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Old 04-08-2010, 04:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tips for singing..

There might be debate over whether vocal cords are considered an instrument but I didn't know where else to post this..
Anyway, somebody was telling me if you sing a lot and aren't doing the techniques spot on that you can damage your vocal chords.. Is that true?
I want to improve my voice; I went to 3 singing lessons but I can't afford the money to continue it at least for now, so i've pretty much just been singing for roughly 30 minutes a couple of nights a week.
I can sing in tune/pitch (though my voice would be considered weak), and try to breath in the right spots with the right posture (sticking my chest/diaphragm out) and I think I know if I can't reach a note and am straining. Does anybody have any tips on singing without a teacher?
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Above all else, practice. Practice practice practice. Half an hour a couple of nights a week is a little slack, in my opinion, but I fall off my regimen sometimes, too. I would recommend buying a keyboard to practice singing scales with. Keyboards don't go out of tune, so you'll know you're hitting the notes.

Also, I was trained to sing primarily rock n' roll, so from early on I was taught to PROJECT. Lots of people don't really know how to do this, even people who can hit the notes. What I call "practicing at half-volume" is not really going to help when it comes to doing the real thing. If you plan on singing with a band, you're going to have to be able to project, so I recommend finding a place where you can set up a keyboard and you're comfortable with singing at full volume.

Another thing is just letting it come out, and not letting your mind focus on things like your posture. Although posture is important, if your mind is on your posture, it's not going to be on the note you're trying to sing. And it's true, you can damage your vocals if it's all coming from your throat. Because it's a delicate balance between relaxing the throat and pushing from the diaphragm. It's easy to blow out your voice because many people confuse using their throat as using their vocal chords.

And there will be things like determining your range and where your break between chest and head voice is (basically where you stop singing "from the gut" and switch to falsetto).

So basically what I've been doing to practice singing lately, starting in C, is practicing the basic "Do Re Mi" scale, and switching it up a bit. Doing things like "Do Re, Do Mi, Do Fa, Do So, Fa Mi Re Do", and doing "Do Mi So Mi Do", and working those up the scale will help to determine where your break between chest and head is.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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i can't truthfully say that improper technique is damaging to your vocal chords because some people use the callouses developed via screaming to more consistently achieve their sound... which indeed could be looked at synonymously with smashing cracked and broken cymbals rather than glancing a nice, intact and well-taken-care-of cymbal.

but there are numerous exercises you can do to help loosen your musculature to facilitate comfortable vibrations. i recommend picking up a book with diagrams or finding diagrams on the net somewhere.

referring to my first point though, it's all about your sound. if you wanna sound like an opera singer, you're going to need a opera-singer regimen to follow. if you wanna sing like janis joplin or tom waits, you have to have an individual outlook on the world and lots of cigarettes to smoke.

you can also get a tuner of some kind (i use a software version that is always on my desktop) to make sure you're hitting the right pitch. something to record your voice maybe 2 or three times a month singing the same thing can help you develop consistent tone too.

really though, you're a human, and like animals, we humans come equipped with a very articulate nervous system which will tell us when we do and when we don't like the way something feels or sounds... people will like your sound if you are in tune with that... because that way it is your voice and not an attempt at someone else's voice which comes from your body. singing happened long before schools of music. it's just a natural thing we do, and i thusly believe that there is no way to indoctrinate or gentrify or standardize the ways by which we do it.

...but we do try, and that's why we have mainstream music and a lot of autotune usage.

Last edited by P A N; 04-08-2010 at 09:38 AM. Reason: *grammatical schtuff
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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On the subject of screaming, there are proper and improper ways to do it. Screaming and growling required a lot of initial pain and discomfort for me in order to get it right. And not doing it correctly will **** your voice up. Serj Tankian is an example.

And I agree. There is no set doctrine or law of singing. There's just people out there who don't accept new approaches. But those people can't explain the Tom Waitses, Janis Joplins and Layne Stayleys of the world, or they just dismiss them as untalented. People can be so pretentious, no?

