Ok, I'm sure this has been hashed out many times but a quick glance and I couldn't find anything specific.
WHAT EXACTLY IS SUPPORT??!?!??!?!
Ok, I know it has to do with breath, and one uses the diaphragm, and something to do with some magic fairy dust(I think) but seriously... what is the physiological difference between bad and good support. Please don't say good support "supports" the breath. If support is so important then there must be some sensation and mechanical aspects that makes it work and that anyone should be able to feel.
My best guess is that "proper support" means using your muscles to create a steady solid pressure on your diaphragm so that the air pressure is steady. There is some mechanism which allows one to "release" air. I believe this is actually in the throat(I feel I am "clamping" something down in my throat when I force my self to stop breathing). But of course the pressure depends on the muscles and when I breath I am flexing and releasing those muscles.
So, is support simply the right way to use those muscles to get the best possible air pressure for singing? If so then can one describe the physiological sensations one should feel(which might even be different for different people but it's a start)? Should I tense my stomach muscles up like if I was going to let one rip(I mean a fart and not a note)? Or are those the wrong muscles?
Is proper support meant to also control the level of air pressure so it is not to small and not to great? Maybe when someone without support sings they are releasing a lot of air and with proper support they can release just the right amount? I'm not sure if I really believe this because I can't seem to release any more air than how loud I want to sing a note... the louder the note the more air it seems?
Maybe when one has bad support the pressure fluctuates on the vocal chords which causes problems with resonance, tension, breath, etc? That is, if we had a pressure monitor right below the vocal chords we would expect that good support to read a pressure that is much more consistent?
hope this helps:
http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting. … 758#p33758
nice post Felipe.
"Support" is absolutely a holding-back of air pressure, so that vocal folds are free of the burden of working as an air-pressure-control valve. They like low pressure & steady flow, and the "big muscles" of lower ribcage /diaphragm need to work to sustain that over a phrase ... I'm glad more folks recognize this; "Sing from diaphragm" doesn't mean "push tons of air out"; that only gets vocal cords dry and tired and stiff!
lots of knowledge here, I like it.
"This sense of suspension should work together with your emission"... that just sounds completely disgusting!!!!
Anyways, if there any proof that physical exercises like situps and working out in general help these muscles or are they mainly developed from musical training? (Obviously they will probably help but to any significant degree?)
I have noticed that my voice tends to be a bit wobly. I don't know how well trained singers can hold a pitch but mine jumps around sometimes almost half a tone. It's much harder to hold a pitch pure the lower it is for me and any stomach movements change the pitch easy(But I can get some nice vibrato by using my hand on my stomach ;/).
Last edited by Stretto (2012-02-24 09:21:22)
I heard a good anaology the other day that may have something to do with support: pretend that you are sucking your voice through a straw when you sing .. lol It must mean something, but for the life of me, I don;t know what lol.
Heavy-duty sit-ups & crunches can actually make breath support harder, b/cz the outer ab muscles overpower both the diaphragm and the deepest layer of abd wall ("transverse" muscle, running between the hips) that is most useful for breath stability.
The "sucking in while singing" sensation refers to the feeling of staying expanded inside. In order to exhale just a little bit, sensation can be of inhaling while singing. Inflating the body from inside even while a little air is coming out through the voice ... This is the opposite of muscling up to push air out ... but is the best way to stabilize tone and pitch in the long run.
So is support suppose to help keep the pitch steady? Is that the main purpose. I have noticed that humming produces a very stable pitch as does falsetto. Is the goal to find the right "support" to keep the right amount and consistent pressure for chest and head voice too?
Good support technique is to make it easier to have control over finely metered air, which will make pitch control much easier, high notes much easier and singing overall much easier. The vocal folds are tiny and not nearly as strong as our big powerful breathing muscles. Providing them precise amounts of "needed" air frees them up so they can do their thing, which is fragile and precision coordination. Otherwise they are having to brace against hurricane force winds.
A liberal use hyperbole, but what the heck.
Well, it seems like it is something I need to work on. I notice I get a lot of "cracks" and "pop" in my pitch which seems to be due to my stomach making a twitch or something. Hard to explain but basically I do not have an extremely consistent air flow and which it changes abruptly I get a pitch change(maybe a quarter step.). I do not know if it is heard much externally as I can hear it and feel it but it's probably not good either way.
Is support technique similar to meditation? Slowly and consciously controlling the diaphragm or is there something more going on?
By the way, I like to call it breath management. Inhale freely, controlled exhalation. There's a bunch of different ways to describe the sensation or the idea. You're not holding your breath, you're not releasing it all at once, either. But a happy comproimse in between.
