Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

December 18, 2011

“I feel like I use too much air too quickly, and it takes me a while to warm up to a point where I’m not running out of breath on phrases all the time.

Any good practice routines I could try?”


Running out of air is frequently due to exertion– that is, one is making more effort to sing louder, more sustained, better sounding, more range.   To preserve air, relax more throughout the entire vocal apparatus.   When the muscles of the vocal tract are relaxed, they can resonate far better, and this automatically increases the volume.   Also, greater relaxation enables for greater range.



December 5, 2011

Question on earplugs


Consider also Musicians earplugs. Regular earplugs affect frequencies heard, even though covering one ear shouldn’t affect as much, because the mind compensates.

Both Musicians and regular earplugs cause an occulsion (sp?) effect, which will make you think you’re bassier. You’ll need custom made earplugs for singers (about $200 and a skillful audiologist).

One unusual way of solving this, is to adjust for the DJ, by possibly pulling out custom made earplugs, if he doesn’t play so that you can hear your voice.

Lastly, hearing your voice is a trained skill. If you practice a bit, you’ll hear your voice despite the loud music.

Talking and singing

June 5, 2011

Well, here’s my two contrarian cents worth on talking and singing, from an amateur.

Imagine returning to prehistoric times, well before sophisticated languages with consonants and vowels, where all kinds of apelike sounds were being made by man, and suddenly a human starts to sing melodies.   Must have been quite enchanting.   Soon, I’m sure there were lots of singers.   Yes, singing before rhyming, singing before sophisticated words, singing before full lyrics development, singing before Western sets of sounds, singing before Eastern sets of sounds, singing before prehistoric civilization’s sets of sounds.  You get the idea.   Just like prehistoric art found in caves were drawn before anyone knew how to manufacture a canvas for art, so singing was sung before a single song was written.   Before any set languages were established between tribes.   Lullabies were sung likely before words were formalized.

So, we can see how singing is more ancient than, and likely more fundamental than speaking.   That is, speaking is a limited form of singing.  If one can sing properly, one’s speech is a restrictive form.

The question, in my opinion, is not how is it speech and singing are different; the question should be, how is it speech resulted from singing, to the extent that natural singing is lost.   And the next question is, how is it possible to recover this natural singing?

How we learn speech, and not how we lost singing, is more researched, so let’s start there.  We know a baby has more sounds than the modern language he speaks has, and we know that over time, he loses many of these sounds.   He practices talking and learns to express his thoughts, his desires, his feelings, his fears through talking, and as he gets older, he finesses more of these, and loses more innate sounds.   He stores body tensions, and then sublimates certain sounds and lose others.  Over time, he loses his singing voice and acquires a different set of skills for his talking voice.   Yes, he with society placed limits on his innate sounds and became worse and worse as a singer.

So, no singing and talking arise from the same skills with talking a more restrictive form with a great deal of finesse built up.   Singing is lost due to societal pressures, tension, and lack of practice.

Can they be the same?  Yes, because talking can utilize the resonance, timing, rhyming skills that singing teaches.

Is there evidence on the above?   I know of anecdotal ones:   Elvis, Judy Garland, and Pavarotti.  Judy came from a family of vaudeville entertainers and was performing as a child.   Pavarotti was a singing instructor’s son who earned money as a child from singing.   Elvis, if I recall correctly, was praised for his early childhood singing.   It’s not because they had the best hereditary voice– it’s because they did not lose their innate voice.   Tiger Woods was not the best athletically gifted golfer, but he had parents who provided him an environment, such that he did not lose his innate golf-suited skills.

Having said all this mumbo jumbo–what does this have to do with speaking and singing, giving the evidence of the above study.  

1. Unless a singer has half a brain, the study makes no difference.   And as we see from above, one’s potential is far greater than one’s current skill set, and the objective is to restore one’s innate skills.


Pitch hearing

May 31, 2011

Well, to offer my contrarian, amateur views.  Maybe a better question is how is it you lost your accurate pitch, instead of how to learn accurate pitch.

Pitch matching is, for most people, a natural, innate skill.    One can see this particularly well in certain Asian countries’ women’s very high pitch talking voices.   This is a learned pitch matching from their childhood– they heard other women talk this way, society reinforced it, and they innately learn to attain this high pitch.

That you are unable to match pitch is more likely that you lost your innate ability.   How did this happen?   I believe that this occurs most often by the mind psychologically fooling one’s own listening, when your vocal sounds travel from the mouth to the ears, also travelling through the facial bones.  

Though pitch matching with a known sound is one way, I don’t think it’s a good singing way.  

