Friday, August 28, 2009

XXY: A small but vocal issue...

I am left today with a fear of the unknown. For more than three years now I have participated in singing studies, and my vocal range has significantly improved throughout that time. Indeed my range continues to improve, breaks are worked through, and my natural normal speaking range has changed, yet again. I have finally after all this time been told by one vocal instructor that my tone and clarity is much improved, almost acceptable or even, normal. This voice instructor went on to say that if I continue these lessons, then I can expect my normal speaking voice to change yet again...

Yet again.

So I asked myself, what if my normal speaking voice were even higher than it is now? I would be firmly in the higher range for normal women, is this a good change? So I resolved to test the current range and loaded a vocal analyzer and recorded several sets, at various normal pitch levels and lengths including generally happy, long and boring text, a bit down, etc.. Sure enough I'm ranging in pitch from 180 to 280 hz. The spectrograph shows a bit more than the average overtones that an ordinary woman would use; I have perhaps half of the harmonics a normal male would have. In this matter, science is not helping! All this singing is enabling me to use and adjust to what males would call the falsetto voice, or head voice. When I use falsetto the excessive overtones are much reduced from my full voice, ie.. closer to a natural female. And to make matters worse.. (better?) I took several sessions with another voice teacher whom started using the term counter-tenor, almost immediately. One test this instructor likes was the natural sigh, and tricky person he is, including it in the lesson without telling me about it first; But the result, middle C, was not what I expected. Middle C is the normal speaking pitch of women, and an half an octave to an octave high for 40 year old men.

All knowledge is good, the more you know, the more you understand, the more you can make personal choices about. Only in ignorance can others make choices for you. But what do I choose about the voice? If I want to present as male, then there are a number of challenges to overcome, and not the least is the appropriate speaking pitch. Males only exceedingly rarely use a pitch higher than 150 hz, and then generally only for terror, fear, or capitulation. If I were to use such a pitch, say 200 hz, then that is already one failure in presenting male.

On the positive side of this issue I no longer have serious throat pain from attempting to speak too low for too long. It is still hard to speak low, and has become more difficult to do so without being deliberate in the doing. It is disconcerting to sit down to a vocal analyzer and comfortably, naturally, speak at what is a middle voice for a woman. Another positive (?) is that as I become more competent at singing I can better hold my part, instead of following whom ever seems to know their part well. This is good, and bad. Good because I no longer automatically (well not often anyway) pitch match with other people, especially males because they still talk too low and I can end up speaking from the throat if I am not prepared. Bad because my natural vocal range appears to be +/-3 notes of middle C. I still pitch match with women who use higher pitches, because I am not as comfortable with that singing range, B below middle C to the G above.

Supposedly according to both vocal instructors that as I work out a normal high tenor full voice, this will give me an alternative to the falsetto that I find most comfortable (and not by choice!). Remember I am trying to live and work as a male, this makes doing that very awkward.

Life is...

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