Well, that doesn't help much. It's obviously a sensation and obviously something is happening... but what you describe is obvious to me. If I hold it I'm not making a sound... if I release it all at once I'll be out of breath before I have much of a chance to make a note. Maybe for most people this is not obvious.
It sounds like you are talking about meditation though. When you meditate you generally take a deep breath and try to slowly release it over a 10s of seconds in a controlled way. You repeat the process but breath in. Sometimes you do funny things like wrap your leg around your head or sit in a tree but I guess maybe that is what is meant by support. To me it is obvious but I've had many years doing it...
I can't imagine someone trying to sing by holding there breath or by releasing all the air very quickly. Doesn't make sense to me but if people do it then I suppose that is why people have to say not to do it.
For example, I rarely breath from my chest. Sometimes I breath from both to get the deepest breath I can but when I relax I always breath from my stomach. I guess It thought everyone did this. So when someone(in a vid or book) says "Breath from your lower abdomen" I wonder if I'm doing something wrong since that's what I do in the first place.
Of course I've always found things hard for most people easy and things easy for them hard for me.
You should do a forum search for everything Steven Fraser has written about breath management, support, etc. He writes about it in great detail… mechanics, sensations, exercises for developing it.
I’m a work in progress, as it seems you never perfect breath management, but continuously make noticeable improvement. Everyone’s sensations are different, but there are some basics you can work on.
For example, here is my take on it. You want a posture that gives you the best leverage over your diaphragm. Take a diaphragmatic breath keeping a noble chest with your floating ribs expanded. As you are releasing air, you use indirect musculature to help hold back the involuntary and powerful diaphragm muscle. The right posture helps that. If you aim to keep your floating ribs expanded as long as possible as you exhale, you have intercostal rib muscles helping and your solar plexus should kind of bulge. The lower abs will move inward in a continuous movement as the SP is bulging. What you don’t want to feel is a locking up rigidity to those muscles. It should be a continuous flexible movement.
People describe this feeling different ways including a sense of holding the breath back or the sensation of inhaling, sipping the air back, even though you are actually expelling it.
There are several exercises that Steven has posted that should help you.
Mark Baxter, a singing coach, talks about the delicate dance between the vocal cords and the breath. He likes to describe it as allowing the very quick and instinctive vocal cords to tell the breath mechanism how much it needs at any given time. It knows better than our conscious brain. What we do is get in the way and over rule what it already knows how to do.
Add to that, we consciously get in the way of our internal voice mechanism with commands to our external muscles around the voice box trying to help them make sounds, but in reality sabotaging the process.
People often use the example of how efficient babies breathe and how they scream all kinds of pitches. It’s only as we get a little older, we learn to override our natural “talent”.
I'll try to do some searches and reading on the forum when I get some time.
I think the issues I have, and most people, is that 1. We can't see the muscles to know which ones we need to use, 2. Even if we could we don't seem to have that kinda fine conscious muscle control. Which I guess is what a teacher is very important as it provides a feedback system which allows one to zero in on correct support(or whatever).
Maybe I just need to start taking lessons since I have no idea what I'm really doing in the first place
Stretto, you said that you breath from the stomach, except for really big breaths. To me, it sounds like you are already breathing correctly.
Jaime Vendera says that when singing, one should feel like you are gently trying to drop a deuce.
The best way I can describe it is let the note control your breath pressure. That is, you are not pushing hard enough to lift a volkswagen. Feel how your belly moves when you speak. Singing is incrementally a little more controlled than that and for a longer duration.
Last edited by ronws (2012-03-01 00:48:35)
Well, I can say I don't "push" when I sing notes. To me the breath just flows out. I have spent a good many years meditating and exercising when I was young so maybe I developed this more naturally than the average person and why it is seems odd to me.
But now that I think about it, when I sing high pitches out of my "comfort" range I guess I do push a bit trying to keep them going... maybe bad singers without breath support do in there normal range? Although I want to say I have seen some comment about others support when they didn't seem to struggle like I do at my high range... maybe two different things going on here.
And actually, I may be the worst one to try and describe what the proper sensation is because I have been singing for a long time and what feels natural for me can be a struggle for someone going through it from the start. The one habit I have had to break is to quit trying to sound like a baritone because I am not a baritone. I don't have a 4 or 5 octave range. I have about 2.5 octaves, possibly a little more on certain days. And I am okay with that, as long as I can be strong and connected throughout the range that I have.
But I do like the way Frisell describes the concentrated air stream as one ascends the scale.
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