Japanese Zen art has the concept of irregularities.   So, whereas in Western art, symetry is highly prized, in Zen art, there is the irregularity.   Developing perfect symmetry in reality is not only difficult, but boring as well.   So, Japanese Zen art shows irregularities and prizes these, as these are reality-based.   In pop music, it is the irregularity that is high prized, not the symmetry.

This means, to learn singing, the focus should be on harmonious pitches, utilizing one’s irregularities.   The idea isn’t to attain perfect symmetry in singing.   To attain the harmonious, using one’s irregularities, one still has to hear one’s voice accurately.   This means to relearn one’s innate vocal hearing, rather than to practice with a known pitch.

So, the first step is to hear accurately, and the first process is to align one’s posture accurately to hear accurately.

Mixed voice

May 30, 2011

Just an amateur, what the hell do I know?

 A mixed voice, to me, suggests resonating with both the nasal-sinus cavity and simultaneously the airway from above diaphragm.   Tom Jones and Julie Andrews have very good mixed voices.  How does Tom Jones resonante bass while singing these screaming highs?   Somehow he uses both resonanting cavities simultaneously?

 The soft pallet is only one of the factors affecting resonance– others being placement, blockage, muscle tone, mental thought, more, and, in my opinion, most important is body posture, including head-chest alignment.  Basically, what one is trying to create is a relaxed vocal cord that resonantes in two fully open cavities simultaneously.

 So, my amateur opinion is the soft pallet change will help.

Modern diet and acid reflux

May 30, 2011

A lot is said about types of food.   There is a good show about Australian dumpster scavengers– these are “white” folks with money who believe that eating toss-aways from dumpsters is ecologically sensible.    It’s unclear that they have more acid reflux than normal population.   One wonders at this, until the show points out that “in the state of nature”, humans are scavengers– eating mostly leftover kill by other animals–unwashed, eaten by others, diseased, possibly maggots– and in the natural state, these individuals may be OK.

Human digestive system is built for scavenging, and probably can tolerate modern food as well as scavenged food.   Yes, modern food with all its hidden fats, synthetics, hormones, etc., aren’t too good for you, but fats can be eliminated, hormones reduced, etc.    If you can tolerate it, eat inexpensive beans– organic, washed free of pesticides, lots of bulk, etc..

But be aware, eating beans produces a lot of gas– which bloats one’s stomach, increases pressure, and can contributes to acid reflux.    What I’m trying to say, is that the synthetics in modern diet might be able to kill you on cancer, but it’s unclear how it affects acid reflux.

Acid reflux question

May 30, 2011

If you have acid reflux, the first thing to do is to stop its continuing damage and let the body heal; if not, the damage will become cancerous, and stomach cancer has a kill rate, if I recall correctly, about 90%.  The pain is your body telling you of its high danger.

After stopping its continuing damage, the body will heal by itself.   Proton inhibitors are effective at this, and proton inhibitors are relatively safe.    The standard course for proton inhibitors is two to four weeks.

After the continuing damage is stopped, then work on how to reduce the acid through non-pharmaceutical means.   A low fat diet means that food stays in the stomach for a shorter period of time, producing less acid.   An inclined bed means that the acid doesn’t crawl up the esophagus when the body is horizontal.   But none of these are assurred to be a cure, so you may have to return to proton inhibitors. 

The reason acid reflux affects singing, is not primarily because of the stomach pain, but because the acid, mostly liquid and some acidic fumes, constantly weaken the esophageal muscles, and such muscles are critical to resonance.    Also, such acids can affect the vocal cords– when this happens, you won’t have vocal tone control.

Most gastro literature state that the lower esophageal sphincter causes the acid to spill.  The esophagus can tolerate a lower pH than the nasal-pharynx, so the other sphincter mentioned means that acid is spilling and is not damaging your esophagus nearly as much as the nasal-pharynx.

If you’re singing with a high acid stomach (condition of stomach or lots of food), and your technique is unusual, one can send more acidic fumes up to the nasal pharynx, which would cause loss of resonance control.  This can be offset by drinking antacid before singing.

Remember that loss of muscle tone usually doesn’t occur immediately and healing occurs slowly.   So, try proton inhibitors coupled with inclined bed, then the fat-restricted diet, then the spice restricted, then the quantity-restricted.   Give each one about 4 weeks to work, and see what happens.

