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Falsetto

Related threads:
Help: Tips on singing falsetto? (57)
men singing high (28)
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Ron Davies 06 May 10 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,Unknown 05 May 10 - 02:53 PM
M.Ted 08 May 07 - 05:35 PM
GUEST,Russ 08 May 07 - 12:00 PM
Stringsinger 07 May 07 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 06 May 07 - 08:11 PM
Azizi 06 May 07 - 03:21 PM
Bee 06 May 07 - 12:48 PM
Mr Happy 06 May 07 - 11:26 AM
Azizi 05 May 07 - 08:34 PM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Dec 03 - 02:05 AM
M.Ted 03 Dec 03 - 07:15 PM
Joybell 03 Dec 03 - 06:35 PM
The Fooles Troupe 03 Dec 03 - 05:46 PM
M.Ted 03 Dec 03 - 04:56 PM
PoppaGator 03 Dec 03 - 04:32 PM
NightWing 02 Dec 03 - 07:54 PM
M.Ted 02 Dec 03 - 06:35 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Dec 03 - 02:55 PM
M.Ted 02 Dec 03 - 12:52 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Dec 03 - 05:31 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Dec 03 - 04:57 PM
PoppaGator 01 Dec 03 - 03:47 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Nov 03 - 08:08 PM
PoppaGator 26 Nov 03 - 06:19 PM
GUEST 25 Nov 03 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Himself 25 Nov 03 - 10:52 AM
Joybell 24 Nov 03 - 05:22 PM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Nov 03 - 07:49 AM
Moses 24 Nov 03 - 07:39 AM
Dave Bryant 24 Nov 03 - 04:59 AM
Joybell 23 Nov 03 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,Lyle 23 Nov 03 - 04:06 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Nov 03 - 03:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Nov 03 - 01:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Nov 03 - 12:19 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 22 Nov 03 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,pdq 22 Nov 03 - 04:20 PM
M.Ted 22 Nov 03 - 04:10 PM
M.Ted 22 Nov 03 - 04:08 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Nov 03 - 12:10 PM
M.Ted 22 Nov 03 - 10:15 AM
The Fooles Troupe 22 Nov 03 - 08:10 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Nov 03 - 10:26 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 21 Nov 03 - 10:01 PM
Burke 21 Nov 03 - 09:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Nov 03 - 08:32 PM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Nov 03 - 08:34 PM
Joybell 20 Nov 03 - 04:50 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 20 Nov 03 - 04:24 PM
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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Ron Davies
Date: 06 May 10 - 09:04 PM

This is a very worthwhile topic. Thanks to Jerry for starting it back in 2003. I think the link between falsetto and yodeling is especially of note (no pun intended, of course).

I have a strong falsetto-- enough to sing the tenor as strongly as virtually all the other tenors including all the notes, on several demanding pieces like the Vaughn Williams Sea Symphony. In fact without falsetto I have a lousy range--only about one and a half octaves. Falsetto doubles it--now at least. Since I can also now sing low C's (the one 2 lines below the bass staff).   I used to only be able to hit low F's.

But without falsetto I couldn't be in any choral group.   Instead of that, I've been for about 20 years in a big group which has performed in places like the Royal Albert Hall and Spoleto (the one in Italy). Our usual venue is the Kennedy Center concert hall.

I owe it all to (decades) of singing with the Beach Boys in the car (Frankie Valli is just suicide).

In choral groups a huge emphasis is placed on a smooth transition between full voice and falsetto.   So I have in fact learned that.

However, it makes yodeling totally impossible. Yodeling wants to put the break back into the voice that choral groups have declared verboten.   Can't do it at all. All I can do is whistle the yodel.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,Unknown
Date: 05 May 10 - 02:53 PM

I'm a male, my voice has broken and I'm not gay. I speak in falsetto all the time! Especially when I'm surprised or laughing. I think it's because when I get excited I take shorter, quicker breaths and it's easier to use my head voice rather than have to project through my chest voice. I've noticed that my grandad does it a lot too... maybe it's genetic!


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 May 07 - 05:35 PM

My information comes by way of Alfred Metraux work, "Voodoo in Haiti", in which he discusses the voice qualities and the deities that they are associated with. You can read him for yourself and decide what basis there is for the assertion-


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 08 May 07 - 12:00 PM

Stringsinger,

Too much generalization here.

There is no such thing as "The style of singing for mountain type music"

Everybody does it differently.

For example,
If we look at female traditional singers from the Southern Mountains of the United States,
"Some sing low, some sing higher"

Maggie Hammons Parker, Pocahontas County WV, always preferred to sing high. She often apologized for not being able to sing as high as she used to. My wife is from Eastern Kentucky. She grew up singing high and thinks that might have been a regional preference.

