What to do instead of “placing” your voice

An iconic fling (the woman in the background looks committed to placement, LOL)

An iconic fling (the woman in the background looks committed to placement, LOL)

As I explained in my previous post, I don’t like the term “placement” because it implies that we are to carefully put our voice in some predetermined location. These days, I am much more likely to use the fun word “fling” to describe what I want to happen to my notes.

To me, flinging means that we toss something without regard to its destination…we simply hurl it willy-nilly and see where it ends up. That is a perfect way to regard the vocal phenomenon formerly known as Placement. It’s easiest to fling a tone on a wide-ish interval, like an octave, and if you change the vowel from an ah to an oo. Try it back and forth fast and without aiming the oo’s: ah-oo-ah-oo-ah-oo. (Men, start with ah at the C below Middle C or a bit higher. Women, start with your ah somewhere between Middle C and the F above. For everyone, fling to an oo an octave higher than your starting pitch.)

If you’re accomplishing what I’m calling flinging the tones, you’ll find this freeing and fun and you may be surprised where the oo’s place themselves.

To ascertain whether you actually succeeded in flinging instead of placing the oo’s, see if you can sing these yodel-y octaves at a volume I refer to as super-quiet. It’s tone sung at the threshold of audibility, less than pianissimo. Like when you sing to yourself in a public space so that no one else can hear. (I can demonstrate exactly the volume I mean if you are in the same room with me sometime. Absolute volume is pretty much impossible to indicate on a recording.)

Super-quiet flinging will work only if you are truly flinging. If you use another strategy, it will be obvious. If you restrict your airflow to try to sing a super-quiet high note, you will either get nothing or there will be a break in the line. If you push to try to get the high notes out, they will come out louder than super-quiet.

Once you can fling easily on super-quiet oo, you’ll eventually be able to transfer this new skill to other vowels and volumes. It’s April, so treat yourself to a spring fling today. 😉


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