SumianVoice

Pedagogy

Pedagogy is the beliefs, strategies, methods and explanations that are particular to a teaching method.

This page is for quick reference so you don't need to read the entire wiki or attend all my workshops to know how I teach :)

This will be a bit of an information dump so it's not verbose. It's also a little incomplete and I'll be adding to it and changing it with time.

General Teaching Method


I adjust to the student's requested methods if any, and otherwise:

  • start on vocal weight and pitch in one movement, then resonance if needed, brightness if needed, then microbehaviours and speech patterns
  • each step should have the desired clarity and avoid bad habits, with as few sacrifices in each exercise as possible and no sacrifices in the speaking voice
  • since we have a lot of self bias in voice, it can be good to do mimicry to change our voiceprint at the intermediate to advanced levels
  • if there is a specific vocal issue we will try to isolate it, understand the underlying cause and eliminate it with a new habit
  • if the problem is persistent or has an unknown cause, my advice usually defaults to the start from scratch and add small deliberate steps method which builds the voice up from their old configuration so as to avoid accidental modifications coming in from habit
  • I encourage practice rather than just exercises. Most exercises are exploratory and cannot be 'grinded' whereas practice gives slow but high quality, generalised results.

Axioms


These are general beliefs I ascribe to:

  • It is better for practice to use a voice in conversation than to read passages
  • Training vocal weight and raising pitch is the fastest and often highest quality initial method of feminisation, learning resonance first often results in constriction. If resonance doesn't raise enough naturally when raising pitch, or if we want a specific goal, then resonance can be trained at that time
  • Some training methods are dangerous, but the reason they are dangerous is a lack of caution; some methods should only be done under supervision
  • If we have roughness, we should eliminate that before using the voice wherever possible

Vocal Weight


Vocal weight is a perceived sound quality of heaviness, and when isolated is heard as a rumble-like quality. Breathiness in a heavy configuration can show this clearly.

  • is perceptual, not a specific physical feature
  • the closest physical feature is the amount of vibrating vocal fold mass
  • caused by possibly many things, among which are the thyroarytenoid muscles
  • often buzzy when combined with high resonance, but less noticeable at high pitches without twang
  • pressing the vocal folds together does not necessarily increase weight, pressed phonation is not just heavier in weight
  • pitch is the main way we modify this since - especially if the TA muscles are responsible - pitch and vocal weight share an inverse relationship

Resonance


Resonance is how the vocal tract shape changes to filter sounds in different ways

  • high resonance is usually a feminine trait but only if accompanied with other feminine features
  • 700-800hz F1 /a/ seems to be about the minimum that most people can do in a feminine configuration and higher than 1200hz sounds out of place
  • many ways exist to modify resonance:
    • larynx height
    • mouth space
    • OPC
    • twang*
  • twang doesn't modify the frequency of the formants much or at all, but 'adds' a formant anywhere from 1500hz to 5000hz and generally adds brightness
  • resonance and brightness are correlated but not always; a high resonance voice can sound dark due to covers like breathiness or nasality, and a low resonance voice can sound bright because of vowel modifications, adduction and vocal weight
  • it's possible to raise the larynx using the stylohyoid muscles instead of the thyrohyoid muscles, effectively halving larynx height
  • the stylohyoid muscles tend not to activate when raising in pitch and letting the larynx raise on its own, and instead the thyrohyoid muscles do most of the work

Pitch


Pitch is the fundamental frequency of the voice

  • pitch isn't a gendered factor, but is very useful as a tool to modify other components
  • 170-200hz seems to be the sweetspot for most people to get lower weight but not strain to reach higher pitches
  • raising comfortable pitch range makes resonance easier to maintain even higher but does not raise resonance directly; only makes it easier to achieve the resonance configuration you can already do
  • M2 can sound hollow but it can also be trained to sound almost the exact same as M1
  • a persons highest comfortable note is usually correlated with how much they use that area of their range; more use - higher range
  • a strained voice typically has less pitch range, of course, so range expansion needs to be slow and moderately comfortable
  • low pitch feminine voices and high pitch masculine voices are hard but possible and microbehaviours can help substantially here

Microbehaviours


These are smaller than onsets and speech patterns, and describe the subconscious modifications in the voice that are either built up over time or learned through mimicry. this entire concept is quite shakey since no real information apart from observation, guesswork and anecdotes exist, so for now it's a tool with unknown origins and causes.

  • microbehaviours are the difference between a feminine voice and a masculine one when pitch, vocal weight, resonance and clarity are all kept the same
  • some of this is explained by speech patterns, and microbehaviours are what's left after we take speech patterns into account
  • medium or even high vocal weight at a low pitch sounding feminine is an example, such as imawonder
  • high resonance, light weight voices sounding andro or masculine or just dark is another example
  • mimicry is the best we have as a method for learning microbehaviours
  • once learned adequately we can often switch between microbehaviour configurations at will