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Hidden Helium-O2 Mix Tanks for Tenor Notes

Designed to hide under choir robes
  [vote for,

Choir music must be written these days by some soprano with no appreciation for the male vocal range limits. There's a reason the bass cleff starts with A and just goes down from there. For me to hit anything above an E flat with any consistency or tone requires surgery.

To reach those horrid misplaced treble notes, I propose an air/helium bag, mildly pressurized and squeezeable with a one-way valve, and a vinyl oxygen tube.

RayfordSteele, May 05 2004


       Why would you ever conceal something that could be made to look like bagpipes?
Laughs Last, May 05 2004

       ...because going castrato has its obvious drawbacks.   

       Why not use hydrogen while you're at it? You'll be able to hit even higher notes.
gastronaut, May 05 2004

       [gastronaut] -do you mean helium?
swimr, May 05 2004

       I'm a fairly accomplished Bass/Baritone (usual range high Eb to low D) and have tried some rudimentary experiments on the effects of helium/air mix on vocal production, and it isn't easy!   

       Helium seems to produce a drying effect on the vocal cords (note, not chords), as well as a whole different set of perceptual cues when the techniques I'm familiar with don't work due to the alternate atmosphere.   

       Far better to practice falsetto voice (half length vocal fold vibration) in normal atmosphere and begin to blend into your usual high notes.   

       No vote +/- because I like the effort to deal with the issue, but dislike the implementation.   

       Maybe worth looking at the other end of the vocal spectrum; maybe with suitably aspirated oxygenated dense gases I could produce "old man river" an octave lower?
csea, May 06 2004

       Probably something less toxic! Say CFC (freon) - (oops, probably banned due to ozone depletion...!)
csea, May 06 2004

       Being a girl who sings alto/tenor but who dreams of still being able to sing the soprano descants for Christmas carols, I've always wondered what it's like to sing falsetto. We just can't do it and I'd love to try.   

       However, as an alternative, I'd like to try the helium option. I suspect that the lack of control would make it impossible to sing in tune, but it'd be fun to try.   

       Is there a linear relationship between the percentage He in air and the note? Would it be possible to use a mixing valve to produce a range of notes?
hazel, May 06 2004

       [csea], exactly my range.   

       I thought falsetto was using different chords altogether. half-length does make sense though, with the 'flip' that occurs. I dislike my falsetto voice. Now I'm curious, do young boys have falsetto capacity? I don't remember the point at which I noticed it.   

       If this were made to look like bagpipes, I'd most definitely try to conceal it.
RayfordSteele, May 06 2004

       You point out that the top line of the base clef is an A. But I would like to point out that the top line of the tenor clef is an E. Not that this gives any hint as to how far off the staff the tenor part should be allowed to go.   

       If your range is the same as [csea] it seems like the solution would be to sing the base part rather than the tenor. If the tenor part goes too high, I would actually suspect that the music was written by a tenor, not a soprano. The best tenors I know actual _like_ too sing high. Don't ask me why. Of course in a small choir, the part you sing may depend on more than just your ideal vocal range, so + for attempting to fix it.
scad mientist, May 07 2004

       Taaake onnnn meeee (take, on me) Taaaake, meeee onnnnnn (take on me). I'll, beeee gonnnneeee, into... *turns on valve*... DREEEEEEEEEAMMMMMSSSSSS!!!   

eyeguy, May 07 2004

       [eyeguy] has a point there.. you should also design a computerized system which sets the helium throttle depending on the different parameters (body temperature, customised high cords limits, estimated following cord-surrounding pressure, following note) in order to obtain the desired voice-pitch. otherwise, it'd just be something funny clowns could use.   

       :) <Thinking About a Clown With Helium In His Red Nose> ... ... ... </TACWHHR>
sweet, May 07 2004

       Actually, I *do* sing the bass part most of the time, (except when I'm rather bored by it and I make up my own). However, on some songs of late it too has a tendency to wax stratospheric.
RayfordSteele, May 07 2004

       What is the timbre of a tree falling in an empty forest?
FarmerJohn, May 08 2004

       If Milli Vanilli fall over in a forest, does someone else make a noise?
hippo, May 08 2004

       [hazel]: I don't think that women are able to sing falsetto for physiological reasons. It's a special contraction in the vocal cords, as far as I know, that becomes possible when the larynx enlarges during puberty: no, I don't think that young boys could sing falsetto either.
Macwarrior, May 08 2004

       [sweet], you got all that from my A-Ha reference?
eyeguy, May 08 2004

       A reed pipe on an organ has its pitch primarily set by the reed, but the resonator (the 'pipe' part) greatly affects the sound and can also materially affect the pitch. Further, in some cases, a reed may have more than one mode of vibration and the resonator can affect which one is dominant.   

       My expectation would be that, because singing is a closed-loop system, helium wouldn't affect pitch much--to the extent that it did affect the resonant frequency for a given level of vocal tension the singer would respond by loosening the vocal cords--it could affect the ability to throw one's vocal cords into different resonant modes such as falsetto.   

       As for the question of why women can't sing falsetto, I wonder whether most don't normally do so as a matter of course. Women generally sound pretty feeble when they get too far below middle C, but that doesn't mean they're biologically incapable of singing such notes. Bernadette Peters hits a note an octave below middle C on her Rodgers and Hammerstein CD (probably somewhat for commedic effect).
supercat, May 08 2004

       [supercat] I can sing down to C below a middle C. I often sing tenor because I get bored of alto lines - Mozart's Requiem is one I did recently and I could just get the lowest note which was a C. My range is probably strongest from about an F up to a C above middle C.   

       The ability to sing particular notes must be primarily physiological although one can of course extend ones range slightly in either direction. Some women therefore are incapable of very low notes - I am (sadly now) incapable of anything above about an F (and then only if I've warmed up and practised for a couple of months).   

       I think falsetto is using just the inner folds of the vocal chords - women can sing falsetto apparently but it's rare. We're not usually singing in the falsetto voice - it's the chest or head voice - the same that men use.
hazel, May 09 2004

       Hydrogen would give a slightly higher pitch than helium, I think. But probably not enough higher to be worth the trouble of finding or flame-proofing. (I'm basing that on the lifting power of airship gasses--hydrogen is found as as H2, a two-atom molecule, so is only roughly 10% lighter than helium's single atoms.)   

       My musical talent is limited to a didgeridoo. I once got a lungful of helium and started to play/drone. The pitch went up as the tube filled with helium. I was able to adjust, at least until I started laughing.   

       I don't think the hypothetical gas *needs* to be oxygenated. You might feel dizzy for a few seconds, but you'll be suffering for your art.
baconbrain, Jul 27 2004


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