#1
Hey so I recently got a mic and started recording vocals for my songs. I have been singing off and on for about a couple years. I am self taught, I would practice along to videos by sbgalt on youtube (good stuff). Right now I'm just practicing along to scales on my guitar and recording myself. From what I hear of my own singing is that I'm quite pitchy and my voice seems thin/immature. I know all about singing with your diaphragm, but as to if I'm doing it properly, I'm really not sure, I also practice along to scales to impove my pitch but I'm not getting the best results. I really want to be able to sing well so I can get my songs to sound the best they possibly can.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Heres a couple of songs of mine here
http://soundcloud.com/bleakperfect


Thanks!
#2
Your voice sounds very weak because you are singing using your throat, instead of your diaphragm. It is also very pitchy.

You should practice singing properly in your natural voice and learn how to sing from your diaphragm.
#4
The music is quite loud so it's a bit hard to hear your singing, but here are my observations:

- Your pronunciation is quite shallow. By shallow, I mean that the words are sounding from right at the front of the mouth. Why is this bad? It's because shallow pronunciation tends to clamp everything down in the throat and consequently your sound is squeezed. Ideally, you want to pronounce at the larynx, but at this point in time, it's helpful to experiment with different depths of pronunciation. Play with the extremes, where very shallow is a very annoying person pronouncing right at the mouth and very deep is the sound of a bad opera singer. Notice that pronouncing at the mouth sounds "bright" and pronouncing at the very back of the throat sounds "dark". When you pronounce at the larynx, your tone will be bright and dark i.e. full, but with good intelligibility.

- How to pronounce at the larynx: close your eyes. Do a light cough. Notice where that clicking and popping sensation is coming from. Say an "Ah" at that point. If you find it difficult to notice where your larynx is, use vocal fry (an Elmer Fudd sound and the sound Bill Clinton uses to speak) and you will also feel a sensation of where the larynx is. In addition to creating a bright and dark tone, pronouncing at the larynx causes your vocal cords to use the air from your lungs more efficiently. Being more efficient means less work - less work to be heard, to be louder, to be more intense, etc. Any advice to use your diaphragm without using your larynx will probably result in too much air being released. The sole purpose of breath in singing should be to fuel the vibration of the vocal cords, nothing else. Any other uses of breath should be used as effects, rather than the foundation of your singing, as too much breath passing through the vocal cords will irritate the cords and lead to inflammation.

- Last, but very important, emotion. Singing in your regular everyday state will not work very well. The reason why we sing is to express ourselves, because we have something to say. We expressed ourselves vocally long before we had language. Thus for things in your body to work effectively, you have to be in a mental and physical condition that is conducive for such expression. Just being blase, like if your were ordering a pack of gum, is the wrong state to be in. You have to be like an athlete enjoying his sport - joy, excitement, focus, confidence, electricity. You have to be active, not passive. Being in this physical, mental and emotional allows singing to be like a reflex because you're in the ideal condition for your body to utilise your nervous system effectively, thus singing is spontaneous like a sneeze, uncontrollable laughter, cheering at a sports game, and so forth. Singing in this way means we are working with the body, rather than against it or trying to control it rigidly. Over a long period of time training to sing this way, singing becomes automatic, as if it was effortless. But effortless doesn't mean we are relaxed. The body is actively engaged in the whole process of apparent effortless singing.

To summarise: play around with different depths of pronunciation; gain awareness of your larynx; put your body, mind and emotion in a state of joy, excitement, electricity.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by saichoo at Dec 17, 2011,
#5
Your diaphragm should work naturally If your using your mouth jaw and neck right...doubt u are.
breath in fast thro your nose..thats your diaphragm. don't allow shoulders or chest to bulge.

Your larynx is below your Adams apple kinda like a tube with rib like bones. yawn to keep your throat open and try to keep ur adams apple still where it is..it can move a little..but notice it will move up at the height of ur range and cut u off.

The other important thing about breath support is the resonating and projection done after the voice is produced. Because if ur not resonating in your nasal cavities or projection of hard surfaces in your mouth. then you must use more air to get the volume and the depth will be missing.
#6
You've gotten good advice in this thread, but I would encourage you to take half a dozen lessons to get the fundamentals down. You're likely to find that it does more to put you on the right path than any advice any of us could give you across the interwebs.
#7
Quote by HotspurJr
You've gotten good advice in this thread, but I would encourage you to take half a dozen lessons to get the fundamentals down. You're likely to find that it does more to put you on the right path than any advice any of us could give you across the interwebs.


I agree. Reading about singing is like reading to learn how to ride a bike - in the end, you learn from doing, from falling, and learning to find the area where things work well. Unlike bike riding though, singing is entirely internal, and your sensitivity to the various parts of your body and your ability to adjust as required will ultimately determine your progress. It also helps if you have a teacher who knows these sensations that allow your body to function well and is able to hear how things are functioning, rather than listening for what sounds good. Because what sounds good isn't necessarily healthy. It's a bit like the blind leading the blind, but the teacher has the knowledge of thousands of repetitions of these sensations and is able to transfer them to the student.
#8
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. Lots of good information to take in. I'm working on singing properly with the larynx. I just have to make it muscle memory now. Heres a exercise I found searching the web regarding proper larynx control "Some people have a naturaly low or high, larynx.
1) If you have a very HIGH larynx while singing, I recommend: MUM MUM MUM, with a very dopey sound... think of a ZOMBIE CRYING IN MUM haha
2) If you have a low larynx while singing, I recommend: NEY NEY NEY, with a very whiny sound."
Last edited by Duce180 at Dec 20, 2011,
#9
Quote by Duce180
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. Lots of good information to take in. I'm working on singing properly with the larynx. I just have to make it muscle memory now. Heres a exercise I found searching the web regarding proper larynx control "Some people have a naturaly low or high, larynx.
1) If you have a very HIGH larynx while singing, I recommend: MUM MUM MUM, with a very dopey sound... think of a ZOMBIE CRYING IN MUM haha
2) If you have a low larynx while singing, I recommend: NEY NEY NEY, with a very whiny sound."


