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Unread 04-17-2007, 10:58 AM   #1
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The Vocal Advice Thread (VAT)

This thread is for singing tips; NOT screaming. I am closing this thread immediately after I open it. It is not for comments, nor asking questions. Simply a thread with good advice. If you have questions, feel free to post a thread but consult the VAT first to see if your question has already been answered. There is a seperate thread with screaming tips.
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<A NAME="^TOP">Ok, this is THE Vocal Advice Thread (VAT). This is the combined thread of the most frequently asked questions about vocal help. Please check this thread before posting. This thread will be organized by common questions and the common collected answers to them. They will range from general to specific. If there are any questions, concerns, corrections, or things that need to be added please PM me or start another thread for it. I want to keep this thread as clutter free as possible. Thanks! Here is a list of the questions answered:


<A HREF="#number_0">0) Vocal ABC's
<A HREF="#number_1">1) What is my range? What are the different Vocal types?
<A HREF="#number_2">2) How do i sing from my diaphram? How do i sing with more support?
<A HREF="#number_3">3) How do I learn to sing harmony?
<A HREF="#number_4">4) How do you know if you are straining your voice?
<A HREF="#number_5">5) How do i prevent my voice from sounding nasal? How do i not sing through my nose?
<A HREF="#number_6">6) What are some good warmups and practice routines? How can I expand my range?
<A HREF="#number_7">7) How can i improve my vibrato?
<A HREF="#number_8">8) How can i sustain notes longer?
<A HREF="#number_9">9) I'm a guy and I can't get out a high E! How can I sing higher?


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<A NAME="number_0">A = Airflow. Never hold your breath while singing. The airflow is what creates and carries your vocal tone, so keep it flowing. Avoid Clavicular Breathing and Belly Breathing -- instead, learn the proper way to breathe for singing, called diaphragmatic breathing. Fill the lower portion of your lungs as if you had an inner tube around your waist that you were evenly filling.

B = Breathing properly for singing requires the shoulders to remain down and relaxed, not rise with the breath intake. A singer will gain power to their voice by strengthening the muscles in their ribcage and back.

C = Communicate the music's message. During performance it is very important to communicate the message of the song. If you make a "mistake" don't point it out to your audience. It is most likely they did not even notice.

D = Diaphragmatic Support. Develop the strength and coordination of the diaphragm and become a pro at controlling the speed of the airflow released, the quantity of the airflow released and the consistency of the airflow released.

E = Elasticity of the Vocal Folds. The vocal tone is created as airflow bursts through the cleft of the vocal cords causing them to vibrate/oscillate. The vocal folds can lose elasticity due to misuse, lack of use and/or increase of age. Be sure to train your voice with vocal exercises on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape.

F = Free your natural voice. Don't be a slave to any music style -- even your favorite one. Learn to sing with your full and natural voice by developing your vocal strength and coordination. Then add stylistic nuances to achieve any singing style you desire.

G = Guessing Games. Never guess the pitch you are about to sing. Hear the note in your head before you open your mouth.

H = High notes require consistent and steady airflow. Many students tend to hold their breath as they sing higher. Let the air flow. Try increasing your airflow and gauge your result.

I = Increase your breathing capacity and control by doing breathing exercises every day. Be sure to avoid patterned breathing. Singers must negotiate phrase lengths of all different sizes, so it is important to be versatile.

J = Jumping Jacks. If you are having trouble getting your body completely involved with singing, try doing some cardiovascular activities, like jumping jacks, for a few minutes before getting started again. Sometimes your instrument simply needs an airflow wake-up call.

K = Know your limits. Don't sing too high or too low. Don't sing to the point of vocal fatigue. Never strain or push your voice. Doing so will not result in a higher or lower singing range, or a stronger voice, only a voice that has suffered undue stress.

L = Low notes are often sung with too much airflow. Try decreasing your airflow to achieve a more natural, more relaxed tone.

M = Mirror. Training in front of a mirror can help a singer discover many things about their instrument, as well as confirm that other actions are being done correctly. Be sure to rely on a mirror during vocal training, but be able to leave the mirror to face an audience.

