How long can you hold a note?

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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:24 pm

I think my problem is that I don't know how to support actively at all. All I have is my natural/free support.

Keeping my lower ribs extended in fixed position while singing costs me nothing. It's like lifting one arm and keeping its position. Not very hard. Am I perhaps keeping my ribs extended wrongly?

Probably I just need to find a way how to keep the diaphragm down with the work of abdominal muscles. But working with doing the movement described by CVT isn't just doing it for me.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:25 am

highnotemaniac wrote:
highnotemaniac wrote:After A4 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


It is possible that you have indeed grasped the basic idea of support, but that you just need to refine it. That is, you need to find the right air pressure for the difficult notes.

How can this be measured? There is a huge amount of muscles working in conjunction to produce that airflow and the right flow depends on both time, pitch, volume and the acoustic setup.

I think that the best approach to expanding the range in any given mode is to work carefully and patiently.
Whenever constrictions kick in, the technique is too imprecise. So there you have a way of measuring if the airflow and the setup are right.

I would do the following:

1 Produce sound for 10 seconds max before starting over. (taking a new breath and relaxing)
2 Start on an easy note and, within those 10 seconds, ascend by one or two notes.
3 Whenever constrictions kick in you stop immediately.
4 Rest and start over
5 Don't be alarmed if there isn't any progress on a given day. You will see progress over a long period of time.

There are a few more things to consider in relation to constrictions:
1 Constrictions really means too much constriction for the mode since modes depend on some degree of constriction.
2 Too much constriction is already part of your technique, and needs to be unlearned.
3 Therefore it is possible that they can occur even if the support is adequate, simply because that is what you are used to.

As a consequence, I would work only to the point where constrictions appear.
It might be a good idea to forget about pitches and just do some vocalizing on an easy vowel, going a bit up and down while not thinking about what notes you sing. Thinking for instance: "Now comes the high E, I know it is difficult" is counterproductive because it may actually provoke constrictions.

Finally, the fact that you can only hold a certain note for a very short amount of time before constrictions appear does not necessarily mean that you dont understand support. It is more likely to mean that you just dont have the precision needed at this time. This will come with patient practicing.

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

Postby highnotemaniac » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:08 pm

I can only partly agree with your suggestions. I know every kind of training needs enough consistency but if there's something fundamentally going wrong then doing something over and over again won't have any positive effect. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

I have taken lessons for about 3 years now and I have improved, incrementally of course, many areas in my singing: pitch, tone, effects, control of volume etc. I have had improvement almost in everything except for my range. So there's something I just don't simply get (or there's something physically wrong with me which I doubt). Otherwise, according to you, there would have been at least some progress range-wise.

Everyone of my teachers has brought up the support so that's probably the case. Besides, I think it can be clearly heard that I'm using too much air. The higher the note the more my vocal cords burst apart when using non-metallic modes or the more constricted my voice becomes when using metallic modes. I wouldn't say constrictions are a part of my muscle memory but more likely my body's response to wrong kind of technique. And I find that's the CVT book's approach to constrictions as well.

Psychological dilemma of thinking too much about the pitch has been suggested many times. However, sometimes I accidentaly end up singing songs in higher key than intended. Let's say the highest note is now E4 instead of D4. It still doesn't work, although I haven't yet realized that it's actually a higher note.

Basically, I'm trying to find something new, a trick etc., to work on with. It didn't for example very long for me to get vibrato when I realized a good way to work on it.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:38 pm

highnotemaniac wrote:Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Couldn't agree more. But how to practice smart?

highnotemaniac wrote:sometimes I accidentaly end up singing songs in higher key than intended. Let's say the highest note is now E4 instead of D4. It still doesn't work, although I haven't yet realized that it's actually a higher note.



So the highest comfortable note in the mode you are going for is D4? Would you say that you have an easier time singing C4 than D4? (that you can hold it longer and that it's more centered)
If so, I still believe that working to improve the notes just below the limit will, if you avoid reaching too far too soon and constrict, have an effect on the limit.


