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Crispy boi

Would greatly appreciate advice on my tone.

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Hello all. Im a beginner to voice  3 months in now. Taking lessons whenever i can afford them. Practise right now  consists of equal parts pitch tone and repertoire work. Between 30 and 90 minutes depending on mood 5-7 times a week.  I usually sing between G2 and E4 im not sure if thats bari or tenor. Here is a sample of my voice singing amazing grace acapella. Any pointers to what i need to work on would be stellar :)  
https://vocaroo.com/i/s05MsGwa2X9P

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3 months is early days.

Even when singing a low note, a singer still has to access higher frequencies, called overtones. Overtones are very important in singing, and are one of the biggest differences between speaking and singing.

What I am hearing from your clip is your overtones dropping off as you ascend in pitch. Some of the overtones are getting out of range. This is making your tone inconsistent, and is throwing you off pitch in places as well.

It is normal for overtones to go out of range of what is called a "register". So, singers swap into new registers or mix registers as they sing.

You have to develop and practice different "registrations" to balance your tone and make your pitch centering consistent.

In your clip you are using a registration called chest voice, only. You need some so-called "head tones" for balance.

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Kickingtone Thank you so much for the help i appreciate it. I'm assuming you mean i need more mixed voice on my low notes? And more chest/mix in my higher notes? If so how would i go about doing this?

For reference I do a lot of nay nay nay and open throat/jaw work when i practise tone. Excuse the pitch i do work on pitch every practise session. 

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Kickingtone Thank you so much for the help i appreciate it. I'm assuming you mean i need more mixed voice on my low notes? And more chest/mix in my higher notes? If so how would i go about doing this?

For reference I do a lot of nay nay nay and open throat/jaw work when i practise tone. Excuse the pitch i do work on pitch every practise session. 

I need to post a clip with more pitch range. Below is a clip where i tried to add a little more "chest" to higher notes (around B3). Critiques of my efforts much appreciated.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1zHgvP0trKu

 

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Hi CB, a lot of singers start off with either a chest dominant or head dominant tone. I am guessing that your chest resonance is going to be naturally fine.

Personally, I think that it is important to understand the reason behind exercises (like the "nay nay" stuff). It may seem a little too theoretical at first, but I find that it helps a lot.

Two fundamental things you need when singing a note are:

1. Get the vocal folds vibrating at the right frequency (pitch).

2. Amplify the sound of the vibration.

The "nay" exercise is supposed to help with 2. You achieve 2 by opening out spaces (echo chambers) in your vocal tract. That amplifies your voice by making it resonate in the spaces you have created. Different frequency ranges tend to resonate best in different spaces. Resonance is so effective that its power is almost counter-intuitive. Just by tuning the shape of your vocal tract, without putting in any more effort from your lungs, you can multiply up the power of your voice. (Don't be sceptical of the echo chamber analogy. We are used to thinking of echo chambers as large. But remember that high frequencies have short wavelengths, and so can resonate in very small spaces. Once you gain muscular control of those spaces Bob's your uncle.)

The "nay" exercise, for example, helps you find a resonant space called the "mask". That space, which can take some time to find, allows a whole heap of high frequencies to resonate easily.

Without 2. the voice is like an acoustic guitar with no body, or an electric guitar with no amp. But 1. is also crucial, of course.

When we set our vocal folds vibrating for singing, we deliberately pressurize our lungs. The pressure is necessary for 1., i.e to generate the required frequencies and overtones. That's just the way the physics is. The higher the note, the more pressurization of the lungs is needed. It is supposed to be a relaxed and controlled pressure, and can be achieved through careful control of the diaphragm. There are many (albeit conflicting and possibly confusing) online videos on diaphragmatic breathing and "breath support" or breath control.

I think this is very important, because your clips do not sound to me as if you are engaging the necessary breath support. If this is so, the "nay" exercises won't work. Everything is interrelated.