On the other hand,Sheila Kay Adams (NC) comes from a family a low singers. She and her mentors tended to sing in the same range as their speaking voices.

If you want to hear a "mountain type" singer sing falsetto, listen to Maggie sing "Wicked Polly." She starts high, then goes higher, and then enters the stratosphere. Not everybody's cup of tea but astounding.

My guess that a preference for high singing owes as much to the classical European female singing tradition as it does to anything else.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Stringsinger
Date: 07 May 07 - 06:02 PM

Jerry, I think you are right. The style of singing for mountain type music requires a hard edge to the voice not unlike the women who sing in Bulgaria. With this extreme use of the voice which almost shouts, it's unlikely that the people in that style of singing could get to a falsetto. A yodel, maybe, but not a falsetto. You won't hear it in shape-note singing. It has something to do with the way the voice is used but also the way the vocal mechanism is constructed. You do hear falsetto in African music quite a bit. Almeda Riddle uses her voice in an Appalachian style that approximate a yodel at the end of each phrase. John Jacob Niles attempted a kind of falsetto in his singing style but I think this is atypical of the mountain styles. Bluegrass singing requires that "hard edge" that they call the "high lonesome sound". Black musicians use it all the time.

As to the application of African-American influences on Anglo-American styles, bluegrass is fraught with blues licks and simple jazzy based chord progressions. White folks did not invent jazz. Bill Monroe said that he learned from a black blues player. I think Uncle Pen. Doc Boggs sang in a style that approximated a blues style but was his own. It also went the other way too. "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" was originally a so-called "white spiritual" and was modified by black gospel singers. Uncle Dave Macon was influenced by the Minstrel Show tradition, although it was mainly whites in blackface, there were black performers who "corked up" as well. The influence of plantation banjo and fiddle players were responsible for the white show business performers who took their style onto the stage. Many of the fiddle tunes in the string band of Appalachia were originated in the Minstrel Show.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 06 May 07 - 08:11 PM

Sometimes, unable to harmonize because of "sameness" a swift switch to falsetto is able to create that third-harmonic-overtone. It is a useful tool in developing universal versatality.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Azizi
Date: 06 May 07 - 03:21 PM

Mr Happy, I'm glad you've got your voice back and acquired a blue's voice as consolation for losing your falsetto voice.

I'm wondering has any research been done on group sound preferences. It seems that Jamaican & Trinidadian singers have the same sound preferences as African Americans for gritty, husky, raspy voices. I don't know enough about those nation's music to know if they also evidence the same preference that African Americans have for falsetto male voices. This can't be said to be a racial preference since some traditional & contemporary music from Africa {such as some Ethiopian music} seems to high pitched to my African American asthestic tastes. I felt the same way about the singing in some of Nigerian Babatunde Olatunji recordings. I love the drums & other instrumental music, but some of the singing was too high pitched. When I say "high pitched" I don't mean falsetto. Since I don't know music, I'm sorry that I don't have the words to describe what I mean. But here's a YouTube video that demonstrates what I mean:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmH0To1Sx8Y

**

Bee, just for the "record", that quote you credited to me was written by John Edward Philips.

I don't know anything about Appalachian music, but I don't doubt that "few musicologists have ever considered, much less investigated, the question of African elements in white Appalachian folk music".

**

Also, since I'm here, let me correct a typo in the title of another article Philip used as a source for his article: "The Black In Jackson's White Spirituals".


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Bee
Date: 06 May 07 - 12:48 PM

"Surviving styles of Appalachian banjo music are likely the most authentically African music in the United States, but few musicologists have ever considered, much less investigated, the question of African elements in white Appalachian folk music." - Azizi

I had a huge argument with someone regarding this very topic a few months back, in relation to sources of Appalachian music, and regarding the the commonalities in the experiences of poor and migrant labourers and scratch farmers, whether black, Irish or other European, and the likelihood of hearing a lot of each others' music in the course of labour and migration.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Mr Happy
Date: 06 May 07 - 11:26 AM

I used to be able to sing falsetto until I had a very bad dose of full-blown influenza about 5 years ago.

As well as feeling like death, I also got conjunctivitis & laryngitis, so could scarcely speak never mind sing.

