The Connected Voice “The vocal equivalent of chasing the dragon”
When I was a young kid growing up. I was hooked, on listening to my favourite rock, metal singers. I was always blown away by the power they had in there upper register, I mean these singers, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Brian Johnston (AC/DC) Robert Plant (Led Zep) etc, seemed to have an un earthly ability to scream and sing with grit and rasp through out their entire range even into their highest screams!
After long hours of listening to the records and struggling everyday, unsuccessfully to hit even the lowest notes with power, ( my voice was so weak every time I tryed to sing anything four notes higher than my normal speaking voice ( my vocal chords would automatically jump into falsetto) My Mum Dad and sister all told me to stop making that horrible racket and told me not too kindly i might add, that my voice wasn’t made to sing like that!
Needless to say I became really frustrated with my singing voice, and vowed somehow, someday that I would discover the secret these singers use to make it easier to scream and belt out high chest voice notes with ease. Even more importantly I made a promise to my self that one day I would be able to sing those same notes with power too! During the eighties and early nineties there seemed to be no shortage of amazing rock singers in the USA and in the UK and many other parts of the world that had these amazing powerful voices and high vocal ranges.
I became obsessed with learning there secrets, I watched loads of videos of my favourite singers performing live and paid close attention to there vocal technique ( One thing they all had in common was how easy these singers made it look when they hit the high notes)!
(During this time) When I tryed to sing any kind of high note it felt like I had an elephant sitting on my chest and I experienced a massive amount of resistance at my vocal chords ( my chords felt like they would never stretch any further) and no matter how much I experimented with different jaw positions or changed how I breathed or tryed out ridiculous facial expressions my voice still sounded weak and tiny! Clearly using this kind of approach to developing a powerful voice was not the answer! I quickly came to the conclusion that I must be missing the vital secret but what was it?
After about six months or so of practising everyday, I wasn’t making any improvements at all! I could only hit high notes in a weak breathy falsetto ( definitely not the powerful rock sound I was after)!
About this time I met a young singer (we will call him) Westie. He was barely 18, we both had discovered this amazing band TNT they were from Norway, they played heavy melodic rock, there singer Tony Harnell, had the most amazing voice on the planet, he had grit and power and could scream at the top of his lungs and just when you thought he couldn’t possibly sing any higher he would scream out even more. At that time Westie was struggling to sing anything over about eight notes above his speaking voice without cracking into falsetto I was in good company or so i thought…
Six months later I ran into Westie again he had a big smile on his face he literally couldn’t stop grinning. We both had a mutual love of melodic metal, (Judas Priest), (Pantera) (Slaughter) ,(TNT) etc. Except that he could now sing the high notes with a connected powerful voice!!!!!!
Just like my favourite rock star hero’s, Westie, had developed amazing power and tone and had dramatically increased his vocal range over six months. I was amazed and envious (when he sang or screamed he sounded every bit as good as the rock singers we both idolised)!
I asked him how he did it ? Westie kind of shrugged and said I don’t really know, I just relax my throat and it kinda feels different and my voice just opens up and all of a sudden i can sing much much higher and it all fells connected!
Little did I know back then that Westie was referring to the sensation of experiencing a full connection (or connected voice)
This was the turning point for me as a singer, because having witnessed the dramatic transformation and rapid vocal results that are possible when you master this technique. In six months Westie had gone from having eight usable notes in his voice to a little over three and a half octaves of connected voice!
So do you want to know the secret to unlocking your full vocal range and making it much, much easier to increase your power and hit those high notes with ease?
Here’s how it works….
Your chest voice is only capable of stretching so far before your vocal chords become so tight and stiff that they loose the flexibility for the chords to vibrate freely. Freely vibrating chords produce a rich warm pleasing tone to your chest voice. There comes a point where your vocal chords wont stretch any more (ie there is no give in the chord to stretch any further)! At this point you loose all melody in your voice and you are simply yelling like you would when you are cheering on your favourite sporting team! (this is very harmful to your chords and sustaining this kind of vocal output causes trauma to your chords (in the short term) they will swell up, in the long term abuse leads to nodules and other serious vocal disorders! For more info checkout my blog Shouting or singing?
Your head voice is by contrast that higher pitched part of your voice that on its own sounds thin and whiny ( a little child on a playground swing yelling at the top of there lungs “weeeee mommy look at me” hopefully you get the idea?. The higher sound is produced because the vocal chords have lengthened out and have been thinned down to produce a whole new vocal register which is more bell like in tone because its largely made up of higher frequencies, (referred to as head voice).
