Reconstructing my voice

Fair point.

If you ever get in a conversation with me about music — it will be hard to shut me up. I typically don’t recommend it.

It’s not just fangirling either. I started singing young, participating in competitive vocal events as early as fourth grade. I picked up random instruments here or there (I would really love to get a dulcimer again) but mostly enjoyed singing and writing.

In high school I started having stomach troubles which I shrugged off because I figured it was part of the chronic anxiety & agoraphobia (or drugs I was taking to manage the conditions), but by the time I was in college I was profoundly ill.

I went to several gastroenterologists was diagnosed with several bouts of acute gastroenteritis, IBS, GERD, had my gall bladder removed, & accrued a collective megafuck of a bill (I just paid it off in 2019). Eventually, the diagnosis landed on “probably Celiac” — my blood results were apparently “suspect” but I was already too overextended financially for the endoscopy, so officially I have no answer.

Looking for a fix on the cheap, I just stopped eating wheat & wow, about 85% of my symptoms disappeared. What remains is manageable.

However, the years of not knowing wtf was going on took a toll on my throat, my voice. I had severe chronic reflux for almost a decade. About three years in, I got to the point where I completely lost my voice, & I was fired from a band because recording was a slog & I plain sucked. It was at that point I really dove into writing fiction & poetry to fill the void that used to be music.

The only thing I did during that whole period was a brief backing part on A Stagnant Motion’s track “Angola,” which I’m actually stupid proud of because my bros are amazing & the track made it onto a compilation that included a song from Sufferer & I’m a huge fan.

Anyway, now that I’m about a year gluten free, I’m starting to see a lot of changes. For starters, my throat doesn’t fucking HURT all the time & I went from struggling with globus sensation daily to rarely. I can sing or talk for longer periods without feeling like I need to go lie down.

So tonight I used a keyboard & tested my voice with a tuner & I’m so surprised & happy.

I come in with chest voice at about F3, my break/passaggio is around G4/A4, I start having pitch control issues around B4/C5 but can match pitch briefly up until B5. I would say that the whole octave between B4 and B5 needs work, but just the fact that I could match pitch for a few seconds was highly encouraging because it was definitely my throat register that tanked first when I started having reflux issues.

Honestly, I was surprised I was able to match pitch at all. I’ve been writing vocal parts for some of my brother’s music lately & have had trouble getting what is in my head out. I’m using my ear and Guitar Pro to notate, so it’s been a slow process. I’m still kind of not sure where the disconnect is but I’m glad to find it’s probably not a purely pitch issue.

I think the push to actually test my voice again came from reading articles about Rody Walker’s (Protest the Hero) recovery. There were moments in Palimpsest where I — as someone who was at one point a classically trained singer — lost my shit over how well he was doing what he was doing. After reading what he went through, it motivated me to troubleshoot a bit more instead of just giving up.

Anyway, my point with all of this is — don’t give up on the shit you love. It’s so easy with creative things to just declare yourself a failure & move on. I did it for years. There’s always a chance to rebuild & nothing’s over until it’s OVER (I mean this quite literally — until ya dead).

I firmly believe that anything can be learned at any point, & having that medium as an outlet is so fucking nice because let me tell you — I’m in the middle of a very involved novel draft & taking a break to work with my voice for awhile really helped halt the old slide into utter brain liquefaction (I had to read three whole Aleister Crowley works for my research & got so mad at one point I had to take a literal walk, I will always want to fight Byron, but I also need to fight Crowley #timetravelgoals).

I still don’t think I’ll go back to singing being my primary thing — I love writing shitty novels waaay too much — but it’s so encouraging to realize I’m not completely useless.

If you’re curious about your vocal range/ability to match pitch — what I did was use a keyboard to play a note, then sang the note, using a tuner to check my pitch (they are usually super cheap at your local music store or you can get an app for your phone).

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