N = Never sing if it hurts to swallow.

O = Open your mouth wider. Nine times out of ten this will help you achieve a stronger, more defined vocal tone.

P = Prepare your instrument before singing. Singers are very much like athletes. Take care of your body/instrument by stretching out the vocal muscles and relieving the body of unnecessary tension before singing.

Q = Quit smoking. Quit talking too loudly. Quit talking too much.

R = Raise the Soft Palate. Creating a larger space inside your mouth by raising the soft palate, or fleshy part of the back of our throat, helps achieve a deeper more well rounded singing tone.

S = Sing through the vocal breaks. If you do not teach the muscles the necessary actions to sing through the trouble spots, success will never be achieved. Sing through it, sing through it again, and again....

T = Tone Placement. Learning the facts about tone placement and resonance make a huge difference in the abilities of a singer. In simple terms, a singer has numerous body cavities (nasal cavity, chest cavity, etc.) and amplifiers (bones, ligaments, etc.) that act as resonators. Focusing the vocal tone through the proper resonating chamber with the proper support is important with regard to controlling and developing your personal sound.

U = Unique Voice Under Construction. Remember that your voice has its own unique fingerprint and is constantly changing with our actions, environment, health habits, etc. With this in mind, listen to your own voice often and use vocal training tools to keep your voice on the right track.

V = Vibrato. Vibrato is a natural or forced fluctuation of a singing tone. Do not concentrate on learning how to sing with vibrato. Instead, concentrate on the basic foundations of singing, breathing and support. When the proper coordination is achieved, vibrato will occur naturally.

W = Water. Water. Water. Drink room temperature water as often as you can to keep your voice organ hydrated. If you only have cold or hot water available, swish it around in your mouth for a moment. This action will keep your voice organ from being startled or stressed by different temperatures.

X = What actually starts with x? Any suggestions as to what can go here?

Y = You Can Sing with Impact! Exercise your voice daily with contemporary voice lesson products. Don't Just Sing when You Can Sing with Impact

Z = Zzzzzzzz. Be sure to get your rest. If you are tired, your voice will show it. A tired body/instrument will not allow you to produce your best possible sound.

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_1">1) What is my range? What are the different Vocal types?

The four main classifications are Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass. When four part music is written for vocals these are usually the four parts that the writer has in mind. Soprano and Alto are normally female, while tenor and bass are normally male. Within these classifications are sub-classifications as well as ones that fall between the four main classifications. Listed below are the four general types and their sub-types:


SOPRANO


Soubrette- light voice, younger singers, best in middle voice, no extensive coloratura.

Lyric Coloratura- like a soubrette with an upper extension to E above high C or so.

Lyric Soprano- beautiful lyrical voice, strong voice, but not heavy.

Dramatic Coloratura- voice in quality similar to a lyric soprano, but with an upper extension to F above high C, and ability for sustained coloratura. (Coloratura is fast moving melismatic, and sometimes acrobatic singing.)

Spinto- stronger voice with more weight and power than lyric soprano, able to sing up to a high B or high C.

Dramatic Soprano- heaviest and most powerful voice; able to sing over large orchestras, but lower in range.


ALTO


Lyric Mezzo- Lighter mezzo voice, range up to B below high C.

Dramatic Mezzo- same range as lyric mezzo, but fuller sound.

Contralto- dark deep and fairly rare voice.


TENOR


Tenor Leggiero- light and sweet voice with very high range.

Lyric Tenor- range up to high C (which is one octave below the soprano high C) with a strong, but not heavy lyrical voice.

Spinto- range up to high B with stronger and more full voice.

Dramatic Tenor- also called Heldentenor, range up to high A (below high C). A powerful voice able to sing over heavy orchestras.


BARITONE/BASS


Lyric baritone- range to G or A below high C. High tessitura ( average height of pitch within a piece), and lighter voice.

Dramatic Baritone- lower tessitura with range to G below high C. Stronger and fuller voice.

