How long can you hold a note?

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How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:28 am

I have been practicing on holding long notes for a while now and I'm stuck around 20 seconds. I made one of my non-singer friends to try this and he could hold a note for over 30 seconds! I know it's also a matter of lung capacity but could this indicate that I have relatively poor support? I release the air too fast which is why I can't reach high notes?

I always thought 15 seconds is enough based on the sound library example 3. I can do the 'sss'-exercise for about 50 seconds before I end up on the "negative side" of support ("blowing"). I know the exercise isn't the same as singing because in that case you can also manipulate the airflow with your mouth cavity. But I assume that by being able to hold a note for like 40 seconds (= using less air) it would unlock the high notes for me. Do I have a clue here?

I discovered that after 10 seconds my rib cage starts to collapse and it's beyond my control so I guess I need another muscle group to pitch in. Since I have never really get the whole "pulling in the abdomen around the navel" -concept I think the problem is found there. I can make it to happen but I think I'm just doing it with the outer abdominal muscles to make it seem like it's done correctly. My abdominal area doesn't seem tight like when supporting hiddenly incorrectly but I would say that's still the case. Also, it seems that the muscles in my waist aren't really coming outwards either. Any helpful ideas?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Kaare » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:05 pm

Try to feel expansion at your lower ribs when inhaling.
Keep the ribs in this position while you exhale.
Make sure they remain extended.

Practice this many times.
Notice that the abdomen by the navel moves inwards.
Feel the contracting of muscles at solar plexus.

This is similar to the movement we need when singing but just muuuuch slower.
Now sing an even and long note and focus on the same thing - keep the lower ribs extended while the abdomen works its way inwards slowly.
Don´t support actively but just maintain the position of the extended ribs.

You can do the same thing with the sss exercise and prolong the exercise by using a smaller and even sss (one that only you can hear).

Makes sense?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:23 pm

Am I on the right track when thinking that I should learn how to phonate by using less air than I normally would? I think I can manage to do that on very low volumes (without it being a flageolet) but increasing the volume without adding any more air seems pretty hard. Is it just something my vocal cords need to adapt to (increasing the CQ without adding more air or blocking the airflow completely) or is there just a fine line between using too little air and using too much? Should the air flow remain somewhat constant when altering the volume/modes?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:18 pm

Okey, forget the earlier post. It seems that my abdominal muscles (especially the lower ones) contract whenever I start to sing which is a sign of hidden incorrect support. It seems the attack and the contraction of the lower abdominals are somehow related to one another. The contraction is clearer the higher the pitch is. My teacher said that it's probably something that I'm used to do and that I should work it out of my muscle memory. The tricky part is the fact that I have troubles making a proper attack while trying to keep my lower abdominals relaxed and my ribs extended. This is actually easier to perform with "lavatory support" but of course that means no support at all, but at least the lower abdominals are not contracting so much. Any helpful tricks?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Kaare » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:30 am

Same thing as ssuggested earlier:

"Try to feel expansion at your lower ribs when inhaling.
Keep the ribs in this position while you exhale.
Make sure they remain extended.

Practice this many times.
Notice that the abdomen by the navel moves inwards. (Slightly contract)
Feel the contracting of muscles at solar plexus."

This is what you need to do when practicing with sound.
Same movement, same sensation, just muuuuuch slower.

An attack is just a beginning of a note in a certain mode.
If you experience problems with an "attack" you are really experiencing problems in the mode you are singing in.

Start "easier", less "energy", less ambition to "control".
Sing as if you are half asleep on your couch and for some reason you decide to go "EH" (stay) in Ovedrive - remembering the bite, the medium loud/loud volume.
Produce the sound as easily as possible - think (initially) hardly any movement/"no movement" at the abdomen/solar plexus - just a slight contraction within the muscles themselves.
Of course, the harder the notes = the more contraction.

Makes sense?

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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:07 pm

Okey, I think I can now manage to keep my ribs extended while the lower abdomen is pulling in gently by itself. The faster the movement the more air is being released which eventually made me realize that the "tension" in the lower abdomen, experienced especially on the higher notes, is not actually tension. The lower abdomen is just being pulled in faster because more air is escaping due to the fact that the stretched vocal cords can't hold the air pressure that I'm able to use on the lower notes. The "forcing" phenomenon can be heard even though I'm only trying to produce a note in Neutral. The other options are breaking into Flageolet or letting in the constrictions and continue with constricted Overdrive until it breaks into something weird.

I can do the "sss"-exercise or blow a small and even stream of air through my lips for about 45-50 seconds. I just don't know why does my body add more air when phonating. I probably didn't use the term attack correctly. I just meant that every note is produced "wrongly" right from the start because the air is flowing too fast. Is there a trick, other than keeping the ribs extended, to support more and this way preventing the lower abdomen from going in too fast? The ribs are really as extended as possible. But I do feel a little movement in them when starting a note, like a very little jolt.

Is it the right assumption that when ideally supporting the same amount of air is used regardless of the pitch or the volume?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:21 am

Just a little update here: I think it's possible, that when it comes to the 'sss'-exercise or just blowing a stream of air through my lips, I might control the air flow (= making it smaller) by closing something in my throat. This is probably why I can't transfer the same sensation to my singing because the constrictions are already present and the result of that act is just a plain creak.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Kaare » Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:20 pm

Then forget about the sss exercise and Work on some of the other support tools.
Simply sing with the lower ribs extended at all times.
Expand gradually at the solar plexus spot while singing or focus on the gradual inwards movement by the navel.
Remember to simply keep the lower ribs extended and do not work actively to sustain this position before you feel that you have to, in order not to lose this very position.

