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Can you over-compress vocals too much?

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wabba_treads
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It seems to me that unfortunately what tends to happen to really powerful singers a la Robert Plant, Axl Rose, Brian Johnson etc in their hey-day is that they may have added too much compression or used it the wrong way. Is it for that reason Robert Plant had to brighten his tone as the early 70's progressed to avoid blowing out his voice? You can hear a major difference in his tone starting from 72 onwards as his highs started to get less "chesty" and heavy to being more heady and slightly nasal until he started avoiding that heavy compressed style altogether later in the 70s. He still definately has his moments lately.

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In a sense yes, but i would rather look at it like this. Some sounds are more demanding than others, highnotes in general for example. There is always risk of wearing yourself out, moreso if you choose to sing with very demanding sounds, but there are people who use gentle sounds and hurt themselves aswell.

cheers

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jens is so right on that.

if you can get your fold compression isolated acutely and specifically at the folds (meaning the folds aren't getting negative assistance from the surrounding muscles, the jaw, the throat, all that), you are less likely (or simply won't have to) compress as much and more likely to last longer doing it.

but that's easier said than done....

what helps me is to get the tension that might be up top, diverted down to the lower core, which (when done right) frees up the top so you can isolate the folds and let them do their job unrestricted.

hope i made sense.....i'm in street language mode today......lol!!!

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Thanks for all the tips guys! I think that songs that really hover around the passagio i.e Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love etc are some of the most physically demanding songs ever. ( At least for me anyways, I'm a barry) I heard the best way to prevent heavy stress while compressing is to try and sing as lightly in that area as you can (which for me is around b4-c5)

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There are times when RP was referred to as the golden god. Even as the resident Led Zep freak around here, probably considered fanboy boy by some, and in a totally bare moment of the soul, I have to admit that I still have the music notation book that covered albums I through V (Houses of the Holy) and had learned just about all of those songs, I never spent this much thought about what he is doing.

As for his high notes, there are times when I heard a track that someone "de-constructed" as best they could and he was kind of light, up top. Also, if we are going to discuss how his sound changed over time, it must be remembered that recording and editing strategies changed over time. Sometimes with a producer at the board, sometimes with Jimmy at the board.

I read 3 books that I know of. "Hammer of the Gods," of course. As well as the memoirs of Richard Cole, the one and only tour manager for the 12 year run of the band. A feat in itself. Just about no band lasts 12 years with the original line-up. As well as the "off the record" book.

What leads me to what?

Led Zeppelin I was recorded in a total of 30 hours, while on the road. Minimal production values. In fact, during the recording of that album, they had not chosen their name but were under obligation to perform the rest of that short tour as the Yardbirds.

Later albums had more production values, better studios. For example, some parts of Led Zeppelin IV ("The Ruination Album") were recorded in a castle, of sorts.

I don't remember anything about Plant having vocal surgery but then, again, my memory is what I forget with.

;)

Which doesn't mean it didn't happen, I just don't remember reading it. But I do remember reading about the car accident that almost cost Plant a leg. And his son dying from a freak infection while in the hospital.

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we've all had our "how does he sing like that" moments when listening to robert plant.

it's not that you have to sing lightly, you have to sing "efficiently" up there. it's not just the height, but how much you need to be able to sit up there to sing a song like "whole lotta love."

and that's the key to lz. you have to get your voice placed up there. once you're situated up there you can stay up there a little easier. visualize the note coming off a shelf, like you're picking the note up, rather than working up to it. you have to be able to sing very efficiently up there, minimal mouth movements, ride on the vowels, some whine and cry into the sound, good support.

ken tamplin had a video with some helpful insight to singing like plant.

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  • 1 month later...

Compression is fresh news to me and i am confused a little. I feel its not much helpful at low-mid notes C3-C4 or at least it is if done lightly at the bottom and heavier as we go up. I feel my notes stuck, hard to vocalise if i compress a lot, especially in the low range, but on the other hand im thinking maybe i dont "support" enough if i dont and my folds wear out cause of the air.

In what range should we compress and how intense should it be? Im i gonna have to listen to my bodys responce?

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Compression is fresh news to me and i am confused a little. I feel its not much helpful at low-mid notes C3-C4 or at least it is if done lightly at the bottom and heavier as we go up. I feel my notes stuck, hard to vocalise if i compress a lot, especially in the low range, but on the other hand im thinking maybe i dont "support" enough if i dont and my folds wear out cause of the air.

In what range should we compress and how intense should it be?

You want the proper amount of compression. Too much and you will sound like you're going to the bathroom, too little you will sound airy and weak. Basically what you want is a balance between airflow and muscle (resistance in the larynx) and to keep that balance even as you go from low to high. It's more a matter of coordination than brute force.

Im i gonna have to listen to my bodys responce?

I find I sing much better if I just let it happen than try to control it.

Nick

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some guys sound like they're compressing but they're really not......they just sound like it......

Does that mean it might not be nescesery for singing?

* Ok i gave it a second thought, bad question. Because they sound like they are but arent doesnt mean they dont use it at all...:/

So i should adapt to my vocals reaction, if i get stressed notes release some tention and if i feel airy i add, thats correct? Highest level should be at top notes so we dont crack and keep the chestiness? As i understand its a tool we need to learn how to use by hearing ourself.

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Highest level should be at top notes so we dont crack and keep the chestiness?

Yes, its an awesome way to train. A lot of people try to train the passage by simply letting go of power, from loud chest to a weak head voice. Define your chest voice lower, with medium intensity, and on the passage, you do a leap, going a bit louder (not shouting), to help you keep the registration uniform.

Eventually, when the coordination is better, you will be able to control dynamic intensity, but trying to come from a loud chest voice and getting into a head voice with just as loud volume is usually a recipe for tension.

But, after all, II dont advise working this stuff alone. Its more a matter of fine tunning than of finding some new ways to use your voice, such as compressing/not compressing. For example, even if I said its best to do what I described, there are many situations that could call for a total release, maybe solving some sort of tension on the tongue for example... If you must work alone, focus on singing songs. Easy songs first, slowly add difficulty.

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