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Beginner tenor trying "18 & Life" (higher key) - help with correcting mistakes

This section is for non-seasoned people right? I don't want to post among the heavy-hitters. I have little experience of singing actual songs from end to end.

So I recently recorded a full song for the first time I would like to know what went wrong and if there is actually something that is good.
The backing track is the original. I just removed the vocals. I then took it up 1/2 step to fit my comfort zone. In the original key there is a lot of G#4 and I have a bad habit of pulling weight up there and sounding really shouty/screamy. With the A4 I am forced to ditch weight, so that's better. The key itself thins the sound a bit for sure, but I am more interested in the technical aspect of how I can improve the vocals. Keys can always be changed later to accomodate specific situations.
Track is really raw. Only added compression because I found an understandable factory-preset. The vocals sound boring and naked. But then probably it's easier to spot the mistakes.



1. The recording stinks, the mix w/ the playback stinks as well and I have bad equipment and bad microphone behaviour (moving back and forwards a lot). IMO it lacks some low end. Not sure why. High notes also sound much smaller than how I perceive them when I listen live in headphones.
2. English is not my 1st language. I have to work with some vowels.
3. I have problems with the onset. It's hard to find a working tone and the note value to start with. Too much mask at the start? I didn't have time for a 2nd take.
4. Bad consonant approach - T, M, K & P in particular. The sound travels up in the nose area.
5. I could not use direct monitoring, because there is a strange echo when I turn it on. So this was done with internal pitch reference only.
6. I got caught badly on the word "wind" when it ends with "through the wind" - felt constricted. Not sure what went wrong.
7. I have a small voice to start with. Is it too weak singing like this? Bad support?

I don't know if this is regarded as a high song, anyway I didn't feel any problems singing in that range. Just in terms of note values. Despite the mistakes I think I am generally comfortable here. No pulling sensation. Only when the consonants close down the throat it's uncomfortable.

@Klaus_T - Sorry, it's like the 100th time I have asked you, but if you have time to give some expert opinion it would be great.
@Terence , @Wigs - We spoke before. Maybe you have some ideas.

/Nick

Comments

  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    The track didn't show up? 2nd try.

  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    Cr**. Does it work now?

  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    www.soundcloud.com/nick-burganowich/18-life-d-minor
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    I don't know. I guess I'll have to post the link in a PM to anyone who interested to help.
  • ElaraElara Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 326
    I have trouble with SoundCloud links, too. It's okay to post it as a text link as you did above.

    I tried to view it but it says that the file has been removed.
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    @Elara Thanks for the info. This could be my own fault, because I changed the name of the track and it might have caused the link to malfunction. Or I did something wrong when sharing the link.

    Now I have created a private share link since this clip is not public.
    on.soundcloud.com/NT6PW

    That works for me if I try to view it without being logged in.
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340

    I'm glad you risked a bold example, @INFJ as it makes it easier to zero in on issues. I would put this song in the very difficult category as it requires a head voice as strong as chest and a chest stretched to bridge fairly high. That is, if you intend to approximate the performance on the original or Joao's version, below. I've been working on these things but can still only sing parts of this one. It's not the high notes but the continuous bridging from high chest to chesty mix that are the challenge.

    The moderators might have a different view but I would risk saying your head voice is not yet strong enough to receive your chest where this song requires (on original key or your 1/2 step higher.) Which volume are you at right now? For me, I'd have to dig into vol 4 exercises for the next several months while making sure to have at least two vol 3's between each vol 4. I would then make a kind of vol 5 exercise out of the melody of the song without the vowels attempting to thicken the mix where the song requires. In fact, I just did that while writing this and it shows me what a technically difficult song this is.

    Listen to how thick Joao's head voice is where he mixes to sing Skid Row songs. If you look, you can find an example of him singing 18 and life, as well. This is he and Ken discussing how to sing Skid Row.

    How to sing skid row - Ken and João
    https://youtu.be/KWZl1TY0_BA
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    Thank you so much for your thoughts @Terence !
    I think that is a true assesment what you said. It's not strong enough. Although I do believe the recording process and quality is not doing the tune much justice. I don't know for sure, but I have an intuitive thought that something is off with my recordings. Maybe not by much, but something seems odd. A little bit too thin.

