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Old 09-30-2013, 08:10 PM   #1
Surf-Banana
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Am I experiencing the early signs of vocal chord damage?

Hi,

I am an 18 year old male singer who has been working on vocals for around two years now. Over the past few months especially, I have been working on improving my ability to sing through some very challenging songs vocally. I've taken on songs from bands like Rush and Decyfer down, who have very high tenors as their lead singers.

My range has expanded significantly as a result. I went from my top note being the F# above middle C to the Bb5 below tenor C (being able to stretch further on a good day), which I'd say is a pretty significant improvement for three months. I have a fairly resiliant voice that can handle quite a beating without wearing out, so several hours of singing doesn't cause me to lose my range or voice. Breathing from the diaphragm helps a lot with that. :P

However, last week I began to notice something I wasn't really very prepared for. Very suddenly, if I ever try to sing falsetto, my voice begins to crack or fail to hold together. I have no problems whatsoever singing in my normal, modal register with full voice, and have noticed no new problems, but the more that I have been practicing, the more I am having trouble with the falsetto notes. I can't even hit a tenor C in falsetto without issues, which is a bit concerning. I feel like several notes around that part of my voice have been cut out unexpectedly (kind of similar to singing with a severe cold), but my voice has not been tired or overworked, and I do not have a virus.

Anyway, I was wondering if this could present the early signs of vocal chord damage (such as nodules). If so, what can I do about it to prevent further damage without sacrificing singing rock?

Thanks,
-Surf Banana
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:01 PM   #2
Jes Johnson
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Honestly, I would see an ENT. Specific notes disappearing like that aren't a good sign. Then again, it might be nothing serious. Still, it'd be a good idea to see a professional to be sure. If there is some damage, you wanna catch it early.
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:31 AM   #3
queenofthenight
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Seconding the ENT recommendation. Sudden holes in the voice need to be taken seriously. You don't mention whether or not you are working with a teacher. If you aren't, start. If the issue is technique based rather than something physical. the faster you get it out of your muscle memory, the better, and that's easier to do with help.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:19 PM   #4
Surf-Banana
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Thanks for the advice. The only issue I've faced regarding an ENT or lessons is that I can't afford either at the moment, so that is a bit concerning. I'm currently running a website that is taking enough out of my pocket as it is, so it has been difficult for me to spend the money on anything else lately. Unfortunately, none of that has really gone as well as I had originally hoped.

The good news was that I was able to recover most of my falsetto ability after some rest. Apparently I had some mild buildup of laryngitis of some sort that I wasn't noticing, and it took a week or so off to really reduce the problems there. (I'm quite used to singing at full capacity through colds or early mornings by pulling a lot of support from the diaphram and by using compression, so perhaps that is why I never really noticed any laryngitis issues earlier. )

However, I still am concerned about the fact that, for a few months now, I haven't really been able to work with softer songs as easily, even after taking a few days off. The easiest way to explain it is that I can sing through powerful, upper register rock songs the way that I am used to singing without any issues, but when I try to hit notes anywhere in my voice more softly, my voice just doesn't do a good job holding together. It needs at least some compression in order for my vocal chords to really achieve a solid closure that sounds good. (I know that there is a balance to that of course, and that it is often used to help bridge the head voice/chest voice gap for many singers, but I still feel like I shouldn't really need it in my falsetto notes or in my lower register, and that's what's concerning me. )

Anyway, is this just a common sign of a worn out voice from bad technique? I would be willing to see someone if I knew that it was actually necessary, but if I'm just experiencing the common signs of general vocal wear-and-tear and just need more rest, I'd rather save the money and avoid breaking the bank even further.
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Old 11-05-2013, 10:12 AM   #5
mrkeka
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I'm gonna speak to you from my own experience. I've experienced something similar, and it was cause by two things: gastroesophagic reflux and poor technique. The reflux was causing my chords to swell, and my poor technique as leading me to place my voice improperly, poor breath support and over use of some muscles, which were preventing good chord closure. The best idea for you would really be to go to an ENT and singing coach/speech therapist. I kno it can be pricey, but try to save up, it is so very much worth it.
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:21 PM   #6
Sethis
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I had something like that too some time ago. Honestly, it can be many things. In my case, I went to two ENTs and they found nothing. Turns out it was probably just bad technique. This can lead to swelling of your vocal cords. When this happens they can't make contact with each other properly and to produce a sound you then have to apply extra pressure. But this can happen to anyone if they push themselves too hard and will usually go away in less than a day.

However it can be caused by some actual damage too like vocal nodes. That's why I recommend you to go to an ENT asap to get checked. In this case, the change in your voice will probably persist for many days.

And it can be another reason like reflux as the guy before me said. If you get some acid taste in your mouth when you lay down (especially after you eat) this could be it. Again you need an ENT to diagnose this and give you some meds.

To add to that, if you're getting up to an A#4 (that's just below tenor C) I bet you're working really hard to get it cause there is no actual bridge around there. If you were singing correctly there shouldn't be a cap at that note unless perhaps you were some bass singer (and chances are you aren't since your initial highest note was F#4). It's probably just strain holding you back and this could easily justify your issue.

Last edited by Sethis : 11-05-2013 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 11-07-2013, 12:06 AM   #7
queenofthenight
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In regards to technique, make sure the lower register is lined up properly. If something is off there, the rest of the voice won't line up right, either, just like a faulty foundation will affect the whole house.

I'd recommend resting your voice as much as you can for a while longer. Like at least a week, not just a few days. The issue with dynamics sounds like what can happen to me if my voice is overworked. Also be sure you're taking good care of yourself overall. Whatever affects the body affects the voice.

Any issues that linger do need to be addressed by a good teacher and ENT as soon as you can afford it, though. There's only so much those of us on the other end of a keyboard can do, and similar symptoms can have different causes.
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