Lyric Bass- range from low F to high F (2 octave split). Lyrical voice able to move through runs, but with real depth to tone.

Heavy Bass- range from low E to E below high C (2 octave split). Lowest voice, dark and deep.

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_2">2) How do i sing from my diaphram? How do i sing with more support?

All your diaphragm does is make room for your breath by moving your other organs downward when you take a breath. Your diaphragm doesn't actually do anything in singing...but people say "from the diaphragm" and really mean "support your sound with breath". This is a controlled, steady air supply from keeping your abdominal muscles tight when you are singing. You USE your air to support the sound you are making. So your vocal chords aren't doing all the work...

okay, what you do is this. lay on the floor on your back. put your hands on your stomach and breathe in. you should feel your stomach go up and down. do this a few times just to get used to the feeling. then, stand up. breathe in deeply, but don't let your chest and shoulders go up. instead, make your stomach go out. your chest will rise a little bit, but that's only because your stomach will be pushing up on it.

if you think you're not doing it right, stand sideways in front of a mirror and watch your stomach. it should extend noticeably, and then when you breathe out, it should contract a lot and look almost like you're sucking in your stomach (which you sort of are). just practise slow breathing this way until you feel comfortable doing it, and don't have to watch yourself. one thing which helps me is to keep my hands near my stomach, just so I remind myself how far it has to go. also...it may take you a while to do it naturally...

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_3">3) How do I learn to sing harmony?

a) One word: Oldies. Flip to your nearest oldies station and start singing with that stuff. The melody is normally really simple to pick up on and there are very rarely and weird chord changes. This is an EXCELLENT way to start. A lot of the harmonies already there are good too. Just check out oldies instead of modern stuff. The harmonies are way better.

b) Think of your harmony as it's on melody. Don't just try to stack notes on top of the melody or that is what it will sound like. Make your harmony go somewhere. Play around with different notes and see what sounds best.

c) You really aren't going to find anyone to give you harmonies and you won't learn that way anyway. It sounds good now, but it will do you no good in the future if you are 'spoon-fed' this stuff now. Listen to other people and just practice ALL the time with whatever you happen to be listening to.

d) Steal harmonies from other people! Don't just mimic everything that they do for a particular song but if you like it, use it. Incorporate it into your style.

e) If you play an instrument (guitar, piano, etc.) great! If not, find someone that does. Go through different chord patterns and stuff. Just basic Praise and worship. (GCDC, GDEmC, CAmGF, etc.). Don't try to sing the melody if it's a song you know. Just make up a melody to go over it. The more that you are listening to the chord changes and the music the more you will be able to make great harmonies.

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_4">4) How do you know if you are straining your voice?

i would classify 4 types of strainage:

a) singing out of your range
b) singing/screaming too loud
c) singing/talking/screaming too long
d) singing/talking wrong...misusing vocal cords in normal voice range.

does it hurt? if so, you're straining your voice. It's just like any other muscle. If you're running and your legs start to hurt, you're straining them (pushing them past their limits). You can do the same with your voice. You should be able to tell where your break between head and chest voice is and then where your actual break is above that. Basically, when it starts to hurt and starts to sound airy...you're gonna start straining it. Use common sense. After a few times you should know your limits.

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<A NAME="number_5">5) How do i prevent my voice from sounding nasal? How do i not sing through my nose?

Its not that there is air creating sound coming out of a singers nose, it is where the resonance is. The vocal chords really only create sound out of the mouth, but if you have very bad resonance, you can get the nasal sound.

See #2. As you learn to sing from your diaphram and use more breath support you will lose the nasal sound.