It took about 5 months before I was able to sing at all, but found the falsetto gone - small consolation though, I'd acquired a raspy 'blues' voice, so some singing style had to change to match this new 'gift'


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Azizi
Date: 05 May 07 - 08:34 PM

I found this thread by doing a bit of Mudcat archive surfing. I'd like to thank its posters-many of whom are still here and others who are not-for a very interesting read. Here are some random thoughts I have on this subject:

I agree with the comments made early on in this thread that falsetto was/is a familiar African vocal technique. However, I believe that that there is no historical basis for the theory that M Ted shared in his 19 Nov 03 - 05:06 PM post that falsetto..."come[s] to Black Gospel music by way of JuJu from the old African religions, where they occur in religious rituals when the singer is possessed by the spirit of a particular god"... While falsetto singing may have occurred {and still may occur} during these types of religious ceremonies, that type of singing also occurred and still occurs in Africa apart from religious ceremonies.

**

The connection between falsetto singing and yodeling is noted in some articles I've read. See, for example this excerpt from an online article on "The African Tradition" by Ben S. Austin:

"Yet another Africanism which deserves attention is the extensive use
of the "falsetto wail" or "falsetto leap" in which the voice was raised an octave "generally in the last syllable of a word, at the end of a line" (Russell, 1970:67). It is generally believed that this trait was preserved in the field hollers and work songs of the slavery period and found its way into the early blues form. Some scholars (Russell, 1970:67; Morthland, 1984:57) have suggested that the "blue yodel " popularized by Jimmie Rodgers and his many imitators may have been an intentional blend of Swiss yodeling and the African falsetto leap."

http://www.mtsu.edu/~baustin/afrtrad.html

**

Finally, here's an excerpt from the article "The African Heritage of White America" by John Edward Philips, included in "Africanisms In Amrican Culture" {Joseph E. Holloway, editor; Indiana University Press, 1991}:

"Sanuel Chartiers, who went to West Africa a few years ago looking for the roots of the blues, found that traditional mountain banjo music was "certainly closer in style to African sources" than was the blues. "Sadly the era of recording began after the banjo was largely taken over by white performers", he noted. [8- Samuel Chartiers, "The Roots of the Blues: An African Search {Boston, Marion Boyars, 1981} 122, 126] But why sadly? Had the instrument not been taken up by white musicians the African musical heritage of the United States would be that much poorer. Surviving styles of Appalachian banjo music are likely the most authentically African music in the United States, but few musicologists have ever considered, much less investigated, the question of African elements in white Appalachian folk music. One of the few who have considered the question concluded that the structural characteristics of camp meeting songs showed strong black influence, presumably including African characteristics. [9-W. H. Tallmadge, "Tje Black In Jackson's White Spirituals," Black Perspective in Music {Fall 1981} 9 {2} 129-60]

Yodeling is known to be common in many areas of Africa in addition to being similar to the "field hollers" of African-American folk tradition. Thus we can postulate a partially African origin for Jimmie Rodgers's "blue yodel" style of singing, so important in the development of country music. Rodgers grew up where blacks were in the majority, and his singing shows profound black influences in other respects as well as his yodeling. Although some musicologists try to draw a distinction between the "true" yodel [found among whites and of European origin] and the falsetto leap [found only among blacks and from Africa], the use of falsetto leaps by such white country musicians as Jimmy Martin and of true yodels in African and among African-American singers shows that the distinction, if valid at all, is not relevant to race. [Nolan Porterfield, "Jimmie Rodger {Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979}, mentions that many Swiss yodelers toured the United States but fails to consider whether European yodeling was influenced by contact with black yodeling. For falsetto leaps by Jimmie Martin listen to among others, "The Sunny Side of the Mountain" on the album "Will The Circle Be Unbroken?" For African-American yodeling listen to early Pharoah Sanders albums] "


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Dec 03 - 02:05 AM

Well, M Ted,

your response supports my theory that it is done with overtones - the intervals you state are all overtones of the fundamental - especially the "out of scale" note - this is one of the overtones omitted from the Pythagorean series. Bugle and cornet players should know about these... :-)

Would be interested if you CAN manage the tone colour change without the pitch change - you would have to restructure your vocal path "on the fly" - but human beings can do amazing things that one might think they couldn't - please let us know when you are well enoigh to try without straining anything.

