It is my firm belief that ALL the sounds a singer wishes to make are equally important and must be taken seriously and be included for research. By removing the restrictive ‘ideals of sounds’ from musical styles and by dividing and isolating all the elements of sound, it becomes the artist’s personal artistic choices that determine the sound rather than convention. I do not wish to judge which sounds should be considered ‘right’ and essential to learn. All sounds are equally valuable; therefore CVT includes tools to perform all the sounds in the voice I have ever encountered.
My own story
I never had a natural talent for singing. In fact, I even had problems breathing. My first singing lessons were an attempt to overcome breathing problems due to asthma. One way or another I had to develop techniques to get the sounds I wanted. The first step was to understand the anatomy and physiology of the voice and this enabled me to distinguish between myths and truths about the voice. I then experimented with achieving the sounds in ways other than the traditional methods. The only natural talent I had was a love for music coupled with the belief that everything is possible and the energy to keep going. That is why I can truly say that if I was able to learn and achieve the sounds I wanted then anybody can.
While I was working on my technical problems through the years I had always listened to all kinds of music. That was probably why many singers of popular music began asking me to help them achieve certain sounds and overcome vocal problems, even though I was trained as and eventually performed as a classical singer. It seemed to me that they wanted the healthy aspect of the classical technique but without the classical sound. I thought that it must be possible to benefit from the technique without being constrained by the narrow ideals of sound. To do this however, I had to find out how sound was produced, and this encouraged me to study many styles of singing, speech and hearing science, acoustics and spectral ear training.
Singing techniques were always presented with attached ideals i.e within sound colours.. If you wanted to use the technique you had to accept these ideals. I did not want to accept that. I wanted to seperate taste and technique in order to isolate the technique so that singers could combine the endless elements to create any sound they are looking for without interference of taste from a technique/teacher.
According to traditional Western perception, blues, rock, gospel and also many ethnic singers, for instance in Arabic classical music, do not sound as a ‘healthy singer’ should sound. And yet many of these singers sing more frequently and for longer than many classical singers in top technical form. In addition many hard or heavy rock singers have been predicted as having short-lived careers and have proven their critics wrong. In fact, many of these singers often sing better and better throughout the years, regardless of how ‘damaging’ their singing sounds.
I have based my research on a wide range of experience of singers singing live and in the studio with many different sounds other than the classical western style without damaging the voice. I know these singers must have excellent techniques for them to sing for so long and still sound so great. I started looking for common factors in their singing to search for an underlying structure to the various sounds.
It became apparent to me that there IS an underlying structure to the various sounds. I tried to understand this by de-constructing as many different sounds as possible from many different types of music, taking into account the sound, the vowel, the pitch, and the volume, to see if there was a pattern. Gradually this pattern became more and more evident and I concluded that the sounds could be divided into two overall categories. One was harder, rougher and more direct – I named this ‘metallic’ sound. I named the other category ‘non-metallic’.
It became apparent that the sounds could be further categorised depending on how ‘metallic’ the sounds were i.e. ‘full-metallic’ or ‘half-metallic’. In addition there appeared to be two distinct types of full-metallic voice. This meant that there were four main categories or vocal ‘modes’ in total: one non-metallic voice quality I called ‘Neutral’, one half-metallic voice quality I called ‘Curbing’, and two full-metallic voice qualities I called ‘Overdrive’ and ‘Edge’ (formerly ‘Belting’). Detecting the four vocal modes was, however, only half of the process of discovery. The next stage of my research was to demonstrate that I and a small group of accomplished singers could perform all these distinct vocal modes.
The birth of Complete Vocal Technique
The work developed to such an extend that all sounds the human voice can produce could be categorised and organised into a clear system. In effect, a whole new concept in singing technique was formed which, contrary to previous techniques and beliefs, could be applied to all styles of music.
I then experimented with the sounds used in classical singing and found that the classical sounds are also produced by non-metallic, half-metallic and full-metallic modes. This confirmed to me that the vocal modes are the foundation of the very structure of the voice and therefore encompass all sounds, all singing techniques, and all musical styles.
Further work with the vocal modes made it possible to identify their advantages and limitations. When singers appreciate the advantages and respect the limitations of the vocal modes they will gain a better overview of the possibilities of the voice and will be able to choose freely between the various sounds in addition to avoiding damaging the voice.