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How To Sing With Power?

27 May 15 - 12:33 AM (#3712058)
Subject: How To Sing With Power?

From Ewan Maccoll to Peter Bellamy, I can't seem to figure out how they can sing with such force. I know that Maccoll did workshops and the like but I can't seem to find any real hard tips in the Mudcat archives. Can anyone help me to train my voice to make it booming with power?



27 May 15 - 12:43 AM (#3712062)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Joe Offer

I taught boating on a small lake in Wisconsin, and had to control twenty kids in boats with the power of my voice. It made me able to be loud without yelling.

Any job working with kids will help. If you yell, they won't listen. But if you're loud without yelling, they'll do exactly what you want them to do.

So, for me, developing the power of my voice was a matter of survival. Imagine yourself in an auditorium, and speak or sing normally (without straining or yelling) in a way that somebody in the last row can hear you without amplification. If you look at somebody in the back of the audience and direct your voice to that person, you will be amazed at how powerfully and clearly your voice can reach that person with very little effort on your part. It's all a matter of focus.


27 May 15 - 01:12 AM (#3712063)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: michaelr

You have to be standing to do it.

27 May 15 - 03:52 AM (#3712075)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Jim Carroll

MacColl, in his work with 'The Critics Group', developed a series of voice excercises designed to first enable a singer to find their 'natural' voice, then to expand that voice into any area required for any particular type of song, the end objective to be able to handle any type of song in the repertoire.
They started with simple relaxation exercises and vowel-like sounds, then moved on by taking short pieces from Wagner, Gilbert and Sullivan, Brecht/Weill, Scots mouth-music and various other places and using them to handle pitch, tone, breath-control, range, articulation and accuracy at speed....
He took Laben's theory of movement, originally developed for theatrical dance, and applied it to the basic component elements of voice production - speed, weight and direction.
Sounds complicated - in fact, relatively simple and can be run through in about twenty minutes in their entirety.
The basic idea was to work out how you produce your voice and to push the boundaries out in the directions you required for certain songs.
Worked fine for me when I was singing regularly thirty years ago and when I returned to singing after a two decades gap, helped my get my voice back into shape and won me back all the songs I found I could no longer handle due to voice deterioration.
Couldn't recommend his work highly enough
jim Carroll

27 May 15 - 07:01 AM (#3712098)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?

Thanks everyone, this is exactly what I was looking for. Jim, is there an easily accessible resource to get more info on these techniques?

27 May 15 - 07:05 AM (#3712099)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?

Try singing with a rock band - you'll soon learn to project, or you won't be heard.
Seriously, for every song you sing there is an optimum key for your voice. Find that key, sing it as high as you can without straining. Too many folkies have what I call a "bedroom" voice, where their voice sounds good (to them) when practicing at home in the living room or bedroom. It may be a comfortable key for you, but it doesn't translate to performance in a bigger room. So, get your head up, and try to hit the back of the room with your voice. Sing every day, you wouldn't run a marathon without training, same with the voice.

27 May 15 - 07:08 AM (#3712101)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: BobKnight

Sorry, "guest" above was me, I'd been logged out but didn't notice.

27 May 15 - 08:31 AM (#3712143)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?

Be careful. Yelling will ruin your voice. Prudent voice warmups are a must.

27 May 15 - 08:58 AM (#3712157)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, is there an easily accessible resource to get more info on these techniques?"
I've been working on the Critics Group recording for quite a time now (years, in fact) - there are 250 tapes of them.
It is my intention to put together a working pack of the singing techniques for anybody interested in them - when I get time!!
Will make a general announcement when I do
Jim Carroll

27 May 15 - 09:00 AM (#3712158)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

I agree 100% with Bob. I would add that you must try not to lose out on all the more subtle vocal techniques for power though. Much as I loved him Johnny Collins used to do that a bit for me, but he had a fabulous range, and I always forgave him. Roy Harris can really project his voice. One very important thing is breath control. Listen to Harry Cox or Pop Maynard, then try singing along with them I'll bet you are amazed at Pop Maynard's control. He was in his eighties when recorded I am 63 and he beats me hands down for the control he uses. I usually run out of breath singing along with him. Above all relax and just like Roy and Johnny and whoever your favourite singer is, please have fun, that's the most important thing of all.
Here endeth the lesson....

27 May 15 - 09:31 AM (#3712170)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: GUEST,leeneia

Guest, if you really want to boom with power, than you need a good voice teacher, because trying to boom with bad technique can damage your voice.

1. Who can really boom? Opera singers, who have native talent and have had lots of training.

2. Rock singers usually have very poor technique. Their voices suffer.

3. Keep in mind that when you hear a recording, the singer's voice may have been enhanced by the sound engineer. A singer in a video may have a hidden microphone on his person.

4. I listened to a little of Peter Bellamy and a little of Ewan McColl. Peter Bellamy gets that penetrating effect by sending his voice up into his head - his sinuses are involved.

McColl's volume comes more from his chest, although he could use more chest if he wanted to.

Good singers know how and when to use the head voice and the chest voice. This is something you can learn from a teacher.

5. Another good thing to do is to join a choral group that meets regularly.

27 May 15 - 11:46 AM (#3712204)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: MartinRyan

I agree re the choir - regular singing in the middle of a controlled musical sound is a great help with both breathing and pitch, in particular.


27 May 15 - 03:28 PM (#3712262)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Don Firth

Joe's advice (second post) about singing to someone in the back row of an auditorium (projecting, not yelling) is excellent. It's the difference between yelling and projecting. It comes from the diaphragm. When you inhale, feel your ribs and abdomen expand outward. Keep your throat relaxed.

And don't forget to open your mouth!

