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Oversinging/cutting through the mix

glennarNglennarN Enrolled Posts: 33
edited January 2014 in Vocal Health and Wellness
Hello all,

I've recently started to ease my way back into singing after hearing I have swollen chords from an ENT a couple of months ago and yesterday at new years eve, I decided to give it a go. Before I go further I'd just like to say that I'm not used at all to singing in any kind of "live" scenario so a lot of problems may just stem from inexperience but I'd like to hear your thoughts on this regardless.

In this particular instance, I was at a new years eve party where the main attraction for the time being was a full setup of the game Rock Band 3 that probably some of you are familiar with. At this party, practically everyone was smoking and doing so indoors, so I had pretty much no choice but to inhale the fumes. In a nutshell, probably not the best conditions to sing in. Regardless, I made quite a few attempts to sing during the evening but it failed miserably. Rock Band does this terrible thing to vocals where it completely drenches it in reverb so that it sounds like an unintelligible mess and is also mixed fairly low to begin with. What I ended up doing without thinking about it was using this super-bright borderline obnoxious timbre that is kind of similar to Dave Mustaine of Megadeth for lack of better comparison. This actually cut straight through the mix but I felt kind of hoarse almost immediately after one song and I could not reach stuff anywhere above F4 or F#4 and such. I managed to scream out the chorus of Foo Fighters - Everlong on multiple F#4 but it was raspy and really pitchy, and this is typically notes that I do not have a problem reaching at all. I didn't even want to "scream it out" intentionally, it just felt like I was locked in this mode where I could not reach any higher without simply pushing harder. It was overall kind of an embarassing experience :/

Similar things seems to happen whenever I feel like I need to hear myself better, a vocal coach told me that when I was doing this I was actually "sharpening" the tone using by false vocal chords and scraping my chords with too much air. When I went to this coach, we were practicing in this room with borderline zero acoustics so I hardly heard myself at all. This also happens sometimes when I'm practicing over backing tracks, I suddenly feel this urge to hear myself really clearly and the same thing happens again.

I'm curious to find out what exactly is going on when this happens. It sounds to me that I may be using a high-larynx position to make the sound so super bright and I've heard from one of Ken's many youtube videos that you cannot go very high with this larynx position.

What do you guys think?

P.S I do not mean to bash Megadeth in any shape or form. I actually enjoy some of their stuff and I think Dave has made his own sound work for him but that is far from the kind of voice I want to have.


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,357
    edited January 2014


    If it IS a high-larynx position you were using, that does have a tendency to be rough on your cords as you try to go higher. 

    It sounds like the monitoring for Rock Band does not help you to hear yourself without pushing your voice beyond its limits.  That is a recipe for vocal abuse.

    I know that when I have a lot of midrange in a stage monitor that it helps me to hear my voice through a mix.  Rock Band sounds like it gives you a lot of mush.  1k, 1.5k and 2.5k hz helps you to discern pitch and to hear vocals through a mix.

    Using a cheap mic and a television set for a monitor, with no real mixer or equalizer leaves your voice at the mercy of a videogame.  Add to that a loud party with all kinds of background noise, and you trying in vain to do a good job on the vocals, and you get strain as a result.

    The same thing can happen to you if you go to a karaoke bar and register to sing a song you are comfortable singing.  The song starts, and suddenly you realize that the version they are using is in a totally wrong key for your voice!!! You try anyway, and it's a blowout deluxe.  You strain, you ruin your voice, and you sound terrible, and go down in flames.  Not a fun scenario.  Epic FAIL!

    When you find yourself in such a situation you need to bail out as soon as possible.  The longer you sing in this compromised mode, the more damage you can do, and possibly the more recovery time your voice will need to recuperate.


  • glennarNglennarN Enrolled Posts: 33
    I wish I knew if it truly was a high larynx but it sure felt like it. In short, it felt like a slightly choking sensation when I was trying to hit higher notes and the acoustic space was noticably smaller compared to when I would be idly practicing at home or such. I think I can replicate the sound of that timbre at some point in a demo so that you can hear what is going on. I've been meaning to record some pre-KTVA practice demos now that I've kind of decided to get back into singing again, but that will probably have to wait a little while, my voice does feel kind of mushy after that incident :(

    And yeah, I should have bailed way earlier, but I'm really damn stubborn at times and with a couple of beers to my head that personality trait probably got amplified a fair bit :P
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,357

    The truth be known, I was startled to see my larynx rising when watching a practice video I made.  It was happening totally without my knowledge.  I saw the rise happen and heard what happened to my voice, and I was like "DUH!"

    Ken describes the sound of high larynx as "froggy".  To me, sometimes it can be "chipmunky".  I was doing it trying to brighten my tone, incorrectly. 

    The cords get really crowded in the cramped space of a high larynx.  If you learn what it is and how to recognize it in yourself, you can learn to reverse it and normalize your larynx position.


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