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Accessing head voice

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Tonyy
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Greetings dear TMV community,

This thread is about accessing head voice, which I have enormous troubles with. The issue that keeps occuring to me is that once I hit the break area and above, my voice gets tight and dries up. Then, all the very ugly sounding "chesty" growl noises follow. With a bit of vowel darkening, lifting of the sound and a small push this issue is supposed to go away, and it does...

 

... But only after two hours or so of singing. For some reason I just can't access the head voice, without this outrageously long warm-up period. The mechanism simply doesn't seem to be there. I can still push my way through a song, but a lighter more beautiful sound up high seems an impossibility. After the "warm up" though, singing seems relaxed and the ugly noises disappear. It really is as if I was a different person singing.

Does anyone happen to know of a solution to the issue?

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Depends on how long you think is outrageously long for a warm-up time. Is it a D5? We have not heard it but is it the very tippy top of your voice? For some people, that is the top note and the exhaustion you are describing is one we could imagine if we sang that the very top of our voices for however long.

 

How much is  your vocal melody centering in the 5th octave?

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Depends on how long you think is outrageously long for a warm-up time. Is it a D5? We have not heard it but is it the very tippy top of your voice? For some people, that is the top note and the exhaustion you are describing is one we could imagine if we sang that the very top of our voices for however long.

 

How much is  your vocal melody centering in the 5th octave?

The long warm up time is more than an hour, which I don't consider acceptable. I can belt the D5s with a covered, heavy sound without any warm-up, the belty sound with more tension doesn't give me trouble. It's more that I can't access the lighter head voice to sing the normal/lighter mid range parts around the break area and slighly above (for my voice that's around D4-A4). That of course leads to very strained/noisy/shuty/pinched... sounding singing in the 4th octave. After an hour or more of practice the head voice just somehow opens up and the problem goes away.

 

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Do you mean 'head voice' as in, say, something that sounds like Prince singing Kiss? are we talking falsetto or what exactly?

Great question. I dont know what he means. I mean if he can really belt a D5 easily i dont know what does he means with head voice xD wish i had those problems xD

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Do you mean 'head voice' as in, say, something that sounds like Prince singing Kiss? are we talking falsetto or what exactly? 

 

Sorry, I should have clarified from the start. I am talking about the normal singing voice above the break, not falsetto. I am not talking about the belty loud voice either, which can get you there.. The clear, thinner, not overtly loud (but also not speech level falsetto) singing voice in the 4th octave (and above).

Call it mixed voice if that works for you.

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... And a sound sample would have saved all this brainstorming. :D

I totally hear you, unfortunately I have no means of attaining one off the bat.

But at least for the sound that I mean, maybe a classic from Finland would work for you:

@1:44 for example

Just the normal higher range singing sound without excessive belting.

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Greetings dear TMV community,

This thread is about accessing head voice, which I have enormous troubles with. The issue that keeps occuring to me is that once I hit the break area and above, my voice gets tight and dries up. Then, all the very ugly sounding "chesty" growl noises follow. With a bit of vowel darkening, lifting of the sound and a small push this issue is supposed to go away, and it does...

 

... But only after two hours or so of singing. For some reason I just can't access the head voice, without this outrageously long warm-up period. The mechanism simply doesn't seem to be there. I can still push my way through a song, but a lighter more beautiful sound up high seems an impossibility. After the "warm up" though, singing seems relaxed and the ugly noises disappear. It really is as if I was a different person singing.

Does anyone happen to know of a solution to the issue?

What time of day?

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So are you trying to sing like that? A mid-high bright tone?

 

Actually, after rechecking that sample I think he maybe using more tension than I initially thought. To illustrate the point, I am talking about the tone with a bit less support and more engagement from some muscle in the "throat". The sesation feels a bit as if something was being pushed down in the throat. I can't always access that muscle... But it makes singing lighter or really high a lot smoother and increases agility in the passagio and above by 1000 fold. Other than that, yes a mid-high bright tone that can be sung without extreme power. Although, anything from slightly below the break all the way up has some of that "head voice" feel... when it works correctly.

I hope I am not sounding like a complete idiot with my ramblings. Using this voice or muscle is the most basic of basic things required to sing anything (at least in the 4th octave and above), I am not talking about any uncommon technique.

 

What time of day?

 

I usually sing at later hours. I don't sing daily so that may be part of the issue. The problem has occured more times than I can count now. The upper register warms up really slowly, but also very suddenly, as if a switch was turned after singing somewhere between 1-2 hours. I can't even begin to train the upper voice and endurance in that said mechanism properly before it has warmed up.

Thank you for your help.

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Tony,

 

It CAN very possibly take a good 45 minutes to an hour to warm up.

 

It depends on a variety of factors that can delay it...

