Vocal Release is a popular singing software product that focuses on developing the voice through a series of singing exercises and proper technique.
The download version of Vocal release contains all of the files that are part of the training, including MP3s and an extensive singing manual. The physical copy is 7 CDs and a book.
Vocal release is meant to span 8 weeks of vocal training. The first two weeks are devoting to removing the physical tensions and strains that often put limitations on range and expressiveness and generally result in forced and unenjoyable singing.
Weeks three and four teach the singer to negotiate the break in the voice or the passaggio. This includes getting rid of bad vocal habits and learning the right amount of vocal compression (which has to do with how forcefully you push air through closed vocal folds) in order to achieve an smooth transition through the break.
Weeks 5, 6 and 7 teach the singer resonance. This includes getting the sound into the “mask”, which creates overtones, making for a much richer sound that projects extremely well. Using the mask also gives the singer a “point” to his or her voice, which makes tuning dramatically easier for the singer and perception of the singer’s pitch less difficult for the listener. Balancing resonance is also vital to ensuring that the voice has a uniform tone quality throughout the entire singing range.
Week 8 involves applying everything that you’ve learned so far into an actual song.
Week 9 is the end of the cycle and you start all over again, strengthening your vocal skills at each stage.
Vocal Release covers all of the following singing topics:
Vocal Fry: Vocal fry is a way to feel the adduction of the vocal folds. This is very important because making sure that the vocal folds are closed on every note that you sing is what allows you to sing with ease and great tone throughout every part of your range.
Chest Voice: Chest voice refers to the bottom part of your singing register that has bassier and “heavier” qualities than the middle and top.
Middle Voice: Mixed voice or voix mixte/voce mista, is the band of the vocal range that straddles the chest voice and head voice. It is essentially the part of the range that needs to be developed in order to smoothly negotiate the head voice/chest voice register break. It has both chest voice and head voice tonal characteristics.
Head voice: This part of the range is called the head voice because the feeling of resonance is confined primarily to the upper mask area. This is often the most difficult part of the range to develop consistency in because this is where all of the high “money” notes lie.
Whistle Voice: The whistle register, also known as the “flageolet” register is the highest phonating register that a human can possess. All women can develop the use of this sound and singers like Mariah Carey have made it known in popular music, while in classical music, the “queen of the night” aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” is perhaps the most famous piece calling for the ability to sing accurately within the whistle register. Check out the video below to hear some examples:
Falsetto: Falsetto is not head voice. It’s called the “false” voice because the vocal cords don’t fully come together. The falsetto sound is feminine and lacking in power and roundness.
The speaking voice: Speaking correctly is extremely important to singers. Speaking incorrectly can actual damage the voice or at the very least irritate it and make it difficult to sing.
Resonance with respect to tone and pitch: By making proper use of resonance and maintaining a neutral larynx, the singer can achieve pitch accuracy and excellent tone quality without resorting to “belting” or any other kind of compensatory muscular action.
High pressure singing/using too much air: Many singers use too much muscular tension and push too much air through the vocal folds as they’re trying to negotiate the higher parts of their vocal register. In actuality, you don’t need any more air to sing high notes.
Achieving vocal resonance: Resonance is important but it also shouldn’t be forced. It should happen in a relaxed manner as a result of keeping the larynx in a neutral position, freeing the tongue and jaw from tension and practicing good vocal habits.
Singing on pitch: Learning to sing on pitch is critical to just about every singer, regardless of style and genre. This is partially an issue of ear training and partially an issue of kinesthetic awareness. Both come with time and practice and entraining the right vocal habits will eventually lead you to sing on pitch.
Eliminating the Vocal Break: Most singers “flip” somewhere in the middle of their range and then the notes above that “break” or “passaggio” are much more difficult to produce. This is normal but with time and practice, the singer will find that it doesn’t require more effort to produce those notes. It’s actually counterintuitive but it requires about the same amount of effort (which shouldn’t be very much!)
Singing Warmups: Warming up the voice with singing warmups is important because it helps the singer avoid hurting the voice during practice and also helps the singer get into the headspace of increased awareness of their voice, physiology and sound.
Breathing for singing and for people with trouble singing high notes: The diaphragm is an involuntary muscle and the common advice to “sing with the diaphragm” is nonsense. The diaphragm contracts on the INHALE and in response to a steady release of air. So breathing exercises can be helpful only to the extent that they train awareness and how to back off the right amount and allow the breathing mechanism to function freely and properly on its own.
