April 16, 2007

It's been awhile

Well, I've been slacking on actually writing in my blog about my progress. So, here's a sum up of the last week or so of what's been going on vocally with me.

I Attempt
Fair House
De Que Me Sirve

I'm still struggling with a full on vocal engagement. I'm still finding it with drawn out notes and using "Ah" vowels, but creating it throughout a piece stands as a huge roadblock. Other road blocks include the dynamic use of my lower breath in conjunction with my upward chest space. I have been focusing on creating that stabilizing space in my upper chest and a forward sound in an upper "dome", but disregarding my gut. To practice this, I have been imagining that to create the sound as I am singing that I have to hold up the ceiling and floor, thus making me push my energy up and down. It's been quite a struggle.

With I Attempt, like the others, I am still searching for the sliding spectrum that will connect my voice into one coherent instrument--instead of a choppy stop 'n go machine. I've gone as far as pretending I'm drunk to get the desired effect--I have a hard time cognitively slurring words together or delaying consonants. I think theatrical and journalistic speaking have made me focus on those hard and crisp consonants. But I think the Spanish piece, "De Que Me Sirve," I will get a better feel for this. The composer doesn't let you sit on words very long and creating a coherent lyric depends on the ability to slur them together. Those dotted eighths and sixteenths are killing me.

Oh, I forgot--beyond all of this I need to start making these pieces make sense and dramatic. There's definitely a dam lodged between my brain when trying to apply what I've been practicing and learned about the vocal process and conveying the feeling of a piece. I seem to still be at a point when I can only do one or the other.

I really want to do the Spanish piece, but I'm worried that I won't get it prepared in time. It is definitely one of the most challenging pieces I've tried. I also need to practice my Castillian. When I practice the piece, it seems I tend to lisp more and more on consonants that I shouldn't. Z's and D's John--Z's and D's.

"I Attempt" is coming through now that I'm finding a better flow to my voice and I am more at the performance frame of mind with this piece. I am disappointed and frustrated with "Fair House" because of my studio showing and just general practice observations. It was the piece I had a breakthrough with finding my true vibrato and the stability to belt that high A flat at the end. Now I find myself struggling through the pessagio, even to the point that I feel like I'm yelling on pitch. I must have changed the way in which I support and push through phrases--I feel light-headed after practicing. Maybe it's a good thing in that I'm using muscles and abilities that don't get used much--but the sound to me sure doesn't say it. Especially with this piece, when I think about connecting the notes or slurring, I begin to modify immediately. That's a problem I've dealt with forever. When in doubt, my head thinks I should modify--That's how professional singers sound, right? Speaking of which, E's are coming around and I don't have to think about not modifying them as much, but other vowels which I haven't are starting to slip when I don't pay attention.

I'm still confused and trying to keep my mouth shut when singing. Making the cognitive correlation that the wider my mouth is doesn't help loudness still creates tension in my head. I feel that I muddy up songs when I think "don't open too wide..." and then I forget to use my lips and tongue to enunciate the words.
It's a delicate dance this singing is methinks...

March 22, 2007

Stupid throat.

Well, I've not had a rehearsal with my voice teacher in over two weeks now. I'm not happy about it because of the recent breakthrough, but what can you do? In addition my voice has been dry and scratchy due to illness and weather making my personal rehersal time short. But here's to pluggin' away.

It's been awhile but I've practiced Close, Attempt and Fair House. I've been focusing on getting those high notes up in my pessagio to be tighter and narrower to get that full vibrating sound. Sometimes I confuse that with tightening my throat and folds, but through practice and thinking brighter vowels I seem to be getting the desired sound. Close is probably the closest to be fully performance ready. I just need to remember to keep snarly and not dig into the lower notes. I've done that in practice--forgetting that when I ascend that my voice has a hard time shifting gears into an upper register. Attempt is better. I'm still not 100 percent pleased with it. I feel that in trying to make the eight notes flow together that I begin to sound nasily. I feel a buzz in my nose and I don't like the sound that I'm hearing. But as I've been shown before--it's always different than what someone else hears. So, I'll find out next time. I love Fair House. Damn that's a good song. It hangs up there in my pessagio, but it moves quickly and has wonderful exercises in the vomit feeling. It's been awhile, but I think I'm getting that A flat at the end to work fairly well most of the time. I just need to remember to take my time and get the support I need. Plus, it's just a great high note to hang on and milk. Hey, what singer doesn't like to milk high notes? I think that throughout, however, that my vowels and consonants are mushy. Perhaps they sound differently to the audience, but I'll need to find that out next time. But fain would I change that A flat note...

March 8, 2007

Passaggio Pushin' Please

I Attempt
Fair House

Close is getting there in terms of legatto but I need to polish letting the lows be snarly and just be. I can still find myself wanting to dig into those notes like a baratone because I think the sound is lacking. I just need to keep reminding myself that when I hear the recording that it is full. The highs are resonating well and seem to be the sweet spot I'm looking for to completely training and understanding what actively engaging the voice really means and feels like.

