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anatomy of a powerful high note

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folks,

i was just thinking maybe it would help us all to (non-technically) list the components that make up a high note. what is happening, what is required of the voice to produce specifically a powerful resonant high note?

the way i see it from my own (non-techie) perspective, here are some mandatory requisites:

a very street-like description ......not in any order....a simplistic list....

1. you have to be able to adduct the vocal folds and keep the folds adducted.

2. you have to be able to stretch to the desired pitch given by the brain.

3. you have to able to handle the adduction and the fold stretch (and sometimes the compression to thicken the folds) all at the same time.

4. you have to have pressure enough to the folds to make them vibrate. now that they are stretched and adducted it will take more to "work" them.

5. you have to be able to maintain a given breath pressure which is generally higher than normal. (support)

6. you cannot get the folds to flex unless extraneous muscle tension is minimized or eliminated.

7. you have to (generally) narrow the throat and raise the palate.

8. you must have an open, tension minimized or free airway.

9. you cannot bombard the folds with air pressure, but you must onset with enough.

10. once the air passes from the vocal folds that's when the real skill begins.

i gotta go help a customer...

please feel free to add or edit.

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Sounds right to me, and I'm not a master at this belting thing yet. Good to know I'm getting the concept, as I feel I am already working to do all of those things on the list.

Only thing I would add, I guess it falls under #10:

You must chose an appropriate vowel shade to shape the resonance in order to benefit the balance and efficiency of the entire configuration

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Usually when people talk about singing they talk about breath support, diaphragm etc, which of course is right BUT...

Vocal tract tuning, in order to get resonance, which makes the volume. The vocal folds are small like a thumbnail, the volume comes from resonance. Resonance, resonance, resonance makes the note feel light and easy. Resonance comes from shaping of the vocal tract.

I know you know this but this was definitely not clear enough to me before and especially at the start. When I started singing I thought volume came from pushing the sound.

Vocal tract tuning for maximum resonance

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yes, though intensity can come from a (proper) push at times....but the push has to come from down below.

i agree, and the tuning part is a very individualized endeavor....a lot of experimentation, and concentration to figure based on your particular voice and how you want to sound....

i have found that sometimes the best ringing, beautiful resonance comes from a subtle vocal tract configuration that may not "feel" exactly correct to you....you think you had to contort a bit, or you think it's not "right" but it actually is better..you can hear it and it's like "i shifted the jaw just a hair, or narrowed the vowel or shaded towards another vowel and bingo the sound is such that you just know instinctively it sounded good.

there are some songs i sing where i go into this exaggerated overbite kind of setup, where i think i must look like a beaver, but the note is right there, and so is the ring.

to me, if you don't have sufficient development or prowess in the 10 areas i listed, you are going to be denied the vocal tract adjustment, formant tuning stuff...you simply aren't ready for it yet.

your thoughts?

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All the points you listed are done by the act of vocalizing. Not separate from it. The cords come together with the simple intent of saying the sound ah or any other combination. the desired pitch or stretch of cords is done by simply hearing it in your head and repeating it. As far as pressure or support and sound goes (heady or chesty) its only as high as you can go without any extrinsic muscles coming into aid the phonation. Meaning if you can only produce an A4 comfortably but it sounds heady but you are using the same intensity as the c4 but the c4 has a little more connection that's all you can handle right now at that intensity wait it out it will grow( but find it from a press or squeeze and you will have problems later on) and remember each vowel will feel different and sound different at the same intensity.

Moving on to narrow throat raise palate that's done naturally by the vowel/ consonant combination (hold your nose And say ee focus the buzz in the nose now go to ah in the same breathe focus the tone back to your head and out of the nose bingo soft palate raised. Say bah and hold your nose notice no sound in nose same with a d consonant. Palate gets raised. Change vowels and the throat changes a little shape go ah is in cat to ou as in book an notice your throat change simple.

