Category Archives: Voice

World Voice Day Melbourne, 2015, with the Australian Voice Association

World Voice Day 2015

On Thursday 16th of April I had the pleasure of being a part of World Voice Day 2015, at the Australian Voice Association’s Melbourne event. In the beautiful setting of Library on the Dock, about 40 attendees, mostly choral singers, came to learn about vocal anatomy & health.

My fellow presenters included ENT surgeon Dr. Amanda Richards, and speech pathologist Meaghan Sullivan, both of whom gave informative & entertaining presentations on vocal anatomy & health.

I particularly enjoyed Meaghan’s idea of the “vocal bucket”. Even if you have good vocal technique, your vocal folds are muscles like any other in the body, and they can be fatigued from overuse. You have a “bucket” of vocal use on any given day, and when you use your voice you are filling it up, and it can overflow.

Singing is more taxing on the voice than speaking, because it usually involves taking your voice higher than your usual speech pitch; the higher the pitch produces by the vocal folds, the faster they are vibrating – they collide with each other hundreds of times a second, so going higher fills up your vocal bucket faster!

Before the event I wasn’t quite sure what the other presenters would be including in their presentations, so I decided to keep my speech, at the start of the event, away from vocal anatomy, leaving that to the medical professionals. I focused more on something which I see commonly in so many singers – the shying away from identifying oneself as “a singer”, despite doing a lot of singing!

Do you sing or play music and not consider yourself a singer or a musician? Do you feel there is a requirement of some kind you have to have – qualifications, earning money, amount of time spent doing it – to call yourself a singer/musician? Did this “requirement” come from something someone else told you, or just from your own head? Is it completely arbitrary? I am putting together a video presentation about this topic, so stay tuned for that!

At the end of the evening, after Meaghan and Amanda had given their presentations, I finished the event with a couple of quick interactive exercises, talking about the useful concept of Effort Numbering which I learned through the Estill model, and how it can apply to things such as “mouth effort” and “breath effort vs vocal effort”. This part of my presentation was not planned and as such felt a little rushed and underprepared, but the audience seemed to enjoy it nonetheless!

In retrospect, I would have liked to teach the assembled singers about the false vocal folds and how to retract them; but I also didn’t want to keep everyone sitting & listening too long at that time of the evening when they’d already absorbed a lot of information. Ah well, save it for next time!

It was a lovely evening, thankyou so much to the Australian Voice Association for asking me to be a part of it, thankyou to Amanda & Meaghan for your fantastic presentations, and thankyou to everyone who came along and participated and asked questions!

Click here for a review of the event written by Jason from the Melbourne Contemporary Choir.

Which vocal method do I choose?

You may have heard me say that as a voice coach I specialise in “vocal anatomy based technique“. But what does that mean? And do I use a particular vocal “method”?

As a performer, I have a strong preference for being a versatile vocalist; being able to create and control many different kinds of sounds, textures, and tones. If a singer only uses a few similar vocal sounds, they may be limited in the different kind of styles and genres they can find work in. (This also applies to actors, including those in musical theatre – more vocal sounds in your toolbox means more kinds of characters you are able to be cast as.) Vocal versatility means you can sing in many different styles, which makes you valuable (aka employable) to more people with more different kinds of projects… it also means as a musician you have more fun & variety in your working life!

As a voice teacher, I have a similar approach; I have learnt from many different vocal teachers over the years, and I thoroughly enjoy studying and researching about the voice and vocal technique from many different sources, as well as investigating different kinds of vocal “methods”. However, when learning voice I was often frustrated by the nature of the majority of instruction that seemed to be given by most voice teachers; esoteric, imagery-based instructions such as “place the sound forward” which sometimes made sense, and sometimes sounded like a foreign language.

I wanted to know what it all actually meant inside my larynx – what is your voice actually doing when you’re in “chest voice” or “head voice” and going between them? What actually physically happens when you “place the sound in the mask”?

I also had certain aspects of singing that seemed to constantly elude me; getting more strength and power out of my voice, for example. Sometimes I would be practicing and something would happen and for one song it would all be working… but then I would spend the next few weeks trying and failing to make it happen again, not really knowing what I was aiming for other than a vague “feeling”.

How do I get a stronger voice?

What does chest voice and head voice mean?

Why does my voice get tired?