 

being recently sick (the aftermath to getting your voice back after being sick, coughing and mucus can take several weeks!)
acid reflux issues

inconsistent practice

swollen folds

lack of hydration

low humidity

no warm down (can't forget to do this before you "put your voice away.") 

too much loud talking (between yelling and normal phone level)

 

Also don't forget those warm ups that come under the heading of vocalizes, like neck rolling, stretching, face scrunching, tongue stuff...all that has a benefit too.

 

Become more accustomed to realizing it can take longer than you realize.  Also pay attention what you do on non-gigging days.

 

You as the singer have to figure what exercises work best for you.

 

Hope I've helped.

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Tony,

 

It CAN very possibly take a good 45 minutes to an hour to warm up.

 

It depends on a variety of factors that can delay it...

 

being recently sick (the aftermath to getting your voice back after being sick, coughing and mucus can take several weeks!)

acid reflux issues

inconsistent practice

swollen folds

lack of hydration

low humidity

no warm down (can't forget to do this before you "put your voice away.") 

too much loud talking (between yelling and normal phone level)

 

Also don't forget those warm ups that come under the heading of vocalizes, like neck rolling, stretching, face scrunching, tongue stuff...all that has a benefit too.

 

Become more accustomed to realizing it can take longer than you realize.  Also pay attention what you do on non-gigging days.

 

You as the singer have to figure what exercises work best for you.

 

Hope I've helped.

You have helped plenty, thanks, is that Bob? First real answer addressing the issue here.

It would be a compliment to call my practice schelude inconsistent so that may well be the issue. I also don't ever warm down, I haven't even heard about such thing.

To be frank, I am not a big beliver in warm ups in anything. Singing is the only experience I have had where warming up not only has an impact, but the difference is night and day for me at least.  The voice just opens up..

Really hoping this new experience regarding warm ups is short lived and disappears with more practice...

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Would you go play football without warming up or just get out of bed and straight to the field..Warming up and warming up well, will get your voice where it needs to be 9 times out of 10.. Not warming up is gonna work some days but not everyday and if you are performing do you want to be guessing if your voice is gonna be there or sure of it because its what you do everyday..

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Greetings dear TMV community,

This thread is about accessing head voice, which I have enormous troubles with. The issue that keeps occuring to me is that once I hit the break area and above, my voice gets tight and dries up. Then, all the very ugly sounding "chesty" growl noises follow. With a bit of vowel darkening, lifting of the sound and a small push this issue is supposed to go away, and it does...

 

... But only after two hours or so of singing. For some reason I just can't access the head voice, without this outrageously long warm-up period. The mechanism simply doesn't seem to be there. I can still push my way through a song, but a lighter more beautiful sound up high seems an impossibility. After the "warm up" though, singing seems relaxed and the ugly noises disappear. It really is as if I was a different person singing.

Does anyone happen to know of a solution to the issue?

 

The drying up can be acid reflux. Also like someone said make sure you are singing everyday. Also work exercises that stretch your arytenoid muscles, absolutely crucial. The other bit of advice is try warming up light in the lower range for maybe 10 minutes, nothing heavy and then go right to your head voice and falsetto work.

 

Also sing everyday to:

Fantasy by E,W & F

Reasons by E,W & F

Sugar by Maroon 5

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Would you go play football without warming up or just get out of bed and straight to the field..Warming up and warming up well, will get your voice where it needs to be 9 times out of 10.. Not warming up is gonna work some days but not everyday and if you are performing do you want to be guessing if your voice is gonna be there or sure of it because its what you do everyday..

I played football in 9th grade. The coaches would have us warm up. I still got hurt, now and then. Not so much from charlie horses but from being hit by another 200 lb'er coming at me, full tilt boogie.

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It is not uncommon - at first - to take a while of singing before you can transition to your head voice in a good way.  It shouldn't have to take two hours though.  Sounds like you're not going about it in the right way.  I'd still warm up for a maybe 10, or 15 min and then do the bridging exercises.  Take it slowly - don't push it.  If it is too strained, quit for today and do it again tomorrow.  It will come, you just have to go about it the right way.  Best to with someone's actual program that has exercises that are designed to bridge to head voice..

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is clearly a mixed voice example, but you are asking about head voice. 

Do you feel comfortable strictly with the flexibility and openness of your head voice? It would sound girly but strong. If you aren't comfortable with this first, it probably would be frustrating to try and mix the voice right away.

I have some good exercises for bridging the voice if you would like to PM me. 

Agreed, a sound example would be super helpful, because it's difficult to tell from your description. Best case scenario you have something simple to tweak, worse case vocal damage. This is the importance of a sound example. :)

 

 

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Okay I didn't see that you're beginning to accept to the idea of a long warm up before writing this, but I'll leave this as is just to drive the point home and for any other singers reading that feel like warming up is for weak or whatever...so don't take the part below too personally Tony, I'm glad you are starting to understand and accept that singing is a kind of "different" thing where warming up is hugely important (depending on the person - I have heard great singers who don't warm up but it's because they are already great and don't need it, not because they don't warm up)

If there's one thing I want you to understand Tony and really anyone here, is that 2 hours warming up is not outrageously long nor unacceptable especially when you are not a professional yet. Warming up just takes as long as it takes.

