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adduction: are some people "born with it" ??

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blackeyed28
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to all the vocal coaches:

are some people "born with" adduction in the head voice ?? ..and the less fortunate others (like me), have to struggle to learn this coordination.

i was just curious b/c when i was in college (and playing/singing in a rock band), ..the band next door to us (we practiced in a self-storage space) had just found this 16 year-old kid who they claim could "sing circles around sebastian bach". i said "cool, i'll come by and check him out", ...but i was thinking "no f**king way". he had never been in a band, had no singing experience, ...just a kid who was a friend of a friend of a friend. anyway, i showed up to hang out and, wow, ...the kid could sing. skid row, queensryche, dokken, ...you name, the kid could sing it, ..and there was no strain. i realize now that he obviously had a strong, fully adducted head voice, ...so i've probably already answered my question, ..b/c he was obviously "born with it".

so now my question is, ...if some are "born with it", ..can those of us that aren't "born with it" ever reach that level by practicing/training ??

robert lunte: i wish you had a clip of randy singing "take hold of the flame" on day 1 at TVS, ..and day 90, ...and day 180, ...and so on. i would love to see what natural ability he had, ..and then how he progressed. i aspire to be able to sing that song some day.

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Blackeyed, First off People are generally born the same, however the speaking habits, singing habits they develope without and prior to lessons do have some benefits or detriments. Generally singers who can" naturally" don't know why they can, hence a few bad nights and it's gone. So they have good natural habits and instinct, until they pick up bad habits. someone trained has the benefit of knowing how they do it and can re-create it. Many of the wonder kids I've come across are great short term, but also cannot last with any consistancy. At that age generally the vocal fold is very plyable and endures a great deal with ease, unless however the habits are properly isolated and developed most like it won't last long term or consistantly. Some people also are just very head register inclined some very chest register inclined. Many are afraid untrained in the high end and close off their throats. Any healthy voice can have the full basic three registers with some work, in their proper voice type.

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to all the vocal coaches:

are some people "born with" adduction in the head voice ?? ..and the less fortunate others (like me), have to struggle to learn this coordination.

Blackeyed28: Adduction is wired in... babies cry without instruction, but is not really head voice. Its what the babies' chest voice sounds like. :-)

The ability to modulate pitch in the voice comes when the child's mind learns to conceptualize vocal inflection, and the brain starts developing in that area of the speech center. This is somewhat environmental, as familiarity with these experiences is greatly assisted by hearing voices of many pitch levels. In cultures where the spoken pitch of the voice tends toward the higher notes, head voice is very commonly heard even in speaking and calling over a distance to one another.

If a youngster is encouraged to sing over the full vocal range in the early years, say, between ages 6 and 12, a great deal of development in the pitch center of the brain will result, and the voice will be more 'ready' to sing in head voice post voice-change. However, the voice-change in what will become the bari and bass voices (due to rapid larynx growth and increase in vocalis muscle mass) usually throws off the laryngeal muscle/breath energy balance for a while. IMO, the key is re-learning how to re-coordinate (and rebalance) the breath energy with the registration and adduction. This takes all of us a bit of time, tenors less... basses more. However, it can be done, and the results are worth the work.

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Once again I must warn that I'm a technical novice, so noone who is a beginner should take my advice, that could lead to problems for them. This post is for conversational purposes.

But in my opinion, a good ear can hear whether the tone is correct or not, whether its resonating relaxedly in just the same way as you can hear whether a guitarists tone or a saxophonists tone or a drummers swing is tense, thin, strained, stiff etc.

I bet someone with a good musical natural talent can learn to sing reasonably correctly just by practicing on getting a nice tone.

My father was a very highly respected saxophonist, yet he never took a lesson in his life. He just picked the thing up and went professional very quickly. Through my personal knowledge of him, I'm pretty sure that he simply had a good ear and a down to earth, no nonsense approach, that was pretty much about you don't start to get fancy and clever before you can play a good solid straight note.

I know, mainly from playing the guitar, but also from when I manage to get my vocal chords breezing at a nice constant relaxed buzz, that all the hard stuff suddenly becomes easy, once the motor is running. For example, if I'm tense and excited when playing the guitar, my timing goes off. If I contain myself and stay relaxed, all the hard timing stuff gets so much easier.