These questions were all answered for me when I had my first lesson with an Estill Voice Training teacher. In an hour and a half, I learnt more about how my voice worked than i had in my entire Bachelor of Music. My teacher showed me a simple exercise which took the feeling of an “invisible ceiling” away from my voice – what I had been trying to push through to get a better & stronger sound was explained to me, and remedied, in one lesson.

I was hooked. Knowing how my voice actually worked and the explanations behind the sounds & feelings involved with singing was (and is) incredibly empowering. I am consistently baffled by singers who are not interested in this approach; it’s like a guitarist not wanting to know how to change their strings. I don’t understand how you could not want to know how your instrument works – especially when that knowledge can help you use it so much better.

vocal method
Me with my voice nerd family at the Estill Voice Training Symposium, Jan 2015

When people ask what Estill is, I try to explain that it’s not really a vocal “method”. You see so many claims, especially online, of one or another vocal method claiming to be the best. “Learn to sing fast!” “How to sing better than anyone!” “Best vocal method taught exclusively at our studio!” Vocal coaches tout their amazing vocal method that they claim only they can teach you. Some vocal coaches are surrounded by an air of mystery and exclusivity; they have taught [insert famous person here] and we assume they must have some magical secret to the voice.

It’s no secret; the larynx is a physical mechanism like any other physical mechanism in the body. We can research and study and examine it, we can experiment, we can practice, and it doesn’t require a particular “method”; just knowledge, understanding, and practice.

Rather than a “method”, I would describe Estill as more of a system for categorising the different parts involved in singing (and speaking), separating them and showing you how to control them independently, and then combining them for any desired vocal sound. And of course, Estill is just one way of looking at vocal anatomy; I love to learn and study the voice from many different sources, so that not only do I have a deeper understanding, but so that I have many different ways of describing it to my students, because of course everyone has a different learning style and different levels of experience.

I am not yet a qualified Estill teacher, but this approach has informed my own vocal technique as well as what I teach my students, more than anything else I have learnt in my life of vocal training, and I am always learning more things as I work towards my qualification.

And of course, going back to performing… my own practice and performance as a vocalist has benefitted immeasurably from my new understanding & control of my voice. The anatomy-based approach, rooted in Estill, enables you as a performer to be as versatile as possible. Having isolated control over the different mechanisms involved in vocalisation allows you to mix and match the mechanisms on their various settings, to create a wide range of vocal sounds & timbres… which can then be applied to many different styles of singing & genres of music. It’s also much more fun to have so many colours in your palette to play with!

So, that’s a bit of a description and explanation of my journey to the current day, and why I find the anatomy-based approach, and the Estill structure, so valuable. I hope I didn’t bore you silly, and if you’d like to find out more about all this, give me a call anytime or email me on info@bectilley.com!

Top 10 Tips For A Healthy Voice (Australian Voice Association)

Further to my last post about the Australian Voice Association’s national seminar – here is one of their resources, a poster which is now on my wall – their top ten tips for a healthy voice.  These apply equally to speech as they do to singing… if you’d like to download your own PDF copy of the poster, click here.

australian voice assocation top 10 tips for a healthy voice

Australian Voice Association’s National Seminar; and a strange use for an iPhone…

To the right is a photo of my vocal folds (aka vocal cords).  They are in the act of phonating (vibrating together, creating sound).  How this photo was taken may surprise you – read on to find out more!
vocal folds iPhone endoscopy larynx
 
I consider myself a huge “voice nerd”; basically I can’t get enough of learning about the voice.  While reading good voice books is a great way to do this (I’m currently enjoying studying “Is Your Voice Telling On You?” by Daniel R. Boone). 

 

They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with; I’m sure this is true professionally, too.  One of my favourite quotes is:
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
So in early November, I took myself into a room full of medically qualified voice experts.

 

The Australian Voice Association is a great organisation which brings together vocal professionals from all areas & disciplines; primarily speech pathologists (aka speech therapists), and otolaryngologists (aka Ear, Nose & Throat surgeons or ENTs), as well as singers, vocal coaches & singing teachers like myself.  On Thursday 6th November they held their national satellite seminar at the lovely Baha’i Centre in Hobart.

 

We enjoyed presentations of research, an interactive workshop introduction to Alexander Technique by local practitioner & physiotherapist Elke Rudolph (fascinating stuff which I hope to study further, as I believe it can be of great assistance to any singers), and I sat on a discussion panel with an ENT and speech pathologist to discuss voice disorders in children after fascinating presentations on the subject by Dr Daniel Novakovic (ENT) and Dr Estella Ma, Associate Professor at Hong Kong University.