My approach is that the lower sphincter lost its elasticity due to continous poor posture– slouching, bad sitting (and even good sitting), computer work.   If you can get your posture upright (difficult process), then the lower sphincter is automatically pulled away from the stomach, by a distance, I estimate, as long as one to two inches.   This keeps the acid in the stomach, and reduces many of the other mentioned acid-reflux issues.

tilt and larynx

April 10, 2011

Whether a tilt affects the internal vocal cords, I don’t know.   But, it definitely affects the placement, its resulting resonance, and the jaw and its supporting muscles.

Why are these important?   A slight tilt may facilitate the sound travelling to more the forward part of the head, without such sound being muffled by the backpart of the nasal-pharynx; thus enabling greater nasal-pharynx resonance and to some degree the sinuses resonance as well.

For louder, far better controlled, and better toned highs, it is far easier to control the resonance first; which means controlling the head tilt, the neck lift and its angle, even the minor degree of the neck length and the degree of protrusion of the head from neck.

As for the comments:

thyroid tilted for a cry….

Emotions are expressed usually as external and internal muscle changes, simultaneously.   The externals are more “visible” and hence easier to affect.   They are also stronger and larger, thus these are the predominant affects of such vocal tone and expressions.  After the external muscles are affected, you might want to try to control the internal–e.g. shaping the internal muscles somehow.    However, I believe 80% of the work will be on the external.

So, the answer to your question– tilt itself doesn’t affect the pitch or tone until one determines what the pre-existing tension is already on the vocal cords.   Tilt automatically affects the resonacne characteristics, which can affect the volume of various pitches.

The thyroid is very well protected in the larynx, and it’s unclear to me how a gland is affected by a tilt.

The larynx is mostly cartiledge, andthe vocal cords are affixed to some kind of cartiledge with tissues and muscles.  If one tilts the larynx, the initial question should be, where was the larynx before the tilt?   If the larynx is not optimal positioned, it will exert some minor tension on the vocal cords to begin with.   Tilt it to the optimal position, less tension; away, more tension.

So, to reply to the tilt begins with the question, how is the posture in relationship to the larynx?

Acid reflux and phelgm

April 9, 2011

Acid reflux, Mucinex, breathing air, and posture.

The entire vocal apparatus protects itself from acid reflux by using phelgm.  So, if acid reflux, first, make it difficult for the liquid acid reflux to creep upwards.   Sleep inclined and avoid bending over.   Then neutralize the liquid acid by using antiacids before singing.

Mucinex thins phelgm, but if you have acid reflux, recall that the phelgm is trying to protect your vocal apparatus.

Acid reflux is in two forms– mostly liquid and some gas.  If you’re exhaling slighly acidic fumes into your nasal pharynx, it will naturally produce phelgm to protec itself.

Your singing technique or even eating and drinking technique may be causing you to “swallow” too much air.  If so, too much acidic gas will be going up through your vocal tract, and cause phelgm.

All these problems usually have a posture cause.   Exhaling air from the stomach is aggrevated by the degradation of the slight valve control of the esophageal tract bend–which is a posture problem.

Acid reflux is caused by weakening of the esophageal valve,which many attribute to posture problems.

Hence, though this is difficult, fix your posture as well.

Speaking and singing

April 9, 2011

Speaking and singing are usually different methods, though they can intersect.

Speaking is generally learned in one’s upbringing; hence, people in certain parts of the world use their vocal apparatus completely differently.  One good example seen frequently in the United States is to see Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian women.   They talk in an extremely high pitch– this is not their “innate” pitch range, but instead is their “natural” pitch range, developed through many years of practice.

This “natural” way of talking is usually very efficient for talking purposes, as its skills to express meaning has been developed for a lifetime.

Singing can use all kinds of methods, but one is usually resonance to create greater volume and more expression with less effort.   My belief is that this is actually “innate”– that is, good singing vocal methods are actually innate.   A concept similar to Zen Buddhism’s and Hinduism’s restoring of one’s innate natural self.   Similar to Plato’s idea that all knowledge are already within.

So, the question is, does speaking help or hinder singing.   There are lots of books I’ve read that says speaking requires more power than good singing and is more tiring.   I agree.    So, how is it that speaking can be more tiring than louder singing?  Its the effects of resonance and that “natural” speaking sets up a lot of muscles that interfere with “innate” resonance vocal shapes, and that over-tension (high tonicity) can decrease resonance shape as well vibrations of the internal resonance muscles and tissues.

So, now to give a response to your question.

If your singing and speaking mechanisms are similar, then speaking will usually strengthen your singing, because all you’re really doing is exercising your singing simultaneously.

If your singing and speaking mechanisms are different, then speaking may enhance or degrade your singing, depending on what you’re doing.

If your speaking is harsh, then you might develop a very strong singing voice or you might ruin your voice.