Bari-Yeller? Falsetto-Flipper? Speech-Talker? [Which Singer Are You?]
Once upon a time I was what is known as a “Bari-Yeller”, basically, a baritone voice that just yelled and shouted everything with the understanding that it was just how my voice sounded.
Obviously this was all due to poor technique rather than my voice type, but at the time – it felt like ‘my truth’.
Confirmation Bias really is one of the most common issues that holds a singer back from true greatness; basically, looking for ‘confirmation’ of your issues rather than solutions to your issues.
I’ve actually been through many of the humorous voice types I’m about to share with you myself – from taking things so far in the other direction I did nothing but sing in falsetto for months, right through to singing nothing but vowels in an attempt to display how great my technique was and right back around to square one again when I thought I was ready to sing fuller – by acknowledging the stereotype you’ve fallen into, it makes it much easier to troubleshoot your issues and move forward as a singer.
I think most guys with lower voices actually start this way. As an extension of having a deep, booming, low voice; by rights our singing voices MUST sound exactly the same the whole time we’re singing, right? Let me share with you one of the most important, if slight undiplomatic things you’re ever going to hear as a baritone singer learning the ropes: Yelling Isn’t Singing. Let me just say that again for you; Yelling Isn’t Singing.
The solution to all your Bari-Yeller woes comes in the form of Mixed Voice, in essence learning to sing in full voice without the need to fully contract the TA muscle exclusively and ‘muscle’ through a song like an Ox. Your voice is designed to function as a balance of TA and CT engagement rather than just a one sided strong-man competition – learn to balance them correctly to get your head above water as a deeper voiced singer.
I actually went straight from being a Bari-Yeller into being a Falsetto-Flipper; with an unhealthy obsession with avoiding “pulling chest”, I basically caused the same issue over many months (we’re talking over a decade ago – but I remember this fretful time well).
The voice isn’t really designed to just flip into falsetto every time you go to sing a high/middle note; it’s really just the way you’re singing and the psychological intention behind your actions. If you feel like the note is too high for you – your folds will ‘brace’ for impact and flip into falsetto as a last resort when things get tense and hairy.
The key here is again to develop mixed resonance while learning to drop some of the weight that comes with your lowest register. I personally like to think of the voice like a gradient – a B2 is black, and a B5 is white; and everything else in between is just varying shades of grey.
Yep, this was also me when I first started singing. I seriously had NO idea that ‘vowel’ in singing means something wholly different to the “AEIOU” vowels that we speak with – at least, with my Australian accent that is.
When you speak, your sounds are created largely by use of the articulators – the tongue, teeth, mouth, lips etc. Now, in singing, your tongue position plus resonant space in the pharynx are really what create your vowel sounds – in essence, a sung vowel is a ‘pharyngeal vowel’.
Work on your vowels, down play your speaking accent and speech enunciation and syllables in place of resonance, fluid, connected phrases and you’ll no longer be known as the dreaded Speech-Talker.
The Wikipedia Warrior
You already know this guy. He’s the one you’ve seen commenting on videos, going nuts on reddit threads and all together spending way more time quoting Wikipedia than actually doing any singing.
In fact, these guys aren’t even singers – they’re basically trolls. Watch out for them online, they’re poison to great singing because while they can’t do it themselves, yet they sure can tell you how you’re supposed to be doing it.
This one isn’t your fault – you think you’re doing what your favourite singers are doing, right? A great example of this is people who drawl and yarl through everything thinking that’s exactly how Chris Cornell or Layne Staley sang – when in fact that rolled, weird ‘vowel thing’ that they’re doing is simply great technique and an open vowel, with a touch of stylistic articulation making it sound cool and a little sinister.
Oh yeah, Layne also wasn’t “nasal” when he sang – that’s just an unholy amount of TWANG he’s using. One is an efficient use of the epiglottis (AES) to create compression and a frequency boost, and the other, well, the other is just plain ugly nasal singing that travels through the nose.
Before you start copping your favourite singer’s personal style choices – make sure you know what they’re REALLY doing from a technique perspective first.
My heart goes out to these guys, who in essence possess naturally great singing voices from birth. The problem here is that they get away with SO many dangerous mistakes and rough edges; sounding great while doing so mind you; but with this untrained haphazard approach their vocal life is cut down to at most Ten Years (hence, Tenner).
Jon Bon Jovi and Robert Plant come to mind as guys who truly had spectacular instruments – but blew their voices within ten years of their peak simply because they sounded great while doing the wrong things.
Obviously, I’m having some fun with this post – so take it all with a grain of salt. However, I bet you’ve got a slight niggling feeling in the back of your mind that you’ve got one or two traits from these singer types, yes?
It’s okay – I’ve been there.
The key is actually to start fresh with a Rock Solid foundation for your voice – oh, and Vowel Overtones are your new best friend.
Not sure what a vowel overtone is? Watch this video:
Having BIG DREAMS as a singer means you need a BIG VOICE to match – watch the video above to hear my “before and after” and learn how you’re going to build a big voice too!
Sign up to your Vocal Plan here to master the 4 vowel overtones: