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Improve your vocal range?

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Jim Lad 15 Mar 07 - 05:07 PM
Linda Goodman Zebooker 15 Mar 07 - 05:31 PM
Jim Lad 15 Mar 07 - 05:39 PM
PoppaGator 15 Mar 07 - 06:06 PM
Stewart 15 Mar 07 - 07:10 PM
Jim Lad 15 Mar 07 - 08:03 PM
Stewart 15 Mar 07 - 09:04 PM
Ron Davies 15 Mar 07 - 11:05 PM
PoppaGator 15 Mar 07 - 11:38 PM
Ron Davies 15 Mar 07 - 11:58 PM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 01:54 AM
GUEST 16 Mar 07 - 04:07 AM
Scrump 16 Mar 07 - 04:28 AM
RobbieWilson 16 Mar 07 - 04:35 AM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Mar 07 - 04:39 AM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Mar 07 - 04:56 AM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 09:53 AM
Scrump 16 Mar 07 - 10:20 AM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 11:09 AM
Scrump 16 Mar 07 - 11:28 AM
Stewart 16 Mar 07 - 11:32 AM
Scrump 16 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 12:41 PM
Don Firth 16 Mar 07 - 01:46 PM
Ebbie 16 Mar 07 - 02:07 PM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 02:11 PM
Don Firth 16 Mar 07 - 04:36 PM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 05:13 PM
Murray MacLeod 16 Mar 07 - 06:08 PM
Don Firth 16 Mar 07 - 07:08 PM
Jim Lad 16 Mar 07 - 07:29 PM
Bert 16 Mar 07 - 07:36 PM
Murray MacLeod 16 Mar 07 - 08:01 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Mar 07 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,Matt 17 Mar 07 - 04:10 PM
Murray MacLeod 17 Mar 07 - 06:10 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Mar 07 - 07:23 PM
The Sandman 18 Mar 07 - 12:29 PM
The Sandman 18 Mar 07 - 12:40 PM
Bernard 18 Mar 07 - 02:05 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 07 - 02:22 PM
Jim Lad 18 Mar 07 - 02:45 PM
Bernard 18 Mar 07 - 03:04 PM
Jim Lad 18 Mar 07 - 04:37 PM
croc 18 Mar 07 - 04:58 PM
Jim Lad 18 Mar 07 - 09:55 PM
Nick 19 Mar 07 - 11:56 AM
Kim C 19 Mar 07 - 01:19 PM
The Sandman 19 Mar 07 - 01:25 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Mar 07 - 06:03 AM
The Sandman 20 Mar 07 - 04:22 PM
Genie 20 Mar 07 - 05:04 PM
Pioden 20 Mar 07 - 07:29 PM
GUEST 21 Mar 07 - 03:04 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Mar 07 - 07:33 AM
leeneia 21 Mar 07 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Sue Allan 21 Mar 07 - 04:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Mar 07 - 08:30 PM
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Don Firth 22 Mar 07 - 02:19 PM
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Subject: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 05:07 PM

Is there a particular song or exercise, any of you use to test and improve your vocal range?
Also: What would be regarded as "Good Vocal Range"?
Remember who your dealing with here so no Latin or Italian without translations, please.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Linda Goodman Zebooker
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 05:31 PM

I use a warm-up tape done by the members of Manhattan Transfer, a four-part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) acapella jazz ensemble. There is a different tape for each voice part. I use the Soprano tape and it has certainly extended my vocal range and helped in other ways besides. The exercises take about half an hour if you do them all, but you can just do the beginning ones if you want to and they'll still make singing easier. My tape covers I believe three octaves. The tapes were made probably ten years ago, but are still available from the Manhattan Transfer's website.

Linda


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 05:39 PM

Is there a particular song that you would use instead of tapes, Linda?
e.g. When I was warming up yesterday, I sang "Dirty Old Town" in every key from Bb up to Bb and that was what got me thinking. Say a nicer piece that would lend itself well to the exercise and gently increase the range over time.
The tapes are a great idea but I know me and I wouldn't follow through with them as I should.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 06:06 PM

Practice, practice, practice.

I don't see how it could matter what song you choose to sing ~ as long as it's something you enjoy enough that repetition doesn't become unpleasant to YOU.

(I suppose that a song with plenty of built-in demand for an extended range, like "The Star-Spangled Banner," might be extra-effective, buit anything will work if you step it up through enough different successive keys.)

I'd like to add my personal experience that vocal range CAN definitely be extended if you keep on singing. I think that it's necessary to overcome all your inhibitions; if you're timid, or even just trying not to be too loud, you won't be able to extend your range ~ not by much, anyway. If you really hope to start reaching higher (or lower) notes than ever before, you have to be ready to really let loose.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Stewart
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 07:10 PM

"you have to be ready to really let loose."

That can be very dangerous to your voice!
Everyone has a natural vocal range, and if you sing too much out of that range you can do vocal damage. Also singing without proper support, and with stress in your throat and upper registers can also lead to vocal damage. So don't just let it rip. Once you discover your vocal range (the range of pitches you can sing with comfort), you can then improve your singing of those notes at the upper an lower limits of your natural range.

Just a few vocal lessons can really help in learning proper breathing and support, and relaxation in your throat and upper registers. Vocal exercises are helpful in warming up your voice and developing good tone. You want to begin easy - softly and in your lower range before you venture up to the top of your range. But as far as extending your natural range - that's not possible.

As a classically-trained singer, I used to go through all the exercises. Now I often just begin with a simple song that goes up and down in pitch with a moderate range, and begin to sing softly at my lowest comfortable pitch, and then gradually raise the pitch and, as I warm up, sing more loudly.

Good luck,

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 08:03 PM

My breathings fine. I usually do a verse and chorus of the Rocky Road To Dublin for each breath.
You said: "But as far as extending your natural range - that's not possible." Now that's interesting and it's the natural range that I'd like to explore. How would I measure such a thing? (if that's possible)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Stewart
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:04 PM

Jim - Try this page. But it's also necessary to have good support and a relaxed throat. Sometimes when I'm learning a new song I am a little tense and find the upper notes uncomfortable. However, when I become more comfortable with the song and can relax more, the upper notes are fine. If not, I will experiment with different keys until I find just the right key for my vocal range. Sometimes that might be a differance of just a half tone. But then there's also the problem of finding an appropriate key for the accompanying instrument. For example, for my fiddle I find the key of E the hardest to play in - then I might go to Eb or F (I really like those 'flat keys' for the fiddle). Sometimes I find a song that really doesn't fit my vocal range - it's better for someone else to sing. Or I might change the melody slightly to avoid a certain high or low note.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 11:05 PM

Depends on what you call "natural range''. If you can do falsetto--( I know you know what that is, though it's Italian)---and make the transition from full voice to falsetto smoothly--without being obvious, you can extend your range substantially. I have a lousy range--but falsetto just about doubles it--to about 3 octaves.

I owe my falsetto--and therefore being in any chorus at all--to the Beach Boys--and years of singing in the car with them. (Don't ever try Frankie Vallee--that's a mistake.)

The smooth transition is the crucial part.

As has been pointed out, there are lots of songs with substantial ranges--if that's how you would like to stretch your range---including Fathom the Bowl, Northwest Passage, and Danny Boy--among MANY others.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 11:38 PM

"you have to be ready to really let loose."

That can be very dangerous to your voice!


Well, I suppose I should have added the caveat, "Don't hurt yourself!" I suppose that what Ron was getting at in advising that you try singing along with the way-high-pitched Beach Boys, but not with the even more remarkably stratospheric Four Seasons. But I won't take back my assertion that timidity and excessive constraint will make any kind of vocal-range breakthrough impossible.

I still contend that it IS possible to extend one's "natural range," although it may often involve violating the principles of formal classical vocal training. We just heard mention of an obvious option ~ falsetto ~ that extends your range out of the "natural" realm into a wholly different approach that is, in some sense, "unnatural." Also mentioned was the problem/potential of making the transition from "normal" to falsetto and back again; you can try to mask or smooth over that transition or, on the other hand, emphasize it (as in yodeling, or in the style of Professor Longhair).

I don't know that there are names for them, but there are other "voices," other techniques besides falsetto that extend vocal range by changing the way you use your vocal apparatus (mouth, throat, vocal cords, etc.) I can hit some pretty low bass notes by singing from a lower part of my torso and a deeper area of my throat than I use for my normal baritone/tenor range, and up at the high end, there's a "blues-shouting" approach very common in soul/R&B singing that allows a higher reach into the upper octaves, somehow without sounding as "feminine" or soprano-like as the falsetto technique.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 11:58 PM

Even falsetto doesn't have to sound "feminine". At this point I can sing a LOUD falsetto--and therefore hit virtually any note a tenor does. And I've been told it all sounds like full voice. It's all a question of what you want to to do--and if you're willing to practice--formally or informally-- to do it.

And of course if you want to sing Russian bass, all you have to do is get sick or stay up all night--(at least that's what I find)--my range drops about a fifth (as from G to C). And you're much more likely to have a lower range in the morning. (I'm damn glad I'm not a real tenor--they often have to hit high notes strongly in the morning--when many rehearsals are.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 01:54 AM

Stewart: I'll have a look at the page as soon as I've ett!
I too settle for odd keys wit F# & C# being two of my mafourites. Drives my wife nuts.
PoppaGator: I'm plenty loud but I start off, nice and easy, in the morning and work my way up.
I wouldn't advise falsetto because I think it hurts your natural voice but I hear a lot of young female vocalists switch back and forth and it sounds quite nice.
Danny Boy has one solitary, high note that makes it difficult to use as an exercise.
"Northwest Passage"... Yes. I think I'll try that. Has lots of range, flows well and is best unaccompanied. Good suggestion.
Jim hungry now. Must eat.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:07 AM

I find alcohol helps - it may not actually improve your range but it makes you think it has.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Scrump
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:28 AM

My vocal range changes if I sing louder (I raised this in a thread last year) - and I have to sing louder to reach higher notes, and then I can't sing low notes at such high volume.

So, if I'm singing unamplified, my whole range from low-high tends to be higher than if singing into a mic, where I don't have to sing so loudly. That in turn means I have to remember to sing certain songs (those that require a wide range) in a higher key if unamplified than if singing into a mic.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:35 AM

Ewan McColl used to warm up with a song calle "Lille wat ye Wha's coming" which I have on the "Black and White, a definitive collectio n cd"


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:39 AM

""But as far as extending your natural range - that's not possible." "


Hmmmm... I disagree - unless you mean that someone who has not ALREADY met the 'natural limits' can only reach there....

When in form, and having been unable to go out much recently means I am out of practice - I can handle a few octave from fairly low bass to fairly high tenor - higher than a lot of females - and I never have been easily able to handle more a than a few notes of falsetto.

There are differing 'voices' - head, chest, etc - which a well trained good 'classical' singer learns to smooth out the transitions between - and there is also some overlap between these with slightly different tonal properties.

As far as 'extending upper and lower limits' of your total range I picked up a few good pointers (and exercises) from Seth Riggs writings, but don't think of him as some sort of God - and also from the Alexander techniques.

1) you and your throat must be totally relaxed and 'in the middle of upward and downward movement' - if you force your larynx (you can feel your adam's apple move with your fingers) up or down, you are putting strain there. Note than some people can ONLY sing with such (highly visible) larynx movement - they are not recommended to try stretching their range, they will eventually severely damage themselves.

2) you should ensure that your whole body - especially upper body, chest, and shoulders are also relaxed.

3) you breathe FROM THE DIAPHRAGM - from the 'bottom of your lungs' - this gives you capacity (volume - not loudness) and if you also can employ 'intercostal breathing' you can hold an enormous amount of air. Many singers just try to cope with little puffs from the very top of their lungs - once I watched some famous pop singer 'forget to breathe' she was barely able to get out more than a few words at a time while singing the National Anthem on a 'big special' event. That 'game' of trying to see who can hold a note the longest becomes pretty easy of you have the right techniques, and sufficient warning to 'top up', especially 'intercostally' .... :-)

4) use the minimum amount of breath to generate the tones - too much 'wastes' your ability to sing lengthy phrases, and gives you a breathy tone, and may not 'protect' your voice.

5) Warming up - I find that it can take me several songs to 'stretch my range' to its full capacity - alternating higher and lower ranges (with the obvious alternating rests of the alternate range) opens up both my ends eventually (Look, you KNOW what I mean!1). Once warm, I can easily do octave or greater 'jumps' if desired - but that takes quite some time of practice (first if you don;t ant to hurt yourself, and second if you want to hit correct pitch!)... :-)



1 I have often wondered why nobody seems to want to sit beside me in sessions, though....


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:56 AM

"My vocal range changes if I sing louder (I raised this in a thread last year) - and I have to sing louder to reach higher notes, and then I can't sing low notes at such high volume."

