My take on support

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My take on support

Postby Dino » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:07 pm

Hi all,
I've been reading the threads on support with great interest. It really can be confusing when you don't "get it" physically...and when you do "get it" physically you don't bother with the details any more. :D

I think I've managed to figure out quite a bit about support that I'd like to share. When I fail to support, I can usually understand intellectually why I failed. That helps me a lot when I do a second attempt. And as much as I would like to help people out by answering their questions, I feel it's a lot easier to give my own version uninterrupted, from start to finish. And by all means, *please* correct me whenever I'm wrong. And I probably am dead wrong in several places, haha!

These are the characteristics of support, IMHO:

1) Support is not exhalation. In fact, it's almost the opposite. It's about holding back the breath.

2) The airflow is controlled by using several muscles in the flanks, back, pelvic basin, solar plexus and lower back. This is laid out in beautiful detail in the book.

3) As these muscles tense, they grow in girth, thereby exerting a pressure on the lungs. A bit like a bagpipe player pressing his elbow on the bag. With practice, you can control this pressure to a very high degree. You can also balance the force with which you hold your breath back with this tension. This is why it feels (should feel) like a tug-o-war between two opposing forces meeting in the middle. The main point is that the five tensed muscles are what squeeze the air out. This also explains nicely why you are out of support when the muscles (for instance in the solar plexus) are all the way out.

4) It's nearly impossible to sing using support alone. Maybe in low volume airy neutral, but it will likely wear your voice. The airflow has to be restricted by placing an obstacle, or all the air would escape. The obstacle highly influences the sound. This influence affects how the long closed phase of the cords is, how big part of them vibrate, etc. Examples of obstacles are tension in the back wall of the mouth (creates overdrive), distinct twang (Edge, ELN, MLN) or hold (Curbing). Many teachers call this obstacle "compression", which I find a confusing term. Sure, the air is "compressed" somewhat as it passes the obstacle, but I still had a hard time getting it. The obstacle, to me is similar to putting a mouthpiece on your garden hose. If there's no mouthpiece on, you have a broad stream of water that doesn't go very far and quickly exhausts the well. If you put a mouthpiece on, though, you can shoot a highly focused, straight ray of water 10 meters and still hurting the guy you hit! With less water.

5) For the above reasons, singing *has* to be about inhaling, supporting, exhaling, and so on. The amount of air you use for singing is nothing compared to breathing.

What do you think? Did I get it right? The reason I'm writing this down is because I was really missing this. If someone had explained support to me like this when I was starting, I would've grasped it much sooner.

/Dino
/Dino
Dino
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:31 pm

Re: My take on support

Postby Mungfield » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:39 pm

Dino, I think you've got some of it right, but I don't agree with everything you say. If you'd like, you can read my take on support in this very recent discussion:

http://completevocalinstitute.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15263&start=15#p67543


You can also read this rather lengthy discussion from earlier. Jennifer Larsson chimed in at the end of page 3 and onward with some pretty interesting knowledge ( If I remember correctly, her husband is a doctor)

http://completevocalinstitute.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=13873

Best regards
Mungfield
 
Posts: 107
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Re: My take on support

Postby Dino » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:07 pm

That makes a lot of sense. It's not the muscles getting larger per se that pushes air out of the lungs, but the muscles are actually exhalation muscles. That is a bit confusing at first, because the most effective way of exhaling (normally) is to just let the diaphragm go, and that will push the air out just fine. So there are actually three things going on: the diaphragm is kept low, the inhalation muscles are working, and the exhalation muscles are working, too. The first one we can't control voluntarily, we can only fight with it. Eventually it will win, but by then we're to exhausted to sing anyway.

I think this is as far as I need to go anatomy-wise. The rest I accomplish by my own mental pictures (pretend I'm blowing up an inflatable mattress, that my lungs are a giant dome that I need to keep from collapsing, that there is an elevator going down into the pelvis as I'm supporting. Yadda, yadda) Back to practice!

Thanks a lot for the links!

/Dino
/Dino
Dino
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:31 pm

Re: My take on support

Postby Mungfield » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:42 pm

Dino wrote:So there are actually three things going on: the diaphragm is kept low, the inhalation muscles are working, and the exhalation muscles are working, too. The first one we can't control voluntarily, we can only fight with it. Eventually it will win, but by then we're to exhausted to sing anyway.


Just a few things:
Firstly, the diaphragm is part of the inspiratory muscles (inhalation muscles, just found the correct term). Secondly, we can, to some extent, control the diaphragm voluntarily on the exhale. This is checking action, which is a gradual relaxation of the inspiratory muscles including the diaphragm and some of the intercostals.

Still, when we are not using checking action to support, we are indeed fighting the urge of the diaphragm to return to its relaxed position. This can be put differently: We must use more and more energy to hold back the air (inspiratory muscles) as times passes after each inhalation.
At the same time, we must continue to provide power to the expiratory muscles, because we cannot rely on checking action at that point. You probably cannot go from active support back to checking action.

Best regards
Mungfield
 
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: My take on support

Postby Dino » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:31 pm

Hi, thanks for keeping the thread going! You are right of course. But how does the part "when the muscles are all the way out, you've run out of support " fit into this? It's like some muscles have reached their final position. But is it the inhalation or exhalation muscles that reached the end? I sure hope this question makes sense. :lol:

/Dino
/Dino
Dino
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:31 pm

Re: My take on support

Postby Mungfield » Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:13 pm

I would say that it's definitely the expiratory muscles and possibly some of the inspiratory muscles as well.

It seems that we don't know exactly how breathing works: On wikipedia you can see that "There is some controversy as to which muscles may be considered accessory muscles of inspiration"

You will also see that many of the muscles of the torso (including the lats, and pecs) "have also been observed contributing to the breathing". Exhalation or inhalation? Apparently, it is not known.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscles_of_respiration

Personally, when I reach the limit of support, I have a lot of muscular activity in the upper and middle part of my body including the lats the abdomen and the waist.
The muscles of the loin are also very active at that point. They have been engaged in a battle with the abdomen, a battle which the abs have won.

I think it's useful to practice these extremes now and then, but I don't think it's something you want to use too often in singing. Better to simply breath more often and avoid those extreme support values.

Best regards
Mungfield
 
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:26 pm


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