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I Don't Believe in Love - my rehab

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ronws
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As some of you know, I lost part of my voice for a few weeks. In the "how low can you go" I tried to do a siren like Mike did and he pointed out how rough and sick I sounded. At first, I thought it was inflammation due to allergies. Yet, I could still sing some high notes. And some low notes. But a good chunk of my tenor range just wasn't happening, especially at soft volume and I couldn't do falsetto. Mike had suggested doing light volume sirens. I remembered top down vocalisation and that worked out better for me. Start out in head voice and descend. And this last week, my voice came back. I had thought perhaps I had damaged something trying to do lots of distortion. Maybe I twanged to hard to produce rattle. So, I think I had inflamed muscles that control coordination. And descending sirens helped re-establish some coordination. It's been like learning how to sing, all over again. Anyway, last week, I found myself singing this song, which helped, because it is almost all head voice, in a light tenor sort of way.

In recording this, I went through several takes earlier today, some of which were horrendous because I would push too hard and strain myself. My throat would start to clamp and pitch and timbre control would start break up. So, I tried a really light version that was okay. Then I went to the grocery store, giving myself a rest. Came back and sang it perfectly and had to scrap that because there was a data glitch. Sang it a second time and botched the very end. So, I re-recorded the very end.

So, there's a few timing issues, though I overcame most of them. What's important to me is that I couldn't do this a few weeks ago.

Also, I tried Mike's advice and lowered the mic input volume on the computer system, not Audacity. And I'm not singing loud. I'm using just enough air to create the note. Essentially, singing in a way that didn't cause any discomfort. I tried the RIAA eq preset and that sounded like crap. So, I'm sticking with the Columbia, I seem to have the best luck with that. Followed by compression. Then track volume adjustment. Finally, after satisfied enough with the take, I added slight echo, .1 on both parameters.

I really like this song and maybe I have brass balls because you have to be able to sing in order to sing this song. I have much respect for Geoff Tate and Robert Lunte, who both can sing in this style, not surprising since they both had the same vocal master, at assorted times.

This song has been good to my voice.

"I Don't Believe in Love" by Queensryche, from Operation: Mindcrime.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Queensryche%20-%20I%20Don%27t%20Believe%20In%20Love3.mp3

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A newer take. Quieter, more control over compression and breath support, closer to the mic. I adjusted recording level on the mic, as well, which seemed to help.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Queensryche%20-%20I%20Don%27t%20Believe%20In%20Love4.mp3

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I've recorded what felt like a better version. After doing lip bubbles and scales, which helped my breath support be reducing air pressure and concentrating on placement of notes. My breath support in this one is pretty much the same as the light lip bubbles, just better resonance and adduction, aided by the fact that I didn't have too much air pressure going on.

Adjusted mic level in audacity, columbia eq, compressor, and a very slight echo (.02, .02). The mic is still clipping, a little. I like this version because the ending was not as heavy as the last couple of times and I had vibrato. Normally, the chorus, especially the lyric "I need to forget her face, I see it still" and the last two repetitions of "pain that you feel" are in a passagio for me. But not this time. It was free and easy with no strain, like I was breathing the note in. Technically, one should realize the passagio still exists. But bridging, what Robert describes as lift up and pull back, basically taking the weight off and let the note go where it's going, got it there, ringing, too. With the same breath pressure as when I started. What makes the note swell is vowel color and resonance.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Queensryche%20-%20I%20Don%27t%20Believe%20In%20Love5.mp3

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Hey, the last one was by far the best take. I'm not sure if you're singing this tune in a soft way because that's your approach or because you want to avoid mic clipping.

I suppose my ears ask for a "meatier" vocal approach because of the original - but that's a personal opinion and has nothing to do with your choice.

Anyhow, I liked it a lot and I believe that only the high notes needed a bit more "meat" or support, hell it's hard to describe it.

What's really important to me is that your timing and pitch accuracy have improved greatly since the 1st take and this shows that you are starting to own this song.

I'd like to think that your warm up helped towards ironing out most pitch issues and that they will soon be eliminated all together.