I noticed this through whistling too (I don't mean vocal chors whistling, I mean actual, regular whistling). When I decided I wanted to start to try to understand breathing a little better, I began whistling. I was whistling trills and clever stuff, but had to admit quite quickly that I couldn't actually hold a long, straight, nice sounding note. That made m realize I had to go to the very basics before I started showing off. I noticed that a whistle sounded good when the stream of air was at a constant, relaxed level and the note wasn't varying in and out of different volumes etc. It made sense to me that the vocal chords would probably work the same way. I practice much too seldom, but when I do, I often try to hold a long steady note that reaches out into the room, and then try to do that at different pitches.

I remember a drummer telling me years ago that holding a steady beat throughout an entire somg with going neil peart on you is often harder than flashing and soloing all through the song, and I agree with that.

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some people are most definatelly born with it. whether its through not having picked up bad habits or whether its because they have a natural co-ordination and strength of the right muscles who knows. it would be interesting to know the percentages of people who for instance display absolutely no break,flip or tension in the passiggio area´s. i agree with Darrison that there can be advantages and dissadvantages to both the ``natural´´ and trained singer. obviously the natural singer can start doing all kinds of stuff from the get go and doesnt have to go through the struggles and frustrations of those training the voice and can also start a career earlier but as was said can get into trouble if they pick up bad habits or things start to go wrong with their voice- they dont realise whats going on or may not hear/realise what the problem is. they dont know what to ´look` for for the correct coordination as it just came naturally before. this can lead to them adding further strain incorrectly trying to force their voice to its original state. i think this is what has happend to Rob Halfords voice.

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Agreed, I can tell you from first hand, front line experience training it about 20 hours a week... some people can do it easier, more intuitively then others. However I must be clear... anyone can learn to do it! The difference between those that have a gift for it and those that dont is about 90 days of concentrated, serious training... learning to twang or working with "tilted" laryngeal configurations is the trick... you have to find a teacher that understands how to train it.

In regards to the comment about Rob Halford's voice and other comments Ive read about Geoff Tate, etc... look folks, it doesnt matter how famous you are or how talented you are... everyone will lose track of coordination and response if they dont keep up with some vocal training... even the "greats" need to keep in shape... in fact, they need to train more then anyone else.

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I agree Robert, It is more time to maintain , then to acheive. It becomes easy and people become complacent, there in the problem lies. If you perform difficult material while in shape and developed it seems easy, but take a year off without sing and try it. Thats when you realized just how advanced you actually were, unfornately when you let it lapse.

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Yeah great advice Rob & Darrison! You have to keep the voice in shape...even when it's intuitively great! I come from intuutive more than technique...but technique is necessary too! When you push too hard or lapse...it comes back with avengeance on the old throat .......when you try to keep going! A good balance is my recommendation! love Hilary :lol:

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In my personal opinion, there is no such thing as "born with" ANYTHING. If it's genetic make-up, it has to do with your physical make-up (such as your immune system or being colour-blind or having blonde hair while your six-feet, nine-inches tall!). Singing, and various other skills like it, REQUIRE you to know how to MENTALLY configure (AKA USE) what you were born with physically. No one is born knowing how to coordinate anything. You figure it out overtime. Ask a painter how long it took to reach theri level. I bet when they were five they would finger painting like the next toddler. It wasn't a miraculous portrait of their mother, it was random spots! As an artist, I would know. My wife is as well. It's "hereditary" simply because we were around that environment while we grew up. We saw it all the time, we tried to imitate it all the time. They helped us along the way.

Many of your "natural" singers just imitated a lot of sounds when they were little. It didn't have to be beautiful singing. Vocalising isn't singing. It's learning what sounds your voice can make, how to make them efficiently, and weaving to and from them. We label people "born with" something to compensate for our lack of time and instruction.

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yes the whole nature versus nuture dedate. the thing is that singing is so internal that its not exactly like aquiring a skill like painting or something external. also babys are very much coordinated when it comes to making sound from the get go, making sounds is so wired into us naturally. thats why so many vocal techniques are about stripping away problems rather than adding -trying to get back to a state before mentally configuring got in the way. i think there is no doubt that some of the ´born with it` singers aquired their skill through nuture but i do believe there are some that are just genetically lucky enough to have the right muscle coordination from the start.

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We can agree to disagree there, if you agree. While singing is an internal thing, it IS learning to use the muscles in a very matter of fact way. We cannot see them as we do this, but it still uses neuropathways just the same as a painter does. Mentally, there is no real difference betwixt the two. However, "born with it" or not, it doesn't mean those who have to learn are any less able.

