News & Reviews
OVERTONES
this email was sent out on: 09:28:56 PM Mon., September 5, 2005
Hiya Melissa,
I've bought your DVD & CD and they are absolutely astounding. Great stuff!!! My questions: Is there any way in which I can expand my vocal range? I listen to and play everything from early-era R.E.M to Lamb of God and Slayer. I’m pretty sure I’m a baritone – my voice is sooo deep. I can easily sing Johnny Cash tunes but I can also sing R.E.M old stuff and Soundgarden’s mellower tracks as well. I’ve been told that I have a really deep timbre. Is it possible to use your techniques for additional overtones to ‘sing’ in a ‘higher’ range such as Plant, Halford, Soundgarden-era Cornell? Because I love all genres of rock/metal music and I refuse to be labelled or limited - would going back and forth from singing like Johnny Cash, Michael Stipe, Chris Cornell and growling like D. Randall Blythe affect my voice negatively and is this plausible?

A: Yes, it is completely plausible and only negative if you execute incorrectly. A baritone is capable of high pitch as well as low pitch! Compare a cello to a violin. The cello is capable of many of the pitches of the violin, however, because the cello is larger, longer and more dense, the overtone series is different, and it sounds "thicker" or "darker". Compare a Les Paul to a Strat. They have the same pitch capability, but the timbre is different. The Les Paul has thicker, more solid wood., so it sounds darker. One is not better than the other. It is just different! What I am saying is that RANGE should not be defined by PITCH, but rather TIMBRE. Chris Cornell is a BARITONE. Like many accomplished baritones, his command of falsetto is extraordinary. Ever heard Tom Jones (maybe before your time)? He sings C above middle C, but you’d swear it was Middle C!! If you listen carefully to D. Randall Blythe, you will hear a higher overtone on the deepest of his growls!. If you listen to Brian Fair of Shadows Fall, you will hear a lower formant that accompanies his tenor timbre. That's the trick! To maximize the highs and the lows of every note. That means: more space in the pharynx and a coordinated “dump”. Start from the comfort zone of your voice by determining your range. Keep doing my exercises, and you will access control of all your registers in order to achieve that overtone. Don’t be stubborn about singing tunes in their original key if it’s not comfortable. You will give the same aura as the original if that overtone is there, and it will never occur to anyone that it is in a different key. Give yourself a break by not thinking of it as high pitched or low pitched. The imagination, which controls the voice, does not respond properly to the concept of high and low ANYTHING. Such thinking will defeat the overtone by dictating an upward or downward movement of the voice box. By doing the warm-ups, that habitual high/low thinking will be replaced. You will acquire an ease of execution to access all the notes that you need to be the best self you can be. Don't worry about painting on a veneer of vocal “types”. Just be your voice and sing the song in the most comfortable place and it will soar. Hope this helps and thanks for writing!
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