Hey, I supposed to sing Nessun Dorma pretty soon for my Vocal Coach, but I'm really struggling on the head voice notes. When ever I transfer to head voice it just doesn't have near the power that my lower register does and for Opera that's not acceptable. Any suggestions or hints? And If possible I would love for Ken to do a vocal demonstration of this song.
I just listened to a Pavorati YouTube of Nessun Dorma and I didn't hear much head voice there at all. Maybe you're singing a different movement from the work?
The piece I heard seemed to be full chest or perhaps a mixed voice going up to a B-Flat4 then up to a B4 then sustaining on an A4 as a climax ending. These notes are powerful, and head voice wouldn't quite do them justice. Although you can fortify a head sound to not be so hooty, head voice is by nature, less powerful sounding than chest.
This would seem to make the case for stretching chest voice and employing a mix. It's not going to be something you can achieve overnight, if you're not already there. You have to learn to achieve the note on the cord without tension in all the surrounding musculature. Pavaroti made it look easy.
I believe that the E4 that Pavarotti sings very softly, and then gently crescendos, sounds too soft to be full-on chest, but sounds too connected to be pure head voice.
Since Pavarotti was obviously a very strong tenor, it is probaly safe to assume that an E4 was well below his passagiatic limit. That said, perhaps he is utilizing the technique that Ken touched upon in the Saturday Webinar, where, AFTER MASTERING stretching chest higher and higher, you can THEN go back and begin to master stretching HEAD lower and lower, down to, say, as low as an A3 or G3, and then MIX the blend that you want of head and/or chest.
So what I'm saying is that MAYBE Luciano was giving us a soft mixture of chest mixed with just the right amount of very low (for him) head. I think that any of us would agree that this is one of the most beautiful moments in this piece, and its beauty lies in the contrast to the rest of the powerful singing. The tone is magnificent! Dynamically, it creates a moment that is incredible in the center of the piece.
SO, to go back to the original question from freedom, this one-and-only moment of head-like voice in the song is a moment that should not sound powerful from volume and tone. Its power is in its frailty and vulnerability, before he turns the piece around and he knocks your socks off at 2:10 and then again at 2:30. Just because a note is higher than most people can comfortably sing in chest voice doesn't mean that one of the greatest singers in the world couldn't sing that note in chest, head, or any amount of either mixed, to perfection.
The vowel on the note in question sounds to me like an "A" (as in hat, but soft, not bright).
None of us should be beating ourselves up if perhaps we don't sound quite as spectacular on a particular note as, say, Luciano Pavarotti. ;^)
Also, I too do believe that that note at 1:26 is a mostly head voice note and he slowly brings in more chest to add the meaty-ness into it. Personally I don't think he does any vowel modifications? x_X? I think Ken can shed some light on this ! Also, on his last note, did you guys notice his tongue? is curled up backwards and bloated up high . It looks different from Ken's lizard tongue technique. I suppose that is one of the reasons to how the vowel sounds sound dark? o.o?
If I was a bettin' man I'd say that old Luciano was a-holdin' his tongue in the "NG" position at the end of this here piece. But that would only be if I was a bettin' man...
I don't want to stir up no trouble 'round these here parts, so I'll just mosey on over yonder fer now...
Nossir, I don't want to stir up no trouble...
(part 1 of 2)
I'd like to comment on several things.
The first thing is about Pavarotti's note.
It is most definitely a mix of chest and head, using air and massive support to sustain open throat. It is the ONLY way this works and it is understandable and can be re-duplicated.
I have been engaged more ridiculous arguments on MV forum that I just decided to let people (from their Ivory Towers) believe whatever they want and yet NONE of them are demonstrating what they espouse with their own instruments.
Hans you make some good points however some of them are misplaced.
Yes it is true, if you noticed I have always said to push "down" and not "out" for true - full spectrum appoggio diaphragmatic support.
You quote Tenelli a lot. Please don't set him up as God of explaining the voice.