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_6">6) What are some good warmups and practice routines? How can I expand my range?


a) Start out with a breathing exercise. Breath in for a few counts and then hiss for as long as you can hold it. This will increase your breath support and help out your breathing. Do that 5 times or so.

b) Start humming. Hum through a scale first to get your voice going. Try some other exercises as well. There's some scattered around here.

c) Open your humming to a "Maw". This gives you a chance to expand your vocal chords so they aren't so constricted. You may to better to just to the first 5 notes of a scale instead of the whole thing. Ex: C D E F G F E D C. Go up chromatically (one scale step at a time). So go from C to C# to D to D#, etc. See how high and how low you can go. Don't hurt yourself but don't be afraid to find out what your limits are.

d) Go to all four vowel sounds (I still use an 'm' to start the sounds). Meee (as in the letter E) May (as in the month) Mah ( like, aww MAH pleeeease!! very open) Mo (as in one of the three stooges) and moo (like the sound a cow makes. So in other words. Me, Meh, Mah, Mo, Mu. With this exercise try going up in thirds C E D F E G E D C. Go up chromatically.

e) That was your warm-up. Now you're ready to sing. Hymns are great for going right after the warmup. Make sure you focus on good vowel sounds and breathing. Try the melody (soprano part) first. Then try and sing all of the other parts in your own octave.

f) After doing that for a while try 'sight-singing'. Give your self the starting note on a hymn you don't know and try to sing it and stay in tune. This will greatly improve your ear.

g) Try some more specialized songs. What's your style? Chorale kinda stuff? Alternative? Gospel? Work on suits you but keep in mind all of the stuff you practiced.

h) Start in a key, say C. And leap from the root to the fifth and all the way back down. In C it would be C G F E D C. The way to do this is to treat the first C like a quarter pick up note. Hold the G for 2.5 counts and eighth notes on the rest and land on C. Go up chromatically. I know that sounded really weird, but it's hard to explain. Just try something like that.

i) Octave slurs. Just what is sounds like. C to C an octave higher then back down. Go up chromatically. Make sure you actually slur it though, don't jump or leap to the note.

j) Practice scales. Start with the most comfortable range and go up in scale. Slowly work at it and don't push. Going up in thirds help. (do-mi-so-mi-do) Gradually move up.

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<A NAME="number_7">7) How can i improve my vibrato?

vibrato should be something that is natural, if you force it you'll mess up your voice and your tone wont be as good. Just work on your voice and let the vibrato fall in where it does, natrual vibrato is tons better than forced. I'm just having to break the habit of a 'forced' vibrato and it's really tough.

my music teacher taught us an exercise that can help with developing vibrato. find a note you're comfortable with. now, move it down half a step, and then move it back up. repeat. you must do it very slowly at first, until it becomes natural, and then you can speed it up. but don't expect it to happen in like, a week. he said it takes a while to develop, and I agree that you don't wanna force it. if your voice won't do it, don't push it.

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_8">8) How can i sustain notes longer?

first of all, are you breathing correctly?

second: don't let out all your breath in the first few seconds you sing the note out. you have to control how much air you let out with the sound. I know that probably sounds weird and you have no idea what I'm talking about, but it's kind of hard to explain with words lol.

take a deep breath (breathing from your diaphragm) and hiss, letting the air out in a controlled manner. Do this for about 16 beats to start with. Later expand to 24, 30, etc. Now, after you've run out of air to let out, or you think you're going to black out from lack of oxygen (whichever comes first. I usually find I still have plenty of air but not oxygen lol) take another deep breath and sing a single note. you should sing the note with the same amount of control you used when you let the air out with the hissing. see how long it takes you to run out of air...the note should hold more volumne and power, and the main thing is that you are controlling both of those, so you can sing louder or softer, and more forcefully or more gently.

If you are singing in a choir: YOU don't have to hold out notes the whole time. That's what your section is for. Sneak a breath when you need it. If there's a high D written for 8 measures straight VERY few people can hold that out. Sneak a breath when you need it and come back in, just don't be obvious.

<A HREF="#^TOP">^TOP
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<A NAME="number_9">9) I'm a guy and I can't get out a high E! How can I sing higher?

The male voice does not fully settle until he reaches about 25. Until then it's gonna be shaky. You will have good days and bad days. Some days your range will be amazing and you wil be able to hit high notes with no problem and your low notes will just come rolling out. Some days stuff just wont come out.

