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Baritone Curse

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Key Guy
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Hi!

I am truly impressed by the level of discussion going on this forum. So maybe you can answer this question that everyone seems to provide a different answer for. I will definitely be looking at getting a teacher down the line, so shameless adds fine by me.

First of all, I think I am a baritone, but not 100% sure about that. I would love to hear if someone here can tell me where do I stand relative to average (beginner). The lowest note that I can sing with any credibility in chest is about a G#2 and the highest is about a E4.

So when I try to sing one of my favorite genres which is metal. I always fail and have to sing an octave lower. The question is, will I ever be able to sing the high notes with any credibility given my poor starting range? The second question is what kind of technique do these guys utilize, is it head voice or belting or the so called "Chiaro-scuro"?

Here is an example of what I mean by a baritone (often called "baritenor") Tony Kakko, really high notes starting at 1:15 (Ending to an E5).

Thanks a lot!

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Key Guy, what you describe of your voice is an untrained tenor. Not that you are any particular voice type and such classifications as baritone, tenor, etc, fit mostly in a role cast in an opera. That is, you are not a true "baritone" unless you have been cast as one in operas and others, the good old boy network, have deemed that you have a baritone weight or sound to the voice.

Most any day, I can go down to G#2 if volume and fullness are not a requirement. I can croak an E2, though it helps if I wait until the end of the day. And I can sing up to Bb5 most any given day, C6 some days. And you can do the same. Patience, practice. No retreat, no surrender.

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You can absolutely stretch your range. Most average beginners do not know how to tap into their higher range.

To answer your question about what technique do most guys use, it varies. The best way to approach stretching your range is to learn how to use your head voice. Oftentimes, belting sounds like belting. In actuality, it's most likely a well trained voice that knows how to maximize sound in the belting chest voice range, in the head voice range, and in the bridge that connects the two. When done well, you won't be able to tell when someone bridges from chest into head voice, because the bridge is so well developed that the transition is seamless.

Regarding "chiaro-scuro", I wouldn't call "chiaroscuro" a type of voice that is in the same category as belting, chest voice, head voice, etc. Rather, it is a way of describing a vocal quality. It's Italian and comes from the Bel Canto school of vocal technique. "Chiaro" means light. "Scuro" means dark. In Bel Canto, the most beautiful voice has qualities of bright and dark. You get the dark sound from the space in the back of your mouth and throat and from a relaxed and lowered larynx. You get the bright sound by placing the resonance in the bones and cartilage in your face, cheek bones, nasal cavity, hard palate, etc - what is referred to as "the masque." In the Bel Canto school, all parts of your range should have "chiaroscuro." Your chest voice, bridge and head voice should all have elements of bright and dark.

Your title of this post caught my attention because I just saw a video by Justin Stoney in his video series "Voice Lessons to the World" about the "Baritone Curse." IMHO, he has the best video tutorials about vocal technique of any that I have seen and they are all free. Most of his videos include a thorough explanation about vocal technique and then he goes through some sample vocalises to help you grasp a concept.

However, this particular video about the "Baritone Curse" doesn't have any exercises.

You can also check out my blog post about extending your range. I plan to put up some free videos in the next few weeks with vocal exercises, a few of which will be regarding extending your range.

http://www.theaspiringsinger.com/extendyourrange/

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You simply haven't trained your head voice so you're stuck at E4. You are not letting go of your chest voice. That's fairly normal. Once you learn the head voice coordinations you can grow the top of your range. It may take some time, and definitely some dedicated practice. You'd be surprised how quickly you can gain the range if you learn the correct coordinations. The best would be with a teacher who can teach you this.

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Based on your description you're most likely just an untrained tenor. Usually when singers develop their voices it's mostly the high range that extends not the low end. So if you were to train, most people can develop 2 octaves easily, for you G#2-G#4, that's a nice low tenor/high bari range. More likely you'll end up with 2 and half octaves of full chest, something more like G2-C5 which is definitely tenor

I'm a baritone and my low range has stayed pretty much exactly how it's always been (can "hit" Eb2 breifly, sustain F2), but with training I've trained my chest voice range from my old highest reliable note Eb4 up to Ab4 currently. This is speaking only of my very fullest voice - once you get into mixed voice and head voice the whole game changes. I have several shades of lighter singing that I can take up higher, the lightest as high as Ab5 and can blend in and out of - the blending/mixing and finding more medium and lighter shades is the hardest part and what you'll probably spend the most time training, but that's really what brings you into "baritenor" land - someone who can do the screamy high metal stuff and make it convincing even if it's not their fullest voice.

Just to give you some perspective on how range extends upwards mostly

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you must understand mentally what is going on in your entire body when you sing a high note because to be able to sing them takes mental drive.

grab a book or video and really learn what is going on inside.

don't view them as notes you do up to, but notes you come down on top of.

depending on the size of your voice, a lighter or heavier voice, will present it's own challenges.

don't fear your voice. as i always say it's listening and will do (or won't do) whatever you tell it to.

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I used to believe there was a "Baritone curse" and I'll never comfortably sing above it's limit.

That was a few years ago. Once you begin to work on your voice over a year or so you'll see many improvements.

My head voice used to be weak more than a month or 2 ago. After consistent practice and patience it's grown so strong.

I recently sang at some auditions over the weekend and was consistently singing G4s and A4s all the live long day. They felt so free.

Take time to work on your voice an hour a day say. Make sure you get a coach just to make sure you're doing it correctly and just have some patience.

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I have to agree with Dan and Phil, Quite a few others too. Thinking you are a Baritone only lets you say to yourself "OK I'm a baritone. I am not supposed to be able to sing above G4"

Fach doesn't matter anyway. We all have that passaggio wobble/break/weak spot or what sounds like two seperate voices comparing B3 and B4.

Might as well just call it that Singers curse, having to train daily to sing and sound the way you want to. But you will get there.

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M. Shadows is classified as a baritone in the range place.

... He is definitely not cursed. He sounds flat out amazing. I love the way he phonates the last "king" in the choruses. Ballsy as hell, but still he has that strange whiny compression that some people seem to really be turned off by.

I think he's polished his technique a lot.

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Thanks, Khassera. That is one of my favorite newer songs. And it's been getting a lot of air play, locally, along with their other single, "Shepherd of Fire."

And I have read somewhere that M Shadows has actually had lessons. He's not just winging it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you everyone for very helpful answers! Also thanks for the offers, I will consider taking the exorcis... singing lessons in the future very seriously. This seems to me like something that is very difficult to learn by oneself.

The mods helped me fix the youtube link if someone wants to still take a look. I suppose there hasn't been a shortage of those though...

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