News & Reviews
Melissa on Discovery Channel, NPR and more
this email was sent out on: 05:35:58 PM Sat., December 17, 2005
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You can view recent Melissa Cross appearances:
Discovery Channel and Science Channel
Scroll to “wanna be a rock star” video
Melissa talks to Terry Gross on National Public Radio

Now some recent mail:

Two years ago I was in a hardcore band screaming with light singing when I decided while attending school to take a voice class where I was EXTREMELY surprised to find out that I was a natural born tenor. I have starred in several operas and am an avid classical singer. But I regret that as part of my choice I had to quit my band because it was ruining my vocal cords. The content that you mentioned in your NPR interview was already known to me, yet I still found it impossible to do both at the same time.

A entire piece in the Maintenance section ending up on the cutting room floor. In that section, I warned anyone who wished to pursue a career in opera NOT to engage in extreme vocal production. It is not that it RUINS the vocal cords. However, it defiles the purity of range necessary to maintain the integrity of the one's particular operatic repertoire. Too much chest registration causes some subtle wear and tear and a "heaviness”; particularly concerning the lyric tenor and soprano voices. I have deep respect and love for all forms of music and I commend you on pursuing that which you love, whatever that is, and to pursue it with all the quality effort possible.

I recently purchased your Zen of Screaming DVD and am doing very well with it. However I am having some problems understanding the ending part about the Marge Simpson voice. I can’t seem to figure out how to make that noise without making a sharp, screech type noise or just a static type noise. Some help would be appreciated. Thanks.

That screeching sound that you are describing correctly feels "above the pencil"? More so than the "lose your lunch" gag reflex weight on the throat that you have probably experienced in attempted to put distortion on a note or even attempt a high or low scream in the past? The "Marge Simpson" effect epitomizes the different placement of a scream by isolating the "white noise" part of the sound at a low volume and increasing the amplitude with the DUMP and with the shape of the throat. The imagination has to be trained to dictate the initiation of the sound in the “higher up” place of Marge Simpson, not the scraping the larynx most feel by imitating CDs. If you play around with a "zone" or "chant-like" consistency (DUMP) with Marge Simpson (RAISED LARYNX without jamming it up and moving it around for each sound) and further experiment by moving to lower placed vowels like OH and ERR, you can begin to understand the journey to distortion without damage.

Recently I've had a few occasions where I’ve found my throat tightening up and closing somewhat while I'm singing. It happens while belting out Tool - Crawl Away and ACDC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. For the Tool song, I'm at the edge of my range and singing powerfully. For the ACDC, I'm singing for the first time in falsetto. It only occurs after a number of songs and I slowly feel the tension building until my throat starts to close. My pitch goes lower and I try to swallow to get my throat back

You are being a naughty boy, I thinks! If your throat feels like it is "tightening up" and closing, it is. It is called SWELLING. It happens because the dump is not coordinating with the sound execution for whatever reason. You mentioned some distinctly stylized vocal heroes in the covers that you are choosing to perform. Would I be correct and suspecting that you are hearing them in your mind when you are performing those covers instead of "driving your own car" by virtue of the imagery in The Zen of Screaming? The AC/DC sound is "pinched" falsetto. Falsetto is the ultimate "above the pencil" sensation. If you are pinching it too much and/or lifting and dropping the larynx repeatedly throughout a rehearsal or a gig, you are in BIG trouble. That is called OVERUSE. It feels below the pencil. The pinch or lift needs to be perfectly balanced with the By The Way /Rotunda/Dump/Over the Pencil/ Launch the vowel across the club though (all in the same split second!) There is no room for channeling any singer or concept of quality such as "powerful" or "kick ass" or "rockin" or any other word formerly associated with great performance in your imagination. Are you listening to your sound? Bad boy! That will make your dump freeze and not "flow"- wrong part of the brain for efficient operation! I don't understand the "my pitch goes lower" part of your question, but if it means that you are singing off key, chances are your body is telling you to lower the key of the tune by a 1/2 step at least or even a whole step. You are still going to get the same effect because it is where your voice drives properly. Believe me, no one in the audience is going to be thinking, "That guy is lame: he's singing the tune in A flat and Maynard sings it in A!" That just doesn't happen in the world as I know it. Remember, if it hurts, it means take a break for a few to let the blood come back to your vocal cords. Be kind to them and they will return your love!!




"...the Bible for extreme vocals. Don't open your mouth 'til you've watched this DVD." Tom Beaujour, Editor, REVOLVER MAGAZINE > MORE INFO
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