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Having trouble with my falsetto...

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Sethis21
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Hello! I sometimes lose my falsetto for a while and I am afraid I might be damaging my voice. It happens when I'm trying to belt/mix usually up to B4-C5. I am some sort of (light?) baritone and I usually bridge around G4. I think I'm doing it right, when I'm going for the higher notes I can feel the sound resonating somewhere at my soft palate. It usually happens after a few minutes of singing and when I stop I get my falsetto back again after 5-10 minutes. The strange thing is I only lose my notes ABOVE C5/C#5.

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Then punish that falsetto. Send it to bed without dessert. Make it stand in the corner. Make it write on the chalkboard, "I will not misbehave."

Sounds like, to me, you are opening your resonators and the notes are resonating well, which can be taken as a lack of falsetto.

For a "light baritone," singing about C#5 on any given day is quite a skill. So, is this your way of bragging? Because others might only get to this note by means of falsetto?

And you are already singing higher than a majority of humans can sing.

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I'm sorry but I think you took it the wrong way. I didn't mean that I choose not to hit falsetto because I have super awesome full notes...I meant that I couldn't sing in falsetto because perhaps my cords couldn't adduct properly. Felt like I was just exhaling air. I am in no way a professional and I have no idea what notes are baritones supposed to hit. I just hear many of my favourite baritone singers being able to sing above that like E5 or even G5 and they're certainly not using falsetto.

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I'm sorry but I think you took it the wrong way. I didn't mean that I choose not to hit falsetto because I have super awesome full notes...I meant that I couldn't sing in falsetto because perhaps my cords couldn't adduct properly. Felt like I was just exhaling air. I am in no way a professional and I have no idea what notes are baritones supposed to hit. I just hear many of my favourite baritone singers being able to sing above that like E5 or even G5 and they're certainly not using falsetto.

And you misunderstood me and I am accustomed to being misunderstood.

What part of my complimenting did not agree with you? :D

Also, bridging at G4 is kind of high. More like the bridge of a tenor. You could have been mis-typed as a baritone.

In fact, a lot of guys think they are baritone just because they have a sticking point at G4. When it turns out that they were actually untrained tenors.

Falsetto is often described as lack of adduction. But more importantly, I think it is less fold involvement at adduction. Falsetto is NOT absence of adduction, however. Something is vibrating at the frequency of the note, otherwise, you would not hear the note.

As for favored baritones singing those high notes, which are technically above the standard tenor range not being falsetto, sometimes, that is an aural illusion, but never mind that.

But if you are saying that at E5 and G5 you are getting no tone, just air, then yes, something is amiss.

What is your lowest usable note without amplification, as in something you could sing over an acoustic guitar or piano?

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OK, I don't always bridge at G4. It's only sometimes when I'm belting intensely and it's getting pretty loud...depending on the volume I bridge between F4-G4. My lowest usable note would be F2 to be safe but that E2 is ok too. And the highest I can hit with considerable effort even in falsetto would be F#5. I guess that would be easy for a tenor right? But one thing I've noticed is that my general timbre sits more on the bright side. Even though I can hit low notes they don't really sound as deep or rich in texture as these of some baritones I've compared with. I've also watched some interviews of famous baritones and their speaking voices seem heavier.

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OK, I don't always bridge at G4. It's only sometimes when I'm belting intensely and it's getting pretty loud...depending on the volume I bridge between F4-G4. My lowest usable note would be F2 to be safe but that E2 is ok too. And the highest I can hit with considerable effort even in falsetto would be F#5. I guess that would be easy for a tenor right? But one thing I've noticed is that my general timbre sits more on the bright side. Even though I can hit low notes they don't really sound as deep or rich in texture as these of some baritones I've compared with. I've also watched some interviews of famous baritones and their speaking voices seem heavier.

Then, like me, your lowest notes are weak and low volume. Fach is not just about range of notes, alone. That is, just because you can croak an F2 doesn't make you a baritone. F#5 is above the standard or nominal tenor range, which is approximately C3 to C5, acoustically, or without amplification. to be sung over other acoustical instruments, such as guitar or piano.

Then, again, the fach of one's voice (range and tessitura, bright spot in the range where the greatest dynamic control is evident) is considered only important in opera, especially in the process of casting singers for a role. if a part requires a light, bright tenor, they are likely to cast a leggiero tenor rather than any kind of baritone.

Some have said that light baritone or second tenor is the most common male voice. I might add that is the most common "untrained" voice.

So, it's really hard to type your voice just from the written word. Perhaps you could share a sound file of your singing.

