I wrote an article recently about why so many singers are just yelling. This was not a rant about performers who are just bellowing on-stage instead of actual singing, but a frank and honest discussion about the various reasons for why this occurs and is a growing trend in modern vocalism.
I hinted in one passage that there’s also cultural reasons for this, and I wanted to dive a little deeper into this today.
Who do we look up to?
Once upon a time, high male singers did not sing high notes with great power. Above chest voice, they would switch to a much lighter headier tonality, not entirely dissimilar to the sound of falsetto. This was after/alongside the period where castrati were also important for much of high male vocal work, but not within the scope of this article.
Then, in the early 1800s, an opera singer (Gilbert-Louis Duprez) sang a C5 (tenor high C) in sound not unlike full chest voice. This was in a performance of the opera Guillaume Tell (or William Tell). By all accounts his rendition was not of supreme quality, but the power he demonstrated there showed the masses that powerful male singing done up high was possible. Continue reading “Shouting Masquerading as Singing: More reasons why more singers are just yelling”
I was talking with a client this week about how we get our voices going each day, and I thought it might be worth sharing my morning routine for getting my voice warm. If you struggle to get your voice going in the morning, then this is for you.
Maybe you’re not singing everyday, but you find that most mornings you’d like to be able to speak on the phone without constant throat clearing, or avoid feeling like you’ve been a chainsmoker for the whole night, or maybe you just regularly feel a bit heavy in the throat, cultivating this kind of routine for yourself can be a lifesaver.
If you want to read about the exercises I typically use, I’ve written about that previously here. This article is about the overall routine I have each morning to get my voice going, from waking up, to the first client of the day.
The demands on my voice
I need my voice to be pretty close to peak functional state by 10am. Given how difficult most people find their voice in the morning, I’ve had to develop a fairly comprehensive routine to get my voice to that state quickly, but without hammering a voice that’s just woken up. Continue reading “Vocal Warmup: My Morning Routine”
Honestly, this article is not simply a case of “old man yells at cloud“…
It’s not simply a case of me staring into the middle distance and yearning for the “good ol’ days” – there is undoubtedly an epidemic of shouting masquerading as singing.
I was at an event recently where every single singer was just yelling their guts out. I’ve singers step away from the microphone to show how loudly they can bellow their lyrics. I’ve seen performers get gigs on not much more than them being louder than their peers.
But before we judge such singers too harshly…
… are there reasons behind why this is happening? I’m not advocating for justification or exoneration of those who do this, but seek to provide at least one plausible explanation for this trend. Continue reading “Shouting Masquerading As Singing: Reasons why so many singers are just yelling”
I often talk about the importance of ‘balance’ in the voice. What I generally mean by this is that the various parameters/variables of the voice are present in appropriate measure, both relative to themselves, to each other, and for a particular voice.
Balance: The Goldilocks Zone
We don’t want too much contraction, nor too little; not too much stretch, nor too little; not too much air-pressure, nor too little. The same goes for air-flow, vocal tract shape/posture, etc. We don’t need worry too much about the complete list of all parameters, I want to focus on just the balance aspect today.
When I start working with people the balance is typically off. Sometimes it’s majorly out from where it should be, but as their body responds to the prescribed exercises, their condition will adjust more towards a state of balance. For some, their body and mind is very accommodating to the work we do and adjustment to that state of balance is relatively quick. For others, their body and mind can be less accommodating and the progress can be slower, at least at first.
Nevertheless, for every persevering singer there comes a stage when balance starts to appear. Continue reading “Hyper-function vs relaxation”
I was having a conversation with a client recently about riffing: what it is, why it’s useful, and why it seems difficult to many.
For the ease of discussion let’s say that anything that extends the melody beyond the original for dramatic/musical effect is a ‘riff’, and that riffing is therefore the act of extending the melody in such a way.
I’d say that most singers want to get better at riffs/riffing, but that they find it hard to do. I’d also say that a lot of singers who think they are good at riffing are not as good as they think they are, and typically repeat the same old basic tricks over and over. But why is it hard to do? And could it be made easier?
The simple answer is yes, but there’s some important logic and understanding behind that answer. Let’s break it down. Continue reading “Learning to Riff: Why most people find it hard & why it can be easier than you think”
This topic has been coming up a lot recently, and also came up in yesterdays voice intensive, so I wanted to talk about it this week. As an aside, I’ve been trying to write this article for several months. It’s a difficult and somewhat abstract/subjective topic to discuss.
What makes a song “feel high”?
If you’ve EVER tried to sing a song that seems like it’s at the limits of your capacity, or beyond, you’ve experienced that sensation of “that song feels high“… but if we get ‘reductionist’ on this statement, what do we really mean?
The idea of a song feeling high/too high can actually be viewed as multiple issues wrapped up in one: Continue reading “What makes a song “feel high”?”