I was a lyric tenor. My voice is changing again, and it sucks. I'm 19. I had just gotten to the point where i was nailing high E through A in head voice and it rocked. Now it's gone and i'm straining to get out an E or an F most of the time. Part of being a guy though. Work on techinique and breathing and when your voice catches up you'll have mad skills.

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Unread 04-20-2007, 07:21 AM   #2
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I've decided to open this so that other people may post advice. Thank you Snizzle for all the wonderful advice, very well written.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 01:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AXguitar View Post
I've decided to open this so that other people may post advice. Thank you Snizzle for all the wonderful advice, very well written.
Great. I found my post about overcoming nasalness in the voice. It was buried in the screaming thread (Presbystrat cringes):

Quote:
I would like to add the following to question #5: "How do I keep my Voice my from sounding nasal?"

Try this exercise: Try to humm by making an m sound with your lips and make the lips vibrate a little. Focus the sound on your lips and then release your lips and make an ahh sound. Make sure you are filling your lungs from the bottom and allow your stomach and sides to expand ( I would say breathe from your diagphram but this is confusing because your diaphram doesn't actually breath; it is the muscle that pulls your lungs down and forces air into them.) I'm sure there are several threads on breathing technique. Also make sure you stand with good posture with your shoulders raised. To do this, raise your hands in the air and then let them drop while keeping your shoulders in the same position. You don't want to breath from your chest but you do want to make sure that the cavity is fully open. I usually focus on trying to get more resonance in the my chest cavity so the sound doesn't resonate as much in the sinuses. Hope that helps.
BTW: I don't think Snizzle came up with all of that. I believe most of that was compiled by Rhonda in the original VAT sticky.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 09:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by presbystrat View Post
BTW: I don't think Snizzle came up with all of that. I believe most of that was compiled by Rhonda in the original VAT sticky.
Actually I had very little to do with the original VAT.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 09:35 PM   #5
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I don't know if this should be added to the list above but there are also Counter Tenors. Counter Tenors can sing most bass stuff and sing higher than even Lyric Tenors (think Freddy Mercury).
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Unread 04-23-2007, 04:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by AXguitar View Post
I don't know if this should be added to the list above but there are also Counter Tenors. Counter Tenors can sing most bass stuff and sing higher than even Lyric Tenors (think Freddy Mercury).
I've never really thought of Counter Tenor being a voice type; I tend to think of it as a falsetto technique. I think it is something that any male should be able to develop though it has always come kind of naturally to me.Here is a good article on it. I can sing fairly good counter tenor up into the mezzo-soprano range but I can't sing any Bass parts that go lower than the C below middle C. You can check out my counter tenor voice in "Scarboro Fair" on my PureVolume page. I sometimes wish I had more opportunity to use it. I have used it in High School for solo parts in Chichester Psalms and Carmina Burana. I have also used it in some Renaissance music. It's a fun voice to use because it always kind of surprises people.
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Unread 04-23-2007, 05:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by presbystrat View Post
I've never really thought of Counter Tenor being a voice type; I tend to think of it as a falsetto technique. I think it is something that any male should be able to develop though it has always come kind of naturally to me.Here is a good article on it. I can sing fairly good counter tenor up into the mezzo-soprano range but I can't sing any Bass parts that go lower than the C below middle C. You can check out my counter tenor voice in "Scarboro Fair" on my PureVolume page. I sometimes wish I had more opportunity to use it. I have used it in High School for solo parts in Chichester Psalms and Carmina Burana. I have also used it in some Renaissance music. It's a fun voice to use because it always kind of surprises people.
Most actual Counter Tenors have a chest range that's unbelievable and then the falsetto...
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Unread 04-23-2007, 09:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Most actual Counter Tenors have a chest range that's unbelievable and then the falsetto...
From some preliminary googling, it would appear that there really isn't any agreement about what constitutes and "actual" counter-tenor. All the counter-tenor parts I have seen in classical music are in the alto range and I am able to sing them completely in falsetto without dropping into chest voice. The one site I linked above says that baritones usually make better counter-tenors but not always. I have to admit, that though I can stay in falsetto throughout the alto range, the sound of my low range does get kind of thin. A baritone might have an easier time getting a fuller sound in the lower range without dropping out of falsetto. I can also sing higher than the normal alto range.
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Unread 04-23-2007, 09:52 AM   #9
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A "true" counter-tenor would be a castrato.