This means that you cannot be using 'correct' vocal techniques - I can't help you at a distance - you should go see a proper voice trainer and explain your problem.



"I find alcohol helps - it may not actually improve your range but it makes you think it has. "

A LITTLE alcohol WILL relax your throat - too much relaxes your brain, and then you don't care - but those around you do.... :-)



"and I have to sing louder to reach higher notes"

You only THINK you do, so you are 'thinking yourself' into stress and 'pushing your vocal formation techniques' - you are in real danger of vocal damage. Perhaps you are not warming up properly IN BOTH SITUATIONS, so that your muscles are not relaxed equally in the differing situations. Less relaxation is likely to 'push your range higher'.



"then I can't sing low notes at such high volume."

Demonstration of you (unconciously) changing your vocal formation technique - you really should seek proper professional help - a bunch of vague disembodied virtual ignoramuses is unlikely to be able to physically observe you and assist you to change your bad habits! :-)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 09:53 AM

Foolestroupe: That was actually helpful!
Scrump: What you hear inside your cranium is probably not what's coming out when you're singing louder. If you ever get the chance to listen to someone else whose voice gets louder as they sing higher, pay close attention. You will probably find that the high notes are a little flat. There is also a tendency to waste too much breath when singing loud. I would suggest a good condenser mike, up close and personal and practise softly.
Foolestroupe: That was actually helpful!


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Scrump
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 10:20 AM

Thanks for that, Foolestroupe and Jim Lad. I try not to sing too near the limit of my range in any case, to avoid going flat at the high end. It's just that I find increasing the volume can help reach the higher notes, and conversely, if I sing notes near the bottom of my range, I find I'm unable to sing them at such a high volume. This applies when I am singing unamplified. I guess I shouldn't try to sing louder just because there's no amplification.

With a mic it's OK, because obviously I don't need to sing as loud to be heard. Then I can sing in a lower key.

Maybe I do need lessons or something, but I don't know who to go to or where I'll get the time. Meanwhile I'll just try not to sing too loud!

(Foolestroup, not sure why you put the alcohol comment in between mine, that was from someone else!)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 11:09 AM

I'm sure the "Alcohol" comments are all in fun. Don't worry about that.
On a more serious note however; One drink and I lose complete control of my diaphragm and vocal chords with regards to singing. Actually, as far as entertaining goes, everything suffers if I take a drink.
I know , I don't give the mechanic a wee hauf before he works on my car and I have to wonder sometimes when I hear employers offering the entertainers free beer as part of the agreement.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Scrump
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 11:28 AM

I like to have a beer or two during a gig (a couple of beers spread over 2.5 to 3 hours is reasonable, IMO). But I have enough trouble remembering the words to songs as it is, without making it worse for myself, so I won't have any more than that (usually, there have been exceptions :-))


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Stewart
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 11:32 AM

Here's a well-proven technique for extending your upper vocal range, but it has to be done at an early age.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Scrump
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM

Here's a well-proven technique for extending your upper vocal range, but it has to be done at an early age

Yeah, but I would like to sing the low notes too :-)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 12:41 PM

Stewart: If that's what I think it is, I'm not looking!


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 01:46 PM

"My breathings fine. I usually do a verse and chorus of the Rocky Road To Dublin for each breath"

Jim, that's not all there is to breath support. Lots of good advice in Foolestroupe's post of 16 Mar 07 - 04:39 AM. Using your diaphragm—feeling like, when you're inhaling, that you're breathing all the way down into your abdomen. Then, when you're reaching for the high notes, don't tense the throat, tense your abdominal muscles, hear the note you want to sing in your head, and go for it. That's the way opera singers do it. But don't worry—it won't make you sound like an opera singer unless you were born with that kind of voice, and not everyone is. I will, however, help you hit the higher notes.

But major warning! If your larynx feels uncomfortable and your throat tenses up, back off!! That's nature's way of telling you you're doing it wrong, and if you keep pushing it, you can do severe damage to your vocal mechanism. Laryngitis, eventually nodes (requiring a most unpleasant operation), and such.

