Rock singing and Twang

This is a match made in heaven.

If you have twang in your speaking voice, hooray for you! Check for this: Can you imitate cartoon or comedy characters in your high/mixed voice? (This cannot be breathy). It should be loud and whiney with a brassy, bright sound. Can you make a nasty, witchy sound, or nyae-ae-ae like a horse (make it usually whiney). Now, check yourself. Did this happen effortlessly in your mixed voice, or are you trying really hard and getting stuck in your chest voice? Trying too hard will only get you in trouble. You must practise this the correct way and build from there. This is the nay-nay-nay exercises in SLS.

Twang is a great quality to have for any genre of singing. It means you have a tilted cartilage and are able to narrow your Aryepiglottic Sphincter. I know, it’s a big word….but it’s important! The physiology is very complex within the larynx. Just know that the ability to narrow the AES is key to “the illusion of power” in rock singing.

Twang is easier to produce in higher frequencies than it is in lower frequencies. The sensation of making twang originates high up in the back of the throat. Rock singers who can twang usually have no issues with bridging or “mixing”. Just think Steven Tyler, Ken Tamplin, Jamie Vendera or Robert Lunte; these singers all have great twang.

How did they get such great twang?

1. Great breath control.
2. Great bridging.
3. Great cord closure.
3. Optimum effort in all the correct places.
4. No fear.

Questions? Comments? I look forward to you leaving them here.

Speech Level Singing versus Estill Voice Technique

One of my goals is to share with you the similarities and differences with Speech Level Singing and Estill Voice Technique.

They are both great voice methods, and there is something to be learned from both. In its’ simplest form, SLS is one recipe among the many Estill Voice Technique possibilities.

I love SLS because it balances the voice, which I think is an important element of good singing. What I don’t like about SLS is that it doesn’t allow the commercial singer to learn how to belt or to have more “chest” in the mix. My SLS lessons strengthened the overall balance of both my registers…chest voice and head voice. But, my coach continually had me cutting back on my chest voice in my mix (near high C for instance). I could do this at his request, but it left me wondering where is the “me” in my voice. I needed to “belt” out my high C’s (and I’m in a mix!) when I wanted. I really felt the SLS method let the performer in me “down”.

With Estill voice training, you learn voice qualities….speech, sob, twang, opera, belt, and falcetto. SLS talks about a “neutral” larynx, while Estill recognizes that the larynx moves up and down and tilts according to the sound you want to make.

This is an important point. The larynx can tilt and move up and down safely, depending on the sound you wish to make. SLS leads to confusion about the larynx when they draw so much attention to it remaining “neutral”. The larynx cannot remain neutral in rock singing or musical theatre where the singers needs to give a belt sound (*note: I am not referring to the Estill version of belt here). These sounds can be done with freedom and good technique, but the larynx is slightly raised. Note: that if the larynx is too high, you will not be able to transition well into head voice, therefore, you cannot mix.

But, singers beware. Belting correctly is not easy to do, however, it is possible!  Lea Michele (musical theatre), Steven Tyler (rock), and Carrie Underwood (country). All these singers have something in common. They are balanced, and they are able to take their singing voice to the extreme …. called belting.

Belting well simply means a singer is using relatively thick folds, possibly has a sob quality in their voice, and their tongue may be slightly raised (this may alter the vowel sound). Belting requires optimal breath control. In other words, the ability to control the release of breath under great pressure while resonating in both the head voice and chest voice with thick folds. Belting is indeed a great “talent”.

Questions? Comments? Please leave them here.

The voices of Carrie Underwood, Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Steven Tyler, John Mayer

Chest voice and head voice are terms for describing where the sound resonates in your body when you sing. In other words, the sound timbre or “color” of a voice quality at a certain pitch.  Singing teachers have argued for centuries over these concepts, and continue to do so.

Most singers have experienced these sensations, and know what true chest voice and head voice feel like. Singers usually recognize they feel very different. To some singing teachers, this is how the voice is taught. They teach you to sing in one register or the other.

With Speech Level Singing, and here at Bee Music Studios, students learn how to sing throughout their entire range while negotiating the transition from their chest voice to their head voice. This is called mixing. Singing in a mixed voice means the singer has the ability to maximize their chest resonance on low notes and head voice on high notes.

At Bee Music Studios we take mixing a step further. Once a singer can ascend and descend throughout their entire range with ease, a singer can learn how to maximize the “illusion” of chest voice on high notes. This is a voice quality frequently heard in rock, pop, country, R&B and opera! (Just listen to Pavarotti).  This illusion is created when the thyroid cartilage in the larynx tilts forward. Tilting of the thyroid cartilage causes the vocal cords to thin and stretch.  This is a very healthy way to sing high notes.

Some singers can actually tilt their cartilage and sing with thick folds. This is not recommended for amateurs, and in fact, takes a great deal of self awareness to achieve this balance without vocal trauma.

Here is a link to Carrie Underwood who does a fabulous job of singing with thick folds and a tilted cartilage. She can manage this because she has great breath control and self awareness. Notice the chin rising for the belt notes. There are other coordinations going on as well here, but that’s for another post!  The action really happens at the one minute mark. (FYI Kelly Clarkson is a master of this as well).

So what’s the difference between Adele’s voice and Carrie Underwood’s voice?

The issue with Adele’s voice is too much air passing through the vocal cords on high notes. This can be damaging to the vocal cords.

Adele’s voice is “chestier” and that’s why we love it!  She has a lot of breath escaping and that adds character to her sultry, smoky voice.  The problem is, all this breath passing through the cords can cause havoc to a singer’s vocal cords when trying to reach high notes. The more air coming through the vocal cords, the harder it is to control. Maybe with more tilting of the cartilage, Adele can still achieve the sound we love to hear, without all the breath.

This is a prime reason why John Mayer has already had trouble with his voice, and yet Steven Tyler continues to scream regularly with no issues whatsoever after 40 years!

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