And Leeneia's comments about involving your sinuses (head voice) are also excellent. The way to get the feel for this is to hum, feeling the vibration in the front of your face, around your nose and forehead. And your upper teeth. Then, when you are singing, make sure that you can feel the same kind of sensation in the front of your face. As my voice teacher, Edna Bianchi (retired from the Metropolitan Opera years ago) said, "The tone should have nasal resonance, but should not sound 'nosey.'"

And above all, keep your throat relaxed. Any feeling of strain is a dire warning. Any persistent feeling of hoarseness after singing could develop into a permanent condition. Be warned!

I fell in with some folks who were into opera when I was in my late 'teens and took some voice lessons from Mrs. Bianchi early on, going around blatting tenor arias in a lower key (Mrs. B. diagnosed my voice as being bass or bass-baritone). Then in my early twenties, I heard a couple of good folk singers and got thoroughly turned on to folk music (Light bulb: a ballad is like a mini-opera, an opera is like a ballad on steroids), and resumed lessons with Mrs. B.

Taking voice lessons will not make you sound like and opera singer. Many aspiring young singers wish it were that easy! You have to have the particular kind of voice for opera or "classical" singing, and not everyone does (for example, with all the voice lessons, I sound more like Ed McCurdy or Gordon Bok—or so I've been told—than Dmitri Hvorostovski or Giorgio Tozzi).

Bonus tip: I also took some singing lessons from George Hotchkiss Street, who was a bass-baritone like myself, and one of the most valuable things he worked me on had less to do with voice production than simply putting a song across. He had me bring my guitar to the lessons and sing a few folk songs for him. He would often stop me in mid-song and say, "Now, what does that line mean?" He knew perfectly well what it meant, but he wanted to make sure that I knew, and wasn't just singing the song by rote.

Very important: know what you are singing about!!

Don Firth

P. S. There are a number of good books on singing. One I would particularly recommend for singers of folk songs is Singing Professionally (Revised Edition): Studying Singing for Singers and Actors by Arabella Hong-Young. Arabella Hong-Young is classically trained, but she is more of a singing actress than an opera singer. Most of her singing was on Broadway. Among other things, she created the role of Helen Chao in Rogers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.   Good vocal exercises, lots of good tips applicable to any kind of singing.

27 May 15 - 04:07 PM (#3712273)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Mark Clark

I think Alice Flynn (someone with a truly beautiful voice) posted a lot of information about singing here on Mudcat. Most of it was probably years ago but I imagine it's still around. Do some searching and you'll find it I'm sure.

      - Mark

27 May 15 - 04:27 PM (#3712278)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: The Sandman

use diaphragm execises and sing from the diaphragm. I have a powerful voice as a result of using these techniques

27 May 15 - 04:55 PM (#3712291)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Steve Shaw

I'm nonplussed. I have a very loud, powerful voice and I can sing in tune but I sound bloody stupid. I've always wanted to have a go, but I've always felt I should stick to Irish harmonica. Help me, somebody.

27 May 15 - 05:21 PM (#3712295)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Don Firth

What do you mean by "bloody stupid," Steve? In what way?

Don Firth

27 May 15 - 05:34 PM (#3712302)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?

When I was researching the verb "use" in the sense of "I used to be handsome," one of the sources cited this example:

He took long walks by the sea, to use himself to speaking loudly.

27 May 15 - 05:52 PM (#3712312)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?

The muscles involved in projecting the voice are in the diaphragm. You push the air out from below. You shouldn't feel any exertion in your neck, throat, or jaw, except for forming the right shape for the air to pass through. Practice with a hand placed on your belly so that you can feel the muscles there doing the work, and even give them a little push to teach them how to do it.

Also, it's important to figure out what your range is -- the lowest note you can sing without losing power, and the highest note you can sing without cracking or straining or going off-key. Then practice going up and down in that range. And then make sure you never sing outside of that range. Change key as needed to stay within your range. If your range is limited, then on some songs you may have to use some harmony notes to stay within it.

27 May 15 - 11:10 PM (#3712369)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: GUEST,leeneia

Don, thanks for the info about humming and need to have that vibration when singing.

28 May 15 - 04:15 AM (#3712425)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: vectis

Frankie Armstrong had a cassette tape of voice exercises which is probably now available on CD. A very good basis for practicing but not a substitute for singing lessons from a GOOD teacher or voice coach. I got some lessons from an ex-punk rocker and it improved my voice no end.
Good luck.

28 May 15 - 04:45 AM (#3712434)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Joe Offer

Steve, you can learn a lot by singing with other people. Find singarounds that emphasize chorus song, and then sing along. Make sure your voice matches the voice of the person next to you (and try to position yourself next to the good singers). Don't sing louder than the people around you - the object is to lock your voice to theirs so that you sing as one voice. And when you're able to "lock" with others like that, it's one of the most wonderful things you can experience. And you'll become a better singer very quickly.

28 May 15 - 03:26 PM (#3712577)
Subject: RE: How To Sing With Power?
From: Hopfolk

For me, power came from singing (leading) chorus songs and needing to be just a little louder than the chorus to help them keep time.

When I started with Mudcat singarounds, I could manage maybe 2 songs before aching too bad to sing loudly, but like most muscles, you can
work on the technique over time.

Remember, though... Not all songs are suitable for singing with a strident voice. For example(s)

Stuff I have sung/sing loud:
Ale, Glorious Ale
Fathom the bowl
Ye Mariners All
Thousands and more
Lealholm Anthem

Stuff I have sung/sing for clarity, but cannot exceed a certain volume due to the ornamentation:
Fields of Greenmore
On yonder hill there sits a hare

Hope this helps - and keep practicing.
Don't worry about sounding less than Pro - /the songs are pretty enough to cover it up ^^