One way to get your voice up and out of your throat:    yawn, relax your throat and neck muscles, and hum a note in your middle, comfortable range. Feel the vibration in you nasal passages, cheek bones, and forehead. Don't make the tone sound nasal or "nosey," or allow it to sound that way, just feel the vibration—resonance—in your sinuses. Then try to maintain that feeling with all the notes you sing.

But never—ever—push your voice into a range where it starts feeling tense and uncomfortable.

Take a few voice lessons from a good teacher. It's a good investment.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:07 PM

Stop smoking. Sing frequently. Raise - or lower - the pitch of your speaking voice. 'Open' your throat and diaphragm. Experiment with harmonies. Listen to lots of singers. Experiment with singing familiar songs in unfamiliar keys. Drink water.

:)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:11 PM

Thanks Don: Let me rephrase. "My breathings fine. I can EASILY do a verse and chorus of the Rocky Road To Dublin for each breath"
And "No". I have no problems with my larynx.
I do have good range but am interested in increasing it. Hence the questions about measuring the range, if possible and good songs for vocal exercises. My range is probably better than most but there is no way to say that without sounding boastful.
In other words: It's a request for tips from someone who is doing well but wishes to take advantage of yous geniuses so that he can do better.
An attitude which is probably prevalent among Mudcatters.
Cheers
Jim


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:36 PM

I usually warm up with some vocal exercises, starting in the low to middle part of my range, humming at first to get the right feel (the vibrations in the sinuses that I mentioned), then vocalize on vowels, keeping the same nasal resonance (again, not "nosey;" big difference). I go up and down part of a scale, usually starting on a low G (6th string, 3rd fret—that's pretty low, but then, I'm a bass), like G, A, B, A, G a few times, then take it up a half-step and do the same thing. Then up another half-step and yet again. I keep that up until it's up to almost where it starts to feel uncomfortable, then I go back down by half-steps. I then expand it a little, say G, A, B, C, D, C, B, A, G and so on, also taking that up a half-step at a time. Then jumps:   G, B, D, B, G and so on. [My neighbors probably think I'm torturing a buffalo.] There are whole batches of exercises like this that are good. Actually, if you know scales and chords fairly well, you can make up a lot of your own exercises.

Once I'm warmed up, I start of singing a few songs with modest ranges. "I Ride an Old Paint" has a range of a sixth—from A (open 5th string) in the key of D, where I feel most comfortable with it, up to an F# (4th string, 4th fret). Just for practice, you could take that, or any other fairly short-range song, sing a verse, capo up one fret (or bar), sing the next verse, capo or bar up another fret, and so on (I would never perform it that way, though).

I'll go from that to songs with a wider range, say up to an octave. Just to keep it in the realm of cowboy songs, "Streets of Laredo" has a range of an octave. Or if you prefer Scottish, "McPherson's Lament" also has a range of an octave.

"Greensleeves" has a somewhat wider range:   an octave and a minor third. I do it in Bm (capo on II, play Am chords). That takes me down to an F# and up to an A. I may do it up a fret (Cm) if I'm feeling energetic.

There is one song I really love to sing, but for me anyway, it's a real monster. "Jock o'Hazeldean." Octave and a fourth, which I can manage okay, but the very first line starts on the highest note in the song and takes you to the lowest! Hitting that first note with a good, clean tone and not sounding like a loon with laryngitis is the trick. A real bitch to sing! But Ronnie Browne of the Corries doesn't seem to have any trouble with it.

I don't know if any of this helps, but I don't know what types of songs you'd be particularly interested in.

It is possible to expand your range some, but there is also a natural limit beyond which your voice just will not go without having to force it some, and that's a royal road to vocal problems. I don't have a really wide range, and I just have to sigh and admit to myself that there are some songs that, no matter how much I like them, I just shouldn't sing.

By the way, opera singers have this same problem. A light, lyric tenor like Juan Diego Flores could ruin his voice if he tried to sing heavy dramatic tenor roles. The Swedish tenor, Jussi Bjorling, died relatively young, but his voice was crystal-pure to the last because he was very careful about what he chose to sing.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 05:13 PM

"Jock o'Hazeldean.": That's a good one. It would encourage me to learn the whole song too. Thanks Don.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 06:08 PM

Don, I'm not sure that Ronnie Browne's "Jock o' Hazeldean" is the ideal example of extended vocal range.