The sss exercise is not a vital one, so if you cant transfer the sensation to actual singing, attack from a different angle.

Makes sense?

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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:34 pm

Okey, when I sing the longest Neutral note as possible (17 seconds) on a comfortable pitch while concentrating on keeping my lower ribs expanded I experience the following things:

- After 2 seconds my lower abdomen starts pulling itself slowly in while the solar plexus starts expanding the same amount.
- Around 8-10 seconds I feel a gradual expansion starting around my waist
- Near the end around 14 seconds, when all the previous movements are at their max, my rib cage starts to collapse until I'm out air at 17 seconds.

After A3 the higher I go the faster the movements mentioned above become until they last less than a second. Holding long, steady notes becomes harder and the constrictions get worse on every half step until my throat is completely clogged around E4. This clearly indicates that I run out of support faster than in my lower range. I can rely more on my throat doing some of "the support" on the lower notes?

Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm getting this right. But it seems that I should rather try to postpone those movements than doing them actively. The movements just indicate that you're not locking things up? If this is true I should probably concentrate on my back muscles and keep the ribs extended with the help of them.

I would still like to have an answer to the question I previously posted (I rephrased it a little bit). Is it the right assumption that when ideally supporting the air flow is constant regardless of the pitch, the duration of a note or the volume/mode?

Case: So my longest note in my comfort zone (F2-A3) is around 16-20 seconds and pitch wise I get into trouble around D4. Let's say I'd manage to sing a proper G4 by learning to support = holding back the breath = using less air. Would that also mean that I would be able to sing longer notes than 20 seconds in my comfort zone?
Last edited by highnotemaniac on Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby funkypou » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:24 pm

highnotemaniac wrote:Is it the right assumption that when ideally supporting the air flow is constant regardless of the pitch, the duration of a note or the volume/mode?

The airflow isn't exactly the same for every vocal configuration. For instance, you obviously use more air with Neutral with air rather than pure Neutral. But the idea of support is to use the minimum amount of air that you need to produce the note without constrictions :

Too litle air = not enough pressure to produce the note
Too much air = too much pressure and constrictions helping the vocal cords stay closed

When supporting, there is an idea of balance. The airflow isn't exaclty always the same but in my opinion, the differences have to be very subtle so keeping the image of a constant airflow might help you stay between the boundaries.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:59 pm

I kinda thought that you're suppose to use even less air when using Neutral with air. I mean the resistance of the vocal cords is then at its lowest, so wouldn't literally adding air ruin the delicate vibrations and invite constrictions? I thought when doing Na ideally you would rather "pull" the cords slightly apart or "close" them very loosely than actually adding more air.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby KillerKu » Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:00 pm

I think it depends really heavily on how breathy the note is, possibly the pitch of the note, how much air I grabbed. The sss exercise was very helpful for me although I didn't learn it from CVT. It's like an age old thing for me, one of the few good things I picked up in the stone aged era of unreliable 'internet people saying random things' days.

But ultimately your goal seems to be singing high notes, not singing long notes? It's true that higher notes require some carefully metered airflow and generally less for any given timbre (mode) you're using, but it's one component of many.

You kind of answered it yourself that your friend can sing 30 seconds of note, and no high notes, right? I think the answer is almost there. I mean, there are enormous aspects of singing, so if your goal is higher notes, then a turbo long note is kind of really specifically not even that goal? So you could probably beat your friend and still not gain any new notes.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:17 pm

Well, using my friend as an example wasn't probably the brightest idea. But like I mentioned, it's also a matter of lung capasity. So guess he's naturally prone to have longer notes than I am.

My problem is clearly the fact that I'm using too much air. This is why I can't can't sing high or as long notes as I'd like to. So fundamentally thinking, if I learned how to support more that would unlock me both high and long notes. What I'm going after here is that, is the mechanism for supporting long and high the same? If so, then by achieving the other goal I would actually achieve them both.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Kaare » Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:11 am

"But it seems that I should rather try to postpone those movements than doing them actively."

Like mentioned earlier:
"Produce the sound as easily as possible - think (initially) hardly any movement/"no movement" at the abdomen/solar plexus - just a slight contraction within the muscles themselves.

Remember to simply keep the lower ribs extended and do not work actively to sustain this position before you feel that you have to, in order not to lose this very position."



"Case: So my longest note in my comfort zone (F2-A3) is around 16-20 seconds and pitch wise I get into trouble around D4. Let's say I'd manage to sing a proper G4 by learning to support = holding back the breath = using less air. Would that also mean that I would be able to sing longer notes than 20 seconds in my comfort zone?"

Absolutely! But 20 seconds is quite long already.
Generally:
Keep the focus on practicing the gradual support but dont forget to learn about the various tricks, positions, volumes, sound colors of (that can help to sustain) the modes.

Best regards
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:46 pm

As Kaare continually stresses, one has to economize support. E.g. make as much as possible use of the free support and work slowly etc.

But sometimes it can be difficult to find a very low support value. Thus, some singers tend to begin phonation with too much tension in the core.
I have found it useful to locate a completely relaxed position by going to a very high support value while emptying the lungs as much as possible and then letting go completely of all tension in the lower core (all the way down to between the legs). This will result in an automatic inhale and a completely lax starting point.

Some singers may find this useful. Others already know how find free support and gradually add active support.

Best wishes
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