Query for vocalists

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Diego
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:19 pm

Query for vocalists

Postby Diego » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:31 am

For any vocalists here,

Has anyone thought to apply vocal techniques taught by western teachers (eg impostation, the way to make the mouth more cavernous for better resonance, &c) in a Carnatic (or even Hindustani) context?

I don't know if other teachers use such methods, but I'm considering adding such techniques (learning in parallel) to my Carnatic work, as it improves my tone and resonance substantially, and also adds to comfort in the extremes of my range.

sramaswamy
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Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:51 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby sramaswamy » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:08 pm

I just joined this forum. I have also viewed some of the Western music techniques that say that they enable you to increase your volume, breath control and also increase the range. I am very interested in that although I have not done anything on it yet.

... cut
as it improves my tone and resonance substantially, and also adds to comfort in the extremes of my range.


That is very interesting to note. What are some of those techniques? I am fairly regular in yoga for breathing and bidalasana / cat-cow pose that is supposed to straighten your interior and make your body resonant. This is something I got from this site
http://sadhanaschoolofarts.com/PDF/SonorousSound.pdf

Are you a teacher planning to add such techniques or is it for yourself? I am quite interested in knowing your techniques.

Diego
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:19 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby Diego » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:31 am

Oh, I am not a teacher, far from it!

I will have been learning Carnatic music for a year soonish, but I have also begun in parallel studying Western/Operatic singing, for a few reasons, although a large part was to learn these vocal techniques, as recommended by others.


I can't really teach the techniques at all, as I am still trying to learn them myself – but I can describe what I have been taught so far.

A lot has been on shaping the mouth and throat for sound projection, in making the mouth more cavernous, raising the palate as if you were yawning. But to this my western singing teacher adds that you must relax the jaw muscles as that will relax your vocal chords also, helping add range.

There's a set of techniques some call impostation or 'singing from the mask' which is essentially to direct the sound to resonate from the face bones, this adds resonance to the high end of the range.

Meanwhile, there has been some work on using the diaphragm, particularly staccato, short accented notes – this does notably add to volume.


Other bits are just things I'm not even clear on yet myself, so it'd be irresponsible for me to post, but it's been quite interesting. I'm avoiding vibrato, though, as that would make me go off-raagam in carnatic singing.

jaan e kharabat
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Location: australia

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby jaan e kharabat » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:50 pm

One thing of note is that unlike western classical vocals, in ICM singing, the soft palate is lowered.
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?

Diego
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:19 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby Diego » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:50 pm

Ah! That's interesting. Hm. Perhaps not everything is compatible. Any particular reason for a lowered palate? Did Jon Higgins modify his technique, if you know?

holikarang
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Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:13 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby holikarang » Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:46 am

Hi, very interesting post. I've been learning Hindustani vocal for 8 years now, had some smaller experience with Carnatic and although I've never officially studied Western classical singing, I'm familiar with some singing techniques and used to apply them in my Western singing. Right now I'm into Hindustani, I've been learning dhrupad for a while at the beginning, but found it not appropriate for my voice and am now learning from an Indian singer/teacher mainly thumri and khyal.

My experience is that not only Western singing is totally different from Indian singing and Carnatic from Hindustani, but even khyal singing is different from dhrupad and they are both different from thumri. I used to have a Western teacher teaching me dhrupad and she was more direct in trying to teach the singing technique, while Indians usually teach you through imitation or through exercises that will help you improve your technique. This is also due to the fact that Indian singing is usually started when one is a kid in India and a kid is naturally adapting the technique rather than an adult who already has a pitching.

What I think is that you can still apply some general principles to help you use your voice in a healthy way, anyway the pitching and vocal production is very different in each of the styles and genres I meantioned and, according to me, you would not sound credible singing Indian music with a Western operatic pitching. Still you could experiment and I would be very curious to see the results! Byt, for example, if you shape your mouth in the Western way, your voice will not sound much 'Indian'. This is the reason way I decided to focus my study on a single style/technique trying to perfect at least one. I know many singers who are learning different pitching together and I noticed they cannot develop enough one single technique. If you just want to enrich your singing experience is one thing, but if you want to be very proficient in one style I would say you have to focus on it for a while. This is my opinion as a student, but if you look at most of the few Westerners who made it as serious professional Indian music singers they mainly focused on one style.

