www.speedyshare.com/files/20189912/Disc_03-Technique_1-Track14.mp3

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Do a siren. Do it from for example A4 down to A3. Thats top down. Doing it from the low A up to the high A is bottom up and makes you "pull chest" or "carry weight" e.g. trying to go up into your head voice with your throaty chest configuration. The trouble with this for me personally, is that Im better at doing a legato top down then bottom up, and usually in most stuff I sing, I need to go from a lower note upwards. of course, thats just me being lazy and not working as much as I should on that prob.

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Back to the problem i want to add something i feel about the tone in higher range. When i get to Bb/B (second passagio) it seems like my voice is suddenly " zipping " too much, it can be robust till A ( not as robust as i want of course, i got a lot and lot of work to do..) but suddenly, it zip up too much and i loose my original tone.

Joshual: Just to be clear, which A are your mentioning? The A above middle C, or the one an additional octave above that?

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the A above middle C, the A after the first passagio (Eb/E) maybe i did not explain well. i didn't mean whistle voice.

Joshual: Ok, I get ya. Here's what I think is happening as you sing higher than that A, with a little bit of the 'why'.

Depending on the particular male voice, harmonics align optimally to vowel resonances on an A or Bb. (I think for you it may be A), and then as the singer continues upward some vowel adjustments must be made or resonance is lost. I suggest that you try some simple experiments with shading toward oe (as in the english word 'foot' or toward uh, as in 'up'.

Its also reasonable to mention that the vowel resonances (due to formants F1 and F2) shift upward as the singer drops the lower jaw. This is called the 'end effect', and if you are not already doing some of that, you may notice a great deal of increased resonance with just a little bit of downward lower-jaw motion.

The particular combination would be easier to work out in person, but I think you could suss this out just by playing around with it a little bit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Steven, could you give me a bit of insight on my vocal clip and help out with the problem of tone and relaxed extrinsic muscles. I would really appreciate that.

Chuy67: Sorry it took me so long to respond to your question.

I listened to your 'in my room' clip several times. I really cannot hear any effects in the tone which I would attribute to extrinsic muscle tension, even if you feel it. So, for now anyway, lets address some things I _can_ hear.

An excellent place to start, for this or any other smooth song, is to adjust the vocalism to create a vocal 'line', which feels like it is advancing forward in time without bumps at the beats. Training this concept is not difficult, but will take a little practice until you do it automatically.

The core concept of the vocal line is a consistency of tone, a smoothness of vocal production which has no sudden increases or decreases in volume, and particularly not on the 'beats' of the melody. One way to to accomplish this is to, for a while, replace the words with syllables which do not have percussive starting consonants. Loo works very well for many people, provided that the L is made at the same volume as the vowel is, and without 'poking' it.

As an alternative, any of the voiced consonants m, V, Z or th (as in the) work as well. Sing the melody (without words) on syllables starting with these consonants, and with a succession of vowels, aiming to make the consonant completely connected and equal volume-wise with the following vowel.

For example, sing it on Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo... putting the Z on the first beat of each measure, and sustaining the oo for the remainder of the notes in the measure.

Then, repeat with the word thee in the same fashion. Then, Vo. If you can keep from laughing while you do it, the Zoo exercise is particularly helpful. When I do it, it always seems that I am singing 'ooze' at some point, and I really wanna crack up.

The second skill in making a smooth tone is to make the actual consonants clearly, but very short. The syllable 'da' is excellent for this, making the D very succinctly and as instantaneously as you can. When done well, this sounds more like a long sustained vowel with very short interruptions by D. Once you have it down on D, repeat with G, T, K and then with whatever other consonants and vowels you want.

Practice these vocalises for about 15 mins a day for a week or 10 days. At the end of that, you should have more of a sense of how this kind of connected vocal line feels. Then, return to the text of the song, and deliberately connect every consonant and vowel of the phrases together in the same manner, so that you proceed from sound to sound smoothly, with very short consonants, and where vowels and consonants seem to be at the same volume with each other.

Finally, some dynamic shape is in order. Begin the first phrase somewhat softer, and let each sound get a tiny bit louder throughout the entire phrase. I suggest 1 quick, silent breath, after the word 'go', and then continue the connectedly-louder-singing to the end of the phrase at the word 'to', where you should be at medium-easy volume.

That should get you started.

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