Vocal technique

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Fountain Pen

This article is an editorial and expresses the opinion and experience of the author. Please post comments in the discussion page.
Thank you.

by Tom Munch

This is taken from a post I made today 2007/01/23 on the Bose forum. I plan to work on it in the next month or so, but thought I'd post my initial post from the forum.

The L1 allows an extremely precise version of you to come across with a warmth & presence that is breathtaking. You are creating a brand new sound everytime you perform & the L1 allows the audience to connect to you & your uniqueness in a very personal way that allows you to be more expressive & artistic than ever before.

The L1 is such a beautiful way to hear yourself in such great detail, & it will allow you to experiment with your voice in ways you could never hear before. Try feeling your throat & what's going on in there by closing your eyes & concentrating on the feeling in the back of your throat. Does it feel relaxed? Open? Tense? Closed off? Dry? Do you have tension in your neck, shoulders, or back? All of these things affect the timbre of your voice. Take a deep breath. Do you feel your chest heave, or do you feel it all the way down to your stomach? Put your hands on your side above your belt with your fingers over your kidneys & your thumbs just above your hips. Take a deep breath again & try to push against your hands. That's your diaphragm pushing out your sides, & it is a very strong muscle that allows you to draw in more air & draw the tension there away from your throat & chest. This relaxation & abundance of air lets you stay on pitch better & have a deeper, bigger voice. Learning to breath from there allows you to sing much more naturally without straining & pushing your vocal cords. I do it naturally without thought. In fact I can't breath from my chest now even after running. A good (but hard) exercise is to have someone sit on your chest to learn to breath from your diaphragm. This is an awkward situation though, so make sure it's a close friend or your spouse. Breathing is the true key & first place in learning better vocal technique & relaxation in life. Back to the throat.

When you sing, try feeling the words in different parts of your throat. Close it off & sing through your nose. Open it up & sing like an opera star. Put the words at the tip of your tongue & then at the back of your tongue. all of this experimentation lets you hear the differences & feel when you sound natural & when you sound forced. Try over-pronouncing the words, making exaggerated lip & tongue movements. Try putting stronger emphasis on T's & S's & P's. Make them crisper or duller by using more of your tongue or lips or different parts of your tongue & lips. Try imagining a word in your throat or at your teeth or even 4 inches out of your mouth. That is the kind of experimentation that lets you hone your skills as a vocalist. It's best to do this without accompaniment in the beginning so that you can truly hear yourself & all the nuances of your voice & diction. Try playing with your dynamics. A well placed swell in volume draws the audience in & pushes the emotion of the line over the top. Conversely a drop in volume & a whispered line also draws the audience in & focuses emotion.

More notes from another thread - 3/19/2007

The main thing is to just be relaxed & let your natural voice come out. Don't try to imitate someone else. Feel what is comfortable coming up from your gut & through your chest & throat when you are relaxed. Close your eyes & really concentrate on what it feels like inside of you as the sound moves through you.

You'll know when it feels like truth & when it feels false.

Further notes from the same thread

...imitating others' voices is a good way to wreck a young voice, & is also a way to confuse yourself on the road to finding your own voice.

I had a good friend when I was growing up who loved Elton John & Dan Fogelberg. When he sang he always sounded like Elton John or Dan Fogelberg, even when he was singing his own songs. I wanted to hear his own voice on his own music.

Unfortunately most people do try to emulate other voices out of love for that singer & fear of singing in their own voice & not being liked. You hear that when people sing karaoke. You hear that on American idol.

But let's talk about real music - music that comes from the soul. That's why I say to really focus on what it feels like in your own body when you sing & to make that natural feeling of balance inside you lead to your natural voice. Do you feel tension in your throat - relax. Do you feel tension in your back - relax. Your neck? & so on. The best singers make it look easy because they know how to relax. Take a deep breath all the way down to your toes & let it flow.