Also, I found it very useful to have a special interest in Hindi phonetics (for Carnatic would be a Southern language). I once rememeber discussing with American singer Warren Senders and he was saying his teacher was specifically focusing on correct pronunciation with him, although Warren never learnt Hindi phonetics before singing. His techinque is one of those that sound closer to the Indian pitching among Western singers according to me. My Indian teacher is specifically correcting details of my pronunciation as she wants me to sound as Indian as possible. Certainly this is not part of the pitching, but having a correct pronunciation will help you know what is applicable or not from the Western pitching as in the mouth shaping technique... Also, IMC uses what is called a natural voice production as you won't modify the pitching of the spoken language, but of course you have to keep in mind what the spoken language of reference is.

I mainly have examples for Hindustani music, anyway, I think this can apply to all styles. I remember reading on Sheila Dhar's brilliant book that when she went to her guru, he asked her not to speak English for a while, but to switch to only Hindi for a period. Many Indians from the high middle class speak mostly English and she said her teacher didn't consider that appropriate for learning Indian music. This is to remark how close is the spoken language to that kind of voice production and not to ask you to switch to Hindi only :D of course

Diego
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:19 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby Diego » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:30 am

Hi, though I took ages to reply, really, thanks for your post.

On languages and pronunciation: Indeed, a lot of time is spent on correct pronunciation when I am learning new compositions. What's most difficult are the several sorts of D's and T's all these different languages involve!

Indeed I agree that an unjudicious mix of the techniques would sound odd, particularly the different ways you shape your lips in operatic singing, they'd mess up the pronunciation as above! But my teacher tells me to 'open my mouth more' anyway – using the 'yawn' technique, to make your mouth more cavernous, is rather useful, and not only has it improved my tone as I hear it, but it seems to have pleased her perception of my tone (and volume!) also.

But yes, I suspect I am expecting to get specific exercises, whilst this is all meant to be different ways to guide a kid in doing this.

Tell me, what do you mean by pitching, though?


Also, another question: I've considered doing a tiny bit of Hindustani vocal just to 'understand the other side' a bit better, since I also play tabla – any suggestions on how to break that project to a teacher, (I realistically only have time to pursue Carnatic and tabla, can't really fit in a third system) and, for matters of asking for recommendations of good teachers, may I ask in which country you are based? I am in London, UK, but will be going to India in the summer, likely spending some time in Calcutta among other places.

holikarang
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Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:13 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby holikarang » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:36 am

Hi, sorry for using the word 'pitching', my first language is Italian and I was trying to find a correspondence for a term I use in Italian, I don't know what to use in English in this case. I thought 'pitching' was a good option but I was probably wrong.

Well, learning some Hindustani vocal would not introduce another 'system' if you learn tabla, I would think it would make more sense to learn Hindustani, but of course you might want to follow your preference. If it's just to know how it works I would suggest a workshop/seminar rather than a private teacher, as a private teacher might expect you to learn extensively an won't give you too many information straight away.

I am based in Italy, I go to India to learn from my teacher, but I also attend a Summer school in London, that might be an interesting option for you, but if you go to India in the Summer you might not be there in that occasion. I don't have a direct experience of teachers in Calcutta, but I would suggest to look for a male teacher in your case.

As for the 'yawning' position, I'm not sure, as stated by someone here before, Indian vocal requires a lowered palate, I think it's because the voice emission is closer to the spoker register, but if your teacher is fine with it, it might probably work as well...

Diego
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:19 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby Diego » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:28 am

Well, I speak spanish – give the italian term a shot, perhaps I'll understand.

holikarang
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:13 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby holikarang » Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:55 pm

Diego wrote:Well, I speak spanish – give the italian term a shot, perhaps I'll understand.


I got that from your name... in Italian we say 'impostazione', maybe the English 'pitching' is correct but not so common.

Diego
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:19 pm

Re: Query for vocalists

Postby Diego » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:50 pm

Well, yes – Impostation it might be, but it's just because it's impostación in Spanish that it sounds right to me.

But I know what you mean, the whole way of setting up your mouth, throat (well, body!) for the sound to come out a certain way, particularly to use sinus resonance for the higher pitches in operatic singing. Increased the range.


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