I would suspect that there might HAVE to be a break...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Dec 03 - 07:15 PM

Falsetto notes are not necessarily above the range of your normal singing voice, they are just produced a different way--in my case, my falsetto range doesn't exceed my full voice range--Yodelling uses both voices, with a voice break between the two, which is to say, you are moving from falsetto voice to full voice, or full voice to falsetto while voicing a note--there is either a jump up (from full to falsetto) or down(from falsetto to full) but that jump is often only a fifth or sixth--occasionally, it can be as small as a minor third. In Hawaiian singing, often the break leads to or from a pitch that is out of tune for the scale that is being sung, which makes for an even funkier sound--

It occurs to me that it is possible to move from falsetto to full voice without changing pitch--the break wouldn't be as dramatic as when changing pitch though. I have a cold right now, and I don't have a lot of control, or I'd try it.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Joybell
Date: 03 Dec 03 - 06:35 PM

I'm a soprano. Maybe it's my attempts at yodeling that make me popular with dogs. Maybe I am managing a yodel and humans just can't hear the falsetto notes. Hildebrand always said I'd be a valuable hog-caller - can pigs hear those high doggy-friendly notes too?


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Dec 03 - 05:46 PM

PoppaGator,

A low range female voice falsetto would still be in audible range.

In Pipe Organ circles, they stop making pipes above a certain pitch, because those pitches when heard produce overtones that get mostly into the inaudible range. The whole theory of building (and playing) Pipe Organs rests on the addition of overtones into the sound mix to generate different tone colours. The highest pitches are heard as just increasingy just pure tones with no usuable overtones.

Similarly, with human voices, the upper pitches are mainly heard as fundamental pitches with no tone colour.

Also this theory applies to Drawbar Organs, and also to Electronic Generated Music (in earlier days was usually called "Music Concrete").

This also applies to piano accordeons.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Dec 03 - 04:56 PM

PG-Nelly Furtado is sort of like Lucinda Williams with a dance beat. Anyway, you are right about yodeling--that is almost exactly what it is--somewhere or other, we had a thread where we talked about the Hawaiian roots of yodeling in country and popular music--Yodeling/falsetto singing of exactly the type we are talking about here is a part of traditional Hawaiian singing--Rose Moe, with her family, in Mme Riviere's Hawaiian, preserved the old singing style in a number of recordings made in the 20's and 30's, and continued to perform in that style for many years--My understanding is that the technique was actually taught in the Hawaiian music school, though I don't know any more about it than that--


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: PoppaGator
Date: 03 Dec 03 - 04:32 PM

Going back to a couple of subtopics mentioned briefly earlier:

Yodeling: Does it seem to you (as it does to me) that this sound is produced by shifting quickly back and forth from "normal" to falsetto and back, i.e., in and out of falsetto?

Females doing falsetto: I had never had the slightest inkling that falsetto was a male-only preserve, and was a bit surprised to read those posts that expressed doubts that women could/would use this technique. I don't know about Nelly F. mentioned above -- since I live in New Orleans, a town with its own musical culture, I'm able to completely ignore mass-media pop -- but I can offer Lucinda Williams as another example of a falsetto-singing woman. She definitely writes falsetto-high notes (and yodelesque transitions to and from those notes) into many of her songs. Now, she's by no means a soprano, more of a deep alto -- maybe it's the true sopranos who can't do falsetto, because their regular voices get them up as high as anyone can sing (or maybe even hear)!


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: NightWing
Date: 02 Dec 03 - 07:54 PM

When I was in college I took formal voice lessons: classical/opera. My teacher then (and several I've met since do the same thing) spent the first half hour of my first class with him teaching me "head voice" and "chest voice" and the differrence was quite evident. From then on, my lessons were aimed more at perfecting the use of the two voices.

Spend just a little time with a classical voice teacher and you'll learn what's going on here.

Falsetto vs "natural range" (don't know what else to call it) is not the same as the difference between head voice and chest voice. However, my biggest hurdle was getting the chest voice when I was up in my falsetto range. I'm a baritone and [then] could reach the F above middle C with very little strain in my "natural" range. In falsetto, I could reach the second D and occasionally the second E above middle C. (Though nothing above about Bb really sounded good enough to sing in performance.)

GUEST,Lyle asked about a gap between falsetto and "natural". My teacher had me work both to stretch the "natural range" up and the "falsetto range" down. When I first started my lessons, there was a noticeable gap, probably 4-5 semitones. However, as I broadened the both ranges, I reached the point where they actually crossed over by 2-3 semitones. I.e., when I was in "natural range" and heading up, I would shift gradually into falsetto over that 2-3 note range and just keep on climbing. Same thing coming back down.

BB,

NightWing


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Dec 03 - 06:35 PM

Over the last ten years, I have grown less and less aware of the popular performers, though there was a time when I knew who everyone was--I actually like "Powerless", though would be hard pressed to say what kind of music it was--There is still lots of good music out there--


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Dec 03 - 02:55 PM

Hey... someone else knows who Nelly Furtado is.. and yes, her vocal break into falsetto is much like Joni Mitchell's (who didn't actually invent it...)

