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Invisible Oranges

Since I'm not a singer, the science of most of this goes over my head. But I can tell that it is very deep stuff. And it is a pleasure to hear even snippets of your voice!

Rusty Valentine

Back in the '90s I became fascinated with the downright evil vocal gymnastics of Diamanda Galas. At that time it was still very difficult to find video of such off-the-beaten-path fare, and I always wondered what she must look like while performing. I imagined something close to Linda Blair in The Exorcist. When I finally saw her (on Jon Stewart's very short-lived late night talk show) I was stunned to find that she showed no strain or discomfort while singing. Indeed, she made it look EASY, which made the impact all the more terrifying. It is this memory that came to me as I read this.

Scott Stewart

This realization has been a godsend for me. For a lot of years I equated powerful vocals with air pressure and volume, not realizing the amount of damage that I was doing. Not to mention that alot of live sound engineers hated me :)

Being able to produce the same tone in a much reduced volume is allowing me to go through grueling two hour rehersals with out feeling hoarse at then end of the day.

I'm still loud, but not nearly as much as before

Claudia Friedlander

Glad you found it useful, Scott! Always a good thing when the same thing that gives you more stamina makes your engineers happier at the same time.

Many singers associate a sensation of pressure and effort in the throat with making a powerful sound, so when they don't feel all this resistance they think they're not making any noise. In fact, a freer voice is potentially a much more powerful voice. Hopefully, you'll find that you still have at least as much power as before - it just won't cost you as much!


Holy crap, this explains a lot. I have a large, heavy voice with extremely limited range, no top at all, and a lot of tension in my throat. After I sing for 10-15 mins, my voice is hoarse, sore & exhausted. I have a completely straight tone &, as my grandmother always put it when I was a child, can't carry a tune in a basket. I've always known that I had to learn to relax somehow, that the tension is not natural or healthy (had nodes once), but the admonition I always received to "just relax you throat" is completely useless. Now I have something more concrete -- excessive adduction -- on which to focus my efforts. Still, old habits are hard to break; I don't know how to sing any other way.

Claudia Friedlander

Hang in there, Rowena! I'd focus on seeing what happens if you can release your breath more and experiment with the potentially lighter vocal production that would yield. See my posts on Anatomy of Breathing (particularly #2) and pick up a copy of Steve Smith's book. It sounds like you just haven't started using your entire instrument yet.

Nagarajan G

Great piece of work. I have all along been thinking that mellifluousness and emotional rendering should be directly connected with thoughts and feelings and not with forceful adjustments of singing organs. Of course, what we need is having the right organs at the right positions. But, that should not be the result of what we forcefully do with the organs but the result of our feelings and emotions. Taking the help of ear to traverse from note to note is amazing and I will try that out. I belong to southern part of India and Carnatic music is famous here.

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