Issues In Range

Some people struggle with high notes.  Some struggle with low notes.  Some struggle with the range in between.

From one vocal register to the next adjacent one, there is a potential for what is commonly called a crack or a break.  A speech therapist might call it a glottal stroke, but we know it is out of control and the sound flips or shifts or something happens.

Embarrassing are these cracks or breaks in the voice.  They’re too common in pubescent boys, who get ridiculed or made fun of for them.  Some vocal styles may ignore or accept them, such as some folk music and some country music.

Popular singers I have heard sing with cracks in their voices include Sarah McLachlan and Phoebe Snow.  I’ve heard Garth Brooks do it and maybe on purpose because I’ve heard him sing in the same range without cracking.  In Broadway, Classical, and Pop, they’re not so common.

An audience may perceive a crack or break as a weakness in the voice.  There is a loss of volume, intensity, or power when it happens.  It is as if the vocal folds (cords) “give up” and suddenly relax and adduction decreases and air escapes, mixed with tone.  It gets quieter.

A singer can “power through” with hyper-adducted vocal folds and maybe scream or yell without cracking, but that’s not the best fix for the problem.  It’s common for the larynx to suddenly jump up as a result of or in causing the crack.  Singers who struggle with this just want it to not happen.  Wishing won’t help.

Speech therapists are familiar with the issue, but may not know what to do about it.  Some vocal coaches know what is needed to seal that crack or to repair the break, even though they don’t refer to it that way.  Some say that mixing head voice with chest voice is the answer, but it’s not actually mixing anything.

Middle voice, fully developed and under control, is the answer to how to stop cracking.  It may feel like it is a little like head voice and a little like chest voice happening at the same time.  That’s just how middle voice feels at first.  One voice, not two, three, or more feels like one voice.  Over time, we don’t feel separate tone generating entities with their evil counterparts in between.  One voice is simply the use of the entire range and it is easy.  This is where “vocaleasy” came from.

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