Quote:
I've never really thought of Counter Tenor being a voice type; I tend to think of it as a falsetto technique. I think it is something that any male should be able to develop though it has always come kind of naturally to me.Here is a good article on it. I can sing fairly good counter tenor up into the mezzo-soprano range but I can't sing any Bass parts that go lower than the C below middle C. You can check out my counter tenor voice in "Scarboro Fair" on my PureVolume page. I sometimes wish I had more opportunity to use it. I have used it in High School for solo parts in Chichester Psalms and Carmina Burana. I have also used it in some Renaissance music. It's a fun voice to use because it always kind of surprises people.
The tenor solo in Carmina Burana (Olim Lacus Colueram) is sick nasty.
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Unread 04-23-2007, 10:03 AM   #10
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A "true" counter-tenor would be a castrato. .
I definitely wouldn't want to to go that far.

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Originally Posted by MrCrabby View Post
The tenor solo in Carmina Burana (Olim Lacus Colueram) is sick nasty.
You're right. Not one of my favorite solos. We did it in high school for an all county choir but they hired a professional for the part. I think I could have done a better job even if it is sick nasty.
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Unread 04-26-2007, 10:43 PM   #11
Ax
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Originally Posted by presbystrat View Post
I've never really thought of Counter Tenor being a voice type; I tend to think of it as a falsetto technique. I think it is something that any male should be able to develop though it has always come kind of naturally to me.Here is a good article on it. I can sing fairly good counter tenor up into the mezzo-soprano range but I can't sing any Bass parts that go lower than the C below middle C. You can check out my counter tenor voice in "Scarboro Fair" on my PureVolume page. I sometimes wish I had more opportunity to use it. I have used it in High School for solo parts in Chichester Psalms and Carmina Burana. I have also used it in some Renaissance music. It's a fun voice to use because it always kind of surprises people.
I've began doing those exercises and working on it... They do work...
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Unread 07-18-2007, 12:31 PM   #12
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I'm a guy and I can't get out a high E
What "E" are we talking about, to me a "high E" is E5, four half steps above "high C" and I know NO guys that can belt that out in their chest voice, if fact, I know very few that can reach that even in falsetto.
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Unread 07-18-2007, 01:32 PM   #13
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I can get to an E5 in my chest voice, I could sing higher than most of the girls in my high school choir. If you are trying to sing high you need to relax it makes it a lot easier. "Belting" out the notes is not the way to go, it strains your vocal chords, and doesn't sound as good.
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Unread 10-22-2007, 05:13 PM   #14
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I thought id add this link in as it is a book useful for both singing and speaking (all aspects) was written a long time ago and is very simple to follow and i kinda found it interesting.
Has heaps of excersices to teach u how to breath properly, extend your range, establish a good head and nasal resonance etc.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19138...-h/19138-h.htm

It helped me heaps as ive never had a vocal lesson, hope u all enjoy
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Unread 10-23-2007, 06:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kizzkezz View Post
I thought id add this link in as it is a book useful for both singing and speaking (all aspects) was written a long time ago and is very simple to follow and i kinda found it interesting.
Has heaps of excersices to teach u how to breath properly, extend your range, establish a good head and nasal resonance etc.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19138...-h/19138-h.htm

It helped me heaps as ive never had a vocal lesson, hope u all enjoy
Interesting read. No kidding it was written a long time ago. I noticed that all of the references were from the 1800's and early 1900's. Do you know who wrote it and when? It kind of reads like some medical texts I have read from the 1800's.
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Seagull Artist Series Mosiac--> K&K SBT + mic-->K&K Trinity Preamp-->BBE 362 Sonic Maximizer

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The Holy Spirit (who turns all my foolishness into beautiful praise to the Father)
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