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Sometimes in specific conditions such as some early mornings, the day after having strained my voice, or having a mild cold, I can reach unusually low vocal ranges. Looking around, there is very little information about how (if at all), one can access this potential under normal conditions through training or preparation as there seems to be very few resources online on singing that specifically target bass singers.

So, how can I access these extra low ranges when I actually need them?

The following is more specific to myself to provide a concrete example of what I mean:

I am 25 years old and have been a bass singer ever since my early teenage years, and since about 16 years of age would be considered a "Basso Profondo" according to the wikipedia definition. On most days, I produce a strong C2 without issue, and I commonly have access to a range down to A2 (albeit most often without any considerable volume). In the situations described above, I produce strong, clear notes in the region of A2, and have sometimes even reached as far as a clear Eb1 (the day after a choir practice weekend where my voice felt really strained the night before). Often during long sessions of practice, I feel strained and are unable to access my normal range of down to C2, but once the strain passes is when I usually have the deepest voice.

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    I'm a rubbish singer, but I'd love to know if it is possible for me to reproduce the voice I have when I've got a cold :) As would Phoebe Buffay I seem to recall :) – Whelkaholism Jul 1 '15 at 9:00
  • I've heard about fry tones - maybe this is what they are? – Todd Wilcox Jul 1 '15 at 10:08
  • I guess most often notes sung around those lower ranges have some element of vocal fry to them, but this isn't what I'm after or what I've experienced in those particular situations. – Svj0hn Jul 1 '15 at 11:05
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You can sing lower when you have a cold for the same reason that your speaking voice often lowers when you're sick - your vocal folds are swollen or inflamed, thicker, and vibrate at a lower frequency. The same is true of being able to reach lower pitches in the morning except for it's caused by mucous or simply from the folds being in a very relaxed (and hence thicker) state.

I suspect that lower range following prior intense usage of your voice also is a result of swollen folds.

Unfortunately, there are physiological lower limits at which your vocal folds can vibrate based on your anatomy - it's not possible to indefinitely extend low range through training. Since these low notes are only existent when your folds are either very relaxed or swollen, they are probably not pitches that you can consistently rely on being part of your usable range. That being said, a competent voice teach would be able to help you access what you can in your lowest register consistently and easily.

(Note I'm talking only about the typical modal register used in singing and not vocal fry which is a different mode of vocal fold function.)

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While I agree a voice teacher is a good idea, telling someone they can't learn to song on their own is bs. Most people who sing learn w/o a vocal instructor, and some learn to sing extremely well on their own. Telling someone they cannot learn to sing on their own is extremely classist. Not everyone is fortunate enough to afford a vocal teacher, and your are essentially telling them to give up. Poor people are allowed to sing too.

To the OP, get a vocal instructor IF YOU CAN AFFORD ONE. If you cannot, use whatever resources available to improve your singing, including YouTube tips or audio recording apps to listen back to yourself. I find it far easier to extend your range up than down. As previously posted, thickness of vocal finds makes a difference, but this can be somewhat emulated with mucus. Most singers avoid things that create excess mucus like milk, because it makes it more difficult to sing high notes (or sing in general) but if you are determined to sing below what your vocal folds normally allow maybe this wouldn't hurt. Personally, I have trouble going below an E2 under normal circumstances, but consuming dairy can get me down as far as an audible B1, with a fairly strong D2.

Sometimes we have to break conventional wisdom to do what others tell us we can't.

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I was taught to relax my vocal cords as much as possible. This way, I was able to reach 1-2 semitones lower toward the more guttural tones than I was when straining to reach lower. Exercises where you extend the range by singing up-and-down c d e d c and then moving down chromatically to b c# d# c# b etc. could also help you. Repeatedly singing one of the three lowest tones you can reach can build stability over time together with control of air flow by isolating your breathing to the diaphragm.

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You need to take voice lessons from a teacher.

Like I have said many times on this site, you cannot improve anything about your singing voice from reading about singing technique. You need to hire a voice teacher and take lessons. Improving anything about your singing requires frequent feedback from a teacher who is listening to your voice and teaching you how to make minute corrections and improvements over time, interactively, and teaching you how to practice and extend your range, improve your tone, and make your voice stronger.

Trying to develop your own singing technique all by yourself is counterproductive. You will unconsciously develop bad habits, and in the absence of a professional teacher to point out these bad habits and correct them, you will reinforce these bad habits and train yourself to sing in ways that are not optimal, or even counterproductive.

You need to work with another human being who is a trained professional voice teacher. You will make significant progress if you do this. Sitting alone reading books or posts on the Internet about vocal technique will not help at all.

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  • While I tend to agree with your points, I have had a couple of different teachers in the subject. All of them knew very well how to help me unlock my soloist potential in the tenor ranges, but when asked dodged questions about the lower bass ranges or simply telling me they didn't know. I got the impression from them that a tenor voice is the result of much practice while a bass "just happens". – Svj0hn Jul 2 '15 at 7:09

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