Looking forward to hearing more,

Thanos

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Hey ronws! I'll give you two tips that I think will help you a lot:

1. You seem to sing a lot in what CVT calls the mode neutral. The problem with that mode in a rock song is that its characteristic is that of a lullaby. If you were to add either a cry sound to your voice (curbing) or a shouty sound (overdrive - just be careful not to go too high with it), then you'd automatically get a more meatier sound. Right now it lacks a bit of punch but a simple adjustment like that will astonish you if you get the hang of it. It's not that tough, especially not on the lower notes.

2. You tend to end notes a bit abruptly. Try to "care" about the notes from start to finish, if that makes sense to you :) . So make them slightly longer and/or add a slight vibrato at the end. Just note that the best type of vibrato is a balanced one, easily produced, not too fast, not too slow and not too extreme.

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Thanks for the advice, guys. I'm going to keep singing clean for a while, just giving the voice a rest. It's obvious to me that I don't know how to sing with heavy distortion (supertwang with a rattle) and I screwed myself up.

And I am singing this song softer than I normally would, but that is due to both refining my technique and trying to prevent overloading the mic, which doesn't matter much, as it overloads not on just volume but on pitch, too. But what this take means to me is far better control on my part. Previously, on the high part, it felt like I was belting to get the top notes out, now, I have better control. The note still sounds with enough volume but it was much easier for me to do.

Jonpall, I was normally in Overdrive when I was doing this song before. And it would get a little strained and cracky near the tops of the chorus, which felt like passagio for me. I like the lullaby idea, though. I had some vibrato here and there in the lyrics and I had a steady vibrato on the last note. The fact that you can't hear that means that the mic isn't picking it up clearly enough, though I could hear it.

I've really learned that I have a clean voice. I don't know how to say this without you guys thinking the wrong thing. Perhaps my voice is too clean and unadorned for here. Most everyone here is looking to add some kind of distortion, mostly, as part of the rock and heavy metal sound. And there is a lot of that in the genre and I love the genre. This song is a metal song, to me, though it is somewhat balladic. And of the progressive arty stuff Queensryche has done, this is more accessible to the public, straightforward, though it's a bitch on some of the timing (thanks, Mr. Tate). The song is mostly tenor but most people can sing with it, even in their falsetto, except for the choruses. But maybe I don't fit in here.

And that's okay. I've had most of my feelings burned out and the others surgically removed, (you have to be devoid of feelings to be in charge of a crew in construction trades ;) ).

I thought, at times, this mic is not getting all of my overtones in my voice because what I hear recorded is not what I hear of myself, here in the room. For one thing, the mic is definitely not picking up all that I hear from the guitar when I play it. However, we also hear through our bones. Maybe the mic is picking up what's necessary of my voice, I don't know. But for now, it's all I have. When I did this version, I cupped my ear, sort of like a VAM and that allowed me also to control pitch and singing volume, and so, perhaps, I could hear myself better.

I was aiming to sound clean and unstrained on this version, believe it or not. But I guess there may not be room in the hard rock and metal music for a clean voice. I may very well have limitations in that I may not be able to do lots of distortion with my voice and just live with that. Then again, Geddy Lee sings clean. So, maybe there is room.

And ya'll are going to read this and think, "dang it, Ron's feelings are hurt." No, just accepting reality for what it is.

And I'm glad you guys chimed in. I wasn't expecting any comments, good or bad. Sort of the "no news is sometimes good news" sort of thing. I had gone through 3 versions and 47 views and no comments and thought, well, let it be for what it is, a sonic diary of a voice on the mend. I don't sound like Geoff Tate and "I never have and I never will."

But the suggestions are valid and worthy. For stylistic and technical reasons.

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I'm not talking about distortion. I don't think you HAVE to sing with grit in order to sing rock. Many rock singers have a clean voice. I'm talking about a bit more volume and actually mostly for your LOWER notes :) F.ex. just in the very first verse. To give it more attitude. Think Mick Jagger, if that helps :) Except with a technically well produced vocal vibrato at the end of some notes, which he usually doesn't do ;)

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Wasn't talking about distortion at all - in fact I'm not sure I'd even be interested in listening to this song if it was sung with distortion.

What I'm saying is - and I agree with Jon - it requires more volume/body in a clean style. I know your mic is not helping you at all in that aspect

but If I were you, I'd keep practicing in a soft (non breathy) voice and doing warm ups&downs in a very disciplined way till I felt no strain when

I added volume&weight to me voice. I'd do that for 2-3 weeks - you know what I mean ;)

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Wasn't talking about distortion at all - in fact I'm not sure I'd even be interested in listening to this song if it was sung with distortion.