You'd be surprised at what I listen to Mr. Ted.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Dec 03 - 12:52 PM

I didn't know you listened to that kind of music, Jerry!--Nelly Furtado's voice breaks are like the Joni MItchell ones, which are much imitated by contemporary women singer/songwriters(a little too much imitated, if you asked me)--it has always seemed to be that that particular sort of yodeling(which is what it is) was copied from the old Hawaiian style of singing, best embodied in the singing of Rose Moe--


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 05:31 PM

Thanks for the imput, Poppa and Robin. As in just about everything I do, I can tell something is happening, but I don't know physically, what it is. And you're right, Poppa, when you really open up and let that chest voice come out, it often has a rougher sound to it. Maybe it doesn't have to if you know what you're doing. The best I can describe it is that you completely relax and reach deep down inside of you. When I'm singing gospel, there are times when I feel like I can step outside of my body and watch what I'm doing.

As for female falsetto, Nelly Furtado has an all-pervasive video out these days called Powerless. She comfortably breaks into a falsetto on the chorus... there's no difficulty telling which note where she changes into falsetto. I don't know whether the obvious change is by choice, or not. Some people can flow into falsetto so smoothly that you can't tell where the change occurs.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 04:57 PM

PoppaGator,

The mind completely controls the muscles - but not all of them conciously all the time, for most of us. As you develop the ability to "feel your body from the inside" more and more, you gain more control.

Being "in the flow" is recognised by sports coaches as a powerful tool that improves performance. What happens is that as you concentrate more and more on what you are doing to the exclusion of external distractions, performance improves.

The idea of being relaxed, and thinking about your sound projection passage (voice, Spaw!) and allowing feedback to control the muscles to produce the pitch, tone colour, and volume you want, is not entirely new.

When doing a "chest voice" rather than "head voice", don't forget that you haven't chopped off your head, so that part of the body is still partly controlling the sound production. It all ties together.

The concept of "chest voice" vs "head voice" does not mean that the rest of the voice production system is not in effect or can be totally ignored. That's just where most people feel it the most - where most of the energy is resonating - that part of the standing wave through the whole system is registering the maximum amplitude of the standing wave there.

Three words: practice, practice, practice!

Now if you are into antenna design, there is something called "quarter wave" propagation. Normally, a piece of wire generates a radiated signal that is the same wavelength as the piece of wire - "full wave" propagation. You can also get "half wave" propagation, where the piece of wire is only half the length of the wavelength emitted. Similarly for "quarter wave" propagation.

Now I was interested in Ham Radio, and I'm moving outside my level of understanding, but it seems the body can play tricks of "partial wave propagation" too, and I wonder if "falsetto" and the "blues shout" are some form of this.

Perhaps some of the really great minds on Mudcat who DO have the relevant expertise might like to take an interest in this...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 03:47 PM

It's been a while since I checked back into this thread, and I'm glad to read Jerry's response.

It may be a bit of thread creep to have gotten into this, but what I tried to describe, and what Jerry recognized and also knows, is that there is some *other* vocal technique besides falsetto that enables one to reach a higher pitch than "normal." I don't know how to describe it, except insofar as it is not available unless and until one is singing **very loud**. I've heard the term "blues shouter" applied to certain performers, and I suppose that this vocal approach we're talking about must be "blues shouting." It has none of the sweetness of conventional tenor singing (neither operatic tenor nor semi-classical Irish-tenor style), even though it is a way to sing pitches of the same range and perhaps higher. In fact its rough/raspy quality is such that the casual listener doesn't generally recognize just how extraordinarily high the pitch is.

This is not the same thing as that Bluegrass ultra-high tenor mentioned earlier, either, but is probably closely related. (I've never tried to do the bluegrass thing, so I can't compare.)

I really caught onto this approach by working up a tune called "Sweet Soul Music," a pop/soul hit from about 1967 recorded by one-hit wonder Arthur Conley (and produced at Muscle Shoals by Otis Redding). If you don't recognize the title, you might remember the opening line -- "Do you like good music / yeah, yeah" -- or the song structure where each verse calls for "Spotlight on [name of soul music star]."

At normal/quiet volume, I could not reach a single note of the entire song except by resorting to falsetto -- however, rehearsing with a large band with lots of horns, shouting at the top of my voice, I was able to pull the whole thing off in a full-throated, non-falsetto fashion.

Part of the phenomenon had to have been my mental approach; I began to conceive of my chest, throat, and mouth as a horn, as though I were a fellow member of the horn section with the trumpet, saxes, and (especially) the trombones. I guess this means I was doing a "chest voice" rather than "head voice," but I have another "normal" chest voice that can't reach nearly so high.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 08:08 PM

Hi, Poppa:

Yeah, ya never know what's going to get people's curiosity.

