Voice Project 3: Like Barry White, but drunk and on the subway

If you want people to think you’re crazy, go do some vocal exercises on the street.  Need some extra room on the subway? I recommend working on your hard glottal stop.  Say the word “hooch”, just as you are about to make the vowel sound after the “h”, slam it to a stop by tensing up your throat.  Then let it go with some force. That “punch” as you let go on “ooch” is a glottal stop. Great way to get some elbow room, or get into a territory war with the guy pan-handling for change at the end of the train platform.

Here is my voice sample from the exercise. Apparently, you can only host something on youtube if it has an image, and this is what I got when I Googled “weird subway guy”. Also, I’m embarrassed and afraid of the internet, so you have to click this link to hear the clip.

The focus of my work is a tonal issue–I speak from the back of my throat, which makes me sound a little bit croaky, and if I try to get louder, or shout something like “hey!” as in “Hey girl! I like the way you responsibly herd your children away from crazy persons like myself in such a busy metropolis”, it sounds a little bit honky.  Already being a honky, I have no need to further advertise.

Much like you can’t write about dance or Christian about Jews (except Jesus), it’s proved some dumb ish to read about voice.  I’ve  faithfully done all of the exercises that involve me lying on the floor, breathing through my butt, humming, hemming and hawing, cawing and mowing.

All these exercises and I thought I was on the fast track to Barry White status with my tone. I even recorded myself in what I thought was a rich, sexual chocolate of a voice.

Like a drunk man on the subway, how hard the proud fall.  The results weren’t just bad, but…creepy.  Really, really creepy.  Creepy and sad, like someone upset about the fact that no one will sit next to them on a subway even when it’s crowded.

Here it is, again with link.

By the way, I made two voice samples, but one of the excerpts I was reading mentioned children, and that made me far too uncomfortable.

As much as the books are helping, some help from my roommate, a former chorus singer and current Glee watcher, has gone way further.  We’ve worked on humming, which helps bring the voice out of my throat.

The trick is to hum in such a way that your lips start tingling.  Really good singers like that Chris Martin lady from Coldplay should feel the vibration up through their cheeks and even their forehead.  After humming with my roomate (the right way) for even twenty minutes, my lips were tingling in such a way that guys tweaking on the subway  could really relate to.

The next step was doing a five-step scale with my mouth open.  An easy way to get this going was to start by humming and then open into an “ah” sound–going “mmmmm–Aahh”.

The result, peer-reviewed, has been much better.


About Big Adam

A NYC doorman, a community organizer, wannabe ape, sometimes blogger, sometimes writer, always crossword puzzle incompleter, I will ride bicycles with your papa, dance Bhangra with your mama, take you on dates that cost nada.
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