    I am working the same volumes as you do. Toggling between 3 and 4. Volume 4 for 3 months now. Not sure I have worked the falsetto enough on the low end. That might be one issue? I know KT said we should aim to have a wide grid where we can mix the sound.
    I started going down to F4 and lately I tried to bring the headvoice down as low as possible, which is C#4-D4 in my case. I think that's the bottom. I have worked it a lot and I don't think I can do a warmed up C4 in head. The pull back to chest starts already at Eb4-E4.
    I think my weakest spot in this recording is around A4. That's where I am supposed to be starting a good mix, but it's difficult to find the correct setting.
    In pure head it didn't sound good either. I dont know if it is the recording or just me. I must be able to do better than that. I was pretty far away from the mic there also, which may not help.
    I don't have any other complete songs, but I have a snippet from the high part of Dream On where the head sounds better IMO. Would be good to know if this headvoice sounds like it has been worked enough up top or not. If that's acceptable I can focus more on lower head notes and see what happens.
    It's not a dangerous strategy to work full range headvoice in the exercises is it? Or can that somehow weaken the mid range notes? I know it can pull on pure chest, but can it thin out the midrange mix? I always go as high as I comfortably can in vol 4 and 5. So I quit at C#6 or D6 depending on daily form. Ken Tamplin said he worked out to C6, which made me think that what I am doing should not be counterproductive. Maybe there is a story around this which I don't understand.

    Here is the headvoice clip:
    on.soundcloud.com/oHLQs
    It's a full step up (yes, I like to experiment with keys lol). I had to let go after half the toggle, because I cannot sustain it that long.

    What did you think about the pitch in 18 & life?
    Is there anything in the song which I can keep as it is or should I try to sort of reconstruct it from scratch?
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340
    INFJ said:

    ...Although I do believe the recording process and quality is not doing the tune much justice. I don't know for sure, but I have an intuitive thought that something is off with my recordings. Maybe not by much, but something seems odd. A little bit too thin.

    The recording is fine for what we're discussing here. Here are some links for nailing it:

    https://forum.kentamplinvocalacademy.com/discussion/1162/kens-studio-equipment-list-from-the-studio-recording-webinar

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKI4SFj86Ws

    The equipment does the work. With a great mic and preamp, you can see that the settings on the preamp and compressor are pretty slight.
    INFJ said:


    I am working the same volumes as you do. Toggling between 3 and 4. Volume 4 for 3 months now. Not sure I have worked the falsetto enough on the low end. That might be one issue? I know KT said we should aim to have a wide grid where we can mix the sound.
    I started going down to F4 and lately I tried to bring the headvoice down as low as possible, which is C#4-D4 in my case. I think that's the bottom. I have worked it a lot and I don't think I can do a warmed up C4 in head. The pull back to chest starts already at Eb4-E4.

    Did you mean C#3-D3, here? If so, then it's not your hv range but the ping you want to encourage to appear in your hv now. For reference, I'm nine months into vol 4's and hv ping came in strongly about three months, ago at which time getting into a stronger mixed voice became easier. My journal says I had done 55 vol 4 workouts by then, 10/29/22. It comes in slowly. Today, some exercises are done with an almost annoying over-the-top "bee gees" sound. The loud hv ping comes in at Ab3 to C5 where the sound becomes soprano-like until G5.
    INFJ said:


    I think my weakest spot in this recording is around A4. That's where I am supposed to be starting a good mix, but it's difficult to find the correct setting.
    In pure head it didn't sound good either. I dont know if it is the recording or just me. I must be able to do better than that. I was pretty far away from the mic there also, which may not help.
    I don't have any other complete songs, but I have a snippet from the high part of Dream On where the head sounds better IMO. Would be good to know if this headvoice sounds like it has been worked enough up top or not. If that's acceptable I can focus more on lower head notes and see what happens.

    Same comment as before applies here, too. Your range is great but you need that pingy head voice strong enough to receive your upper chest.
    INFJ said:


    It's not a dangerous strategy to work full range headvoice in the exercises is it? Or can that somehow weaken the mid range notes? I know it can pull on pure chest, but can it thin out the midrange mix? I always go as high as I comfortably can in vol 4 and 5. So I quit at C#6 or D6 depending on daily form. Ken Tamplin said he worked out to C6, which made me think that what I am doing should not be counterproductive. Maybe there is a story around this which I don't understand.

    Not dangerous as long as you're supporting and not over-blowing your cords with air to reach the top. It doesn't lead to thinning out the midrange, either. The "tearing" at chest is from lower hv work C3 to F4. But the stronger your chest voice the less time it takes to fully recover; maybe as soon as the next day in the first 20 minutes of your vol 3 workout. But a big vol 4 day can easily take out your mid-range chest and take some time to recover if you're not careful.
    INFJ said:


    Here is the headvoice clip:
    on.soundcloud.com/oHLQs
    It's a full step up (yes, I like to experiment with keys lol). I had to let go after half the toggle, because I cannot sustain it that long.