Vocal resonance: Vocal release teaches you how to achieve resonance balance, which leads to a warm, strong voice throughout the entire singing range.
Vocal cord adduction (vocal fold closure): This is probably one of the most important things in singing. In order for the vocal cords to vibrate with sound, they have to be closed. It’s as simple as that. If they aren’t closed, the tone will come out breathy and pitchy and simply unpleasant. Learning to “zip up” the vocal cords should be one of the first things a singers focuses on.
Vocal compression: Compressing a small amount of air through the tiny chink in the vocal cords needs to be approached carefully because overcompressing can damage the voice.
Resonance with minimal effort: The beauty of learning to resonate your voice in all of the available resonators of the head and throat is that your sound becomes louder and more round just because it has more space to vibrate. This is the reason that opera singers are so darn loud without even using a microphone!
Vocal upkeep: Use it or lose it, right? Keeping the voice in shape requires paying it some attention from time to time with the right warmups and exercises.
Vocal workout without scales: Vocal release teaches you how to strengthen your voice without resorting to sometimes boring vocal exercises.
Trigger sounds: Triggers sounds use particular cues with results in a different vocal sound.
Singing sounds then singing words: To achieve the smoothest, most even vocal line requires joining vowels together smoothly and making consonants short, crisp and late. This is why many teachers have their students sing songs with just vowels then add the full words in later.
Warming Down: Just as athletes do warmdowns after exercises to buffer lactic acid build up and prevent intense muscular contractions, so must a singer do a light warmdown after a practice session to ease the voice out its state of muscular tension.
How To Sing High Notes: Vocal release teaches you how to sing high notes correctly. The fact is that most singers try to push their chest voice extremely high and what results is that they drag the weight of the bottom part of the range down up into their upper register and produce a labored, one-dimensional sound. At the same time, many singers use entirely too much air to achieve this result.
Adapting to various singing environments: Practicing in the same studio space all the time can lead a singer to believe that other spaces sound relatively similar. Then they go to perform there and are thrown off by the widely different acoustics. This chapter details how to adapt to various singing environments.
How To Choose A Microphone: Choosing a microphone is an incredibly important part of a singer’s life. Microphones can make or break your sound and choosing the right one is vital.
Microphone Technique: Singing with a microphone is different from singing without one. It requires learning how close you can get to the microphone to avoid spikes in volume, how to avoid fricative sounds like “ffff” or popping sounds like “p!” that would startle your audience, etc.
Vocal health: This chapter deals with diet, sleep, exercise and other vital things relating to the health of your voice.
Singing Practice Productivity: Vocal release helps you stay on track with productive singing practice because it’s designed as an 8 week course. Maintaining a consistent practice schedule is what makes the difference between a decent singer and a great singer.
Voice types: Singers often get too caught up what type of voice they have. Am I a bass, soprano, alto, etc? The fact is that regardless of your voice type, you have an entire range of notes and emotions at your disposal and you’ll be able to learn how to make use of them all.
Singing Style: While you can go out and imitate your favorite singers, this will reflect in your vocal style and people will probably tell you that you sound like this guy or that gal. What every singer and artist in general wants is to sing with a unique vocal style that’s personal and appealing to others. Vocal release guides you through acquiring a vocal sound that’s truly “you”.
Singing Cover Songs: Singing cover songs sometimes means imitating the artist’s sound. This may or may not be a good idea as many artists don’t sing particularly well or correctly. This section covers how to sing covers without hurting your voice!
Vocal mimicry: This chapter of vocal release talks about how to sound exactly like another artist if that’s what you’re going for and how to avoid unintentionally mimicking them to help your own unique voice develop.
Singing Fundamentals: Breath Support, Vocal fold Adduction, Keeping a neutral layrnx, Resonance.
Dealing with the problems that arise on stage: Every singer gets stage fright from time to time, equipment may malfunction and gigs may get canceled just as you arrive. This chapter explains how to deal with stuff that happens on stage in a professional, calm way.
Singing Terms Dictionary: This is the part of the Vocal Release manual that defines common singing terms.
Resonance Chart: This is a chart that accompanies the resonance lessons to help give you a visual idea of where resonance actually “goes” in the head.