 

There were several presentations from different voice experts to the whole group, as well as smaller group discussions on specific topics.  Later in the evening we enjoyed a reception at Government House including some lovely performances.

 

At dinner afterwards some mischief occurred – pictured is Dr. Daniel Novakovic “scoping” my vocal folds using the highly scientific tool of my iPhone 5S, over the dinner table, much to the amusement of the assembled company (and the folks at the tables around us).  Don’t try this at home, kids – remember that Dr. Novakovic is a qualified medical professional!

 

iphone endoscopy australian voice association

 

The footage he took was remarkably clear – you can see it below:

 

 

In December, I was in Sydney while on tour with Damon Albarn, so I went in to see Dr. Novakovic in his office, and we did a proper endoscopy examination, both oral and nasal.  We did take some footage as I demonstrated various vocal techniques and sounds, and this may be released online at some point.

 

It was wonderful to attend the AVA seminar and connect with many great voice experts, both ENTs and speech pathologists (many of whom are also singers), and learn more about this fascinating instrument of ours and how to take care of it.  I look forward to the next one!

Vocal pain gone = Definitely a good thing!

I took this screenshot of an email I got a while back from a new student after her first lesson.  This kind of message makes me really happy!  If I can save just one person from vocal pain or potential damage, that makes it all worth it… (Luckily I get to help many more than one!)

IMG_3558

Adventures with a voice student and an ENT!

Last Thursday was my 25th birthday, and I had a very exciting experience – I went with one of my singing students to her appointment with an ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat specialist).  

This student has been taking lessons with me since February, and is similar to me in that she is an energetic, outgoing, and outspoken young lady (she is about 14 years old).  Previously she had never done any singing training, but enjoys singing and has a lovely strong voice, particularly in her lower range (thick folds).

However, I did note that she found it quite difficult to go up into her higher range (thin folds/stiff folds); she has improved somewhat with exercises designed to help tilt the thyroid cartilage and go into “thin folds”, however still often had a breathy or croaky/crackly sound in her higher range and definitely found it challenging.

She also had the kind of speaking voice and vocal habits in speech that reminded me of other people I have known who have regularly lost their voice or had voice issues; outgoing people who talk loudly around their friends or when they get excited, tend to shout a lot or have to talk in loud environments; I could hear from her speaking voice that she could easily lose her voice if she pushed it too much.  While I have worked with her on retracting the false vocal folds to avoid vocal trauma, I felt there was potentially something going on which I didn’t have a solution for.

I am not a speech pathologist, so I do not have sufficient knowledge/qualification to diagnose a student with any kind of vocal pathology; but if I hear something in a student’s voice that seems to be something other than just lack of control, I will always recommend that the student see a speech pathologist or ENT to check that there is nothing potentially dangerous going on (like vocal nodes or nodules) or any other kind of vocal pathology or speech habit that needs special training.

My student has had some sinus issues as well, so when she went to her GP to get a referral, they recommended that she see an ENT.

There are only two ENT’s in Hobart, so there was quite a long wait, but finally we went in to see Dr. Nusa Naiman.

I was like a kid in a candy store – nerding out about voice stuff gets me very excited, and while my student and her mum were happy to have me there to help describe the issue to Dr. Naiman, I was also extremely happy to have the chance to learn what was going on with my student’s voice (for future reference) and potentially see her vocal folds!

Luckily for me, after asking some questions, Dr. Naiman went straight to getting an endoscope in to see what was going on.  It’s a painless but apparently slightly uncomfortable procedure; my student first had a couple sprays up her nose from a bottle of local anaesthetic spray, waited a few minutes, and then Dr. Naiman inserted a very thin tube with a tiny camera on the end.  The camera tube goes up the nose and down the back of the throat, into the airway just above the larynx (voice box) so we could see her vocal folds.

What we saw, and Dr. Naiman pointed out, was some irritation/reddening around the arytenoids (cartilages at the posterior end of the vocal folds) and the end of the vocal folds themselves (probably, I am guessing, due to some pushing/constriction of the false vocal folds when shouting/singing/speaking too loud).  And when the student attempted to demonstrate what I had noticed – the breathiness/crackling/difficulty in the higher register – Dr. Naiman pointed out that the vocal folds did not close completely in this higher register – the technical term for this is “incomplete adduction of the vocal folds” which creates a breathy sound as air escapes through the gap or “chink” where the vocal folds are not closing completely.