Right now, your voice sounds natural. One of the most difficult things is to find relaxed and controlled mechanisms to develop your voice, otherwise it can start to sound artificial. The problem is that some new mechanisms start off sounding artificial, but get natural as you master them. Other mechanisms are bad, and stay unnatural. Which are which? You have to rely on your good 'ol intuition, or a teacher who knows what they are talking about. Which teacher, recommendation, advice? You're back to your intuition.

Edited by kickingtone

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Howdy Kickingtone. Yes i see the breath support issue. When i do think about breath i was taught lower abs tense until the solar plexus pops out a little. Is there a better way to breathe for singing? Here is a sample of me doing this abs thing while singing glissandos.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0gvARhwhxlS

I've been trying to feel resonance in my head to bring those overtones like mentioned earlier. I can't really feel much vibration on my nose, back of the head, hard palate or teeth. This is me singing AG with this goal in mind. Kickingtone do you have a soundcloud that I can peruse to hear you. 

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1pn1TGDul1n

 

I know my tone is pretty awful but I'm determined to improve

Edited by Crispy boi

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2 hours ago, Crispy boi said:

Howdy Kickingtone. Yes i see the breath support issue. When i do think about breath i was taught lower abs tense until the solar plexus pops out a little. Is there a better way to breathe for singing? Here is a sample of me doing this abs thing while singing glissandos.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0gvARhwhxlS

I can't say what is best, because there are so many techniques that work differently for different people. I can say what works for me, though.

I can definitely relate to what you have described. What is so important though is the chain of events. All the actions can happen and still come out wrong simply because the causal chain in wrong.

The technique I borrowed from is called "appoggio" ("leaning" the breath). In this technique, the breath (pressurized lung pressure) bears down on the diaphragm and is "received" by the lower abs which brace against the pressure. It is quite involved, so a video by a practitioner would be handy. What is important is that the bracing of the lower abs is a response. It has to be a responsive engagement of the muscles. If the abs brace independently, simply because you have been instructed to do so, it won't be effective.

To get an idea of how much work the lower abs do for a classical tenor, say, they say that their lower abs are aching when they first learn the technique. I can definitely feel my lower abs constantly working, but not to that extent! There again, I am not a classical tenor.

2 hours ago, Crispy boi said:

I've been trying to feel resonance in my head to bring those overtones like mentioned earlier. I can't really feel much vibration on my nose, back of the head, hard palate or teeth. This is me singing AG with this goal in mind. Kickingtone do you have a soundcloud that I can peruse to hear you. 

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1pn1TGDul1n

I started out chest dominant, just like you. Yes, I have my soundcloud practice samples of me doing all manner of experiments. I am not sure how useful they are out of context. I usually link them in a post, with a description of what I am trying to achieve. You will also find a couple of determined trolls following me around on those posts.

Here, I am making use of head tones when in the lower register...

Here I am trying different registers. This was much earlier, around the time I was finding different registers...

One of my most recent soundcloud clips was me deliberately making use of having a slightly dry throat, for troubleshooting. This takes a bit of experience. You need to know when not to sing at all. But slight dryness in the throat should not be a problem. It can help you identify the weakest spots in your singing, because they break more easily when your throat is dry. My voice does break/crack on the first "road" in this song, then I warm up.

 

2 hours ago, Crispy boi said:

I know my tone is pretty awful but I'm determined to improve

I don't think that you will have any problem with your tone. Just make sure it stays natural. Listen very carefully for the natural qualities, and bring them out.

Edited by kickingtone

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Kickingtone you have a beautiful mixed voice. The songs you sing remind me of nina simone. It sounds like you have nice overtones on the low notes.  You also balance darkness with brightness of tone. I would love to balance that high and low voice if thats possible. But in the meantime onward with the appogio breathing experiments. Thanks Kickingtone. 

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Howdy. I've been working on my breathing and im defs getting better at sustaining lip trills and im working on making long notes less shaky although it's been challenging. 

As for tone specifically i noticed I'm straining on some vowels like ee especially. I'm thinking about trying to keep my larynx relaxed.

