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We kick start this weeks episode with rock band Edenthorn, check them out on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/edenthornband
Today, we chat with Dr. Daniel Zangger Borch, a vocal coach and scientist who discusses his views on warm ups, vibrato, comments on recent issues that commercial singers are faced with these days and, just generally, hear his views on the whole singing malarky. Having just finished a 6 hour workshop with Daniel we were very grateful to have him sit with us and chat about his experience and opinions. We’re sure you guys will love it.
More about Daniel
His rock singing career started out with a record deal in the 80’s. After experiencing worsening vocal fatigue during his tours he came round to the fact he’d have to see a vocal coach. Yet after working on making things ‘safe’ vocally with his teacher his following tour ended with poor reviews from the rock world, saying that he sounded like a musical theatre singer! WHICH IS OBVS NOT A BAD THING! But, not great if you’re a rock act. This set off his interest in pedagogical aspects of the voice and how it works for pop and rock singers. As there were no teachers in Sweden that worked with a rock style at the time he used his own training and research to get his voice back to the sound he desired. Along the way, Daniel had discovered much about technique, stamina and science and wanted to bring them all together!
So it became a personal quest for him. Since ’96, he’s been working extensively with Dr Johan Sundberg who’s had an obviously strong scientific influence on him. Daniel was fortunate to also have the personal experience of hundreds of gigs, so had a clear idea on what questions he wanted to get to the bottom of. He knew he was one step ahead of other singers as he had the practical experience to apply the science to.
Daniel has a strong focus to utilise science in his teaching. In his view, it’s important to clarify any points made in singing referencing the scientific facts.
We asked Daniel about the benefits of vocal methodology. Is there only one way to learn?
There are benefits to the systems of teaching from a ‘rule book’ or manual, perhaps early on when a student may not be knowledgeable about their voice and may require some initial guidance. When knowledge is developed, a student needs to make their own choices in moving forward to improve. If you limit someone to only using certain shapes or noises, it’s not singing… it’s mathematics. And Daniel is all about the authenticity of the sound created. To avoid losing the unique sound of a vocalist, start with their authenticity and then make it safe. Occasionally, the lack of experience from individuals advising singers leads them to the wrong goal or erases their signature sound, especially with commercial artists. They worry so much about about getting things wrong and hurting someones voice, its almost “too safe”.
— The Naked Vocalist (@tnvquestions) October 11, 2015
His views on warming up are to keep it relatively short and to the point. There certainly are different approaches. He visited a classical teacher when he first started singing. The focus was heavily on vowels, but he found he got very tired straight after warming up.
He believes 5 to 6 minutes of optimal semi-occluded exercises are key. With or without a straw, they create a positive oral pressure meaning the collision of the vocal folds is less intense and they don’t tire as much. That effect is greater when going into narrow vowels, so slow and steady wins the race. Don’t run before you can walk! A chest register though a puffy cheek would feel like an expanding pharynx, pushing the structure of your throat to the side. It most certainly should feel like singing and not a light hum.
A sprinter would need a different kind of warm up than a marathon runner. So if you have a song to perform, you need to be full out ready almost immediately, especially if the pressure is on due to a live performance on TV or radio. But if you have a four hour gig, it’s a completely different ball game. Placement of songs in your set can help with this. If it’s going to be a long night of singing, this needs to be taken into consideration.
Then onto vibrato…. thoughts Daniel?
In Daniels view, ’Pop’ vibrato is a short cut for singers that aren’t that developed technically. They will add a tremble by engaging and relaxing the diaphragm, which results in a sound too slow and almost sluggish. A natural vibrato will have a will ‘tremor’ much faster due to the result of a relaxed larynx, but finding a balance between the 2 achieves a much more desirable sound. Session singers have the responsibility of being able to fulfil different genres, so to be able have control like that is a real skill.
What’s with all of the vocal injuries these days?
We discuss the plight of contemporary singers nowadays; their high workloads, and how can they avoid the almost inevitable meltdown that seem to occur. It’s a common thing to be recording in the studio, hanging around, and then suddenly their record becomes a hit. They’re faced with sometimes three gigs a day, whether it be radio, interview, TV or then perhaps a concert in the evening. Constantly switching from speech to singing. Young vocalists may have the skills but not the stamina required and the voice needs training and constant attention. It’s the perfect excuse to workout every day!
Daniels website is zangger.se, check it out for Daniels literature and more. His new book ‘Vocal Workout Of The Day’ is available to buy in the new year, all be it, in Swedish. It’s due to be translated into English asap!
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Take care warblers. For more in-depth chatter listen to the full episode above!
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