What about a great high note makes us so crazed? The anticipation of it, the singing of it on point, and then the release of it done well? I think it is all three and it is quite a thrill. I myself being the highest type of singer, an Operatic Soprano (called a coloratura), know this subject personally.
As a singer of those notes I will say, they are quite a thrill to sing as well, even though the pressure for perfection is strong from your listeners and there are never any guarantees. That is probably why it is so thrilling to listen to- there is such risk to it all.
When done correctly you really get a whole body connection like no other moment in a piece, as you use your body as a vessel for an incredible note to beam out, whether you are belting chest voice or a classical singer hitting a high F.
But high notes need to be sung well or they are just miserable to listen to! Last thing we want is to hear or see any straining on a singer that is going for the golden notes. If when singing them you feel your larynx raising up in your throat to do so, you are not going about it correctly or healthily.
There are definitely things you can do as a singer to minimize the risk of failing at your high notes. On singing a good high note, your body needs to lock down deep- feet, legs, and abdomin to support your vocal chords. The more powerful and alert your body the freer your sound will be.
We also need to access the resonators in our forhead, top of our head, and back of our head. In other words, imagine that there is space all around your head that you need to be creating so that the sound can bouce into and off of it. You don’t want to listen to a note and feel you are at the “top” of it. Rather, you should feel like there is more room for the next note up to come. When it is totally working for me on a piece like Queen of the Night, I feel like I can’t even tell which way the sound is coming out of my head. Like I am singing backwards forward, and all around myself.
So think of the above combination for you high note success- grounded body and sound, tension free larxnx, and space to resonate all around your head. When you find that “pocket” like Adam Lambert, Freddie Mercury, and Joan Sutherland, or Luciano Pavarotti- you are in high note bliss for yourself and your audience.
Remember good singing is about letting your sound release not pushing your sound out- especially on a high note.
*Big recommendation though, until you sort this out for yourself, don’t attempt the big high notes in public. When done wrong, people can be really unforgiving!
Here are some high notes to listen to:
Pavarotti- lay down in heaven for this one. Whether you like Opera or not, his last few notes are going to make your hair raise and your eyes well! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VATmgtmR5o4
Siobhan Magnus: The crazy note is about 1:20 into this one and is ridiculous!! (in the best way) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk1nK-W0Da0
Adam Lambert: Thank you to whom ever put this clip together couldn’t be a better example (I’ve already written by Vocal God blog on him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkwJURnVGxo
written by Ariella Vaccarino creator of Voice Lessons To Go (singing lessons on CD) and author of Vocalize!
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