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Perfect Breath Support & Covering

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Hey all, this question is not for the faint of heart. Many of the great singers from the old school always had such a huge emphasis on breath support. They didn't have vocal fry or twang or any of the modern techniques we have today. Two of these singers who had an amazing covered sound (WITHOUT vowel modification), how did they do it? How could they do something that I'm struggling to do today... decades later.

They accredited their ability to cover to PERFECT BREATH SUPPORT. Caruso and Gigili who both had wonderful techniques said they did not have to modify the vowel because their breath support was perfect. To me this means that they used the right amount of air for the right amount of cord. Therefore making is almost impossible to "break" giving just enough air so that the cords vibrate and giving less air as they ascend.

Has anyone experienced this sensation? Where the supplied airflow is so ACCURATE that the vocal cords do not "break" apart regardless of what vowel you are using.

What exercises and mental approaches can I use to help facilitate this level of connection to my body? I know support is a very dynamic thing which is why it feels difficult at times to "support" certain notes. If someone has their own story with discovering how to achieve great support please share, I'll take any advice I can get regarding support. I'm just a 19 year old hissing in the hopes of achieving some support. :lol:

- JayMC

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Well I can't break while singing, unless I use some different technique... Very loud volume and lots of support... actually, I use mostly support I think.

I wouldn't call it 'perfect breath support', but a different configuration in singing. For example... If you spoke, and went 'doh me fa so la ' whatever ascending, you would break naturally.... I don't use the vocal chords in that way, it feel entirely different; different muscles are being used at all times... I cannot break going high, and cannot 'thin out' or even use a real 'head voice', it is very very different. I have tried to explain it to people before with no success, so really all I can tell you is that you should sing a LOT and try different ways of holding your voice, using your voice, and different sounds and noises as well.... and check out my posts in the 'critique/review' forum from time to time to listen in ;)

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Well, I am not an expert but I have actually read 3 books about Caruso. One by his friend and doctor, Marafiotta. One by a friend of his. And one by Caruso, himself.

Of the 3, Caruso's book concentrated on his use of support. Not that he would have made a good teacher but at least you have his words on how he views it. Marafiotta spoke of Caruso's use of support and of resonance. And a spectograph of an old recording showed that Caruso was excellent at formant tuning. Marafiotta noted that Caruso had a less than perfect "vocal organ." But he used what he had very well. In spite of being prone to congestion, phlegm, smoking, drinking (Caruso was a "rock star.") Caruso was prone to allergies. So, he would arrive in a new place a few days before his scheduled show and take walks in order to acclimate his body to the local allergens.

The friend's book, however, centered more on Caruso's work ethic. That Caruso did not follow a set rigid schedule every day. However, whatever he was doing involved his full focus. Whether it was specifically breath support. Or just warm-ups. Or a part of the libretto he was to sing that he wanted to iron out. He did not move on to the next until he was satisfied with progress where he was at.

And in performance, the world contracted to a single point of focus on whatever note he was at. As in, constantly in the moment.

So, at least as I have understood it, and I could be wrong, yes, Caruso applied knowledge of breath support to everything, but it was concurrent with formant tuning.

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Resonating in the right places, so to speak.

There's more to it than that. Caruso didn't just control his exhalation, he made sure the note was resonated properly. This can involve vowel usage and where one feels sympathetic vibration for a note.

Steven Fraser is the real expert.

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Ah yes well I do try and do that, too. I have been getting much better at it with practice of higher singing...

Is it similar to what I did at the very end of that new song you listened to, Ron? Where I end each phrase with a resonant 'EE' and it almost sounds like it's an octave higher than it really is?

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In my limited understanding, yes. For example, from what I understand, keeping a stable or even lowered larynx provides a formant or resonating space for a range of notes, especially those involved with the "chest" part of the range, usually, low notes, though one can also sing high notes with a lowered larynx. The classical coach I was learning from called this a covered tone. Anyway,

Smiling or palate lift often causes the 2nd formant to come into play, especially on higher notes. It provides a host of spaces where higher notes, which are shorter in wavelength, get better reinforcement, or resonance, which is the action of the wave doubling back on itself, creating a doubling of amplitude or height of wave, and amplitude is volume and the increase of volume from the doubling of amplitude is logarithmic, not linear.

In my amateur description, Caruso could resonate incredibly well and by using breath support and not overblowing the folds, the original tone was solid and he let it get to the resonating space it needed.

In any given space, a number of tones or sounds are bouncing back and forth. Some notes of a certain wavelength will fit exactly the size of that space and will get resonated. It is also possible for other tones that did not get resonated in that particular space can still get to another space that does fit those and they will get resonated, though, maybe, with not the same apparent volume. Notice I said apparent. You hear what you hear. or do you?

;)

But really, Steven is the total and complete expert on this and he's only got 100's of posts, it seems, on this subject. And he explains it so much better than I do.

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Gigili and Caruso solved the most important problem (imo). That is to keep the voice on the breath at ALL times. The purpose of this thread is to see if anyone can assist me in facilitating the union of voice/breath at all times. It definitely takes practice but it is an actual technique that very few have mastered.

