Moving from the C-F Area into the Higher Register

The middle C to F range is peculiar because it is the range in which we enhance the sense of “cavita'” – increasing significantly 1st formant strength in the voice.  This feels like a spacious, almost hollow feeling in the back of the throat.  The question arises of how one ascends over the F into the higher register.  Why is it an issue?  Because the width of the 3rd layer, this sense of hollow width tends to loosen phonation and separate the chords if you let your attention get monopolized by it.

If your focus and mental intention is dominated by this width in the middle voice, which is a very easy trap to fall into, especially in the theater, it can cause you to progressively increase the breath pressure moving through the chords.  What I call the first layer of the vowel: this sense of imbedded head tone in the voice is “too nourished” – too strong; exceeding the balance of correct vocalism.

So, here is the key: it is possible to keep the voice compressed and still have the width – in other words you don’t have to be loose to have width.  This happens when width is not the only component in the vowel.  When the voice is compressed it also has significant higher harmonic activity.

Perhaps it is important to talk in terms of sensations too.  When your voice is compressed correctly and has width, it doesn’t feel stuck in the mouth or throat.  This requires you to modify the timbre in this range.  You don’t have to be heavy to get width.  You can keep the breath pressure balanced, find compression in the chords, thin the chords slightly, find the mask resonance, and get width still.  Why?  Because width is a sound.  It’s only a sound.  You can have that sound by arranging the harmonic strength of your voice in a way that doesn’t cause you to exceed the baseline of the pressure that should power your voice.

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8 responses to “Moving from the C-F Area into the Higher Register

  1. Can you give listening examples of what you mean, please?

  2. Jack, when reading this and thinking about “width” I was reminded of the physical action of keeping the chest expanded, as if maximizing the perimeter of resonance tube throughout phonation. I can’t recall whether you have addressed this in post previously, but I would love your thoughts on this element of … I suppose the physical impostazione of support and breath control. I have a tendency to not keep my chest expanded (as you know) and in recent work over the past few days I have been embracing a more thorough postural change towards “barrel chested” singing. So far it has been very effective (extraordinarily so) at allowing the thin edges of the cords to adduce without my usual habit of using muscular grip to help the process. I have found that this deliberate quest for real width of the column of air (“can I get a pneumatic tube, wassup Cotogni!!”) has not in fact led to looseness, but rather much the opposite, as it has fostered better cord closure, I presume from IA action. And I have noticed that this is not an action that warrants initial setup and then left alone; but something that needs constant re-affirmation/re-energizing throughout the phrase — as if the perimeter of the tube/column will want to close in and our job is to keep it from doing so through continued expansion (or the sense thereof). Am I right that this promotes a thin cord function, and helps prevent an instinct to induce squillo and compression in the wrong muscular way?

    Do you have any thoughts on this? (perhaps a whole post in itself!).

    • I think YOU should write this post. What do you think?

      • Ha! – sure… but I am seeking here some affirmation as to whether or not you think my thinking on this issue is correct. We have worked together on something along these lines, but I am not sure we delved into this to the extent I write above: i.e. that the singer need to continually seek to “expand the perimeter” of the pneumatic tube throughout each phrase to promote thin cord function. I have tended in the past (if I remember what the F# I am doing) to expand the chest as I inhale but then I forget about things, only to end up bearing down on my cords as my phrase continues and my chest and neck slowly implode! (I exaggerate, but you know what I mean!). I often fear this kind of “width” because I don’t want my cords to pull apart — but I am starting to think this is in fact the only way to (ironically) ensure that they stay adducted fully in the “right” way. Agreed?

        • I think there is a direct correlation because what happens is that the expanded ribs create the conditions for the larynx to relax low, which means that you can more easily sing without extraneous tensions, unrelated to singing. This in turn aids in phonating correclty. Also, I think the lowering of the larynx aids in stretching the chords, essential for getting “out of the meat” of the chords, and into the shell. Without correct support “costo-diaframmatico”, you are left to achieve a lowered larynx with other means which impede the correct phonation.

  3. Is what is happening in the tenor voice at C4-F4 the equivalent to what happens in the soprano voice at C5-F5?

    • Good question! I think there is a clear parallel between the two. However, because the tenor does this in Chest register, the level of effort at the larynx is higher comparatively.

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