More omph on the lowest notes
November 11, 2005 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Can I extend the register of my voice downwards?

I want the ability to sing the lowest note of Cohen's "I'm your man". It works when I'm hungover, but otherwise I can just about reach it, without any power behind. Can I exercise my voice to make it deeper, or should I just smoke more and drink more scotch?
posted by springload to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sure. Just sing a fair amount, down in the lower range of your voice. Be careful to sing with a relaxed jaw and throat (and only as low as you can do this comfortably). After a while, your range will expand a bit.
posted by metaculpa at 4:58 PM on November 11, 2005

And smoke more and drink more scotch.
posted by thecjm at 6:07 PM on November 11, 2005

There are some limits to what can be done. The reason your voice is lower in the morning/hungover/when you're sick is because the vocal folds are a little thicker then. As you use the voice throughout the day, the vocal folds return to their normal shape, and those low notes aren't as accesible. It's much easier to train to sing higher than lower, and easier then you might think to wear out the voice by singing lower than is comfortable; if you feel a "pressing" sensation in your throat when you try to sing that low note, stop.

That being said, there are some things you can do to explore the chest voice. Some images I've used with my students, such as "Drop the sound into your chest," "feel the sound riding down your breastbone," and "feel taller as you sing lower" have had some positive results. Definitely work on singing with a relaxed jaw and a feeling of "throatlessness," as was suggested above. But unfortunately, basses are largely born and not made. Give it a shot though, and see what happens.

[And hopefully I don't need to say that booze and cigarettes aren't really the answer! :)]
posted by the_bone at 6:53 PM on November 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

Interviewer: "Are there any special techniques you use to keep your voice in shape?"
Tom Waits: "Yeah, I gargle with my own urine."
posted by xil at 7:11 PM on November 11, 2005

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:31 PM on November 11, 2005

the_bone: Good answer, thanks!

I suspected that I can't just stretch my voice by singing, since I speak near the bottom of my register and yet remain with a constant register. A followup question: When something is Bad and damaging to the voice, what is actually going on? Is it scarring in the throat or something?

i_am_joe's_spleen: As far as I know, Nigroids are not sold where I live. Are they especially helpful and potent, or can they be switched for some other brand of throat pill?
posted by springload at 2:11 AM on November 12, 2005

It's worth saying that you can not extend the range of your voice beyond its natural range - your vocal chords do not "stretch". What you can do is learn to access certain registers which you just didn't have the technique to access previously, and warm up your vocal chords so reaching the notes at the extremities is easier, but there will always be notes outside of your reach in both directions and that's just something one needs to accept. Any singing teacher who tells you they can "extend your range" is being disingenous and what they really mean is that they can help you discover and reach your full potential, but no more. (Falsetto and other "chest cavity" techniques aside.)
posted by benzo8 at 2:29 AM on November 12, 2005

Bizarrely enough, try singing high, at the top of your range. This will actually improve the bottom. Vice versa works as well. I don't know why this works; I speak only from observation and personal experience.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:47 AM on November 12, 2005

Getting older helps too. It seems that time tends to make one's optimal vocal range a little lower. Not that Cohen sounded like Geddy Lee in his early days or anything, but still.

Failing that, you can always go for the croaky, Clarence "Frogman" Henry style to make a fair approxomation, especially with the right miking.
posted by First Post at 10:25 AM on November 12, 2005

I hope you see this springload, I think the topic has scrolled off by now.

Nigroids seem to add that same coating of goo that makes your voice nice and furry when you've been smoking and drinking. I don't know of any other equivalent.

Having said that it wouldn't surprise me if they're sold under another brandname elsewhere - I can't imagine anything called Nigroids going over well in the US, for example!

I believe the crucial ingredient is liquorice, if that helps.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2005

i_am_joe's_spleen: I'm listening, and I'll make sure to buy a pack on y next visit to the UK. Apart from that, growing old seems like my best option. I'll try the booze, smokes and some exercises too, though. Thanks everybody!
posted by springload at 5:43 PM on November 13, 2005

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