Even in these demonstrations here, he talks a good came and has a big sound in his lower registers, he talks a lot about head voice in fact this video below he says Covered Sound confusion is over. (I'll get to that and his comments on vowel modifications in a minute).
In this video here, he is actually singing quite low. (certainly not a full resonant high C).
(Pavarotti actually disagrees with him in his terminology http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo6dDQiBGyI&feature=related )
Franco is also correct on the amount of massive support it requires.
Here's where several things that sit outside of what Tenelli has neither experienced or can legitimately prove by actual demonstration.
In this video here, you have a who's who of explaining great technique and you will notice a reference to bel canto in the late 1700's.
Tenors being referred to as "singing in the mezzo / soprano ranges"
Here is where I disagree with Tenelli and can and have proven it over and over. This was done apparently back the in the 1800's and was lost.
A true mix voice can happen in the passagio for the male high bari or tenor anywhere from an E4 all the way to an A5. And any percentage of that mixed voice depending on one's massive support (hence the tendency to regurgitate and choke off the cord)
Pavarotti refers to "covered sounds".
Here's where we get into trouble.
There have been a change once again in the actual definition of a term "covered".
The term covered actually refers to the "darkening of the sound."
Legitimately this term could be used from going from an open throat ah (law) vowel and "covering" this sound closing it down to an Oh (low) to an Ooh (who).
Notice Pavarotti talks a great deal about the relaxation of the cord as does Tenelli. Tenelli denounces vowel modifications while Pavarotti actually demonstrates them. Interesting.
Through the spectrum of the voice, as you ascend a scale the sound MUST close down or it will do EXACTLY what Pavarotti demonstrated in the video I posted. It will get to wide and "splat" and become impossible to control. Hence axiofacto proof the vowel sound is modifying on ascension and "re-opening on descending.
Let's now take this a step farther.
Neither Pavarotti or Franco demonstrate or legitimize any claims beyond the high C for the tenor from a belting standpoint or a true mix voice standpoint.
Yet all of us who grew up on Micky Thomas, Steve Perry, Brad Delp, Miljenko Matijevic, (Plant to a certain degree) stand there scratching our head saying this isn't supposed to be right.
We get 3 choices:
A) they are freaks and super human
they were born with naturally high voices
C) they have learned something that goes beyond what traditional bel canto etc. can explain or prove by demonstration.
What I have spent the last 30 years of my life learning is, that I have taken the most in depth parts of bel canto and pushed them to their ultimate limits (I'll explain this more in a second), by taking the principles even farther than they were intended. The vowel modifications allow me to belt way into the female soprano range. (here's my proof not just talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMdB6SCx-vU )
Let's get back to covering: Covering can mean as I have shown above, the simple way to explain "modifying a vowel sound".
It can also mean a dark ugly raised or hyper lowered larynx position.
(part 2 of 2)
Let's get back to what Tenelli said about the larynx "not moving".
Again I vehemently disagree with him on this point. Though (as you know) I espouse a lowered larynx position (especially for belting with open throat) a raised larynx position is some of my favorite sound for the voice.
Here is a sample of a raised larynx http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8LI-XtOlxA
and :of course this classic voice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEuKkcX1uKA
Now notice especially with Paul Rodgers (since he uses much more range than Carrack) that the moment he "goes up" he immediately drops the larynx. This is the only way to do this safely.
(this is also true for jazz greats like Holiday etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs )
OK, now let's add one more extreme component to this: Hyper compression. (distortion or the concept of deliberately fatiguing the voice for that smokey distorted tone).
With even more support, and a greater control of what I call the diaphragmatic vacuum "snap" when pushing down, airflow can be predominantly controlled in the lung through the vacuum pressure while using the glottis to hold a firm closed down position allowing for this sound.
Again here's the thing: Tenelli is correct when he says open throat can be a dangerous thing.
Here's the reason:
The moment you surrender your support and allow it to go to the throat, you are placing a massive amount of pressure and stress on the glottis and risk impairment.
It is for these reasons I stress and have put in succession the order by which to work out these components in order to maintain long term good vocal health.
Again, the proof is in the singing.
