Question about Vibrato and Head Voice
I would just like to say thank you so much for the #1 secret article. It’s helped with so many of the issues with my voice and makes it sound better and feel healthier.
Would I be right in thinking that vibrato is only really possible when the breath is “held back” as it seems to have finally started developing naturally after years of trying to start it without success.
Also, going into head voice feels easier and cleaner but I still am having some trouble going in full voice up to say top G. How would you recommend training this transition?
You’re welcome. I’m glad to hear it has helped you find improvement. Yes, you are correct about vibrato. But there is one more detail between cause/effect.
Coordinating the breath allows the vibration of the vocal folds to be more pure, small and regular. The size and regularity of the vibration is represented in the vibrato.
Also, coordinating the breath so the vocal folds vibrate purely allows the throat muscles to remain relaxed. If the breath is released the throat will close, at least to some degree, so the freedom of vibration is not possible. When this happens they also hold the vibrato.
There is a quote from Lamperti that I think of when discussing this topic, “Don’t hold the tone. Hold the breath and spin the tone.” The way I explain that is we need to hold the breath through suspension and release the tone so it can resonate.
This can be difficult to differentiate. When we try to hold the breath we tend to hold the tone. And when we release the tone we tend to release the breath. But it can be done and when we strike the balance we get good results. Which include a nice vibrato.
I always say that the vibrato is a symptom. It tells us the condition of our vibration. If it is lacking it tells us the throat is holding the tone and the vibration is not freely accessible.
If the vibrato appears to be slow it tells us that the vibration is too large and loose. The nice, spinning vibrato we hear in well coordinated voices is the result of a small, pure vibration. Hope that helps.
Full Head Voice
Going into the high range is the final challenge in the development process. If you are still working on staying balanced in general I would recommend letting yourself go more pure head voice when going above the staff.
This is so you avoid the all-to-common situation of reinforcing with throat muscles and relying on too much air pressure to sing high and full. Again, it traces back to a pure vibration and keeping that balanced while increasing the pitch and keeping the intensity.
At the same time we can’t overrule nature. The vibration must shrink as we go through the transition at the top of the staff. And we as the singer experience that as our voice getting quieter. So if we try to experience as much sound as we do in the middle range we will force the voice.
So I always tell people to feel a slight diminuendo when ascending into the high voice. We feel we want to crescendo, which is exactly the opposite of what we need to do.
If we crescendo we will increase the size of the vibration, or at least keep it the same size as the note we are coming from. Which is too big for the note we are going to. So it is the same as getting bigger because we aren’t allowing it to get smaller.
We have to understand that as we go up in pitch the resonance and acoustics become more responsible for the tone and the vibration becomes less. So we have to make sure we are providing our full potential for resonance to take place.
One thing that can help is to think you are going into head voice. Which is what we actually should be doing. We need to understand that it isn’t the vibration that makes it full voice. It is the amount of energy.
So going to G full voice is mechanically the same as going to G quiet and light. The difference is the reinforcement from the greater energy of air pressure. But this is only true if the vibration is pure. If the quiet vibration is breathy and loses its focus it will get forced when you add the increased energy.
And this also depends on having a good resonance form available to amplify the tone. As I said above, the resonance is more responsible for what we hear in the high range than the vibration. So we need to make sure we provide it or the vibration will be overworked.
And obviously all of this doesn’t just happen by itself. It requires a thorough understanding of the instrument. And, unfortunately, I can’t give that to anyone through writing. This really requires good guidance. Because you basically have to experience something never before experienced.
Hopefully this will give you some idea of what to do in your attempts.