    I missed this link and will listen and comment in a separate post.
    INFJ said:


    What did you think about the pitch in 18 & life?
    Is there anything in the song which I can keep as it is or should I try to sort of reconstruct it from scratch?

    Any pitch problems you had were due to lack of ease in making the transitions, IMO. I would save the whole thing as a reference for later. When you get your head voice really pinging and then get a stronger mix going with vol 5 you're going to end up rethinking through all the transitions for your newly transformed voice.

    Again, I'm glad you went for a bold and tough song as it makes for more to think about and, hopefully, some useful comments.
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340
    INFJ said:


    Here is the headvoice clip:
    on.soundcloud.com/oHLQs
    It's a full step up (yes, I like to experiment with keys lol). I had to let go after half the toggle, because I cannot sustain it that long.

    It's great that you can get all the way up to this Bb5 with relative ease! With range out of the way, the road is cleared to work in that ping!
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    I really appreciate the feedback @Terence !

    So it's not so much a question of chest stretch, but instead a lot of lower HV vol 4 workouts? This whiny sound at A4-D5 is that because the headvoice gives in when chest side is applied?
    How much of this can also be created by consonant glottal stops? I seem to have a lot of trouble with those.

    I mean it bounces back to chest on C4 if I do vol 4. There is a pull and then HAH and I cannot continue in head anymore. It was said in the volumes that sopranos could start mixing as low as C#4 and tenors a couple of notes below that. I seem to be more inclined to start where low sopranos start.
    I have had some of the "Bee-Gees sound" in head. It's not always there though. Especially not from F#4 and downwards.

    Thanks for the clarification. I thought it was high headvoice that created the pulling of chest notes. I had some of those problems early on, but seems the more chest exercises the less of an issue it became.

    Thank you for listening to the headvoice clip. Then I am probably fine if speaking in terms of just range. Need to work on that ping and see how this song feels after 1 month, 2 months etc.
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340
    INFJ said:

    I really appreciate the feedback @Terence !

    My pleasure. I'm actually finding it helpful to seriously contemplate a voice other than my own.
    INFJ said:


    So it's not so much a question of chest stretch, but instead a lot of lower HV vol 4 workouts? This whiny sound at A4-D5 is that because the headvoice gives in when chest side is applied?

    Chest voice is the house so I don't want to de-emphasize it. In fact, the original and Joao's cover is in upper chest as much as a chesty mix of head voice above A4 or so. It's that chesty head voice mix that requires a strong head voice with lots of ping to receive chest though, yes.
    INFJ said:


    How much of this can also be created by consonant glottal stops? I seem to have a lot of trouble with those.

    We all do. See vol 6 where Sara Loera and others are going through a full lesson with Ken trying to correctly navigate the glottal stops of a few Heart songs. It's work even for those with quite developed voices.

    Later, you'll be reworking the consonants and vowels to avoid glottal stops when in the final stages of mastering the song. See Ken's very latest webinar on that which is an excellent summary.
    INFJ said:


    I mean it bounces back to chest on C4 if I do vol 4. There is a pull and then HAH and I cannot continue in head anymore. It was said in the volumes that sopranos could start mixing as low as C#4 and tenors a couple of notes below that. I seem to be more inclined to start where low sopranos start.
    I have had some of the "Bee-Gees sound" in head. It's not always there though. Especially not from F#4 and downwards.

    On vol 4 exercises we keep in head voice only emphasizing the ping and with no intention to mix. I recall Ken citing those notes for where we start to mix on vol 5 workouts, though. I'm glad to know you're getting some ping. Ken can keep it pretty well all the way down to C3. I can follow him down there in hv but my bee gees ping stops at Ab3 for now. It's getting lower and lower over time.
    INFJ said:


    Thanks for the clarification. I thought it was high headvoice that created the pulling of chest notes. I had some of those problems early on, but seems the more chest exercises the less of an issue it became.

    Same here.
    INFJ said:


    Thank you for listening to the headvoice clip. Then I am probably fine if speaking in terms of just range. Need to work on that ping and see how this song feels after 1 month, 2 months etc.

    It would seem so, yes. You may need to be patient on the timing. I find that big improvements in a specific area have to be integrated into the rest of the voice and can often reveal issues that were not obvious before the improvement.

  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    Thanks again @Terence . Really helpful.
    I took a few days of practise just to determine how I handle the vol 4 exercises, before making any furthter comments.
    I'd say your initial evaluation was spot on! I noticed the headvoice is considerably weaker below Bb4.
    Bb4 is head is fairly ok. It has Bee Gees ping, I can add volume and it resonates. The lower I go the weaker it becomes. I felt it already on the A4. On the G4 I tried to add volume and nothing happened at all! Just blowing more air. So this is absolutely the area to work with.