When I first started singing black gospel regularly, with a Men's Chorus I found that all rules for singing were off. When you're singing in a group of 40 men, most of them with powerful voices, singing at full throttle, you have to reach down inside yourself. I have no idea what I mean, technically or physically, but I discovered that there was a new dimension to my voice. It was like a new toy.

In singing, I've gone on a Cook's Tour of singing styles in my life.
In High School, I wanted to sound like Frank Sinatra, and had his phrasing as down pat as the average Japanese teenager. When I started hearing Clancy Hayes singing with Bob Scobey's Frisco Band, I had a new idol... much more blues/folk in timbre. He fit in just fine with singers like Gene Vincent and the rockabilly singers I loved so much. When I first started hearing traditional music, I tried my hardest to sound like some old, toothless hillbilly sitting out on the back porch with a banjo. Vibratto was nothing but pretension, as far as I was concerned. I wanted to sound more like a car tire that was just stabbed with an ince pick. It took me years to
get over the Zero-vibrato style of singing, and to just relax and sing in whatever my "natural" voice was. Through time, I became more comfortable singing more like I did back when I was trying to be Bob Scobey. Even though I sang black gospel, and some blues, I sounded pretty much like an ageing white kid from southern Wisconsin.

All that finally changed when I started singing black gospel surrounded by black men. I'd never tried to imitate anyone, and consciously, I was just trying to be heard. But, through time, my whole style of singing changed subtly. It's not that I sound like Louis Armstrong now. But we are all the summation of our experiences, and like you, singing where I really have to drive my voice, where there is a lot of rhythmic freedom has changed me.

At least the way I hear myself.

I'm sure there are all sorts of technical explanations for all of this, and there are many Catters who are far more sophisticated technically than I am. They can explain it a lot better. Mostly, I guess I became more of a chest singer than a head singer..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 06:19 PM

So, Jerry: "This should be a real short thread," huh?

A few years ago, I had my first opportunity to sing in front of a big loud rock/soul band (as opposed to performing solo with acoustic guitar), and was surprised to find that my vocal range increased substantially into the upper registers when "shouting" over a five piece horn section on numbers like "I Feel Good (I Got You)" and "Sweet Soul Music."

I don't know exactly how to describe this blues-shouting technique; it's decidedly not falsetto (although one can easily switch back and forth to falsetto, without the abrupt yodel-type changeover), but it's different from normal singing, or at least different from any other singing I had done previously. Also, not as tiring (not such a strain on the throat) as falsetto. And, definitely straight out of the African/American gospel-soul tradition.

Is this just what's meant by "head" vs "chest" voice? YOu can hear what I'm talking about on almost any collection of James Brown, Otis Redding, Al Green, one-hit-wonder Arthur Conly, etc.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 06:22 PM

hey, here's a really simple explaination of what i've been told about falsetto.

When ever you do something "weird" or "unnatural" with your voice it usually means that the vocal chords are in a different possition than just normally singing. in falsetto singing, the vocal chords appear to be almost flipping inside out. this does occur in all men, regardless of whether or not they know how to control it. it is possible for women to have a falsetto, and these are called whistle tones. they are so high they're practically useless. A rough equivalent for women would be their belting voices, which is "the chest voice" and in this instance, the vocal chords are pushed far forward.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,Himself
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 10:52 AM

Has anyone heard people doing a "Yip" in shanty singing ? I'd love to do it but can't.Is that use of a falsetto ?


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Joybell
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 05:22 PM

Thanks Moses, I'll keep experimenting with the lower register. My "head voice" has always been quite strong so I've never had the incentive to develop the lower range. Now that I'm 58 my voice is loosing power a bit so that's maybe a good reason. Maybe one day a yodel will appear as well.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 07:49 AM

I was watching a TV doco a while ago on yodelling, and it was said that yodelling takes place ON the vocal chords, unlike singing. Perhaps someone with more technical singing knowledge can care to try to explain that... :-)

When I learned how to relax my throat properly, and centralise my larynx, after reading Seth Rigg's wonderful book "Singing For the Stars" - 1985 Alfred Publishing Co ISBN 0-88284-340-0 - I found much more range, power, control and stability in my voice, especially down at the "dungeon" end, as well as up the top... Still couldn't yodel, though...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Moses
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 07:39 AM

Joybell,

I think we are of a similar age and until recently I too used only what I now understand to be my head voice (described by one of my good friends as "sensitive and sweet"). I was unaware there was anything else until I went to one of Dave and Anni's voice workshops and they talked about "head voice" and "chest voice".