You mention singing a song. (This may be completely obvious), still, you wouldn't attempt lyrics before the easy vowel (for the mode) is completely reliable?
Similarly: You make sure to use the correct vowels when singing lyrics? (the lower end of the 4th octave is really where the correct vowels start to be absolutely decisive, but you probably know that)
Regards
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:06 am

As said, everything starts to get incrementally harder after A3. The more metal the higher the limit is. Doing a decent D4 with Neutral is not possible. At least I can't hold it for very long. Yet constricted Overdrive or Edge I have managed push all the way to F#4 before it breaks to something that is neither a flageolet nor a centered mode. Doesn't matter what it is since it's unstable, not connected and I can't make anything usable out of it.

And yes, I have spent countless hours trying to make Overdrive less constricted around D4-E4 by shaping the vowel, using more or less twang, adding more distinct bite, lightening the sound color. But it's clear that those aren't the solutions for my problem.

Same thing goes with Neutral. The vowels shouldn't matter here so much. A3 is pretty solid and B3 is doable although it's very hard to get it solid (= no air added). C4 is already quite uncomfortable, when holding it for long, since then I'm fighting against the constrictors which wants kick in in order to help with the excessive air blowing through the cords. C#4 still works if I hit it quite quickly. On D4 the breath flow is pretty audible and phonating is very hard, but that note and anything above can barely be considered as "sung" notes.

I can perfectly center the modes on A3 and it's not hard for me to hold on that sensation when ascending pitch, which is what I'm suppose to do.

It's just a fact that if too much air is coming through vocal cords can't handle it. It can't be fought against productively or healthily by just doing adjustments in your vocal tract. I simply need someone to teach me how to use less air by means of supporting correctly.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby funkypou » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:26 am

I also work on improving my support and still need to fight constrictions but they tend to disappear more every day. I use to work with Neutral because I think, at least in my case, that it's the mode that suffers the most from constrictions and the one where you can notice them the most easily.

Usually, I need to warm up before accessing a good Neutral that connects to other modes without breaks. I often do sirens with a really light tone (like airy Neutral), focusing on support and a relaxed throat and not too much on the sound. This warm up helps my body get used to unconstricted phonation. Once you can do sirens without constrictions, you need to add a good amount of twang to get a connected tone. This part is sometimes tricky for me as I find easier to get twang with metallic modes. Furthermore, as twang is a kind of closure in the vocal track, I have to be careful not to mix it with constrictions.

About support, I have noticed that I have more success when I use natural support at the begining and apply more and more strength progressively. If I apply too much strength too early, I have more problems maybe because of a locked support.
I hope my little experience can give you ideas.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:26 pm

I have one question regarding the solar plexus. I have always thought that bulging the solar plexus means the same as bulging the upper abdomen but does it actually mean that the bulge is supposed to be achieved in the area between the upper abdominals and sternum. I'm unable to do that so should I work on it?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:01 pm

highnotemaniac wrote:I have one question regarding the solar plexus. I have always thought that bulging the solar plexus means the same as bulging the upper abdomen but does it actually mean that the bulge is supposed to be achieved in the area between the upper abdominals and sternum. I'm unable to do that so should I work on it?


It is immediately below the sternum.

To me it is like this: It gradually moves outward until the lower abdomen has been sucked in so far that the solar plexus begins to move in with it.

It should also bulge out when you cough, so maybe that is a way to find the movement.

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

Postby highnotemaniac » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:52 am

Can someone explain me the mechanism of pulling in the abdomen? I mean, how does it help to keep the diaphragm lowered? Or is it just a sign of unlocked support? The movement is seen in abdominals instead of as a collapsing rib cage as in normal exhaling? Because if I keep my ribs extended and try to empty my lungs as fast as possible the abdomen is pulled in very quickly. So, I would assume you should postpone the movement instead of doing it actively? Should I even work on with this movement if I know I'm not locking the air flow?
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:36 pm

highnotemaniac wrote:Can someone explain me the mechanism of pulling in the abdomen? I mean, how does it help to keep the diaphragm lowered?