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beyondtenor wrote "it still uses neuropathways just the same as a painter does. Mentally, there is no real difference betwixt the two"

not sure what you mean here...yes voice relies on muscle instructions from the brain just like the skills of painting, playing a piano, etc...and diligent, repetitive practice is just as important as in any other skill; so is mental concentration to get into the right "zone." But the larynx and breath systems are neurologically MUCH more complex than arms & fingers. They are not just 'invisible". For instance vocal cords are muscles but they don't have the internal sensors (for tension, stretch, movement) that most other muscles do. There are survival-reflexes involved (choke/cough/swallow/oxygenate), as well as with emotional-mid-brain circuits that researchers are just starting to look at. Musical expression has to coordinate with all of this, integrate many parts of nervous system. IMHO learning voice skills is unique compared to ANY other learning (Woodwind & brass instrumentalists come closest.)

To me, this helps to explain why voice teaching remains so fascinating/controversial/ & sometimes frustrating. A good teacher doesn't have to understand all the neurology behind their method, but to state that the neuro pathways are no different from any other skill is probably not quite accurate.

then again I'm geeky on all this stuff :/

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The brain uses the neuropathways to coordinate. Yes, these pathways are vastly more complex for singing, but the brain still has to have the correct paths and know how to utilize them. Mentioning that they are vastly more complex actually supports that you can't be born with it. It's like saying I can layout the brass and solder and expect a Pentium 4 chip to pop out on its own if I put it in the oven.

Learning the voice is unique, I concur. My point wasn't that they use the same neuropathways, but rather that they have to be learned properly. We'll never know how an infant does what it does. Then again, certain sensations (such as pain) constrict muscles by reflex, which can explain crying.

Does that make my point more clear? It's not about being an identical skillset, but being learned the same way.

As a side note, I do feel my vocal folds. I do not feel them vibrating, persay, but I can feel their length and thickness, when the damp, how much compression I have, etc. I actually feel it. I know of a handful of people this way.

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I'm not arguing the main point, regarding how much of technique can be taught vs what is inborn at the level of brain, vs genetic in terms of "equipment." My instinct is to guess, some of each.

Yes some people can sense their vocal folds. It is rare so most people have to be taught indirectly.

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This is probably an arguable point but just as some people are born with certain talents to play an instrument or a sport or even figure out quantum physics therein lies an ability to adduct in some people.

Some singers can easily add grit/rasp to their voice, while others like myself had to learn how to do it. So it follows that some singers can sing over their passagio easier than others. The brain is hardwired the exact same way for every human being, but how that brain sends electrical impulses to dictate muscle coordination is different for each of us. Their "God given" talent so to speak.

So it is with adduction and contraction. Part of the ability is natural and part of it is learned (or never learned). I agree with other posts that say some of "natural ability" can be attributed to not learning bad habits over the years, but if the trait is in a small child then its probably hard wired into their brains.

I used to get very jealous of the guys who seemed to just look at a set of weights and grow muscle. As for me, I had to struggle just to look toned and fit. Its not in my DNA and I accept that. I just had to work harder that's all.

No sense in getting jealous or envious of another singer's apparant natural abilties. Most skills can be learned by anyone. The trick is using what you've got (natural or otherwise) to its fullest potential.

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I do believe some people are are born with more muscle co-ordination than others, otherwise why don't babies learn to sit and walk at the same ages? Also, babies of course imitate the voices around them, and nurture comes into play in that way.

Whenever I encounter an untrained or naturally gifted voice, there is usually a great voice in their family of origin. Shapes and densities of larynx and tissues of the throat and mask all come into play. Phrasing and rhythm are also influenced by nature and nurture from a very young age. But even the greatest "natural" voice can trash itself for any number of reasons, or increase its potential much farther with great vocal training.

A HUGE factor determining vocal success is in persistence and dedication to the craft. I have had lesser voices achieve much more than so-called gifted voices who were too lazy or emotionally dysfunctional (depressed, neurotic, etc) to practice or train.

On the other hand, to put it all in perspective, what if Bob Dylan or Carly Simon or Carol King or Willie Nelson didn't ply their vocal craft because they weren't "Born with it"? The important thing, I agree with vocalfire, is to use what cha got... and to practice understanding that like in any athletic endeavor, form is everything!

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