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Notes coming from different places

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Hanalei
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I've posted before about the same note sounding good in one song and bad in the next. But I just realized that some songs it feels like the lower notes are coming from a slightly different place. I can't place exactly, but I think maybe it's a bit lower in my throat? I'm still too new to this to be good at feeling where everything comes from, but I think the higher notes come from higher up, like more towards the roof of my mouth. Normal middle and low notes I believe come from the same place I speak from. But on some songs, it seems different. I don't know what causes that or if it's normal.

For example, the following Bon Jovi songs are all about the same range of notes (I used an online piano for this so hopefully the notes are accurate):

- "Destination Anywhere" I can do just fine. All of the notes are comfortable and sound nice.

- "One Step Closer" sounds good, but feels weird. It's not the bottom of my range, but when I sang it last night, it felt like it was.

- "The Distance" I can't sing at all. It does go down to pretty much the bottom of my current range, but I can sing all of those notes on other songs without any trouble. But those same notes in this song sound much lower than they really are when I sing them and they feel uncomfortable.

- "Little City," which covers the same notes as "Distance" and bottoms around a B2, I can sing just fine with no discomfort.

What gives?

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I am not a teacher so others can be helpful and give a better understanding but here's the deal.

The shape of your tongue and throat can send the sensations to different places. You can feel the vibrations in different areas of your head and throat.

If you have a habit of clenching your teeth when you sing louder but not when you sing soft you can feel the vibrations in a different place. Also different consonants may effect the way you hold your tongue when you sing.

What you do when training is learn to keep the tongue and jaw in the proper place for your voice throughout your range.

This is only to tell you why you feel it differently at different times. For most of the time you do not want to feel like the voice is coming from the throat but you want to feel it higher up sort of behind your nose.

I am sure others will chime in and explain better what I am saying.

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All notes come from behind the soft palate, regardless of where you think you feel them.

It's all "in your head" (in my best imitation of the character, Shawn, from the show "Psych.")

Shoot from the hip, sing from your soul, believe in yourself. At the end of your life, you die alone. And each morning, to quote Billy Joel, you wake up with yourself.

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But if they all come from the same place, how come I can sing a D3 perfectly in one song and terribly in the next?

The notes do come from the same place. The vocal cords. The path the sound travels in your head changes.

A shout is different from a sob. A cry is different from a laugh. The size of the spaces inside your throat and mouth change. The force of the exhale changes. How much air travels over the vocal cords change. All of these things can effect the sound of the note.

That is what makes the difference.

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But if they all come from the same place, how come I can sing a D3 perfectly in one song and terribly in the next?

I kinda echo Jonpall. You can sing D3, a description relating to a certain frequency of vibrations. But how it sounds can be vastly different. What vowel sounds do you think sound wrong and why do you think they sound wrong? And can you put up a sample of what sounds right and what sounds wrong, to you? For you cannot hear yourself as others hear you?

And then comes the hard part, accepting what others might think of your "weak" sounds if they don't sound so weak to others.

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And can you put up a sample of what sounds right and what sounds wrong, to you? For you cannot hear yourself as others hear you?

Hahaha, I'm pretty certain that "The Distance" sounds bad, because my mom says she hears the same things I hear. ;) But yeah, I can definitely do a clip with good and bad. Do you want to hear a clip of those songs specifically or just one that I feel like I can't really sing? (I can do like the first verse and chorus of each of those or just do part of one that sounds bad to me.) Up to you.

Edit: AND I can do it with the music in the background so you can hear that, too.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally got around to getting a sample recorded. Sorry that took so long. I had the music playing on a speaker by my computer, which didn't work as well as I'd hoped, so the audio is not very good. But hopefully it'll at least give you a good idea of what it sounds like... the songs are in the order of the list I gave in the original post.

I did notice that the lowest notes seemed to come out better when I really relaxed my throat. I don't know if I'm normally tight when singing, or if that's just how I'm able to hit them.

https://soundcloud.com/user7915197/low-note-blend

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I didn't understand this.

Your jaw is always open when you sing, no?

Tell that to Dave Mustaine :P.

But more seriously, some people will have a difficulty to open. As also some people may open too much. And finally there are some kinds of productions that will need a limited "vertical" space, more "horizontal" openning usually when being more agressive or trying to lighten the quality.

It depends, and sensations of placement really need assertion before it can be used with confidence. All I can say is that for the usuall description of "mask" placement, you will have to find a way to really relax yourself into it, and the sound quality will be overall too light even for most classical material.

Sensations shifting too much during singing means that there are things adjusting and it may be a pointer of wasted effort to articulate. Too much movement force the larynx musculature to adapt and as a result, you get tired and tensions start to build.

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Also singing low without it sounding too weak I find I need to hold back the air more to compress the tone since the low notes generally use a lot of air compared to higher notes.

I also recommend you don't sing along to the songs anymore as you already "get them", in order to grow further you'll need to pause the track and sing it back, this really develop your pitch as well.

I have been focusing a bit more on singing on my own, but it's still weird for me - I'm taking things a bit slow, I guess. I am to the point where I'm comfortable singing and playing along with the song on a speaker just loud enough to hear it. Before I had to have the music loud enough that I couldn't really hear myself.

I definitely noticed lower notes came out better when I was more relaxed. I guess I need to experiment a bit with those and figure out how to make them sound best. Maybe I can get my B2 to sound fuller - it's normally just barely there.