After hearing Dave demonstrate how his voice "breaks" at a certain point and then goes up to what he calls his head voice (falsetto?)I had a go at singing in my chest voice (made sure no one could hear me) and the result sounded (to me) awful. Just like you said, an entirely different person seemed to be singing. However, with a bit of practice the range has improved and I have been told that this much more powerful voice sounds quite acceptable. I can now be heard at the back of the room! The range is more limited and the pitch has to be carefully chosen to be able to "sing through" the break in some songs which have a wide range.

Keep practising. I am pleased to have discovered this other voice (whatever it is called).   For me it is still early days and I hope with more use I may extend the range by a note or two.

My guess is that yodelling is the ability to flick from the chest voice to the head voice at the point where the natural "break" happens.   Anyone know exactly how it's done? (I'd like to be able to do it too!)


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 04:59 AM

There are quite a few passages in classical music where the singer (usually a baritone) is expected to use falsetto. In Orff's Carmina Burana both the tenor and the baritone are expected to sing in falsetto at times.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Joybell
Date: 23 Nov 03 - 05:03 PM

I have a low range that I can sing in that sounds like someone else entirely. It's rather awful although in tune. If I record myself and then sing harmony with myself we sound like two people who've never met before and who should keep well apart musically speaking. Weird! Not sure how this fits in with the discussion.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,Lyle
Date: 23 Nov 03 - 04:06 PM

Excellent discussion, I'm learning a lot.

Question: Is there a range of notes between "normal range" and "falsetto" that the singer cannot reach? If not, how do you determine *by listening* when a singer is singing falsetto?

I asked this of a group of barbershoppers once, and the answer I got was, "Well, I know it when I hear it!" That doesn't help me at all.

Lyle


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Nov 03 - 03:35 PM

Yes, I remember Yma Sumac. She was almost frightening to listen to, going from a super-bass to a super-soprano, and smoothly, and as I recall, good quality in all the ranges that were familiar to me. I couldn't speak for the sound-quality in what I called super-bass, or in the "super-soprano", because I had no standard of comparison.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Nov 03 - 01:18 PM

Anyone remember Yma Sumac (Peruvian?). She could move her voice from base to treble and never go off pitch.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Nov 03 - 12:19 PM

I'd imagine that it should be possible for women to sing falsetto and get even higher notes than a man doing it - sort of counter-soprano. Anyone come across that? It occurse that some of the sounds you get from Eastern Europe (eg Bulgeria) might use this voice. And of course you do get women yodelling.

And thinking about that it occurred to me to wonder whether there might be a kind of reverse falsetto, which would involve training the voice to sing lower than would be thought of as natural.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 06:02 PM

Glad to hear that, pdq. I'll have to see if that song is on any of my Carl Story stuff. I'm sure there are other instances as well. I just haven't found it commonplace in white southern gospel, where it is quite common in black older gospel quartet music.

rsvp


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,pdq
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 04:20 PM

Anyone have a specific example of falsetto in White Gospel tradition? I think "Family Reunion" by Carl Story, recorded in the mid 1950s, is a great choice.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 04:10 PM

See this: Counter Tenor


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 04:08 PM

Counter tenor is the same as falsetto--


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 12:10 PM

So what's the difference between what a counter-tenor is doing and falsetto. Are they both examples of "the second mode of phonation"?


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 10:15 AM

The falsetto is made, at least as I understand it, by using only the margins of the vocal chords--I lost my falsetto voice for a long time, but have been working on my yodelling, and have gotten it back--I can sing in full voice over my falsetto range as well, and it sounds and feels different--


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 08:10 AM

Well, I'm prepared to allow a professional voice coach explain it better than me, but the way I have understood it is simply:

"Normal" voice production produces a sound with the "fundamental" as what we take as the pitch of the produced tone.

"Falsetto" is called many things including "artifical" - the sound is not the fundamental, but an overtone of the fundamental of the "instrument" - in this case "the human voice". It need not be the first overtone, but you need to be good to control things - lots pf practice - I have never been able to produce more than one or two falsetto notes - but htne I have nver really tried as I do have quite an extended range - on a good night... singing wise that is ... :-)

On a related point, somewhere in my bottomless bag of tinwhistles, I have both

1) an Overton (or is a Chieftan?) "Overtone Whistle" (LowG fundamental) which has NO fingerholes, and is played by (over)blowing overtones & cupping the palm of one hand around the bottom hole and waggling it around like a leaf in a gale - visually not unlike a theremin... :-) by differently "loading" the exit hole with your hand, you can get a half octave, then you overblow again and get another half octave - a thorough b***ard of a thing to control, especially if you do have any muscular coordination hassles, but with effort, I can get a tune out of it - it sits unplayed for ages until I feel sufficiently masochistic to practice...

