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Will Belting Destroy My Voice?

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My vocal instructor insists that belting will destroy your voice. He defines belting as singing above a high C (I think it was...) in the chest register. He has had pretty extensive training, but the internet seems to have a few varying opinions. I just started learning, and would appreciate any information I could get. If you could give examples of specific singers, that would be super helpful.

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Hello Imstilllearning...

Your instructor is wrong and it sounds to me like some kind of unvalidated comment that some voice coaches will make. Making statements as the "authority", when they really don't know what they are talking about. Having said that, belting certainly could harm your voice, if you don't do it properly. If you don't understand the acoustics of singing primarily, belting turns into just hollering and that is harmful to your voice. The point is, you need to train to learn how to do ti properly. My training program, "The Four Pillars of Singing" and I suppose some others to some extent, offer belting training content that you can practice and study to insure you are doing it properly. 

However, before you start serious belt training you have to have a foundation built that consists of several fundamental strengths and coordinations; frequency, respiration, a good embouchure, and for sure and understanding of vowels and the acoustics of singing.

Also, please upload a picture to your profile as the welcome letter and video you received when you registered very clearly asked, thank you... hope my advise was helpful for you!

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Imstillearning. First, belting wouldn't destroy your voice, if done correctly. Second, belting doesn't mean singing in chest just above the tenor high C, A4 and B4 are also good notes to be belt. Third, belting means chest plus head with strong chest resonance, no one can sing in chest only. And finally... I've been using this technique for years with no harm to my voice.

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Well, IF you define belting as singing in chest voice above the high C you probably WILL destroy your voice by doing it :P That said, this is a quite strange definition of belting and I have not heard that definition, yet.

There are various definitions of belting floating around, but the most popular one refers to singing notes above the lower passaggio (somehwere around middle C for most men) with a high degree of "metal" in the sound. It does not neccessarily refer to chest resonance.

There is an ongoing debate about how much metal is required for a note to be considered a belt. There are things like CVT-Curbing, which is called "the mix" in other programs, which is a coordination with a medium degree of metal, some consider it belting, some don't. There are also coordinations that are "metal-like" or "fake-metallic" such as the coordination that is called "twanging in the head voice" by TVS or "metal-like neutral" in CVT. Some teachers also call this approach "fake belting", because it sounds similar to a belt but actually uses a very efficient lighter mass coordination.

It is also not even clear if "belting" has to happen within M1 or can also be done in M2. There is the CVT coordination "Edge" for example, which is usually M2 register for the highest notes but is still considered to be "fully metallic", it was even named "belt" in an earlier version of the book.

In Estill belting is defined as a high-larynx "shouting" coordination, which is basically the same as the CVT mode "Overdrive". This coordination is indeed limited as it relies on you adjusting the larynx in a way that your 1st formant amplifies the 2nd harmonic. This can only be done up to something like the high C, but in practice, you will usually leave "shout mode" before that.

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Robert Lunte is correct when he says you need to build a foundation. You need to be able to transition from chest to head softly and smooth and then gradually build it up with more power. When I first took some vocal lessons years ago my teacher had me go through the scales getting higher and more powerful and in the end I ended up straining, having terrible tone, unpredictable pitch. I didn't have the nice, soft foundation built where I knew the feeling between chest and head voice. I was just pushing the chest and not using head voice at all. Some teachers do teach this way. Is it incorrect? People debate about it but for me personally I don't think it's the most natural way. The most natural way is starting soft, and getting more powerful over time. Just like lifting weights.. you wouldn't pick up the heaviest weight. You start off lighter and work your way up. 

Belting naturally won't harm your voice. It's just getting used to it over time without rushing.

I have a question! Can you belt F4, G4, A4, B4?

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In Estill belting is defined as a high-larynx "shouting" coordination, which is basically the same as the CVT mode "Overdrive". This coordination is indeed limited as it relies on you adjusting the larynx in a way that your 1st formant amplifies the 2nd harmonic. This can only be done up to something like the high C, but in practice, you will usually leave "shout mode" before that.

Good post Bennie and agreed, lost of variants to the definition... however, I think that true belting has to include M1 musculature, namely... the adductors have to remain engaged (CT, vocalis, interarytenoids...)... you certainly can have belt like sound colors without all this "girth", but it may not be the "pure" belt. 

In regards to TVS and the way we are training belt techniques these days, it is mostly similar to the above definition... or similar to CVT Overdrive... or "Call Register"... this is a FULL engagement of all musculature... nothing "fake" about it... and if you have not updated your copy of "4Pillars"in the last 6 months, you wouldn't have any of this new content. This performance is full muscle engagement, its not "sounding big in the head voice" or anything "fake" about it regarding the musculature. This is full adductor engagement... and Ill say... the result of specific focus on "call register" training that I have been engaged in and teaching my students... and boy is it fun... but you have to warm up... or more accurately ... stretch out... to belt like this you have to stretch the musculature so that the adductors can "pull" and not "break" or release from the resistance that is being produced... 

