Friday, March 27, 2015

How to Quickly Fix Tricky Pitch Segments of a Song

{Published in Business Times Newspaper March 27, 2015} If you’ve experienced pitching difficulty when trying to deliver a song, you will appreciate what this article is about to deliver—some handy tips on how to fix tricky pitching issues that oftentimes serve to torment and frustrate the singer. Common hurdles are the low notes that sound rather muddy, and the high notes that sound rather pinched or strident—OR weak and unsavory falsetto. The thing about it is if you’re a musician worth your salt, you will know when your vocals just aren’t sounding right. So let’s go over the common complaints afflicting the singer, and what you can do to quickly fix these seemingly insurmountable shortcomings in your vocal range.

 I will begin with the high notes and take you down to the lower register. Let’s say you’re finding it difficult to hit a clean and crisp high note without resorting to a lighter-production falsetto tone that, unless you’re doing it for special effect, doesn’t sound quite right. The reason is simple. When you get to a certain octave, what is happening is you’re disconnecting. And here’s a quick solution: try to imagine a straight line that goes from your chest to your head. The quick-fix way to align your vocals to travel in a straight line is to simply hum your way up. Take a deep breath, and then begin by humming the melody of the song in your speaking voice (the low note) and push that up into your upper register… into what we call the ‘head voice’ (you’ll feel the resonance in your head). And if you begin to disconnect on your way up, lean forward as you approach the top note. Repositioning your posture by leaning forward alleviates the gravitational pull to allow the muscles surrounding your larynx to stay relaxed and to not interfere with your tone production. That’s all there is to it. With the help of special arpeggio exercises, try to practice the hum—daily if you can—to improve your tone production and chest to head voice connection. Once you get the hang of this, there’ll be no need to lean forward. Hitting the highs will come naturally. Use the forward lean strategy only as a short-term solution to help you stay connected.

And what about the low notes? Begin your hum at the bottom of your range and as you approach the top note, lean forward to prevent you from reaching or having your larynx muscles recruited to produce the tone (as when this happens it causes strain). On your way down, gradually begin to tilt your trunk back to the erect posture as you did at the beginning of this exercise. Keep working your way down the scale into your chest voice as deep as you can go. If you do this correctly, you’ll find that your voice in your lower range is now crisp and clear. If you’ve had voice lessons before you’ll be well aware of how this feels. Download free mp3 to arpeggios and descending scales here.

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