I wanted to mention one more thing about the larynx position.
I often use a "moving larynx" (yes you heard me right) as a release valve when I have over compressed a distorted sound and get locked down on the cord to free myself to go into the upper registers. This can be a VERY effective release valve when done correctly.
For those just starting out, try not to move the lowered larynx position at all until you have built up the mechanism to support and sustain your full range otherwise you are creating moving targets for yourself.
Hi Ken, Bob and Kokonuhtz
I have this
reply to Ken:
You for Your great answer - I`ve learned a lot from it - and it
opened my narrow sight-range.
I am not an
expert on the subject and I don`t sing opera - but after watching all
those Tenelli-videos few weeks ago and having heard Tenelli say that
Pavarotti didn`t use vowel-modification, it was my opinion
that "Dramatic tenor
Opera- singing demands extreme good support", and
that analyzing Pavarotti's note in
terms of vowel-modification was wrong.
this question: Do You agree that singing dramatic Italian opera
demands far more support than singing pop and Jazz?
how to sing bel
convinced that Pavarotti uses vowel-modification - (by
covering he does`nt just mean darkening by lowering
the larynx )
I have one
last question: You mentioned "dark
ugly raised or hyper lowered larynx position". Don`t You agree
that what is ugly when singing singing rock, pop etc can
be beautiful when singing opera? Well - of course it
depends on how well the singer can support that hyper lowered
can see, that I now should stop mentioning Tenelli (I only have one
God) but .......... it`s about Nessun Dorma and I have found
this video where Tenelli sings Nessun Dorma (at 5:50 in the video) .
Unless You compare it with Pavarotti`s performance, I would say
that he does a good job.
I am familiar with Franco's Nessun Dorma (I find it interesting he lowered it a half step and only hits the B and not the high C and if you listen close he pulls chest on his AA (ay) vowels.
He has the ah vowel down. Yes he has a big voice, yes he did a nice job.
If we are only talking about opera / bel canto it's fine.
If we are talking about going well beyond these specific perameters, it can never be sustained for high range belting.
And in answer to your question, bel canto requires about 3-5 times the support of pop / jazz music.
Heavy rock that incorporates bel canto requires even more than that.
There is one concept Franco is dead on the moeny and that is this:
In virtually every interview you see of Pavarotti describing how he hits the high notes he says he "sees / visualizes the notes before hits them."
I do this as well. Except it's more the concept of the elevator I use in my series. (meaning that it is not so esoteric as "seeing" the notes but assuring people that if the support is there with the correct vowel sound, it's not about the heighth of the note, it's about the placement. (i.e. seeing the note before you hit it).
With that said (and I am glad someone has brought this to light as I have tried to) and that is this.
DO NOT COMPARTMENTALIZE THE VOICE. Do not think of it in terms of chest voice / break / head voice.
THINK OF IT AS ONE VOICE. It is not separate. If you can grasp this concept, you will find bridging is our greatest nemesis.
One more thing, I am not trying to diss Franco's version of Nessun Dorma as Pavarotti started the singing it in the key of B way back in the early 80's.
My main point is that he is not singing even middle (high tenor) C.
Notice the ease of the B http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VATmgtmR5o4
Please don't stop mentioning things like Tenelli have to say.
It's excellent for discussion and he has excellent information.
This is true for when Bob talks quotes people like Karyn O’Connor.
I LOVE about 70% of what she has to say about the voice.
I just have a personal difference in things I have physically experienced in contrast to textbook discussion.
Tenelli is a very well informed and talented person to learn from. But far from the end of the story.
Thank you for your inspiring and engaging posts.
Yes, this string has been a good ride. I've viewed all of these videos before, but this is a great learning experience, and Ken's perspective on these concepts is right on the money.
I am talking about the lyric dramatic tenor sound ( Richard Tucker, Jonas Kaufman, Corelli, etc) and not the light sounds of a leggiro tenor (Rockwell Blake). Many rock singers I hear sound more along the lines of the leggiro tenor. Just my thoughts and I realize I maybe completely wrong. Cheers.