The abdomen is part of the exhalation muscles. So I don't think it helps keep the diaphragm lowered. Instead, I would say that support is about using the exhalation muscles and the inhalations muscles simultaneously. In normal exhalation, we just relax the inhalation muscles and the air escapes the lunges. In other words, the diaphragm returns to its relaxed position. At the same time, some of the intercostals (those that are part of the inhalation muscles) also relax and the rib cages collapses somewhat.
The exhalations muscles are used when we need for the air to escape the lunges at a higher speed (blowing out candles etc.) or when we need to support.
When supporting, we combine the two. The balance is crucial and of course we need to let the exhalation muscles win the battle, or else there would be no air coming out.

highnotemaniac wrote:if I keep my ribs extended and try to empty my lungs as fast as possible the abdomen is pulled in very quickly. So, I would assume you should postpone the movement instead of doing it actively?


This is how it works. There you see how the abdomen is part of the exhalation muscles. When the inhalation muscles are active, we hold back the air. We then use the exhalation muscles to push out just the right amount needed for what we are singing. So you should definitely work on that movement. It is not quite as simple as that though because there are other exhalation muscles involved, namely some of the intercostals.
The trick is to hold back the air during support all the time (inhalation muscles) and then work the exhalation muscles just enough to provide the amount of air needed.

This is my take on it.

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

Postby Mungfield » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:13 pm

Oh, I forgot about "checking action"

The thing is, it is possible to support without using the exhalation muscles at all. This is referred to as checking action. It is simply a matter of gradually relaxing the inhalation muscles. I think this pretty much corresponds to CVT "inner support". It is probably not adequate for singing with great power though. For this we probably need the exhalation muscles also.

I think that we can support in various ways and still achieve the same results. Since there are so many muscles involved of which some do the same jobs, there are probably a great variety of combinations of the above mentioned factors that will work.

Still, to improve support, I'd say that it makes a lot of sense to focus on the simultaneous activation of the inhalation and the exhalation muscles as I explained in my previous post.

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

Postby highnotemaniac » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:26 pm

Thank you for your answers, Mungfield :) They are really helpful. They should put something of that into the book :D I really appreciate that you're sharing your knowledge meanwhile keeping this forum alive :) Anyway, I stumbled across another topic on support you mentioned in Dino's thread. I'm gonna quote one of Jennifer Larsson's posts here.

Jennifer Larsson wrote:I can't say that I have all the answers, for me it has so far been enough to know THAT supporting keeps the air pressure/air flow in check... BUT as explained to me simply, the relation between the air flow and air pressure is this: pressure equals resistance times flow (velocity).

That means we cannot change one of these factors without the other one being affected. We control the pressure with the support muscles (by making more or less room in thorax), as a result from this we get an air flow through the vocal cords, but both these factors are of course dependent on the resistance in the larynx (twang, modes, effects etc.)

This tells me that on a high note the resistance in the larynx is bigger, so the pressure needs to increase ("more" support), but the flow doesn't necessarily have to change. But as I understand it, if we want a higher volume on one particular note with the same resistance (same note, same mode and sound etc), we would need to increase the pressure even more and that will also give us a bigger air flow. Speaking pedagogically, we would of course here have to make sure we don't "push" or force the voice as explained in the CVT book.


I think I have heard about the idea of increasing the pressure without adding more air. But since that didn't make any sense to me I didn't give it much thought. Probably should've stayed more awake during physics classes :D

I would say I can control the actual air flow/amount of air being released pretty well. Not only during blowing or the 'sss'-exercise but also when phonating. Yet controlling the flow (using actually less air) hasn't had any positive impact on my voice. This is probably due the fact that the air flow is the main "pressure supply" to my voice and when diminishing the air the pressure also drops. This usually results Creak or Flageolet below high C because they require less pressure (= less air in my case). That makes sense since I can hold a Flageolet note about a third longer than a regular one.

So, higher notes require more pressure due to the greater resistance of the larynx. And since in my case the amount of pressure equals the amount of air being released, I think my body automatically responds to the higher notes by adding more air. More pressure is acquired yet the excess air is too much for the vocal cords to handle and they burst part in non-metallic modes and constrict in the metallic ones.