    That's pretty good if you can follow him all the way down there! I did see your abstract template of the ideal baritone voice in another thread. Pretty interesting.
    I think for me the mix will be C#4 as the lowest starting point. Not sure where I hand it off completely to pure headvoice. It's probably E5ish. On the E I feel the tension coming back once again, similar to what is happening at A4 where I need to ditch weight and try to mix the two.

    Thanks. I watched the Heart songs and there is a lot to learn from those clips!

    I put another file on Soundcloud (just the 1st verse of the song Urgent by Foreigner), so if you or anyone on the thread has any feedback I would appreciate that.
    This one is easier as the bottom is a lot of E4-G4 where I don't have to start the mix. When it goes up I hear the same problems as before. The only thing that sounded good up top was the "got fire" part. I felt the upper teeth being exposed and it resonated, so was probably fairly well placed IMHO.
    I backed off the volume in the end to see if that helped at all, but was no difference. It had that weak sound with a lot of mask, which I find really irritating.
    on.soundcloud.com/c6VF2
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340
    INFJ said:

    Thanks again @Terence . Really helpful.
    I took a few days of practise just to determine how I handle the vol 4 exercises, before making any furthter comments.
    I'd say your initial evaluation was spot on! I noticed the headvoice is considerably weaker below Bb4.
    Bb4 is head is fairly ok. It has Bee Gees ping, I can add volume and it resonates. The lower I go the weaker it becomes. I felt it already on the A4. On the G4 I tried to add volume and nothing happened at all! Just blowing more air. So this is absolutely the area to work with.

    Awesome, great to have the right target for development.

    Sure enough, where there is ping I can swell the loudness. No ping, so loudness control.
    INFJ said:


    That's pretty good if you can follow him all the way down there! I did see your abstract template of the ideal baritone voice in another thread. Pretty interesting.

    Just gotta keep on your vol 4's, and it will come. They can't be slammed sequentially due to the need to put them between two chest workout sessions.

    Glad you saw that template. When drawing it I noticed relationships that were not obvious when just singing. e.g, one's highest note in HV is ~ 1 octave higher than the highest one can stretch chest before releasing to head.
    INFJ said:


    I put another file on Soundcloud (just the 1st verse of the song Urgent by Foreigner), so if you or anyone on the thread has any feedback I would appreciate that.
    This one is easier as the bottom is a lot of E4-G4 where I don't have to start the mix. When it goes up I hear the same problems as before. The only thing that sounded good up top was the "got fire" part. I felt the upper teeth being exposed and it resonated, so was probably fairly well placed IMHO.
    I backed off the volume in the end to see if that helped at all, but was no difference. It had that weak sound with a lot of mask, which I find really irritating.
    on.soundcloud.com/c6VF2

    Probably easier to sing for you as it skips over the problem area?

    It made me think of Supertramp and maybe "Long Way Home", and "Logical Song" would be good developments songs for you.
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    Thanks for the suggestions @Terence ! I appreciate that. I had a listen to the studio recordings and some live versions and he appears to be a lyric tenor. I will find a backing track and try them. They seem to be in a comfortable place. He has a smaller voice, just like me.

    Yes, Urgent doesn't move up and down as much as 18 & Life does. I think the problem is when I had to drop down and there no strong mix going. Then the problems build on each other. Urgent seems more straightforward. It hovers at comfortable E4-G4 notes and then moves up to the B4 briefly. Easier to do than to negotiate D4-A4 and F4-A4 constantly as my headvoice doesn't offer any help on the way down.

    I am working Vol 4 now and trying to think about this stuff. 3 Vol 3, 2 Vol 4 and one Vol 5 on Saturdays just to see where I'm at. That's my current schedule.

    It makes sense with ~ 1 octave higher between max HV and max chest connected. For me it may not be one full octave, but close. I haven't tried to push HV to new altitudes for a while. I practise to the C# and sometimes the D. I think Eb is on the fretboard because I saw on the frequency graph that I am like a few hz away. But I think this needs to be built slowly. Doesn't feel right to push it and get that nasty cord ripping sound.

    Do you have any recorded material or are you still working on it? INFJ types will be quite the perfectionist, usually.
    But I felt I needed to let go of that and get some feedback and lreevaluate things. It's hard to determine from my basement what is objectively good vocals and what is not. I have reached the stage where I have accepted to hear my own voice, which is good.

    Here are some other recent recordings. They are up for criticism from thread visitors.