The Corries play this in C, and it surely isn't difficult for any folk singer to hit the initial C and drop down to the G note on "lady" in the first line.

Personally, I prefer to sing Jock o Hazeldean in D, but I have to confess I chicken out of kicking off with a high D, and sing a B instead. No problems reaching the high D later in the song however.

Works for me ...


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 07:08 PM

Actually, my range is pretty limited. I can vocalize from a low D off the bass side of the fingerboard (sometimes C below that on a foggy day), and up to the E, 1st string open, or on a clear day, an F. But the notes out on the rim of my particular galaxy don't necessarily sound all that great. My best sounding range lies pretty much between G (6th string 3rd fret) up to around Bb, B (open 2nd), or middle C. That ain't very wide.   If I'm really well practiced and warmed up, I can count on middle C sounding fairly decent and the D above being at least tolerable.

I do "Jock o' Hazeldean" in A, which starts me on A (just below middle C) and takes me down to a low E. If I'm feeling feisty and I've taken my vitamins, I might capo up one fret (makes it key of Bb). The middle C wouldn't work for me unless it were someplace a bit more into the song. But as an opening note, I can't really count on it not sounding like I suddenly sat on a tack. Another nasty spot is on the word "Lady" in the line "And ye shall be his bride, Lady," where you have to sing the high note on an "ee" vowel. Not even Luciano Pavarotti likes to do that! Bad vowel to have to sustain a decent tone on.

A few times I've started "Jock o'Hazeldean" on an E ("Why weep" both on the same note) and so far no one has looked at me funny, so I can at least get the song under way before I have to get serious and bear down a bit.

But I can sing the songs Gordon Bok does in the same keys he does them in.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 07:29 PM

The plan is to take a song and sing it in several keys. I was wondering how long it would take for Gordon Bok to get a mention. His low range is exceptional and extremely pleasing to the ear.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Bert
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 07:36 PM

Well speaking personally - I CHEAT - I sing the octave (up or down) of the note I can't hit.

And yonks ago, when I was a square dance caller, the recommended technique was to shout the notes that you can't reach.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 08:01 PM

Fascinating post, Don.

(at least for all "Jock O'Hazeldean" singers ) *G*

I could not agree more about the high note on " lady". It is not an easy vowel to sustain.

Maybe there is scope here for a thread about "Difficult Moments in Songs " ???


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 04:40 AM

Sadly, if you want to sing like a virtuoso, you need to train and practice like one...

.. otherwise stick to the very simple stuff. Don't push your voice, you WILL break it!

Glad if my other offerings were of help.


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Subject: going on flat
From: GUEST,Matt
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 04:10 PM

I tryed to sing The Tears For Fears song Shout. I did good when I started but started going flat. I couldn't hear my voice go flat but my friend did. I couldn't believe it. I heard that it happens to singers all the time even professionals. Is that true? Or do I need to go see a voice teacher.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 06:10 PM

I am trying to think of singers in the folk tradition whom I would describe as "virtuosi"

Paul Brady is the first one who springs to mind.

Mick West is another.

The late Isaac Guillory was unquestionably a virtuoso singer, as well as a virtuoso guitar player.

Tony Rice ( in his prime ) fitted the bill.

Roger McGuinn is a virtuoso singer imho.

The Louvin Brothers too.

Emmylou Harris (in her prime)

not an exhaustive list, and there are many other great singers whom I wouldn't describe as virtuosi ...


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:23 PM

As I said Murray, "if you want to sing like a virtuoso, you need to train and practice like one..."

For the rest of us - the 'ordinary' voices, we stick to the 'simple stuff' or we hurt our voices, perhaps permanently. If we want to 'develop our voices', human experience has shown that there are no real 'shortcuts', only a period of devotion to working hard following knowledge gained by the experienced.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 12:29 PM

Ihave been a professional singer for thirty years.Iagree with alot of what foolestroupe has to say.Ihave had very few problems because I sing from my diaphragm.
Here is an exercise that I use.Istrt at the bottom of my range,low e on the guitar,and I sing an arpeggio,e, gsharp,b, e,then back down b, gsharp low e.then I sing f a c f c a f,and upwards till I cant sing any higher,
I have arange from low e nearly two octaves to c sharp.if you practise this for five minutes every day,you will be able to improve your range.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 12:40 PM

correction ,I can do two octaves.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Bernard
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 02:05 PM

A word of caution...