One thing I noticed, too, is if I close my eyes and try to visualize holding onto a microphone, the low notes come out better. I have no idea why. (Needless to say, I didn't realize that while I was recording that clip. :rolleyes:

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One thing I noticed, too, is if I close my eyes and try to visualize holding onto a microphone, the low notes come out better. I have no idea why. (Needless to say, I didn't realize that while I was recording that clip. :rolleyes:

I find this to be the case as well. Don't just visualize it, but actually pretend you have a microphone in hand or grab a flashlight or whatever. I believe this has to do with engaging stronger support as the hands are positioned in such a way that helps "pushing down" and applying the right pressure for exact amount of breath needed for your given note.

As a matter of fact, I find that if I sing with "neutral" hands, singing becomes more difficult whereas having them in microphone position makes it much, much easier and really kicks support into motion.

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Brilliant Powerofone. If you notice when watching Opera singers they sometimes clasp their hands together in front of their body. This action does help engage support muscles.

Also DIO and LOU GRAMM. Watch them They keep their arms and hands above the waiste most of the time.

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Exactly. For me the best position to feel support working at 100% is that "microphone position" with both hands clasped together at mouth/face level with the arms at a 90 degree angle, then open to the sides, parallel to the sides of the body. You really feel the rib cage expanding, lower back, stomach the whole mechanism at work.

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I once had a note come from the big toe on my left foot. That was odd and startling. :lol:

Hanalei, it's obvious that you can notes as low as D3. It's also obvious that the timbre of your voice is different than the original singer.

So, don't worry if you sound just like the original singer. Every single singing teacher we know and admire in our discussions here says the same thing. Don't try to sound like another singer. It's okay to use techniques similar to them, as much as your voice will do. Please, for the love of yourself and all that is good about singing, don't worry if you sound like some certain singer.

There, that's my tough love for the day. Of the people that can mimick many voices, how come none are doing covers sounding like Tiny Tim? Or Bob Dylan? Nevermind, that is rhetorical.

Anyway, it sounds like you answered your own questions. Relax. Close your eyes and imagine the mic, if that helps.

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So, don't worry if you sound just like the original singer. Every single singing teacher we know and admire in our discussions here says the same thing. Don't try to sound like another singer. It's okay to use techniques similar to them, as much as your voice will do. Please, for the love of yourself and all that is good about singing, don't worry if you sound like some certain singer.

I actually only sometimes focus on sounding a particular way. I find if I try to somewhat mimic Jon when I sing, it sounds a lot better and more confident. Not sure why. Why, did it sound like I was trying to sound like him in that clip? I hope it doesn't...

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In the clip, it did not sound like you were trying to sound like him. But your initial post, to me, sounds more like you are worried because your depth of voice is not the same as his, even though you reached the same notes.

I am telling you that you can sing the song, with the same feeling and the same notes, you just will not have the same exactly tonality. And I am tasking you with the assignment of accepting how your voice sounds, regardless of where you think the note came from.

Singing is mental.

And so is listening.

(from ronws' crappy collection of mantras and cliches.)

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Oh, gotcha. I see how you would get that impression. I know I'll never sound exactly like Jon simply because I'm a girl and he's a guy, and I don't intend to sound exactly like anyone but me. But I would love for other people to be able to pick him out as a big influence on my voice. But no, I'm more concerned that it just doesn't sound good - "The Distance" apparently doesn't sound very good to others listening who can't hear the original song anyway when I have headphones on. I tend to do Bon Jovi songs the most as they're my favorite, I know them the best, they're the most comfortable to sing, and quite honestly, they're the most fun for me. Especially since Bon Jovi is who got me interested in this whole industry to begin with. I think their songs fit my voice best, too, and feel most like me. I can do Heart songs, for example, but I don't have the same connection with those. I tried Pat Benatar once - though not recently - and it sounded really bad to me.

Now that I think about it, after seeing the thread about how some artists just do or don't sound good together... maybe that's why they sounded bad. 99% of the time I prefer to sing along with the song because I like feeling like there's a band behind me. So maybe it's not the song, but their voice just doesn't mesh with mine well? Like for example, if I did a duet with Jon Bon Jovi, would it sound really good compared to if I did a duet with Kelly Clarkson? Hm... interesting thought...

I hate the karaoke versions of songs most of the time, and there's not many songs I can find the instrumental recordings for. A lot of songs would sound weird playing them acoustically, I think. Or I can't play them. And singing alone is very uncomfortable.

I think probably the biggest influences on my voice would be Jon and Keith Urban. Interestingly, there's never been any female singers that have been much of an influence. I like Heart and Pat Benatar and such, but I've never listened to any of them to the extent that I listen to Bon Jovi and Keith Urban and other classic rock guys.

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So the same techniques for getting higher notes (using your abs) also applies to low notes, too? Yeah, I think what you described, Phil, is what I'm doing. My voice coach taught me about pushing against the wall and leaning over to get the high notes... sounds like basically the same idea.

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Just to help clarify some things. Clasping the hands,pushing down on the thighs,pulling up on a seat when your sitting down etc. these things help with cord closure. Which is basically helping you to sing with more "chest". This is very old speech pathology exercises for people who speak breathy. It's not really doing anything with your "support" but if this helps with keeping the cords closer(chestier) rather than further apart (headier) all the best.

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Just to help clarify some things. Clasping the hands,pushing down on the thighs,pulling up on a seat when your sitting down etc. these things help with cord closure. Which is basically helping you to sing with more "chest". This is very old speech pathology exercises for people who speak breathy. It's not really doing anything with your "support" but if this helps with keeping the cords closer(chestier) rather than further apart (headier) all the best.

Thanks Daniel, Doesn't having your elbows lifted help keep the Back and side muscles engaged and help keep the chest lifted? Or is this another crutch that leads other problems?

Doesn't the fact of better cord closure aid support? I kind of got the idea that support was air management not letting too much air escape and enough pressure to vibrate the folds. They kind of work together.

Just asking questions. Seeking answers.

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