Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Mini Course on Pitch: Vocal Cord Grip

{Published in Business Times Newspaper Friday May 29 - June 4, 2015} Another common cause of pitch problems is the lack of grip on the vocal cords. The idea when you sing is to convert air into sound as quickly as possible. So when a little bit of air escapes and you have this breathy tone instead of a hard click sound like you would when you did something like say a GOO GOO, your voice becomes more air than it is grip. A breathy voice from a stylistic standpoint is okay, but a breathy tone because you can’t get a grip is most definitely faux pas. This article will aim to discuss a common pitch problem and the different ways to get a firmer a grip on your vocal cords to correct that.

I always say that there are those that have a natural gift of voice, and those that have to work really hard just to sound average. And believe it or not, in my line of work, I’ve seen them ALL. I suppose working as a vocal coach has exposed me to all sorts. So brace yourself to get a better understanding of what this thing ‘vocal grip’ is all about and what you can do to fix the problem.

If you’ve worked in local recording studios you may have heard the producer demand ‘punch’ in your vocal. Well, what exactly are they asking for? How do you even begin to define punch? From a listener’s standpoint, if when you sing you don’t project that accelerated fuller voice that resonates and has your hairs stand on end, then you’re not quite capturing the attention of your audience. Suffice to say, the conclusion would be that your voice lacks power and that much-needed takeoff to make it work. So let’s go right ahead and fix it, shall we?

Try singing “Mama Mia,” and record yourself when you do. Play the recording back, and if your vocal doesn’t have the desired projection (or punch), then go back and do this in a different way. This time hold your ‘m’ a little longer and extend your ‘I’. Here’s how. Begin by pretty much humming before you sing mama, like this: Mmmama. You should sense your power has increased tremendously just by making this slight adjustment to your takeoff. Now let’s take a look at the word ‘Mia’. With this word I want you to extend the vowel ‘I’ like this: Miiia. Now you ought to have a much clearer and more powerful pitch like when you hummed your way into mama earlier. So let’s round this all up by singing both words using the extended examples. Sing “Mmmama Miiia!” Now that that is all sorted out, let’s take a look at doing something similar using the vowel ‘A’. And here’s what I want you to do next. Sing an extended “Aaaaa” but try dragging out your Aaaa with a more brassy tone from start to finish. You’ll notice that if you had a breathy tone, it’s now all gone.

A great way to get your vocals sorted is to do the Warm-Up Alternative vocal workout from my Learn to Sing with Joett vocal training CD, with a “Niii Niii” all the way up the scale. If you have the reissued CD, the piano track is on track 5. Alternatively, you can download it for FREE from my HulkShare page here!

Thank you for dropping by,

Vocal Coach
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