    English Eyes (Toto fans will know it, but it's not among their most popular songs)
    on.soundcloud.com/WTeT1
    The onsets are difficult for me. I know I was off on the high note. Started too early.

    Rock n roll (Led Z): This was in my defense mostly playing around. The pitch was not great. Lot's of Cs but this is A maj so shall be no Cs. Some ad-libs which were not thought through lol. I just wanted to stretch HV.
    on.soundcloud.com/F546a

    Here I go again (Whitesnake): +1 on the key. I have zero Coverdale sound, but was worth a try. Tried to belt out the G#4 in the early stages of the song but didn't even sound that heavy.
    on.soundcloud.com/rQLyG

    Positive and negative feedback is appreciated. Which one of these 3 was most acceptable? Personally I think the Toto song is probably to one most suitable for my voice. I remember Ken T saying that Kimball sings with a small sound and a lot of it is in the front of the face. That's basically what I do as well.
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340
    INFJ said:


    Do you have any recorded material or are you still working on it? INFJ types will be quite the perfectionist, usually.
    But I felt I needed to let go of that and get some feedback and lreevaluate things. It's hard to determine from my basement what is objectively good vocals and what is not. I have reached the stage where I have accepted to hear my own voice, which is good.

    Agreed on the infj tendency towards perfectionism and it's worth the risk to post to get feedback. I'm not working on songs right now as much as development. Specifically, the hard slow work of getting that thick connection Ken demontrates on the last seven vol 3 exercises. I have my work cut out and am just putting in the time.

    Two things posted in the forum for different reasons:

    Armistice Day, written/recorded 1998
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtJwBFGEwSI

    In response to a request by another student for slider examples, I posted this last June:


    I also sing at church and am experimenting with vocal chains and mixing and trying not to get sucked in too deep. Should have it nailed down pretty soon.
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    Thanks for sharing @Terence ! That's a nice song of yours! So you have been in the game for some time then.

    I am continuing with the headvoice as suggested. Today I noticed the A4 has started to ping as well. Good volume control and strong bee gees sound. I guess these notes will come one by one over time. Still very hard to get any headvoice going below C#4. But if I could mix well from like the D then I probably can do all the stuff I want to.
    At the moment there is not much mix going on at D4-E4. It sounds very weak. Useless for songs.

    Do you think that when the mix is strong between say E4-A4 that it could assist me in trying to stay away from this extensive use of mask in my vocals?
    I feel it really wants to flip to this frontal position at the A. I guess it will take the path of least resistance. But it sounds weak and amateurish.
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 340
    INFJ said:

    Today I noticed the A4 has started to ping as well. Good volume control and strong bee gees sound. I guess these notes will come one by one over time.

    That was quick and great news. You must be workin' hard on it, then.

    One by one? Mmmm, the range from D4 to B4 may emerge together, IIRC. Either way, it's a good sign. Don't forget to keep on your chest stretching in between.
    INFJ said:

    Still very hard to get any headvoice going below C#4. But if I could mix well from like the D then I probably can do all the stuff I want to. At the moment there is not much mix going on at D4-E4. It sounds very weak. Useless for songs.

    D4 -> F4 is key. You don't have to be able to sing a song in head voice there but the more ping you can get, the easier to bring your mix online.
    INFJ said:

    Do you think that when the mix is strong between say E4-A4 that it could assist me in trying to stay away from this extensive use of mask in my vocals?
    I feel it really wants to flip to this frontal position at the A. I guess it will take the path of least resistance. But it sounds weak and amateurish.

    Probably, yes. Mask can be a useful aid but not something to be used as a crutch. You'll want to have the option to use it but not require it to mix.

  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 81
    Yes, I have worked pretty thorougly on it. Mixing it with chest also.
    The chest appears strong enough. The headvoice has grown a little bit at G4-G#4 now, but seems this will take some time.
    I cannot bring it below C#4. There is a big speed bump there. No matter how little volume I use it wants to bounce back to chest.

    For a time reference I recorded 18 & Life again yesterday. Just to see if it sounds any better.
    So @Terence or anyone else who listened to the original track (or can do it now), I'd like to know if there is anything that sounds better now after almost 2 months from the initial recording.
    It felt somewhat easier than the last time. I think I got more power in the high notes as well. I tried to stay away from mask as much as possible. But sometimes I could not help it. I know the original artist uses a lot of mask, especially live.
    But let's hear some feedback. Maybe there is no difference.
    I found the delay plug-in so that makes the recording sound a bit better. I took the lightest preset available, so it wouldn't be too strong. The key is the same as on the 1st attempt.

    on.soundcloud.com/KaxiQ
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