Chilled drinks are bad for the voice when singing, as they have an anaesthetic effect... which is why they seem  like a good idea.

Unfortunately, the combination of cold and anaesthesia means permanent damage can eventually occur... dirnks which are too hot are also not a good idea.

Fizzy drinks can cause acid reflux, which is also detrimental to vocal cords.

Oh dear... there doesn't seem to be much left... plain water at room temperature is fine... as long as it's clean!


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 02:22 PM

Actually, drinking lots of water is not only good for your health in general, it's good for the voice.

Never drink milk or consume milk products before performing. Clogs you up and you'll wind up having to clear your throat frequently.   [Learned the hard way.]

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 02:45 PM

I go with cold coffee or warm water. Works for me. I also suck on the odd lemon between sets.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Bernard
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 03:04 PM

Aaarrr, Jim Lad! I bet you're popular with brass instrument players!!

;o)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:37 PM

I just know, I'm missing something here.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: croc
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:58 PM

Drinking water is great, but you have to drink it well in advance of singing - at least a couple of hours cos that's what it takes to be absorbed and do some hydrating.
croc


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:55 PM

A couple of hours before I'm singing, I'm singing.
Cheers
Jim.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Nick
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 11:56 AM

I found the following book really useful which I found in the local library -

Set your voice free : how to get the singing or speaking voice you want - Roger Love

I found it useful in trying to smooth out the notes I could sing across the range of my voice and it has also definitely increased the notes I could sing at the higher end of my voice. One of the things he points out is that the loudness should NOT increase as you go up through the range, and he aims to get a smooth sound throughout.

I have only been singing for a few years having spent most of the first 50 odd years being scared of doing it. When I started singing I tended to sing in the lower end of my range and thought that the upper end sounded 'funny' - very light and weak and not like me.

I reckon that the exercises in the book have been really useful but whether it is a good teaching aid I don't know but it has been helpful to me (and a friend who I lent it to).

When I started singing I reckon that my range went from something like a lowish D to a comfortable Bb and a strained C or D 2 octaves up. I can now sing up to a G# or an A almost an octave above what I used to do though I rarely sing anything above an F# or G. I'm not sure if that means that my natural range has changed or whether I have just found my natural range!


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Kim C
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:19 PM

Yoga. It helps immensely with breathing.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:25 PM

diet, and exercise are important too.gargling with salt water is helpful for certain throat problems,avoid drinking milk,and smoking cigarettes or marijuana.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 06:03 AM

"My voice is not so much 'bel canto' as 'can belto'."

Harry Secombe


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 04:22 PM

KIMc ,made an excellent point.I use an exercise that is used by masters of yoga to improve the tone of their voice.
this is a breathing exercise,take a deep breath,then exhale slowly,take another deep breath and exhale quickly[pah].check that you are breathing your diaphragm.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Genie
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 05:04 PM

Funny line, that, Foolestroupe!   LOL


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Pioden
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 07:29 PM

Hi, I just joined this evening, and am scanning some of the forums, this caught my eye.
I've seen people mention 'singing from your diaphragm' several times, just wondering if everyone knows how to tell if they are? I've run into many folks who don't, and have questions, myself.

Best way I know to figure out how deep breathing feels, is to lie on my back and breath - the stomach/belly raises and falls, that means breath is getting all the way down, and the diaphragm is dropping, creating a vacuum, pulling air to the bottom of the lungs.

The thing I have a question about is the location of 'tension' (maybe not the best word) for support. For years, I think I was supporting too far down, and never had a choir director tell me differently. They never put a hand on my stomach/ low chest to feel it. Now, years later, I think I've finally got it right, and would like some confirmation.