What I'm saying is - and I agree with Jon - it requires more volume/body in a clean style. I know your mic is not helping you at all in that aspect

but If I were you, I'd keep practicing in a soft (non breathy) voice and doing warm ups&downs in a very disciplined way till I felt no strain when

I added volume&weight to me voice. I'd do that for 2-3 weeks - you know what I mean ;)

Ron...one thing that may help you increase the "body" is spending some time working on controlling the soft palate/closing the nasal port. If you make a 'P' with the lips and then hold the build-up of breath to the 'P, you will feel a build up of breath behind the closed lips. Hold your breath and then attempt to breath out through the nose. Do this a few times and you will start to feel something is moving back there to release the air. This is your soft palate moving from a raised position to a closed one.

Once you get this sensation...you can start practicing your songs by replacing all consonants with this sequence: 'ng' sound(lowered palate) MOVING to a 'g'(which closes port/raises palate) then opening to the vowel you will be singing. It may take you a couple of weeks of VERY focused work to get into the habit of closing the port on the vowels...but the increase in power is well worth it.

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I'll just say one thing about effects; I think everyone is capable of doing them...barring some physical problem...so don't worry about it at this point. I think you have the right idea learning clean sounds with control, lower volumes, etc. Then build off of that. Having a sense of control is priceless IMO. You can always add to that ad infinite later, working from a solid base sound. As they say, don't put the cart before the horse. :cool:

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I usually sing louder than this and I have sang this song louder than this. The whole point of the exercises was to learn better control. And the reason for posting version 5 was to show that I am progressing at some finer control.

Here's the album release.

Here's a live version from around the same time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f45V6V-1pU0

So, he was singing it in different ways at various times.

So, should I aim for the album version? For example, in the album version "I need to forget her face, I see it still" is not repeated but in the live version it is. In the live version, he sings a few notes in a different note but harmonic to the song, never the less. As for note endings, he has a better reverb and echo set up than I think I have. Back in the late 80's, sound systems like theirs and that of Rush cost around $1 Mil (US) back then.

Quincy, you restated what I think I was aiming at before and it was the whole point of posting version 5. I have plenty of volume, which you may not think I have. But my aim in rehabbing my voice is to learn some finer techniques so that when I do start adding volume back, it will be the right way. I thought I displayed plenty of volume on my versions of "Gethsemane" and "Heaven and Hell."

But I am going to work on the suggestions given here, as I was already planning to do what Thanos was talking about and actually, I plan to have that as a constant regimen for as long as I am able to sing. Which will hopefully be for at least another 40 years. That is, I'm going to continue with soft lip bubbles and scales together because they really seem to help me place notes and have the right breath pressure.

Analog, I truly appreciate the technique you gave and already have experience with that. As a child, I had asthma. I found the hard way many times what the sinus and soft palate does. I learned how to cough with an open throat to get up phlegm. Most people hurt their voice when they cough. I don't. So, believe it or not, I know exactly what you are talking about.

Jonpall, in Tate's voice, he is singing so soft, he's getting some fry and letting his voice drop with the end of air pressure. It's a neat sound and sometimes, I do it, too. Even when I do it, I don't sound like him. I'm stuck with a voice that sounds like no one else, or bits of everyone else. My wife, who hears me sing all the time, in person, often thinks I sound like David Byron (original singer for Uriah Heep.) I can live with that. The main problem with the lower notes is mic placement. Once again, mic limitations. When I hold it far enough away to handle notes with more volume and higher pitch, it won't hardly pick up the low notes. So, that's my fault. On other takes, I would remember to bring it in close for low notes, which are also usually at less volume. Evidently, I did foul that up this time. And I do try to compensate with compressor. Also, I must add, with Audacity, the effects are added after the take. You can't get real time effects with this software I am using. So, when I list the effects chain I am using, these are done to the track after it is recorded.

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Jonpall, I don't know if you still keep up with this thread but I found the problem on the abrupt ending of some words. Yes I do "care" about the note to it's end. What I was doing was anticipating the next phrase too much so that I wouldn't miss it and ended up ending the word "love" about a half beat too soon. So, I value your advice as it notified me of a problem, even if you didn't express it in the technical term that I just did. Sometimes, knowing there's a problem is half the battle.

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