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Sure, I am probably not the best judge of myself. Any opinions are welcome.

Some low notes:

Mid notes:

Belting in chest:

An attempt at singing mostly in mixed voice: https://soundcloud.com/sethis/trooper-test

That last one was tough, shaky and very fragile. I might be overpushing it too, it's pretty fatiguing. It also collapsed quite a few times but as I warmed up it got a bit better...It was much easier when I hit these notes in scale exercises :P

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First off, please remember that I am just an amateur. I am not a singer of teaching, not a vocal expert, I don't even get paid to sing, so I am not a professional singer. And many is the person to tell me to stop talking about voice classifications. But I will, because one has to describe the voice, somehow and no one has come up with terminology for pop and rock music. Even the modern appellations of M for registers of the voice is a rose, by any other name. Although, sometimes, changing the name changes the perception, sometimes, for the better. Okay, so, enough semantic musings.

You really do have some full and low tones. What I would call baritone, in my limited ability. So, I stand corrected, you are something of a baritone. Spot-on cover of David Bowie.

Which I think is holding you back in "The Trooper" and that is part of what is making you crash. It sounded like you were still in Bowie mode, if that makes sense. Many don't realize that Bruce uses head voice quite a bit. Even low classics, such as "Fear of the Dark," he is not putting full weight into those bottom notes.

But what is most important, and Bruce talks about this in an interview, is breath support. If IM has been off the road for a while, he only sings a few songs at rehearsal, getting his breath management back into shape. And may finish a rehearsal feeling like he did too many crunches or sit-ups. His image is stretching a rubber band down, the higher he goes in range. The down is up thing. With a solid voice like yours, you may benefit from that, as well.

I firmly believe you can sing this song and others in this range. For one thing, you are making some of the pitches, which means the range is reachable with the vocal folds that you have. What needs some help is the breath management. You maybe overblowing, which is fatiguing the folds and blowing them apart, making for cracks.

The other step in the process is to approach your high end the same way that you approach the low end. Light and fluffy. On your low stuff, you are relaxed and not pushing too much breath. Do that in the high end, as well.

Think of the voice as a piano keyboard, horizontal, rather than a ladder, which is vertical. Mentally, reach sideways for your notes, not up and down. For a while, use your hands to mix. I don't know which hand you favor (I'm a leftie,) but say the left hand signifies your low end and the right hand is your high end. Open the left hand for low notes, right hand for high notes. Open both to some degree for different parts of the range. You don't have to do this forever, it's just an idea to get you to view the voice differently. High notes are shorter wavelengths, therefore, "smaller" in length of the peak to peak. Volume comes from resonance. So, find the spots that ring in your head like a bell. It's going to feel similar to the chorus in the Bowie cover, as far as where the sensation is. And the sensation is not the resonance, itself, but a sympathetic vibration, something that happens in concurrence with resonance in the right spot.

The reason you do the high notes better in scale exercises is because you are using better vowel shape in practice. When singing, you are letting the vowels drift or get misformed in the midst of articulating the lyrics. That is why I believe that you cannot sing as you speak. In singing, you must stay closer to the true vowel and let the articulation of consonants be momentary and light. Especially on the "Trooper," where the chorus is essentially a vocalise that you could focus by keeping one vowel.

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Yeah, I probably added too much vocal weight in the Trooper. I am still experimenting with it. At first, my tone had absolutely no weight, just head voice, and I just heard recently about bridging late and bringing some mass to it. I guess I should back off a bit. :)

You also hit the nail on the head about the breath support. I paid more attention to it today and it's probably not the best...it's definitely one of the reasons I'm straining. But just by trying to improve it and move the tension away from my upper body I managed to hit a consistent G#5 in falsetto and occasionally an A5 which I had never done before. I guess my lower notes will benefit as well. I just never thought support would be THAT important...I also paid more attention to widening my ribcage which also helped.

I'm gonna try that piano visualisation thanks! I do tend to sometimes look up or make funny faces when going for high notes. :P I also tried to add the "uh" vowel (I think that's right?) in the trooper everywhere I could but sometimes, especially when I had to sing a short and fast phrase with lots of words, not slurring my words was hardly an option. haha

Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. ;)

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Yeah, I probably added too much vocal weight in the Trooper. I am still experimenting with it. At first, my tone had absolutely no weight, just head voice, and I just heard recently about bridging late and bringing some mass to it. I guess I should back off a bit. :)

You also hit the nail on the head about the breath support. I paid more attention to it today and it's probably not the best...it's definitely one of the reasons I'm straining. But just by trying to improve it and move the tension away from my upper body I managed to hit a consistent G#5 in falsetto and occasionally an A5 which I had never done before. I guess my lower notes will benefit as well. I just never thought support would be THAT important...I also paid more attention to widening my ribcage which also helped.