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Hey all, this question is not for the faint of heart. Many of the great singers from the old school always had such a huge emphasis on breath support. They didn't have vocal fry or twang or any of the modern techniques we have today. Two of these singers who had an amazing covered sound (WITHOUT vowel modification), how did they do it? How could they do something that I'm struggling to do today... decades later.

They accredited their ability to cover to PERFECT BREATH SUPPORT. Caruso and Gigili who both had wonderful techniques said they did not have to modify the vowel because their breath support was perfect. To me this means that they used the right amount of air for the right amount of cord. Therefore making is almost impossible to "break" giving just enough air so that the cords vibrate and giving less air as they ascend.

Has anyone experienced this sensation? Where the supplied airflow is so ACCURATE that the vocal cords do not "break" apart regardless of what vowel you are using.

What exercises and mental approaches can I use to help facilitate this level of connection to my body? I know support is a very dynamic thing which is why it feels difficult at times to "support" certain notes. If someone has their own story with discovering how to achieve great support please share, I'll take any advice I can get regarding support. I'm just a 19 year old hissing in the hopes of achieving some support. :lol:

- JayMC

Yes, I have.

It was quite simple, found a teacher who could execute it, and had results on his voice and of his students that I thought it was desirable for me. Agreeded on following the instruction to the risk and trainned more or less 100 different kinds of exercises on relaxation, breathing, support and phonation of vowels, on the beginning 2 times a day, everyday, now just once a day. For quite a few years and still to this date.

All the exercises where specific to my voice and for a given problem, simply repeating them to you will not lead to any result. So did you get an evaluation of your voice and have the goal and the program you are going to follow?

It doesnt take so much precision to do this, its quite simple compared to other things a bit more complicated that must be achieved too.

It will take time, so its best to start now. Dont struggle with it, just learn and worry about singing. There is nothing secret to be discovered, there are more than "a few" that can do it. I know at least 10 personaly, all much better than me.

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Oh. Yeah, quite possibly. Im just saying that seeing this as some unreachable holy grail is not productive, if thats the goal, just go for it.

Using the fundamental vowels is necessary, modificating them is nice for interpretation purposes and to some exercises. Sometimes defining too much a vowel up there sounds weird, specially on pop. Modify to simulate effort. Not because of it.

Some care also with the terminology guys. If you are tunning formants or changing resonance in any other way, including depressing the larynx, the vowels are changing in some way, even if its small, although you dont need to sacrifice vowel quality for it.

Tenneli natural placement is the perfect sample, if you compare it to the vowels he uses to speak, there is a lot of modifications, but its very defined.

On pop it does not fit so well also, its better to use chest lower and more spoken like.

If you try to use the same spoken vowels and use it high above the passagio by support alone, you will pull chest and be limited to a very loud and less capable phonation. There are better ways to achieve that sonority. It was not what Caruso and Gigli did. Using a pure italian EE is not the same as forcing a low and narrow EE such as the one of my native language.

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If you try to use the same spoken vowels and use it high above the passagio by support alone, you will pull chest and be limited to a very loud and less capable phonation. There are better ways to achieve that sonority. It was not what Caruso and Gigli did. Using a pure italian EE is not the same as forcing a low and narrow EE such as the one of my native language.

If you don't mind Felipe could you explain or demonstrate what you mean by "using a pure italian EE is not the same as forcing a low narrow EE" I fear I'm doing the latter. Definitely need the EE vowel in my training :lol:

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The ee is the same of the samples Ive sent on the other thread, take a look there.

To understand the difference, try this:

First whistle one single and easy note. Not whistle register, a normal whistle, with your lips. Do it a few times and check the posture of your jaw and tongue.

Now, take a low breath, relaxed one, dont think of support. Produce the whistle, a quick one, and without letting the posture change, gently close your lips.

In this posture, say NEE, let the N define well with the tip of your tongue against the upper front teeth. This forward buzzing is the Italian EE.

Openning the mouth from this will allow the vowel to define, but your mouth will try to let go of the posture. And to work even on chest it must be well supported.

From there further refinement on the placement of this vowel is done. Cant describe it via text unfortunately, it must be natural, sound like EE, must have depth and must be resonant and easy. Think a bit of the french ü, as in menü, to allow more resonance, to define it better, think more of EE. You need a ballance of it, the placement will have twang as long as you keep it forward, if it falls back, you will strain and feel it on your larynx.

Work on the front of a mirror, and by all means keep relaxation and comfort your primary goal. Done correctly it feels awesome.

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i sing with a lot of support. the best way i can describe it is you acheive a very strong balance between the breath pressure and the fold strength...but don't let anyone fool you...as you ascend to the higher region you must narrow at some point and that may not be as severe as a covered sound in terms of degree of modification....but a degree of vowel modification is present.

the balance is the key..i like to call it.."holding it all together."

no falsetto!!!....you want a chiaro scuro tone....a mix of dark and light resonance.

jay, try this.....exhale all of your air normally...just let the air gently empty out.....now try to sing something pretty loud from a state of exhalation. this is one way to feel support....

the air is out of you, except for a bit of residual leftover, right?......yet you were able to sing without air...what made this possible?...support.

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