I was pleased to know that there were no vocal nodes/nodules or anything that serious going on with my student’s voice.  Dr. Naiman recommended 2 weeks of vocal rest (no shouting, whispering, or singing; just minimal speaking) to allow the redness to subside, followed by some sessions on some exercises to help with the incomplete adduction, from a speech pathologist who specialises in voice.  Luckily, I had just recently met one:  Helen Sjardin, who has moved back to Tasmania in the last couple of years and knows Dr. Naiman.  There aren’t a lot of speech pathologists in Tasmania (or, apparently, elsewhere either) who specialise in voice, so this is lucky for us!

I’m looking forward to attending some sessions with Helen and my student, and learning some more about incomplete adduction and exercises that can help with fixing it.  I had a very enjoyable lunch conversation with Helen the week before, and hope to maintain regular contact with her and work together to best serve our various clients and expand my knowledge about the voice!

My next post will be about the relationship between the different kinds of voice specialists – from voice coaches, to speech pathologists, to ENTs – so stay tuned!  

The voice affects the mind: Two little spiels about me and my business, now and into the future

Below is a recording of my 3min spiel from the Festival of Voices and UTAS’ Entrepreneurship and Leadership In Practice unit,  about the way I plan to change the world through vocal coaching!  Click here to go straight to my part or skip to 24:37 below –  or read my spiel typed up just beneath it.

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“Like many people, I want to make a difference to the world.
I’m concerned about the state of the world, particularly issues such as sustainability, the environment, and human rights.
And like many people, I often feel powerless to make a difference in these areas.
I have friends who are passionate and active eco-warriors, but I get exhausted just looking at them – I know that is not my fight.  I listen to and support them, but I am not a protestor, a signature-gatherer, or a tree-sitter.

But I heard a quote recently that really opened my eyes –
“We don’t have an environmental problem; we have a consciousness problem.”
I think this is a profound and significant statement.  Change the life of the individual – open their eyes, increase their consciousness – and you can change the world.

My fight, my passion, is with people; on an individual level.  I love people, and I LOVE seeing my work make a difference to others’ lives, whether that’s through my music, writing, and art, or whether it’s through teaching them how to sing, how to move past the frustrations they have with their voice, or how to improve their ability to communicate and express themselves effectively in their speech.

I am branching my business into serving clients from big business, politics, law, and similar industries, with which I am not familiar; it is populated with people who are different from myself in their experiences and lifestyle.  At first I felt insecure about this; unsure as to whether I could connect with these people, unsure as to whether they would be open to what I had to offer.
But having now worked with some clients from these sectors, I have quickly realised that of course, there is a common thread that runs through us all:  Humanity. We all have the same fears and the same desires.  We want to belong; we want to be loved; we want to feel comfortable in ourselves and our lives.    And we want to connect with others.

I have seen my work change people’s lives, improve their physical and mental health.  This can help them become more conscious of their body, their habits, their physical and their mental tensions, themselves and the world around them.
When I teach people to use their voices to communicate better but also use their ears to listen…  on an individual level, change their consciousness, and the rest will be taken care of.  When the change in the individual occurs, they will make the change in the world.
For the first time, recently, I have hope for our world… and I don’t feel powerless anymore.

Finally, I am passionate about Tasmania, festivals and events, and I love the Festival of Voices.  I have been involved with it in numerous ways over the years, and while I do not have – yet – a clear idea of how exactly my work and my expertise is going to fit in and serve the festival, but I am certain that together we can create some innovation, some joy in people’s lives, and some change in the world.  Thankyou.”

The Value of Coaches

Quick note before this blog:
YES, I do offer vouchers for singing lessons, if you would like to buy a session for someone near & dear as a last minute/late Christmas gift!  
Email me at info@bectilley.com to get yours!  🙂

Now, about the value of coaches…

My job has various titles.  You could call me a “singing teacher”, or “voice tutor”, or, the one I like the best, “vocal coach”.

I have enlisted the help of coaches in varying areas of my life, with great results.  If you want to get good at something, if you want to get results, you need to learn from the best.

I have my own vocal coaches in Melbourne, Stephanie and Gerald of The Voice Gym, who have taught me vocal physiology & anatomy through the Estill Voice Training Model.  Of course I’ve had many other vocal teachers throughout my life as well.