Which brings me to Fair House. I love singing the octave jumps in this and that high A flat in the last stanza is a homerun in terms of vocal technique and sound. I just need to figure out how to make that translate into a moving melody--especially with these eighth notes which I have a hard time getting off of in time. I'm attacking each vowel with a sharper focus and brighter sound. My modifications seems to bleed themselves back into my voice when I try to make it more connected and leggatto.

Which brings me to I Attempt. It's coming along, but I can't for the life of me still get those descending and ascending eighth's to connect. They still pop most of the time--although once and awhile I get it to work, but then loose it. Frustrating.

But, I've taken it a bit easy after that. My throat is soarer than it's ever been and I know it's not from singing. Damn winter.

March 5, 2007

Wow. What a difference a voice recorder can make.

Basically, hearing myself (even if muffled and distorted a bit) does wonders. I have been taking into account what my instructor has been telling me and trying to utilize those techniques, but I would still come back with the same old habits. Hearing the difference, not in my head, truly flipped me on my head. After practicing the "vomit" exercise and hearing how much I can slide and still have it be acceptable has made my practices freer. I'm really excited to work on polishing these pieces.


Close Every...
Fair House of Joy--per your request I read the text aloud. I also created a scene in my head to help the feeling. I really think that thinking too much about technique does take away from getting me into that place where I am freely singing.
Vomit scales--god I love that name.

It was a rough start to Fair--I started just singing on an O vowel to get the melody down after reading it.
The octave jumps really get me into that place where the voice is completely engaged and allows a natural vibrato. And I love that final stanza with the high A--fun stuff. A problem I am finding is that I don't get off the eight notes quickly--I tend to drag. I'm going to blame my consonant problem on that. I need to work on getting to the vowels quicker to help move the piece along. I began marking where I plan to take breaths in the piece--I'm finding that the allotted rests don't give me enough time to better prepare myself for the octave jumps. Overall, I'm really excited for this piece and glad that my instructor chose it.

February 23, 2007

Go again here we

I Attempt

Vowel exercises

Very frustrated right now. I know fully well that I try to control the sound and always ever so slightly constrict my throat and vocal folds. I don't like the sound that is coming from my mouth and finding it difficult to balance all the variables I needed to better my sound. That said--I'm all for hitting the grindstone...but not much more today because my throat is hurting.

I'm finding that my upper scale is difficult today. I don't know what note it is because I didn't have a piano with me to practice.

I'm having a hard time with the breathiness factor most of all. Throwing in crescendos comes easily, but I find that I'm cracking, which my voice teacher tells me that is a good thing--coming to a breakthrough. But, that frustrates me even more because that means I'm close to letting go. I want to let go, but I don't know how to let air freely flow and vibrate my folds. Ugh.

February 22, 2007

Entry the Third

I Attempt...
Close Every...

Worked on brightening my vowels and sound as much as possible. I wanted to be told that I was too bright and I reached that goal. I still am having problems completely relaxing my vocal folds and allowing them to vibrate. A natural vibrato still eludes me at this point.

I am finding that my throat is scratchy and hurts by the time I'm finished practicing. It's either a cold or I'm using my voice incorrectly. I'm also finding it hard to raise the volume of my voice without hurting my throat.

I Attempt...
Close Every...
Worked on E and O vowels

So I'm too bright. Yes! Time to think tip of the tongue. I'm not supporting up in my chest. I need to be more legato on the eight notes in "I Attempt." The latter has been proving to be difficult for most of the practice. I think I'm trying to balance too many variables at a time.I tried using crescendos in warm ups and through the songs and to fully support them. Overall I felt I was getting closer, but I still try very hard to control and manipulate the sound coming out of my mouth. It's been frustrating me to no end. I'll focus on a breathy sound and forget my vowels. I did finally get through the fly phrase with legato, but I didn't like it in my head. It sounded round, but I felt it was resonating in my nose. I also felt I achieved legato by sliding--which I've always been told was a bad thing--if that sounds better I need to unlearn that. Overall, I think there's a lot I need to unlearn.

February 12, 2007

Next entry

Haven't been getting them in directly after rehearsing...
Most have been a few minutes here and there while dish washing or driving. But here's what I've done and found:

I Attempt...
Close Every Door

Focused on brightening the sound until it is uncomfortably so. Then contrasted it with over-modifying every vowel.
Focused on breath and using it up on every musical phrase.

I've found that the brighter and more air I use, I can hear and feel more vibrato in my voice.

Problems with the descending eighth notes at the bottom of 54 and top of 55. Need to work on supporting and keeping it legato.

Otherwise, I've had to keep my rehearsals short. My throat has been sore either because of drainage or I'm using my voice incorrectly. I think it's the former.

February 8, 2007


Areas of reherasal:
Vowels vs. Consonants

Songs Rehearsed:
I Attempt from Love's Sickness
Close Every Door
Bring Him Home

Continue reading "02.07.07" »