I'm gonna try that piano visualisation thanks! I do tend to sometimes look up or make funny faces when going for high notes. :P I also tried to add the "uh" vowel (I think that's right?) in the trooper everywhere I could but sometimes, especially when I had to sing a short and fast phrase with lots of words, not slurring my words was hardly an option. haha

Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. ;)

Way cool, Sethis. It sounds like you are working on what you need to work on, at least as far as I can see. And I am not an expert. I've just been singing or a long time and learn things, too.

But yes, I am finding that the process for the high notes helps the low notes, and vice versa. I am tackling low stuff, myself. And, according to others, with good results.

And yes, keep the tension or sense of tension away from the upper body.

For me, it seems more about relaxing than anything else. And any tension I feel, will be in the area of my belly button. Anywhere but the throat, never there.

If you have heard my cover of Johnny Cash's version of hurt, it almost felt like falsetto, to me, but I was really controlling the air with my abs, rather than my throat.

So, breath support or management should be engaged, regardless of where you are in the range. I think this is the secret to "one voice."

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Way cool, Sethis. It sounds like you are working on what you need to work on, at least as far as I can see. And I am not an expert. I've just been singing or a long time and learn things, too.

But yes, I am finding that the process for the high notes helps the low notes, and vice versa. I am tackling low stuff, myself. And, according to others, with good results.

And yes, keep the tension or sense of tension away from the upper body.

For me, it seems more about relaxing than anything else. And any tension I feel, will be in the area of my belly button. Anywhere but the throat, never there.

If you have heard my cover of Johnny Cash's version of hurt, it almost felt like falsetto, to me, but I was really controlling the air with my abs, rather than my throat.

So, breath support or management should be engaged, regardless of where you are in the range. I think this is the secret to "one voice."

I'm not an expert either so don't worry. :P I am just someone who's been singing (but not always practicing, at least not until lately) for quite a few years. That's why I progress very slowly... But I'm fine with it. :)

Good job on the cover! I heard some G2s in there too. Even though I can tell your voice sits naturally higher I liked it. it It's rare to hear anyone singing such low notes nowadays, so rare that it is actually refreshing to hear them once in a while. lol

About my initial problem I mentioned in my first post...I think I may be close to sorting it out. I am not sure that temporary loss of high falsetto notes is actually hoarseness - that was what I was afraid about. I mean I've tried in the past every extreme technique, from growling to screaming and everything in between and I had never experienced something similar. And I could go on for hours. To be honest I don't even really push a lot when this happens.

I searched quite a bit and I'm starting to believe that this loss of falsetto is actually normal when you're belting for some time. The voice probably gets used to a different coordination where singing in falsetto becomes harder and in mixed voice more natural. So imo my real problem wasn't really my voice forgetting how to use falsetto but that I was unable to connect the 4th octave high notes to 5th octave super high notes. I can definitely tell that at about D5 a sudden change happens. That note becomes really breathy and weak compared to the previous one. I also often can't go any higher. It's like I have to bridge 2 different registers.

Today I was practing a usual "uh" siren from C4 to C5. But I did something different by accident...when I got to the C5 I didn't stop and instead I shifted to an "ee" vowel. For some reason that made me go up to an E5-F5. No breathiness and the adduction was good. It did require a lot of focus and "lift up, pull back" sensation. And even though these notes felt lighter they were connected...I still can't do it every time but I'm working on it. The thing is that I can't substitute all vowels with an "ee" on high notes. The lyrics just don't make sense. :lol: Any thoughts about what should be done about this?

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A couple of things.

Vowel tuning. Once you find the vowel that works for you, it tunes the part of the range you are in.

Second, at about D5, for most every singer, including tenors such as myself, there is a tonal shift. This is a physics thing that cannot be avoided.

That is because, at D5 and beyond, the resonating space is so small for those notes that there is no space left to resonate the harmonics. As Steven Fraser pointed out, the distance to the first harmonic from a fundamental is two times the fundamental. So, at say G3, a low frequency, the harmonic is not that far away. But at D5, a higher frequency, the harmonic to it is way farther away. And there is no room to resonate.

That is why it all sounds the same above that note or area. Let it go. You are doing okay. And, for the most part, most songs do not have lyric passages at that point. Usually, such high notes are on a vowel and are part of the melody.

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