2) a normal D fundamental pitch whistle (looks like a Generation D!) with only three finger holes. Traditionally one of the holes is a thumb hole, but because of my micromotor hassle, I found it easier for me if all three holes were in the top as if they were the last three of a normal whistle. These were played in Medieval times (called a tabor pipe) with one hand and a tabor (drum) played by the other hand, either by hand or stick. You can also do this with a normal whistle by simply taping over or just not lifting your fingers off the top three holes - you can't get the bottom octave in full, but can achieve a full upper octave by utilising overblows. Normal Tabor pipes are twice as long as a standard pitch whistle, since you generate the useful notes an octave above what you would expect from the normal pipe. Because of this overtoning, the texture of the notes is slightly different - as is the falsetto human (male) voice - calling dogs would be probably be more appropriate for a female falsetto... :-)

You could if you wanted, call these two above musical instruments "falsetto" whistles.... :-)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 10:26 PM

All I got to say is it's naturaller to some than others. My falsetto is very unreliable, as is the tenor in our group. I have a very limited range in falsetto, but a wide range in my "natural" singing voice.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 10:01 PM

Interesting comparison to the harmonica.

In a peculiar backward-way perhaps it is a little like the "mouth-cavatation-bend" when you suck the blue's note out of a harp....both seem to have the constriction in the upper-throat/lower/mouth cavity.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

A speach therapist or vocal coach could probably clarify it in a flash.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Burke
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 09:58 PM

Good old Grove Music here for a definition:

The treble range produced by most adult male singers through a technique whereby the vocal cords vibrate in a length shorter than usual, known as the second mode of phonation. Usually associated exclusively with the male voice, though available and employed in the female, the phonatory mode known as 'falsetto' has been equated with 'unnatural' as opposed to 'natural', partly through misleading philological usage. The correct term, second-mode phonation, is preferred here both to 'falsetto' and to 'pure head-register'.

[Physiology omitted]

The use of what has become known as falsetto is ancient and practised in many cultures. There are major elements of this second mode of phonation in the instinctive natural sounds of various animals, for example the gibbon. Similarly, its use by early man seems to have been instinctive, commonplace, and adopted for a variety of reasons not necessarily connected with what is now called singing. Second-mode phonation is much used in Asian drama and music. Its natural use is seen among Indian communities in Great Britain, where the condition known as 'pubephonia' persists at an age at which white youths are all using adult first-mode phonation; some Indian youths have to be coached in first-mode phonation to free them from what, to Western ears, may sound oddly juvenile.

[more history omitted]

Eventually, however, musical fashion (and erroneous association with castration) ensured the near-disappearance, from mainland Europe, of second-mode singing for several decades. Domenico Mancini (b 1891), a falsettist pupil of the last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi (d 1921), was refused entry to Lorenzo Perosi's music school, because Perosi, director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, regarded him as a castrato. It is only in England that second-mode singing enjoyed an uninterrupted, widespread tradition, particularly in all-male cathedral and collegiate choirs, academia and the glee club tradition. In the late 20th century falsetto singing came to be used in some types of popular music (notably by Michael Jackson).


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 08:32 PM

Could someone explain what is happening in falsetto that's different from other types of singing? Is it different vocal chords being called into service? Or something like over-blowing in a harmonica?

I can't really see how "natural" and "artificial" comes into it. With all types of singing, if you can do it, it feels natural, if you can't do it, it's impossible, and if you learn how to do it when it used to be impossible, it's artificial.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Nov 03 - 08:34 PM

It may well be that there is an African influence on the use of falsetto in Gospel singing, but the technique is used in most cultures. It's quite easy with a little practice; must be, since I can do it with a fairly smooth transition from the natural range (bass-baritone in my case) to the unnatural, and I'm not much of a singer. Can't yodel, though, as I smoke too much for the quick jumps up and down; for which the world should probably be very grateful.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Joybell
Date: 20 Nov 03 - 04:50 PM

Thanks Jerry. Some of my best friends can't yodel.


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Subject: RE: Falsetto
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 20 Nov 03 - 04:24 PM

Don't feel bad, joybell. When I yodel, I clear the room. The only yodeling I can do is the wee-wee-wee, weeooh at the end of The Lone Star Trail as recorded by Ken Maynard on the Anthology Of American Folk Music. Not that I feel compelled to yodel on a daily basis... sure wish I had a decent falsetto, though..

Jerry


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