If you can invest in some super cheap recorder, put a sample for feedback, maybe before and after of the 2 hour warm up, we can actually help you learn how to be more efficient with your warm up instead of just trying to guess what you mean by your subjective interpretation of vocal terminology.

Also your warm up time will shorten as you get better, not the reverse - you don't get better by shortening your warm up time! And to be fully warmed up, as crazy as it sounds 2 hours is not too abnormal for the amount of time it for an aspiring singer to hit their "peak". I need about 2 hours myself and I've been singing for 5 years. Of course when you perform you don't always get that long to warm up but you just use the time you can and accept whatever vocal quality your left with. I can sing a lot of stuff with no warm up if I have to but I just can't do all the advanced stuff without it and that's fine. In 5 years from now I will be able to do a lot more without less warming up because that's the RESULT of becoming a better singer and that's all there is to it.

Patience is key Tony. When you rush the process you develop tensions in your voice that create bad habits that take years to undo which greatly restrict your ability to improve and then it just takes even more patience to retrain your voice. I know this from experience. I spent a year training to undo a neck tension I left in my voice for years and now recently my coach noticed a tongue tension problem when I descend a scale which makes singing high songs unreliable and guess what now I'll have to go through the boring hard work of training in front of a mirror every day getting that tongue to relax. I believe this all came from years of me refusing to warm up fully and chasing shortcuts that were unhealthy technique.

So my point is take your time and do this right Tony. Don't chase the ability to have this crazy mixed voice stuff there when you roll out of bed because if you try to just go straight there and neglect the fundamentals and the time needed to develop it correctly it will never come the way you wanted it to. What tends to happen is you KINDA get it, but then you're like "oh...now there's this other huge problem in my way" To avoid that kind of spiral of problem after problem, get your fundamentals down and understand that to sound like your favorite singers will take years of warming up patiently and practicing just as long, and doing this a good 5 times a week. And that's if you want results FAST. If you rush it and incorporate lazy behaviors into your routine it will just backfire and take even longer to get the sound you want because of those tension issues I mentioned that result from not working SMART during your singing journey.

It is okay to want quick results as long as you are able to turn off your desire for instant gratification at a mediocre quality and actually think ahead about what will ACTUALLY get you to an AWESOME result in the future the fastest, and then be willing to put in the work to do it...2 hours warming up could be hugely effective for you to build this cool mixed voice quickly and if you say no to that you simply have to say no to building the cool mixed voice quickly. In singing, there are no shortcuts that don't involve extra work and strategy.

 

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2 hours isn't really that long for warming up. Sometimes I get a little impatient and want to get to songs quickly, so maybe a 20min-45min warm-up (depending on the time of the day and how much talking I've already done since waking up), then get to singing easier songs (think Smoke On The Water, Hush, Sunshine Of Your Love) and gradually work up towards the harder ones that require me to bridge intensively (Black Diamond personally counts as one of the much harder songs that I require quite a bit of warm-up to attempt).

What works for me is that I take a short break after warming up and singing a little (usually 15-30min). The break helps me incredibly in getting the feeling you described - singing suddenly becomes quite relaxed, and the demands on support are not that great (as opposed to powering through a song without warming up, in which case I practically need to shout with a lot of support).

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2 hours isn't really that long for warming up. Sometimes I get a little impatient and want to get to songs quickly, so maybe a 20min-45min warm-up (depending on the time of the day and how much talking I've already done since waking up), then get to singing easier songs (think Smoke On The Water, Hush, Sunshine Of Your Love) and gradually work up towards the harder ones that require me to bridge intensively (Black Diamond personally counts as one of the much harder songs that I require quite a bit of warm-up to attempt).

What works for me is that I take a short break after warming up and singing a little (usually 15-30min). The break helps me incredibly in getting the feeling you described - singing suddenly becomes quite relaxed, and the demands on support are not that great (as opposed to powering through a song without warming up, in which case I practically need to shout with a lot of support).



Yes, break helps me immensely as well. Anyway, I have sort of resolved the issue, at least I can access the head voice now without tightening the throat and releasing the onslaught of noises/distortion in the process when bridging. It's just difficult to feel the release right at the start for a noob like me haha. Picking a note above the passagio like an G#4 for example and just singing it in as pure released head tone as possible helps clear up the tone a bit and getting in the right direction faster. Notes right by/after passagio seem to be the most difficult to sing clean with head tone... The registers just sort of get mixed up.

Thanks for the replies guys, have been immensely helpful as always!

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