In particular: 2:28 & 2:44... and the big, heroic ... notes at the end...

When i am singing these notes... there isn't a feeling of "headiness" at all... perhaps only the resonation feels "heady"... but there is no sensation of "loose" musculature... The feeling is more modal/M1... Inside the heady resonant position... there is a "tug" or "resistance" that I feel inside the voice... a good metaphor would be... it feels kind of like a rubber band is pulling and I have to sing "through" this "pulled"/resistance position all the way through the phrase... that is what true Belting feels like.  And that is the adductors contracting... If the slip, then the voice will chirp and that "tug" sensation goes away... and it suddenly sounds heady without muscle engagement again... 

The arm movements BTW... are helping me to anchor that musculature... its not totally necessary, but it was helping me for about a week when I was tracking this. If I wasn't belting, I might not be doing the arm thing... It is a form of extrinsic anchoring that helps the intrinsic anchoring.

 

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Yes, for me its the same. For me, belting is basically CVT Overdrive, which lives completely within M1 and has that signature sound of a very strong 2nd harmonic.

However, I have been told that for females it is a bit different. Females tend to leave Overdrive earlier then men. Their voices are lighter in general and their main belting mode seems to be Edge mode, with more twang and a brighter, less shouty, sound compared to males. According to my information this is also the reason why Edge was named "Belting" in CVT orginally (remember that the book was written by a woman ;)).

But personally, from a "feeling" kind of perspective I definitely identify Overdrive/Shouting as Belting.

You have very impressive control in Overdrive on your highs, Robert. Most singers (including me) probably bridge away from Overdrive earlier because the higher you go the harder it is to control and the more effort you have to put in.

And yeah definitely agree about the resonance being heady and the fold coordination being "muscled". Actually I train control in Overdrive by switching between a windy falsetto and a D&R onset on the same note to get the resonance of the falsetto and the muscled coordination of D&R. I think I posted this some time ago. You can easily hear how I'm struggling to stay on the mode around A4 and start to switch into Edge vowel-space with a lighter coordination underneath.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/69231116/test3.mp3

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You have very impressive control in Overdrive on your highs, Robert. Most singers (including me) probably bridge away from Overdrive earlier because the higher you go the harder it is to control and the more effort you have to put in.

First of all, thanks... Ive really worked my ass off on it. I paid some dues to get it to respond in a decent way. 

Second, to be honest, only for about the last two years... the belting techniques in my own training system have helped me to grow stronger with Belts or "overdrive". In particular the resistance training onsets and vowel modification formulas with narrowed vowels. So really, this is a great case study... with hard work and the right techniques, most people can train the modal voice to high positions. I suppose the previous years of experience and coordination is helpful as well, to pick up on some new ideas quickly, but I am seeing many of my students that are training the belt techniques grow strong, quickly. 

 I train control in Overdrive by switching between a windy falsetto and a D&R onset on the same note to get the resonance of the falsetto and the muscled coordination of D&R. 

 When you talk about finding your resonant placement first and then coming at it with a specialized onset like this to reap the benefits of that onset in the troubled area that needs work... you sound like a TVS student... or someone that has my program and has learned how to use the onset to work for you. I am impressed when reading this... you have already proven to be a smart guy on vocal technique Bennie and this goes to further validate that you know what your talking about and know how to use technique to get results. Allow me to make a suggestion... 

Using falsetto to find your placement is great, but recognize that the key characteristic of falsetto vocal mode is the open glottis position. Now then, I ask you, (as a TVS student...), what two onsets are mostly characterized by an open glottal position? ( jeopardy music... )... That is correct!... W&R and M&R onsets. Therefore... I recommend that you try alternating between W&R and D&R onsets... and W&R and A&R onsets... one after the other... and I believe you will be getting the same kind of workout, but more efficiently... Especially ...

W&R , then... A&R, ... then W&R, ... then A&R... and on...

Hope this helps... thanks again for the feedback.. there is more to come... a HUGE update to the vocal training program that will blow people away and 5 new original songs with video and three new tribute songs with video, including two country songs and a Black Sabbath classic... here is a sneak-a-peak... CLICK HERE >>>   BTW... this used to be a real pushy choker too... but when you build your musculature and strength of your adductors, then you can really express yourself. Im not "barely holding on here"... this is me, singing... expressing myself with relative freedom... it still has that "tugged" feeling and it is a technical execution, but... its stable.

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Thanks for the suggestion. Will definitely try it. Yes, I have the book and it is my main "workout book" while CVT is more like my "main reference book" ;). At least for me, CVT is very cool to describe sounds and define exactly what someone is doing, but TVS is more practical and better for training.