I’ve taken advantage of coaching sessions from productivity/life coaches, as well as top notch relationship/authentic relating coaches, and unmasked hidden patterns holding me back in all areas of my life.  I’ve joined an award-winning local “group personal training” fitness group called Booty, run by a totally awesome personal trainer (who I plan to get a one-on-one session with when she has space available).

All of these sessions have completely skyrocketed my productivity, wellness, motivation, knowledge, and abilities in all areas of my life.

Most of the new students that come to me are complete beginners, or singers who have had little to no formal training.  They all get excited by the great results they feel and hear after just a little while of working together; and the knowledge they gain in each and every session.  Of course I love working with singers from all backgrounds and levels of experience!

But I want to reach out now to the more experienced vocalists – singers who have been singing for years, maybe with training at an institution from great teachers, maybe self-taught but with years of experience.  Singers doing gigs, recording albums, moving forward with their passion.  These singers might tend to rest on their laurels a little.  I know; I was the same.  You’ve had a few teachers, perhaps, and feel like you’ve kind of heard it all before.

How many times can you be told to “breathe to your diaphragm”, “place the sound forward”, and open your mouth more?  

One day, a friend told me about The Voice Gym teachers and highly recommended I go see them.  I am usually very careful/stingy with my money, but I happened to be going to Melbourne anyway and took the plunge.  I am SO glad I did!  I learnt more about how my voice works in that first hour session than I had learnt in almost 20 years of singing lessons, including during my Bachelor of Music.  I quickly signed up for the week-long Estill Level 1 & 2 course they were running in Sydney in January 2013.  It was no cheap feat to attend the workshop, spare the time, and fly to Sydney.  But it was SO, so worth it.  Learning this stuff changed my life as a singer and as a teacher.  I continued to study for the rest of the year and in September took and passed my Estill Ceritificate of Figure Proficiency Test.

I have taught Conservatorium graduates who were studying at the same time as me, and had great feedback about the work that we do together.  I have taught singers who have been gigging for years and seen the excitement in their faces when they realise the simplicity behind moving past that one area of their voice that has been bugging them for so long.

Getting a coach is VITAL to success and pushing past the barriers that are holding you back.

To illustrated this point, below I have pasted a recent email from Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and general  well known expert-on-awesomeness.  It landed in my inbox today and really made me nod my head in agreement.

Check it out below, and you know where to find me, fellow singers, if you want to increase your awesomeness in 2014 and put yourself firmly on the path to greatness!

————

What do Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have that you don’t?

No, not $100mm. They have something you could get today. But curiously, almost nobody does.

Atul Gawande, a surgeon and staff writer for the New Yorker, posed a fascinating question:

“…I watched Rafael Nadal play a tournament match on the Tennis Channel. The camera flashed to his coach, and the obvious struck me as interesting: even Rafael Nadal has a coach. Nearly every élite tennis player in the world does. Professional athletes use coaches to make sure they are as good as they can be.

But doctors don’t. I’d paid to have a kid just out of college look at my serve. So why did I find it inconceivable to pay someone to come into my operating room and coach me on my surgical technique?”

Why do the world’s top athletes, singers, and entrepreneurs have coaches…and we don’t?

STOP! Notice how we automatically get defensive when we try to answer that question:

  •  Well, they can afford it”
  • “It’s their job to be the best, so a coach makes sense”
  • “Maybe later in my career, but I’m not ready for that”

In fact, it’s exactly the OPPOSITE!

The world’s best didn’t become that good on their own. They had help, lots of it.

This is the same as people who say, “I can’t invest until I get rich.” WRONG! You get rich BY investing.

How could a coach help you? Let me give you a few unconventional examples (the word “coach” can be applied creatively):

High-end hairdresser: A highly skilled hairdresser might cost 3x (or even 20x) the normal price…but can show you why a certain look suits you better than the normal Supercuts look you’ve been getting. (Btw, see what I mean? Would you have ever thought of a high-end hairdresser as a coach?)

Personal trainer: When I used to work out on my own, I would go to the gym, do a bunch of random machines, and wonder why I wasn’t getting results. The first time I worked out with a trainer, he showed me how to improve what I’d already been doing. This has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

Stylist: I have a stylist friend who says, “Of course I’m better at this than the average person. It’s not that I’m a genius…it’s that I do this all day, every day.” I’ve seen her before-and-after work, and it totally transforms the person.

