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Specifically one aspect of singing.

Before we get to that I would like to update you on the songwriting process. It’s generally going shite. Positives: I’m creating stuff. Negatives: None of it is getting completed are most of it isn’t really songs. I’d defined the problem and listed possible solutions but now everything’s the same again and feels like a struggle. Ugh.

Anyway, singing. As I mentioned previous post, I’d been playing around with the head voice chest voice alternation exercise. I’ve also been exploring making the notes from middle C upwards louder and then something happened with my voice that lead to my current obsession. A cascade of lightbulb moments that lead to The Witch’s Cackle.

My voice teacher from years ago (I only took like eleven lessons with him) made a video describing the difference between head voice and falsetto and it has a couple of short examples of the cackle but not described as such in the video. Then my intuition told me that there was stuff I needed to look in my old notebook as my recordings of those voice lessons were relevant. The notebook had notes on up to lesson 8 so I started there. Boom.

10:00 Strengthening head voice. Pure – Witch – Reinforced

My voice teacher goes into the process of strengthening the head voice and the three stages of it with examples for each. I’ve been able to do the Pure stage for years now, and use variations of it in choir, laughing and just general improvising with the voice. I never did manage to get to the Witch cackle. The co-ordination was out of reach. I’d imitate the examples but it sounded nowhere near.

Now I’m back making many many attempts at attaining the cackle. These past few days have had me trying for hours trying different ways and refining those ways. Interestingly I haven’t lost my voice at any point, it just gets tired and my normal speaking voice gets croaky. From past experience my voice is in bad shape when just air comes out when attempting head voice. During these attempts, tidbits of vocal knowledge learned long ago resurface. I remember reading a tenor blog long ago and that the high range was achieved by a balance of the TA and CT muscles. I can’t remember what TA stands for and I can’t remember how to spell the CT muscles but basically TA is responsible for chest voice and CT for head voice and you can adjust the balance between the two. I reasoned my inability to acquire the Witch Cackle was because the Pure head voice was too CT dominant and needed more TA participation so I created an exercise alternating between low chest voice, around E2/F2, and head voice, around E4/F4, so that I would attempt to incorporate the feeling I felt in the low chest in the head voice. I’ve no idea if this exercise is any good or if the reasoning is correct. It seems like it but when you don’t have a teacher and you potter around in the dark that’s what you get.

The results? I appear to be succeeding. It’s not quite cackly but there’s definitely more body in the tone and volume. It’s not quite co-ordinated so I get things like two notes at the same time and squeezing and forcing too much. I can only do it on one vowel so I’ll need to be able to do all the vowels in this co-ordination.

Technicalities aside, why do I want to learn to do this? Part of getting better at something is the increased potential of what you can do, an increased freedom. With my current voice with its large dichotomy between chest voice and head voice, freedom is lacking. It’s also something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I can’t think of any other reasons than just that strong feeling of desire. There’s this video of James Morrison singing his song “You Make It Real” I come back to again and again as a lovely example of this mixed voice. He has a much higher voice than mine but you’ll hear in the video there isn’t much perceptible difference between the low range and high range. That’s what I want with my voice.

Addendum: here’s a nice article describing TA and CT muscles.

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