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Well put Benny... I get it.  I have always felt that the CVT book and the TVS system worked well together. Especially with the new addition of the TVS Acoustic Modes, which are very similar to the CVT modes. In regards to the TVS book... the latest and final version is now complete. It has 150 pages in the back of detailed training routines that you may not have in your version if you are into the training... which I agree, "4Pillars" is the strongest in... 

Anyways, click this slink, Amazon.com has it on sale for $41.. its a really good deal and it look awesome now!

Click Here >>> for the final hard copy of Pillars...

BTW... if anyone is concerned about me pitching my book, I'll have you know, I make about $6 on a book sale. Enough to cover 1 latte, so its not about the money. It is entirely about Bennie getting the latest and best I have to offer... and I like the CVT book as well, its good.

 

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Wow it's my first time hearing that song Robert and I'm really loving it. Very heavy, and with great singing too. I really like how you still sound like you're fully in control of your voice despite the belting. Am I right to say that this mode of singing can be quite difficult to carry high up, to say to a B4 or C5?

Also funny that you mention the arm gestures. I personally find that I have a habit of bringing my arms up when I'm singing, as though I'm holding a mic, and somehow I feel a lot more confident that way. Not sure if it's a psychological thing or a habit of jamming too often without using a mic stand, or if the arm position/movement really affects the singing as you described.

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Cool Rotlung, I'm pleased that you like the tune... 

Yes, that is kind of the point. I am fully in control of my voice, even though it is a very high overdrive belt... that doesn't mean its easy... it only means that I am in control of it. I am able to "play" the voice in that position, instead of it "playing me"... The reason for this is the musculature has grown stronger... for the most part, due to the resistance training onsets and narrowed vowel techniques in my own training system. I'm just eating my own dog food and it is thrilling that it helps me too... 

Yes, it is difficult to "pull" that mode up to a B4 or C5, but it can be done if you learn how to shape/narrow vowels intrinsically and balance the acoustic mass... all elements that are important regarding the physics of the formant amplification. I recommend D&R onsets, followed by sirens that "pull" the adductors up to those notes... then from the top down, A&R onsets... this will get you there.

It is both a habit, and a means to engage extrinsic anchoring / support, which for some reason I can't yet explain, help me to "pull" the adductors to those high notes. I don't always have to do that, but on that day, it was helpful... and since I was tracking, I really wanted to nail it... My decision to film it with an iphone was just a last minute idea, it really wasn't my idea to publish the thing... 

One thing that was funny is a few people thought the arm gestures were me trying to be cool? As if I was arbitrarily trying to make some cool movements to show off for the camera... which is frickin ridiculous and not true. As I said, it was not a "staged" video where everything was planned and prepared to look pretty, .. you want genuine and the real deal... that is what this was... it wasn't pretending to look cool... it was VERY real... and I think I look chubby in the video...  if this was intended to be a real pretty video production, I would of not used an iphone and wore an old flannel shirt... But some people don't get it... they only see the staged, final product on TV and don't realize that behind the scenes, sometimes making the recording actually looks like this... less flattering and more spit, more chubby, old flannel shirts and hair tied back... the genuine vibe behind this little video is the reason I decided to publish it. I thought people might appreciate that... I think its cool... 

 

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    Live does not always look cool......unless you are Paul Rodgers or Freddy Mercury or Dio.....But if you watch them you will see that their arms are above their waist most of the time and their hands are at least at chest level with their elbows out from their sides a little bit. You can see this in Dio also..... Those little gestures that Dio does is as much for support as looking cool.

    You can see classical singers clasping their hands together above the waist with their elbows away from their body. One trick to help find support is to imagine holding oranges under your arm pits and keeping them in place. I think it helps to keep your chest from collapsing and gets your back involved when you take a deep breath.

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Folks are saying belting is not harmful to the voice if done right. I agree.

But we need to factor in the role of the mind in belting because you can get as hurt underdoing it as overdoing it.

Beginners need to know the role mental intent and attitude play in belting. Plain and simple (speaking to beginners) this is hardcore singing and needs to be taken seriously.

The entire body belts, I mean from the ground up, and a lot of thigs have to be in place to do it well, and sound good.

You can do songs where belting on F4 can seem difficult and D5 is like a walk in the park.  But the thing i'm trying to get at is to really get the understanding of the importance of the mental component(s) not just "I'm gonna do this", but managing all the physical and mental pieces to it.

So many pieces have to be in place before you can go towards peeling paint off the walls.  Like sleep....if you aren't well rested and go to belt, I assure you you are going to have a hell of a time with it.  Same with not being adaquately warmed up.

Yet there are probably 100's of people out there trying to belt and distort and wail and don't have the mental side in place.

 

 

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