I would really like learn more about the aspects of creating higher pressure without using more air and how to achieve it in terms of support. Do I even have a clue here? :D
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:21 pm

highnotemaniac wrote: Probably should've stayed more awake during physics classes :D

Me too.

However, I do believe I understand the point of the equation. The pressure rises because of a combination of more flow and more resistance. If the flow diminishes, the pressure follows. If the resistance diminishes, the pressure follows. (just like squeezing a garden hose)

Based on this, I do believe that there is one thing you're missing: There can bee three reasons for excess air-flow:

1. Too much flow
2 Too little resistance
3 Both.

If you fail to produce the compression (resistance) needed for the metallic modes, it is perhaps possible that you have about the right air-flow even though too much air is escaping. (due to inadequate resistance)

Twang comes to mind, since this is a crucial factor in compression.
The configuration of the vocal tract must change gradually as you ascend. Maybe you don't allow the larynx to rise, which would make it more difficult to twang.
I'm just guessing. Suggesting things that maybe you haven't tried.

Best regards
Last edited by Mungfield on Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby highnotemaniac » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:34 pm

Well, my larynx rises incrementally when ascending pitch. Of course, when I hit my trouble area the rising is hindered but I think it's rather a result of something (uncontrolled constrictions) than a cause. When I let it break into Flageolet the rising continues unhindered again. Like I mentioned before, my problems are unrelated to the modes, so even the most twanged Edge notes won't get me through. And as a CVT-student, I have tried both of those approaches around a couple of hundred times :D

But as for the sufficient compression/resistance, I think you might have a point there. When I have compared my voice for example to my teachers' I have always found my sound much less "brighter" and more "dullier" than theirs, like there's some technical aspect missing, like compression. For quite a while I have been under the impression that it and all the other problems are caused by my failure to support. Which is also what everyone has been telling me.

At times, I have wondered whether I have problems closing my vocal cords properly. A couple of other techniques talk about compression and "glueing the edges of vocal cords together" which helps reaching the high notes. But the exercises related to them haven't done much for me and CVT doesn't mention anything about compression or at least not how to work with it. So, I have always ended up discarding my theory.

Would a physical condition, nodules etc. cause the same kind of problems that I have? The bad adduction complicates achieving the proper subglottal pressure needed for high notes. As a result of that more airflow is needed to preserve the optimal pressure. That only makes things worse because the vocal cords are starting to burst apart. More compression is needed which is achieved with the help of more constrictors. That results overly compressed phonation = uncontrollably constricted metallic mode, which obivously won't take you far. This isn't probably how it would really go but this is just my layman's theory :D

I just had my last lesson with my third CVT-teacher and he said that before I rush to take a lesson at CVI I should go and get my vocal cords checked by a phoniatrician, just to be sure. It's very unlikely that there's something wrong with my vocal cords, my speaking and singing voice sound pretty normal. But he said that he had recently a lecture about mild conditions where the nodules etc. cause only loss of the middle and/or the upper range.

If I do a glissando, while keeping the airflow and the amount of compression steady, I end up creaking/splitting pretty weirdly. It disappears when the pitch is high enough and the Flageolet kicks in. That's partly why I haven't benefited from the lip rolls or humming excercises. Of course I can smoothly switch to Flageolet early when keeping the volume low enough but that obviously isn't the purpose.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qmsa23ifb2ugy ... a.mp3?dl=0

Any thoughts? :)
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Re: How long can you hold a note?

Postby Mungfield » Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:27 pm

I am familiar with that type of phonation.

I have experimented with this a couple of times. Based on my own findings this is what I think:

1. The air-flow is very low. So there is probably little or no activity in the expiratory muscles. Probably checking action.

2. There is very little activity at vocal fold level. You are very close to the lower volume limit and the creaking occurs when you go below the limit.
In this case, when creaking occurs it's because the muscles that stretch the folds relax entirely and only the ones responsible for stiffening the folds are slightly active. This is not surprising since you are working so close to the limit.

IMO this exercise is of little use. You need more air-flow and more activity at vocal fold level.
It is possible to hum with much more power than that.

Maybe you could post an example of Edge or Overdrive in the third octave?

Best regards.
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