Singing in a unconnected head voice is relatively easy for most people but it lacks power and is often mistaken for falsetto because the two sound remarkably similar to the ordinary ear. It becomes more confusing for a singer because as they slide down from head voice and try to connect into chest voice (95% of beginner or intermediate level singers) will experience a disconnect or a cracks in there voice. check out my blog’s to learn more on this and related topics
Free blog articles on how to produce rapid vocal results.
So hopefully we’ve now established that continuing to sing in two completely disconnected vocal registers will not provide you with any noticeable improvments in vocal quality or power!
Here is how to establish a fully connected voice:
The answer is very simple.
All of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilages that are responsible for creating pitch, volume, etc are all housed inside your larynx ( Adams apple located in the middle of your throat) its visible in men and not usually visible in a women. When you swallow you will feel the larnyx move up and down on its own.
So as you vocalise or sing on a scale you need to learn how to make your sounds with out disturbing the larynx (so that it is free to move on its own). (ie as you ascend in pitch the various muscles etc inside the larynx automatically adjust the thickness and length of the vocal chords. As you near the end of your chest voice register, the larynx will automatically begin tilting forward, (this sensation) will feel like the larynx is moving around, the key is to remain relaxed during this process and let the larynx complete the tilt on its own (this is often referred to by vocal coaches as “Bridging” or in classical terms its called the “Passagio” we will refer to it simply as a larangeal tilt or laranyx tilt.
But what happens with most beginner and intermediate level singers is that they incorrectly squeeze around the larynx either because they are uncomfortable with the sensation of movement, or because the cartilages and muscles that operate this tilt mechanism initially lack the strength to fully complete the laryngeal tilt on their own, (the inexperienced singer incorrectly squeeze’s with the muscles in the throat, as if to apply force, to push the larynx into the tilt position). This excessive force results in a very weak chest to head voice connection because the laryngeal tilt is not in proper alignment or correct position within the throat!
As a vocal conditioning and strengthening coach I teach you the correct techniques to make it easier to allow this laryngeal tilt to reach its proper alignment position.
But for those of you that cant afford access to one on one coaching, or want to figure it out on your own, here’s a quick run down of the key areas that need to focus on inorder to allow the laryngeal tilt to fully develop.
1. Posture / You must have correct posture, stand up straight shoulders down, reduce any un wanted tension in the neck, back and chest.
2. Diaphragmatic breathing/ proper breath support is key for preventing unwanted excess air from passing through the chords and disturbing the process of the vocal chords allowing them to automatically stretch and thin out before during and after the laryngeal tilt coordination. Breathe in nice and deep and remember to relax the abdominal muscles as you breathe in and as you do so expand your rib cage to 3/4 open postion and hold that expanded ribcage position for the duration of the note or scale you are singing. (this is your diaphragmatic support).
3. Vocal tract placement / maintain a wide open throat 3/4 yawn position. (this helps you to hear the connection and feel it more easily when it happens. *yawning helps to raise your soft pallet up so the chest and head sounds can mix more easily.
4. Vowel sounds, vocalise on a bright sounding ah ( like a doctor tells you to say ahh)
5. Vocalise on the ah sound using 1/4 volume ( this helps to initially reduce stress and unwanted tension in your neck, jaw, and chest and back, to provide the freedom and stretch needed for the larynx muscles to co-ordinate the laryngeal tilt.
With time and practise the muscles responsible for coordinating the tilt will get stronger and it will become easier and easier to complete the full larynx tilt and achieve maximum connection strength.
Once your larynx can fully tilt to the correct alignment position, you will gain range and vocal quality almost instantly. It will take some time spent in ” the vocal gym” to improve the flexibility and strength of your chords) but for the average person you will be amazed by the rapid vocal results you will achieve in just a short time of training.
Safety message !!!!!!!!
This is very important your larynx is an incredibly delicate mechanism capable of great feats of vocal athleticism. It takes time for these muscles and cartliages to develop the strength to fully complete the laryngeal tilt (or larynx tilt) Be patient don’t force it if the larynx doesn’t fully tilt to the correct position on its own it means the muscles that control the tilt action need to be safely conditioned using specialised vocal isolation exercises to improve there strength and flexibility. Do not use brute muscular force to complete the tilt action!!! you can seriously damage your voice as, well as tear the larynx mechanism muscles!
If your finding it difficult to achieve the proper connection, email me or call me and arrange a time for some expert guidance and coaching so that you can learn how to let the larynx perform the tilt safely.
Better singing everyone!