Even though bob you were trying to be street your explanation was like you do things other than just sing or speak. And that can confuse a beginner or advanced person. All the thing happen with the simple act of saying Mary had a little lamb in a melodic way. All things you mentioned dont happen separately from speaking or singing

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I kind of disagree Bob, are you saying you can't play with formants etc. if you are not in full voice? I disagree with that. You can get quite a lot of resonance out of a good light head voice, including what some might term as falsetto. I've done it. It won't quite work if you're just "blowing hot air" as Lunte would call it, but in some kind of light head voice that's still a bit developed/refined, as in how one of the Beach Boys would sound...you can definitely tune formants in that configuration and I hear them doing it sometimes.

I don't think of resonance as something a singer is ever not ready for. I got started with it pretty early and there's really no consequence. Adding in weight or air pressure too early, that can cause problems, but you can't really hurt yourself with resonance, so if I were a teacher I would encourage beginners to get into the tuning game as early as possible, because you can, and it helps get more instant results. It's a nice quick fix when a singer wants to sound real boomy or whatever but they have a concert in a week. They can learn to tune formants inside the head voice, and I believe they can get that figured out within a week, if it's taught correctly, by imitation and such. And it will help them be louder much easier than attempting to shove a tiny portion of a year's worth of support and laryngeal musculature training into one week and expecting an improvement. Resonance is just plain and simply the easier, quicker way to learn to get louder, without hurting your voice. The power and brute force stuff takes longer to develop and is easier to screw up.

IMHO...can you tell I like resonance a lot? :lol:

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as jack benny would say....well!..lol!!!

dan, i'm just talking about the components of a very powerful high note. that's all..to know what is actually happening in plain simple terms....

owen, i agree with what you're saying, but as you know i'm not a proponent of "light and right" being the first, being the only way to a great voice.

roger kain said in his book and i quote (dan is gonna love this...lol!!!)

on the "may" exercise:

"this is a great exercise to begin your warmup. men, keep it all in the natural voice...no falsetto at all. this means keep it loud!. there's no way of getting to top b or top c quietly. at least not until you are very experienced."

now, you can say he's wrong, doesn't know what he is talking about, or whatever, but i used his program and it helped me strengthen my voice.

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Sun had it right. It's a matter of physics, which cannot be wished away by any contrary singing system or religious faith or personal preference. There is only a certain maximum amount of air pressure and volume that can be present at the folds. And it is not responsible for the volume that you hear in a voice. That comes from resonance, the act of the sound wave doubling back on itself to create twice the amplitude, or height of the wave. It is that height of the wave or amplitude that creates "volume." Period, paragraph, new book.

Now, in between, yes, you can very the amount of adduction and air pressure, just as you can tune or detune resonance and these may have an over all effect on the volume. Or apparent volume. Also, we have psychology to consider. A person may be engaged rasp or vocal distortion and "perceive" the note as being louder when it is actually not. But the psychological effect is that the note must have been a scream and must have been louder because we all think a scream is the loudest sound.

Ducking tomatoes and other vegetables ...

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Power on singing is a relative measure that has only psychoacoustical importance, specially when using a mic.

To be powerfull, it must sound powerfull in relation to something else that is not.

Which means that with low volume and a small vocal production you can easily produce more power than someone shouting and sweating trying to sound powerfull but with no idea of how to.

So the anatomy of a powerful high note is everything else that prepares for its climax and the elements you are using to create the contrast. Other notes in lower dynamics, and closed vs open vowels are the number one things that comes to my head.

Technique to execute, well, there is plenty of threads around I figure.

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Good point Felipe.

Going off what he said, as a songwriter I've learned the same is true not only with dynamic but with melody. With most songs featuring a "money note", that money note is usually the highest note of the song. Just the simple saving of the highest pitch till the climax is another way that you incorporate contrast to add to the perception of power.

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but it seems to me there are resonance cavities that require more breath tension to go from sounding just good to sounding great.

has anyone felt or heard that difference? now, to be clear, it's not fold compression, it's more air pressure into a cavity.

anyone ever experience this?

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but it seems to me there are resonance cavities that require more breath tension to go from sounding just good to sounding great.

has anyone felt or heard that difference? now, to be clear, it's not fold compression, it's more air pressure into a cavity.

anyone ever experience this?

It may be just a feeling but yeah, the top notes in "Child in Time." I could be wrong. And sometimes, I really realize that I don't know what I am doing, I just do it.