Ah, Singing Success. Their ideas to work from opposites (as shown here) is a very useful one to learn. But what they don't emphasize is that one should use the larynx when singing. And they only real way to use the larynx when singing is to sensitize yourself to the location of it and then pronounce at that sensation. It is important to remember that when the larynx is working properly, we don't really feel it. It's like knowing the location of your brain - you know it's up there, but you can't feel it.

The reason why the larynx rises is usually one of 2 issues. The first is a lazy larynx, so the excess breath makes the larynx rise. The second is the use of throat muscles to produce tone, which squeezes the larynx up. The larynx assumes a good, stable position when it's being used without the throat muscles interfering, and the position of the larynx changes slightly on how intensely you are singing amongst other things. It's a living, dynamic thing so it doesn't stay in one static position.

The breath also has an important part to play in this, as breathing out too much air will interfere with any efforts to use the larynx. In singing, the breath has only one role - to fuel the vibration of the vocal cords. Any excess breath heard has breath is wasted breath. Therefore singing will be inefficient. It also causes a whole load of other problems, such as irritating the vocal cords, loss of power, throat muscles tensing up to resist the breath (the job that the larynx should be doing), pulling up chest voice, etc. This is why traditionally so much emphasis has been placed on the controlling of the breath. But over time people forgot about using the larynx. Both are interconnected. Controlling the breath will help the larynx. Controlling the larynx will help the breath.

The mechanics are simple, but getting there is anything but. At this point, exploration is definitely more important than getting things right. Explore the extremes and gradually come closer and closer to what you think is balance. Try singing by breathing out too much air. Then try singing with a really clenched throat. Gradually reduce these two extremes and you'll get closer and closer to good function. By doing this, you are sensitizing yourself to the sensations you receive from your body and thus increasing your control and memory of these sensations. It's like learning how to do a 3 pointer in basketball. Oh, you let the ball go too early. Oh, you didn't flick your wrist. Oh, you need to jump higher. But how high? How much wrist flick? How much later to let go of the ball? The pro conditions himself so that the correct things become automatic and he can perform under the most demanding of conditions. Likewise, this is what we must strive for as singers. Then we can forget about technique and express what the song demands. Learning to sing with good function is more athletic than musical.

I'm already typing too much. Quick tip on breath control: take in a breath, then forcefully breath out all your air. Notice how this feels. Do this 3 or 4 times. You will notice that your ribcage collapses. This is NOT what we want to do. Now try singing a tone and resist the collapse that you felt before. When you do this well, you will feel that the buoyancy in the ribcage that came from inhalation hasn't changed. If things collapse a lot, you are either not using your larynx or not resisting the collapse enough.

Ach, I'm tired. I still feel there is a lot more to cover. I'll leave that for next time or maybe write a blog. :p

To summarize: pronounce at the larynx; breath and larynx are interconnected; work from opposites; become sensitive and observant to your sensations; singing is a lot about conditioning.

Hope this helps.
#10
Thanks a ton for your time Saichoo. All awesome advice, you described everything very easy to understand, I appreciate it. Your advice wont go to waste, already I feel that I'm getting on the right "path".

You should make a blog, you could make money off this great singing advice!

Thanks also to others that have chimed in, I appreciate your help.
#11
Glad I could help! Not looking to make money from this, I'm just a student whose found what's helpful to me and glad to be sharing it. I'm following the advice of "when you don't know what to do on any given day, either help someone or make something. Better still, do both." There's still a lot for me to learn (as shown in another thread :P).

Just reading this thread again reminded me of my experience with Singing Success. Some of their videos on their Youtube channel encourages the viewer to do the exercises blindly, then things will click in place. I did that solidly for a year and got no results, except being able to do a certain arpeggio sequence in any key. It's too easy to do things wrong without knowing. Those who use their method with a teacher tend to do better, though they are still spending too much for a limited understanding of the voice.

Also, their general philosophy (feel free to disagree) of "singing for the song" to the detriment of vocal health irritates me. I recently heard one of their newer teachers sing a song on Youtube and thought to myself, "What's the point of having lessons? You don't need to pay thousands of dollars to sound like this!" It was flat, strained and the performance wasn't that great either. And it was just pop, rather than a style that encourages straining. Some of their instructors have pretty beat up voices too. The healthy, well-produced voice can sing most styles and can do pretty much anything interpretation-wise. That should be the foundation. Then you can add unhealthy effects if you want, as long as you know what healthy is and such effects are used in moderation. I would love to sing well for many years, rather than getting to the point where I'm embarking on a career and I have no voice, need to cancel lots of shows, get surgery, etc. My livelihood would then be gone. And most of all, what I love to do is gone. That isn't worth it.
Last edited by saichoo at Dec 28, 2011,
#12
Heres a new song i recorded. I feel its a better representation of where I am currently as a vocalist. You may need to to crank the volume a bit though, I suck at mastering my songs. http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11341599

I'm hoping i've improved from my last couple songs, definately not a perfect singing performance though. I tryed to keep my larynx low and really try to utilize my diaphragm as best I can. I still have a ways to go to becoming the best singer I can be, but I do feel I am improving month to month. I'm still trying to find my voice, what I can do, and what I cant. For the first time I tryed singing a little more aggressive in certain parts of the songs, something that I want to develop more, but do in a safe and precise way.
#13
Your phrasing has improved in the second one. You sound clearer and more powerful, though the music does drown you out a bit after the first verse. I'd master the vocals up a little.