Business coach: I paid a business coach tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of flying from NYC to LA, once/month for 15 months, just for 45 minutes of his time. It was another one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Not only did it pay for itself (many times over), I’ll keep the knowledge I learned forever.

Other examples: Language coach, cooking instructor, relationship/dating coaches, and many more!

The very best coaches can spot your problem areas and, since they’ve worked with tons of clients just like you, they can gently recommend strategies to help you overcome them…skyrocketing your success. I’ve seen it myself MANY times with MANY different experts I’ve worked with.

HERE’S THE POINT: You can do it on your own — and you should! But at a certain point, you’ll want a little extra help to become the very best. I remember scoffing at paying for SAT tutoring back in high school. I said, “I can just read the books.” Until I finally got one and I saw what a big difference it makes to have someone there, working with you day after day.

So, I want to challenge you: What’s ONE area where you could use a coach?

Eliminate your barriers (the #1 barrier is about cost: “I can’t afford $100/hour for the next 10 years!”) and strip it down: What if you just hired a coach for 2 sessions? Could you ask for a longer payment plan?

I changed my perspective from

“I have to do this on my own” + “people charging are just trying to scam me”

-to-

“I need help, and I’m willing to invest in myself to be the best”

And it has been absolutely pivotal in my success. If I can share just one thing with you today, it’s this: Be willing to invest in yourself, even for $20. Know that someone out there has seen your problem and can help you solve it.

That’s my challenge to you: Find ONE person you invest in, even for $20, to tackle your biggest goal for 2014.

-Ramit

Singing Chords with Lalah Hathaway & Bobby McFerrin

So this video has been making the rounds, and I figure it really needs to be on this blog.

It’s a great video of a live performance by Lalah Hathaway and Snarky Puppy.  Featuring some incredible musicianship all round, and a very groovy song (this is definitely one of my favourite styles of music) this is worth listening to all the way through.

While I’m not usually a fan of excessively long virtuosic or “show-off-y” vocal solos, this is pretty tight and delicious.  Not to mention she sings chords.

…Yep, you read right.  Lalah manages to sing two notes at once.
Start watching at around 6:00 

My favourite part about this is that the band FREAKS OUT, haha.  It’s super cute… but they keep their heads and manage to come in again with the groove super heavy and funky.  Professional musicians at their best.

The best theory for this I’ve seen going around is that she has learnt how to shape her vocal tract to bring out the harmonic overtones in the note she is singing.  Whenever you sing a note (or play it on the guitar, or piano, etc.) there is the “fundamental frequency” – which is the note you intended (hopefully) to sing… and above it are the harmonic overtones which are part of that sound.  I am capable of bringing out harmonic overtones in my voice when singing lower notes, starting with a perfect fifth above the note, then an octave, then a third above that octave, then the next fifth, and so on.  I adjust these by changing the shape of my mouth and the position of my tongue. But when I do it, it almost sounds like… a whistle?  Or it just sounds like a harmonic overtone, but it doesn’t sound like I am actually singing two notes with my true vocal folds, which is the impression that Lalah’s awesome party trick here gives!

As far as I can tell, true vocal fold body/cover condition wise, she is singing in Stiff folds (that airy, breathy tone).  But that’s about all I can really gather about what she’s doing!  This is some next-level stuff.

I have seen someone else do this kind of thing before (though using a different technique) and that of course would be the true vocal master, the incredible Bobby McFerrin.  If you only know Bobby for “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”… prepare to have your mind blown.
If you watch from about 2:00, you will hear him create two notes at once.  He does it again at the end of the song… but the whole thing is amazing and worth a watch!

Again, there’s a lot going on here (and he has the mic to his neck, and his lips are buzzing too) so it’s hard to tell exactly what he’s doing, but I’m guessing it is a similar bringing out of the harmonic overtone by shaping of the vocal tract.  It also reminds me a bit of the overtone singing or “throat singing” one often hears of being practiced by Tibetan monks.  I did wonder when listening to Lalah and Bobby, and also to various cultures’ overtone singing, if the false vocal folds come into play at all – if constriction is used as a technique to create extra sounds.  According to the wikipedia page on the larynx,  “The false vocal folds are not responsible for sound production, but rather for resonance. The exceptions to this are found in Tibetan Chant and Kargyraa, a style of Tuvan throat singing.”  So perhaps it is possible McFerrin has mastered a similar false fold control!

Fascinating stuff!  If anyone has any more examples of singing two notes or more, please feel free to share!