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Power on singing is a relative measure that has only psychoacoustical importance, specially when using a mic.

To be powerfull, it must sound powerfull in relation to something else that is not.

Which means that with low volume and a small vocal production you can easily produce more power than someone shouting and sweating trying to sound powerfull but with no idea of how to.

So the anatomy of a powerful high note is everything else that prepares for its climax and the elements you are using to create the contrast. Other notes in lower dynamics, and closed vs open vowels are the number one things that comes to my head.

Technique to execute, well, there is plenty of threads around I figure.

This, I also wanna add. It must sound powerfull, there are certain soundcolors that our mind percieve as powerfull. That doesnt mean the sound per see is superloud and powerfull.

This is specially important when singing with a mic, and the reason why someguys sound like they are singing extreemly powerfull but in reality not above speechlevel

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i'm having a hard time getting across my point.

i'm discovering (just recently) these resonance cavities that are very specific and narrow feeling. they sound good when you just sing, very resonant and all.....in fact you can simply sing and work and everything sounds good.....

you don't have to discover this to sing well. you don't have to even go to this.

but when you go to another level and you really brace and support strongly and really power into them and feed them more breath tension you really can be amazed by the sound.....

it's almost like when you have a speaker that only sounds its best, when it gets some serious power behind it.

and a speaker that sounds great with a basic amp.

and again, there are few rock singers i can hear and recognize this from ...gramm, jamison, early jon secada, bolton, and bono....come to mind first.

they all seem to have an element of a rich "honk" in their voices and they all seem to end lines with some of it.

there's a warmth to the voice and this warm sound is throughout the range.

and just saying "well that's their voice"...no, i believe it's a vocal decision to sound like this.

come on folks, can't anyone relate to this?

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A friend of mine was trying to explain Support and resonance to me. She sang a passage the way most people would sing. It souded good, better than average.

Then she showed me with support and resonance. The sound seemed to come from everywhere.

It didn't seem that it was that much louder but it filled the room instead of coming from just one point in the room.

She couldn't teach me how to do it but I do understand what you are talking about.

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i'm having a hard time getting across my point.

i'm discovering (just recently) these resonance cavities that are very specific and narrow feeling. they sound good when you just sing, very resonant and all.....in fact you can simply sing and work and everything sounds good.....

you don't have to discover this to sing well. you don't have to even go to this.

but when you go to another level and you really brace and support strongly and really power into them and feed them more breath tension you really can be amazed by the sound.....

it's almost like when you have a speaker that only sounds its best, when it gets some serious power behind it.

and a speaker that sounds great with a basic amp.

and again, there are few rock singers i can hear and recognize this from ...gramm, jamison, early jon secada, bolton, and bono....come to mind first.

they all seem to have an element of a rich "honk" in their voices and they all seem to end lines with some of it.

there's a warmth to the voice and this warm sound is throughout the range.

and just saying "well that's their voice"...no, i believe it's a vocal decision to sound like this.

come on folks, can't anyone relate to this?

I can I think. I still think you're just talking about formant tuning. There also could be some Bernoulli Effect involved, as much as so many vocal pedagogues hate that concept...whether or not that's what's actually happening, and whether or not it is healthy technique, I have found from experience you can achieve a sensation where you increase subglottal pressure and you get this suction effect of the vocal fold adduction which reduces effort in the throat (the folds approximate better with less effort) and seems to increase resonance, and on top that adds this beautiful characteristic sparkly quality to the top end. The increased subglottal pressure and boost of resonance seem to go hand in hand.

Bob, it would be really great if you could demonstrate with a file. Words can't describe sound fully. If requested I could also send a file of what I'm talking about to see if it's the same thing.

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To me, the breath tension Bob is talking about is pressure. So, no, I don't think he is talking about controlled breath and maximum resonance. He mentioned brace, support and "power" into it. This is not the same thing, as far as I can understand, as ensuring proper resonance and the right amount of air to create the note. I think he is talking about applying as much air pressure as possible against folds that are adducted as tightly as they can be, at high pitch.

But I could be wrong.

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