Here's a sample

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1SxczmMPxRh

My oo vowels sounds so closed off and muffled. How do i create space for the sound without butchering the vowel? I bring this up coz its the vowel im using to bring more head voice into my lower sounds. Here's what that sounded like. 

https://vocaroo.com/i/s05X7NpwFOq7

Would greatly appreciate feedback and i hope you're having a great week so far.

 

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I've finally figured out how to place my voice and reduce most of the larynx strain that was in my voice. My biggest issue now is that my placement is inconsistent.. i can do it on certain exercises and sometimes during a song but i frequently lose it and go back fo speaking/chest voice. Any advice on how to remedy this would be greatly appreciated...

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9 hours ago, Crispy boi said:

I've finally figured out how to place my voice and reduce most of the larynx strain that was in my voice. My biggest issue now is that my placement is inconsistent.. i can do it on certain exercises and sometimes during a song but i frequently lose it and go back fo speaking/chest voice. Any advice on how to remedy this would be greatly appreciated...

Hi CB, it's a steep learning curve, and there is a ton of things involved. Just keep practising and exploring. Apart from anything else, building up the body strength takes time. And it has to be done very carefully and patiently so that you don't build in bad habits.

What genre of music is your favourite singing material?

Make sure you learn a technique that supports your favourite types of music.

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Howdy KT..Honestly when it comes to Genre im having trouble deciding what to sing coz i listen to such a wide variety of music from classical to blues to rock to praise music... i mostly just practise whatever sheet music is easy to find ... right now im just doing nothing but tone exercises really. The plan is to practise amazing grace then hallelujah then nothing else matters then maybe some pop after that or maaaaaybe even classical vocals who knows... what genre do you enjoy singing KT?

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Yes the tone experiments involve a ton of trial and error .. the most difficult part for me right now is building resonance without resorting to just singing louder or pulling the larynx up. I need to post a sample of me adding some pharyngeal type sound to my voice...  and adding just the slightest more head resonance to my lower ntes

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2 minutes ago, Crispy boi said:

Yes the tone experiments involve a ton of trial and error .. the most difficult part for me right now is building resonance without resorting to just singing louder or pulling the larynx up. I need to post a sample of me adding some pharyngeal type sound to my voice...  and adding just the slightest more head resonance to my lower ntes

Good idea!

For genres, I like genres from all different cultures, including my more traditional African music. When it comes to singing, I generally only avoid rock (especially heavy stuff, metal etc.), classical and stuff I can't sing because it is in a foreign language! But sometimes I even try to mimic the words of great foreign language songs (like the South African national anthem!). but I never let anyone hear me doing it!

I think that different singing methodologies can apply to different genres. Even breath support techniques are different. For example, contemporary rock singers tend to use bridged registers, and classical singers tend to use single placement registration. So you have to be careful when following any advice. They often won't tell you which genres they are giving advice on.

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Oh are you african Kickingtone? Where you from? I'm a south african myself. I had no idea classical singers tend to isolate registers i can only hear head voice isolation among sopranos. Tenors and bari's sound mixed to me.

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37 minutes ago, Crispy boi said:

Oh are you african Kickingtone? Where you from?

Parents are, so I was bought up on a lot of West African music, even though I was born and brought up in the UK.

IMO, best singers are from Southern Africa. But I like the traditional West African drums and rhythm.

41 minutes ago, Crispy boi said:

I'm a south african myself. I had no idea classical singers tend to isolate registers i can only hear head voice isolation among sopranos. Tenors and bari's sound mixed to me.

Yeah, you have an embarrassment of great music there. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is the greatest a cappella group in the world.

I didn't mean to say that classical singers isolate registers. On the contrary, I mean they use one consistent placement combining all resonators. It is a consistent "chiaroscuro" sound. They don't bridge/switch registers, everything is on the go.

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Yeah my mom is a fan of LBM and i enjoy as well... 

I've noticed the ehh vowel in particular wants me to fall back into chest. Below is a sample of me attempting to work nasal resonance into a song after a few minutes of doing it with scales. Any advice would be greatly appreciated..

https://voca.ro/2f2v7VEjDN2

 

 

 

 

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Ive noticed my voice oscillates between two extremes. Either my singing just sounds like I'm talking or it's way too nasal not "congested" nasal but trying too hard to place my voice nasal...

