#1
Hey so, Im in need of some rock/ska/punk/pop-punk backing tracks to help me with my vocal practice. Any idea where I can get this? Websites?

Instrumentals, but places that vocals can fit in.
#4
I don't have any backing tracks, but I do have quite a bit on vocal techniques that I will post in case you are interested.

Breath Control

Before taking the leap into warmups and exercises, a proper foundation for controlling the breath needs to be learned. Improper breath control can result in a host of problems which can include difficulties with pitch, lack of air for extended passages, tight sound production, general neck tension, and a reduced range. (just to name a few)

A very large myth that exists in the world is that of 'Diaphragmatic Breathing' whereby it is thought that control of the breath is done through breathing with the diaphragm. The reason that this is inaccurate is because we do not actually 'control' the Diaphragm, rather we can influence the action of the diaphragm through the use of our abdominal muscles. (Many people have mistaken abdominal breath control as breathing or singing with/from the diaphragm , hence the myth).

To illustrate this effect one simply has to watch how a baby breaths when they are sleeping, their stomach moves up and down which causes the diaphragm to move which allows either an inhalation (when the stomach moves out or distends), or an exhalation (when the stomach moves inwards or contracts). This style of breathing, once mastered, can allow for an extremely rapid intake of air by simply letting the abdominal muscles relax which lets the stomach drop which in turn allows the diaphram to drop causing an intake of air. This breathing is considered to be low breathing as opposed to what a lot of people do which is shallow high breaths taken by deliberately expanding the ribcage and just breathing in the upper part of the lungs.

So how does one learn the correct way too breath?

1) Lie down flat on the ground, place a book (not to heavy, say about the weight of decent telephone book) on your stomach. Exhale softly so that the your stomach is lightly sucked in and there is very little air in your lungs

2) Start to count to four slowly (1 count per second) while causing your stomach to push upwards (this will automatically cause you to inhale). You should regulate your air intake so that by the time you reach the count of four you have a comfortable, full breath.

3) When you reach the count of four, stop inhaling and hold your stomach in that position for a count of ten (again one count per second), now here's the tricky part, don't close your airway, ( glottis ) rather keep yourself from exhaling simply by keeping the stomach in the extended position.

4) Now exhale slowly to the count of four (1 count per second) by allowing the the stomach to contract which will force the air out. You should aim to have almost emptied your lungs by the time you reach four. This should return your stomach to the position that it was in at point 1).

5) Repeat steps 1 to 4 ten times, concentrating on keeping the inhalation/exhalation smooth and even. Also remember to not close your airway while holding your breath at the mid point of each set. (Breath holding using your glottis is not really all that good for the vocal apparatus).

6) Once you have reached the point where you can do the exercise comfortably then you should increase the count by twos until the count reaches 24 (the hold count is still kept to ten), keep in mind here that you will not actually take in more air but merely slow the rate the air comes in on the longer counts, the stomach should still reach the same height on the inhale each time.

7) Once you can do the exercise on a count of 24 comfortably then do a set that consists of a four count, an eight count, a fifteen count, a twenty-four count, a twenty count, a twelve count, and end with a six count. At the point where you are comfortable with the stepped exercise then stay at that point until.....point Cool.

Cool Practice this procedure for about 10 minutes per day until breathing with the stomach becomes automatic. The length of time that this takes will vary by the individual, I've seen very positive results within two to four weeks.

You will find that this style of breathing is very relaxing and can be used to focus yourself prior to a performance. This breath technique is also taught in yoga.

Next installment will be simple warmups.

Tera


Warm Ups

In any endeavor that utilizes muscles it is necessary to gently warmup the muscle groups properly, so that a high level of responsiveness is achieved and the chances of injury are diminished.

As warm ups are intended to gently work the entire vocal apparatus their is no emphasis on range growth, rather everything should take place in the middle compass of your vocal range.

So the first thing that needs to be determined is the mid range of your voice. Generally this range occupies the upper range of the chest voice through the mid voice and into the lower range of the head voice. This applies equally to both male and female vocalists. As everyones vocal apparatus is different and a lot of pop singers do not sing outside of their mid voice I will generalize the range area. At a piano determine the lowest note that you can reach without strain and likewise the highest note that you can reach without straining. Once you have determined your lowest and highest notes then simply move inwards about 4 whole notes to find your mid range. (For instance as a previous person commented, they can sing down to about C# two octaves below middle C and they can reach up to C# one octave above middle C. [Male Vocalist] This range represents the extreme ends of his range at this time, so his mid range is somewhere around 4 whole notes above his lowest note and about 4 notes below his highest note.) NOTE: If you are very new to singing your current range may be narrower than what the above method will work with which would end up generating a negative value range, if this is your case then: female - start 1 note below middle C and use the next 6 notes upwards for your warmup range. male - same as the female range except one octave lower.

Now for a couple of definitions:

1) Humming: This is when a sound is produced with the lips in a closed position and the air exiting through your nose. If you pinch your nose shut while humming you should not be able to hum any further.

2) Bubbling: (I had a blast talking with some other vocalists about this one, it is amazingly difficult to explain in text what bubbling is) This will probably sound a little funny......first off exhale while your lips are loose so that the lips flap rapidly. (If you say the word bubble with really loose lips the flapping occurs with the double b in the word). Next add a vocal sound to the bubble (sort of close to a hum but done with an open mouth.

3) Legato: Sound production done in a smooth connected manner without breaks between notes.

On to the Warmups....

All of the warmups are done legato

1) Using bubbling:

2) Starting on the lowest note, of your mid range, play three whole notes ascending, (your starting note and the next two up) and then come back down to your start note. (for example ; if your start note is middle C then you would play C,D,E,D,C)

3) Move up a semitone and repeat step 2. (for example; assuming that you have just finished the first run from middle C, as defined in the example given in step 2, then your next notes are C#,D#,F,D#,C#)

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you hit the top note of your mid range.

5) Using humming:

6) Starting on the lowest note, of your mid range, play that note then play the third note up and then play the note below the third note up and finally your starting note. (for example; if your start note is middle C then you would play C,E,D,C).

7) Move up a semitone and repeat step 6. (for example; assuming that you have just finished the first run from middle C, as defined in the example given in step 6, then your next notes are C#,F,D#,C#)

Cool Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you hit the top note of your mid range.

9) Using humming:

10) Starting on the lowest note, of your mid range, hum and transition the hum to an ee sound. (in written form this looks like this huuummmeeee)

11) Now using the humee sound repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 above.

12) Step 10 can be done using any vowel sound that you like so ee, ahh, oh, and oo can be used.

Your total warmup time should be around 5 to 8 minutes.

Next posting will be talking about Vocal health.

Tera
PM Me for any help you need with recording systems/tips
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