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"Bite" and relaxed jaw... mutually exclusive?

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This has always vexed me... some say to have a "bite" kind of embouchure, whereas some say to keep the mouth/jaw relaxed. Anyone have thoughts on this? Maybe it's just me, but when my face is totally relaxed my mouth is very nearly closed.

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:| I have similer questions. There seem to be a lot of contradictions in terms and what is really going on. I hope a teacher or someone in the know will answer your question.

I think the bite is referring to teeth showing and lower jaw open and relaxed.

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That's interesting because for me the relaxed position is all but closed. It's not like a big effort to drop the jaw and show teeth, but I definitely wouldn't call it having my jaw relaxed.

My jaw always feels relaxed just going up and down. It's pretty uncomfortable to move your jaw and chin in or out at the same time as opening your mouth wide. Your jaw should have a pretty good range of movement with no muscle tension at all.

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it's a very contradictory topic. you are rarely totally relaxed.....it's more of being in a state of "minimally tense."

there are so many variables that have a lot to with this...what note, what you are singing, how you want to sound singing it, tessitura, etc.

the most important thing it to minimize interference from extraneous musculature that doesn't play any role in voice production.

the tongue, neck muscles, swallowing muscles..all of these impede free vocal fold function, tone, and resonance.

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raphaels,

the "bite" is just an image/tool to get you to locate and feel the muscles involved(inside the vocal tract: the muscles of the soft palate and the back wall of the vocal tract.)

Here are some exercises to help:

1) Imagine smelling something you love to eat or drink or a favorite place(woods/beach/etc.) Really get into it and let your nostrils widen and feel the slight pull at the back of head/throat. Hold this sensation/muscular effort, but RELAX the lower jaw as you breathe out of the mouth.

2) Imagine biting into an apple or other hard fruit. Hold the feeling of the bite in the upper jaw/vocal tract, but again, relax and release the lower jaw.

3) Try sucking a real(or imaginary) straw. Block the end of the straw(or pretend if you're too lazy to find a damn straw) so that nothing is coming up and really focus on the muscles involved. Hold the muscular effort but release/relax the lower jaw as you breathe out of the mouth.

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I liked Bob's description, minimally tensed. I can play guitar with a "relaxed feeling" but it doesn't mean my arms are dangling at my side. I think the idea is to watch out for undue strain or tension, which is something that you would immediately find painful or fatiguing. And, I would venture to say, in my layman's opinion, that if you have been doing something for a few months and you are still fatigued or in pain, it's possible you are doing something wrong. At least wrong for you (whoever "you" may be).

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Think of the tension or relaxation this way. If you have your arm bent at the elbow there is some kind of tension there but your arm can still be relaxed. But, if someone tells you to bend your arm and make sure you hold a 90 degree angle between your bisepts and your forearm. More likely than not your bisepts will bulg and your forearm will be tense. You will tire out very quickly. But if you will notice that through out the day you may be holding your arms bent at this angle and not even notice.

The difference is when someone tells you to do something you try to consentrate on it and that causes more tension than needed.

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Think of the tension or relaxation this way. If you have your arm bent at the elbow there is some kind of tension there but your arm can still be relaxed. But, if someone tells you to bend your arm and make sure you hold a 90 degree angle between your bisepts and your forearm. More likely than not your bisepts will bulg and your forearm will be tense. You will tire out very quickly. But if you will notice that through out the day you may be holding your arms bent at this angle and not even notice.

The difference is when someone tells you to do something you try to consentrate on it and that causes more tension than needed.

Perfect response. Someone draws attention to what you already do and now your concentration is centered on that, and everything else suffers for a while.

Makes me think that singing is mental.

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Perfect response. Someone draws attention to what you already do and now your concentration is centered on that, and everything else suffers for a while.

Yep. This can be self imposed though. It's always beneficial in the end. I keep a notepad with less than 100 words on it that lets me know how to sing properly because within an hour of practice I can get quite carried away on trying to fix one problem and if I don't get back to doing everything else right, it turns into a mess. I've tried working just from memory, but there's always one too many things going wrong. A fresh reminder on hand makes it so much easier. That can backfire though when you give yourself bad advice based on it working once or in a different situation though. You gotta be careful on what you try to remember, if that makes sense.

Singing is about 90% mental in my case, if your referring to the psychological and thought processes. Once the muscles are built up and the physical shape has been transformed from years of singing and you know your voice is rested and in good shape, there's really nothing physical left.

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Likebob said.. How do you want to sound? Diffrent sounds require diffrent jaw moments. Have you ever seen à heavy metal Singer with à dangling jaw or à classicall singer with à fixed jaw position?