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Looks like you're searching for somewhere to place those head tones. Keep experimenting!

Some people go by feel. Some people feel the head tone vibrations in the tip of the nose, some between the eyes, some back of the head, some on the nose, some behind the nose etc. etc.

You have to find those resonant spaces and choose what works for you.

Edited by kickingtone

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Yes thanks a lot Kickingtone...trial and error and more trial and more error lol.. have been playing with placing the sound anywhere from my palate all the way to my nose.

I was doing arpeggios and at one point my entire nose was BUZZING! It feels good to finally get out of that voice that just sounds like Im talking although its nowhere near being consistent.

A major arpeggio 

https://voca.ro/bZI4bzhLAqX

G major arpeggio 

https://voca.ro/j0axjAmu86Q

I also did some work on vowels. As always any critiques on my vowels and my tone will be dearly appreciated.

And side note all this was done on A major or G major arpeggios.. everytime i sing higher than a B3 I totally lose resonance and fall back into chest... any pointers? This is really bugging me.

Eee vowel 

https://voca.ro/mft4XKCizQO

Ehh vowel

https://voca.ro/1d1ZQtukDX3

Ohh vowel which i now realise morphed into an aww

https://voca.ro/46CDouh0vZE

 

Ooo vowel

https://voca.ro/cbgFCBN8rGN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Crispy boi said:

And side note all this was done on A major or G major arpeggios.. everytime i sing higher than a B3 I totally lose resonance and fall back into chest... any pointers? This is really bugging me.

The loss of control sounds as if it is caused by your larynx shooting up (quite a common problem). Try to keep your larynx stable. Naturally, the larynx does move in and out, but try to minimize the up and down movement during these exercises. You can look in the mirror to see what your larynx is doing, or you can place a finger on it, to feel what it is doing.

Some vowels encourage you to keep the larynx down as you ascend in pitch. The yawn gesture keeps the larynx down and is present in the -aw- or -uh- vowel.

But the tendency for the larynx to rise in the first place can be caused by lack of breath support. Higher notes need higher pressure at the larynx, and this pressure has to be counterbalanced by a good support mechanism, or it can cause the larynx to rise. 

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Ahh thanks a lot KT for the always on point advice... keeping my larynx under control is gonna be a constant struggle for me but i have noticed the slightest improvement in my dynamic range whenever i do manage to not let my larynx get sky high...

Ive been trying to keep my larynx down and place the sound more forward on my scales and arpeggios.

Forward placement attempt

https://voca.ro/nWI2wfdp6FM

https://voca.ro/1KsAa50JPlQ

Larynx control attempt

https://voca.ro/5vSJdBAZoTi

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1 hour ago, Crispy boi said:

Ahh thanks a lot KT for the always on point advice... keeping my larynx under control is gonna be a constant struggle for me but i have noticed the slightest improvement in my dynamic range whenever i do manage to not let my larynx get sky high...

Ive been trying to keep my larynx down and place the sound more forward on my scales and arpeggios.

Forward placement attempt

https://voca.ro/nWI2wfdp6FM

https://voca.ro/1KsAa50JPlQ

Larynx control attempt

https://voca.ro/5vSJdBAZoTi

All three are a noticeable improvement in stability and tone!

The first two cycles of the larynx control attempt, especially, sounded really promising and you will "tire" less quickly with repetition. It won't take a huge amount before you can do ten consistent cycles.

I'm so glad you are doing this. You can really help people who follow your threads.

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Thanks so much Kickingtone... i really needed that affirmation of my efforts to be honest. It felt like i was going nowhere.. but at least now i can actually tolerate listening to recordings of myself instead of dying of cringe like before... yes mainting laryngeal control and vocal placement is tiring business i need more conditioning for it...

 

Thanks a lot for helping me KT and putting up with my goat bleating lol!.. one day I do hope to hope this thread can help someone improve their voice. But in the meantime i have a lot of work to do if I hope to be a decent singer.

Have a good one KT and thanks again.

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