It seems the support comes from right behind the bottom point of the sternum, just where the ribs curve up and meet in the middle, where it's still hard. Does that sound right? I've been told that note changes should come from the diaphragm, not the throat, but always had trouble, because I thought the support was supposed to come from more the belly area. Changing the support to just below the ribcage seems to make it work. Comments?
Pioden

Oh - one more thing, on upper register singing freedom - I remember at a sectional for HS choir (long ago), watching a professional singer from the American Boychoir's summer camp (he came from our town and was back visiting) giving the guys advise - his device for allowing them to use their upper ranges more freely, without choking up, was to imagine throwing a football at the beginning of a down-sliding scale, it feels like raising the soft palate to allow more room for echoing. He would have them make the throwing motion with their arm while singing/sliding high to low (not even a specific scale). Don't sing too hard at first.
Thought it might help someone.
Pioden


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:04 AM

Any half-decent theatre company will have a system for for helping all aspects of voice training.
When MacColl set up The Critics Group he produced a regimé of exercises which had been part of his work in Theatre Workshop. These were for improving pitch, tone, range, relaxation, breathing, projection, vocal dexterity, articulation etc - all essential elements of singing.
They took a short time to learn, but once you had them, they never left you. Then, as he often said, you could get on with the real point of of singing, "enjoying the song".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:33 AM

Actually, according to oriental Martial Arts and related health stuff, you should breath from your 'dan tien' - which is below the diaphragm. Consult some appropriate expert/training for this - Tai Chai is relatively widely affable nowadays - and will teach yo physical balance as well... :-)

I was told by a rock climber that the 'dan tien' is easily located. The spot that you ensure the rope comes out of to support your weight is almost exactly this spot - funnily enough, it is sort of the 'neutral spot' where your centre of body mass is - they rope this way because it allows them to have the weight supported directly, and allow them to stay right way up (rope too low down and you fall upside down!) - rope too high and you are not as much in control!

The 'breath' is supposed to go in down to the dan tien, then right down, and cycle back up thru the spine, then exhale, then breathe in again. This is 'circular breathing' - not the type you need to play a didge or pipes, but philosophical 'circular breathing'. It's just a mental trick, like when you move, you should move (in Martial Arts) as if you are a puppet, suspended by strings from your wrists, knees, and most importantly, from the top of your head.

I say 'most important' - because this way, you hold your spine correctly upright, and your head starts to feel 'weightless', and the breathing thing just happens easier too!. Just a 'mental trick', but it really works! like the breathing thing too!

:-)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: leeneia
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 04:06 PM

Join a regular choral group. Good for the voice and for the social life.

Somebody mentioned Danny Boy as a difficult song. I am sure that that tune was written for an instrument - harp or violin, probably - not the voice.

Don't worry yourself or hurt your voice trying to do tunes which were never intended to be sung.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: GUEST,Sue Allan
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 04:42 PM

Foolestroupe, what you say on breathing and posture sounds good, and is also akin to Alexander Technique teaching: it's also good for singers and musicians. Like many things a lot of singing comes down to 'mental tricks' (such as 'thinking' the voice in the top of your head, or end of your nose for higher notes), and it's a case of finding what works best for you. I can't recommend too highly finding a good singing teacher.

A good tutor book, with lots of exercises and the reasons why, is George Dodds' 'Voice Place & Training Exercises' published by Oxford University Press. It comes in two versions for different vocal ranges: Soprano & Tenor and Alto & Bass. It's quite an old book, although still in print, but very sound. It's possible to work through on your own, although it is undoubtedly best with a teacher.


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 08:30 PM

Well Sue,

I attended an Alexander workshop over several weeks, and found it covered most of the ground already covered in Martial Arts (and theatre) I have done.

To perform well as a 'fighter' you actually have to be relaxed, not tense, and the more relaxed the muscles are, the more control and speed you have.

The various Martial Arts stuff was just a fun side thing - but I was involved with SCA Heavy Fighting for some years.

One of the 'easy' things about being an Interdisciplinarian, is that you keep on covering much of the same ground from different angles and emphasis. Just like being a Multiinstrumentalist.... :-)


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 10:43 AM

I've seen a few references in this thread and previous ones about avoiding milk being good for the voice.

Although I like milk, I'd be happy to not drink milk at all if it would benefit my voice, except that I understood it was important to have the calcium in milk. What do people recommend as an alternative source of calcium, if you avoid milk?(lumps of chalk perhaps? :-))

Orr is it bollocks, and you don't really need the calcium? Any nutritionists out there?


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Snuffy
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 01:50 PM

It's OK to drink milk AFTER singing, but not too soon before


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Subject: RE: Improve your vocal range?
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 02:19 PM

No problem with milk or milk products in general. Just give them a rest for several hours before you sing.

Don Firth


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