There is no universal "right" way to do things,people who claim that are either stupid or aim for your purse.

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It depends. But one thing I can say for sure is singing with your mouth nearly closed all the time is never going to work for loud singing, ever.

I see what you're saying because of the angle everything is at, but people are different. I can set my jaw REALLY far back comfortably because I have ground my back teeth down in my sleep subconsciously probably to facilitate the singing. My teeth almost have two profiles where they line up. The back teeth either line up and I can close my mouth to the point that my front teeth overlap the bottom almost completely with a very thin gap between my hard pallet and the bottom teeth, or, the front teeth line up like normal. I'm not saying this is the case for very many people, but I believe it is because of the angle not how open the mouth is. Hypothetically, if someone else could open and close their mouth without changing the angle everything sits at, which is what happens in my case, it wouldn't matter. I can close my mouth and get extremely deep into my head voice and the resonators. I can whistle and hit extremely high notes, such as an E5, with my mouth closed. And i promise you, I can sing loud enough to break a microphone. Everyone is different and sometimes weird reasons lead to the hard and fast rules being broken. I'm not trying to be critical or detrimental of your comment, I'm just sharing my own experience and opinion on the matter based on how it works for me.

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I can close my mouth and get extremely deep into my head voice and the resonators. I can whistle and hit extremely high notes, such as an E5, with my mouth closed. And i promise you, I can sing loud enough to break a microphone.

That would be neat to hear. Can you post a sample?

And I have certainly had my share of overloading a mic.

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I learned that from copying Peter Cetera. I sing his stuff just like he does. Jutted out chin and a clenched closed jaw. He can easily hit E5 without it even sounding like a high note.

Yeah, I'll have a copy of Ranbow's Since You Been Gone shortly without a vocal line and if I'm really lucky no backing vocals. Graham is the king of volume and I learned a lot from his technique too. I'll have to hook up the crappy dynamic mic because this condenser mic can only handle 125db. Singing the way he does you can acoustically hold your own against a 150watt mesa boogie triple rectifier.

True story. I went to rehearse with a metallica cover band and after the first song I asked the rest of the guys if they could hear me because I couldn't hear myself. They all said "yeah, loud and clear" and I look down at the mic and the switch was turned off the whole time. I could hear myself hitting the wall 25 feet away, but that was it.

If someone really wants to hear me distort the hell out of a mic with volume, that can be arranged. :P

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A well executed bite does three important things:

- The retracted and lowered jaw raises the first formant.

- Spreading the lips horizontally also raises the first formant.

- And as analog mentioned, it helps tighten the upper pharyngeal wall.

Raising the first formant helps in the second harmonic/first formant tuning which is important in belting.

By second harmonic, do you mean the first partial of the overtone series? Or the actual second harmonic, IE, the Just Intonation Perfect Fifth?

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If someone really wants to hear me distort the hell out of a mic with volume, that can be arranged. :P

That would be cool. For one thing, I would no longer be the only one stomping a mic to bits.

Although, I think I have the settings on my USB set wrong and the input level on Audacity wrong. There was one time that I found a sweet spot and now, I've got to find it again.

But yeah, I can clip a mic from 2 feet away. It's from years of singing over my guitar, even the electric one.

I have Fender 85 amp, and it puts out 200 Watts rms. And I have always had an acoustic on hand to bang things out on.

And it would be cool to hear what you are talking about.

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:| When you are Tuning harmonics and raising formants and stuff like that, Do you do this by ear or are you checking with machine?

I can tune harmonics by ear. I can pretty much hear all the frequencies. I sorely need to hear up to the highest order of harmonics to perceive pitch well to the point that a normal microphone just doesn't cut it and I have to use condensers all the time. That's the million dollar secret behind those perfect pitch programs, btw. It's recognizing the ringing sound of the harmonics. The tone to me is as important as the notes. Singing a Queensryche song like Bruce Dickinson doesn't work when I try it and thus I had to learn how to hear that way and basically have to learn the original singer's technique as close as I can get it. A lot of people might not think it's a good idea to copy voices exactly, but that's been the easiest way to learn to control frequencies for me.

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And i promise you, I can sing loud enough to break a microphone.

True story. I went to rehearse with a metallica cover band and after the first song I asked the rest of the guys if they could hear me because I couldn't hear myself. They all said "yeah, loud and clear" and I look down at the mic and the switch was turned off the whole time. I could hear myself hitting the wall 25 feet away, but that was it.

I can tune harmonics by ear. I can pretty much hear all the frequencies.

Uncle Rico....is that you? :P

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