Well put, man. I agree entirely.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
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i can see what you mean with screaming. i don't scream very much myself, and if i do it's likely to cap off a crescendo or a climax which created the scream on my behalf. it's not something i practice or try to do. all i know about screaming, is that if it's going to be done regularly there will be resulting callouses which (i am assuming) will need to be kept in good shape themselves.

i'm not familiar with the current state of serj tankien's voice, but gather it's not doing so well. that sucks. he had a really unique thing going on.

and yes, people can definitely be pretentious when it comes to music. it's my belief that this has much to do with a lack of personal identity on a mass scale.

and besides, who the f*ck are we to say what anybody else should sound like? given, it's natural to like and not like certain things, but to say you like an artist in their entirety is to expect their next album to sound exactly as you like. to base a functioning market on these findings leads to artists who just strive to fit in, which is to say, is to get rid of art.

Last edited by P A N; 04-08-2010 at 10:15 AM. Reason: graemr.
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks a million for all the advice (even the banter about voices was interesting haha).

To be honest, I don't exactly know if/when i'm using my throat or not (I often lightly put my hand on my diagram to see if it's moving and probably tighten my stomach a bit lol), so if I can't afford singing lessons right now I thought I might as well post an mp3 of me singing to see if you guys could (please?) tell me whether im singing from my gut and pay via embarrassment lol. Keep in mind that i had those 3 singing lessons december last year, haven't practiced singing in a week and know I'm not a natural (I know i've got a long way to go). Here it goes! I hope it's not too painful haha.. zSHARE - under.mp3
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i think it's really neat that you're using the net to do this.

i would say you're voice is a little "nosey". hard to be sure due to the quality of the recording, but it sounds like you might even be sitting down.

i have no technical training when it comes to singing, so i don't know if what i think about this is relevant or correct, but i don't think it will damage you, so i'll give it a shot.

to get over my nose i had to focus on the sound that my nose made and be able to vary the noises that came from my nose in all sorts of fun ways and then reproduce those sounds. i figured once i had control of my nose, i would know what it did, and then i could simply just not do that if i wanted to sing from my diaphragm. that worked quite well. you might even be able to do it in an hour. it's kinda foggy in my mind, but i think it took me about three weeks. mind you, i did have a lot of fun making lots of weird nasally sounds and was in no rush.

to start singing from my diaphragm i used low notes as a basis or root that i could reference easily. i found this the most logical route being that you can't (or at least i can't) get low notes like that from my head. then once you've targeted your root, create or find simple scales to do. perhaps start with whole tones, then divide them up more as you become more comfortable with larger gaps between pitches.

i found when i began to experiment with adding and subtracting more air from my lungs i was able to isolate the shift between nasal and guttural activity and incorporate it into my range, extending it quite notably. i must say though, that wanting a big range is quite a responsibility. the higher and lower you go from center, the more you have to learn and memorize technically. the same goes for all instruments in a way though.

you'll probably notice if you concentrate that your voice is making the muscles in parts of your jaw, neck, and maybe into your clavicle very tight. if you want to sing well, you have to ALWAYS REMEMBER that any signs of tension in your body are signs of one or more parts of your system functioning at a less-than-optimum level.

find stretches either through youtube or a how-to-sing website and learn how to loosen yourself up. i assure you that if you get into this for a week you'll be convinced you never knew what singing was before, simply by the FEELING your vocal cords give you when you sing.

and it's not yoga! it's physics!!!
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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In key, in tune, on time. Apart from that everything else is pretty much up to personal style.

The mere fact that people like Mike Patton are recognized as "great vocalists" shows you don't have to be pretty to be good.
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'd say being emotionally connected to the music is very important. In my opinion it's just as (or even a bit more) important as singing correctly on a technical level. Don't force the emotion, just feel it. Get into a little groove, don't overthink it either. If your stoic or static your audience will be able to tell, if you sell what you sing your emotional honesty will come across loud and clear.

Also, if you are interested in screaming...

check out a DVD called The Zen Of Screaming (Parts 1 and 2). Some great tips and techniques in there from vocal experts. I don't use it myself but people swear by it and after watching the movie I saw some pretty big names promoting it so...
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