Air: Never add air to the voice
Vowels: I (sit), UH (hungry), O (woman)
Pitch: Mode: (female), Mode: (male)
Curbing is the half-metallic mode, meaning there is some metal in the notes. It is the ‘mildest’ of the metallic modes where the character is softer and not as powerful and distinct as Overdrive or Edge but still powerful compared to Neutral. The sound is often slightly plaintive and restrained. Curbing can be found by establishing a ‘hold’.
Cathrine have chosen the name Curbing because she finds it descriptive of the character. To ‘Curb’ means to ‘hold’, to ‘tame’, to ‘keep under control’. The name ‘Curbing’ describes what it might feel like to sing while holding back the sound, and thereby preventing it (or ‘curbing’ it) from becoming full-metallic.
Men can use Curbing through all the various parts of the voice. Women can use Curbing through all the various parts of the voice up to the High C. Women cannot sing in Curbing in the very high part of the voice. Curbing is used when a sound more powerful than Neutral but quieter and more restrained than Overdrive or Edge is wanted. Women mostly use Curbing when they have to sing powerfully between F4 – F5 but do not want the aggressive character of Edge.
In Curbing you must use the vowels ‘I’ (as in ‘sit’), ‘O’ (as in ‘woman’) or ‘UH’ (as in ‘hungry’) to stay in the mode.
Curbing largely stays in the medium volume range, from medium quiet (‘mp’ or ‘mezzo piano’) to loud (‘f’ or ‘forte’). Very quiet (‘pp’ or ‘pianissimo’) and very loud (‘ff’ or ‘fortissimo’) volumes are not attainable.
The sound colour can be altered extensively.
Curbing is used in almost all styles of popular music (such as R & B music) when the volume is medium loud and a certain amount of metal is required. Curbing is used in classical music by men singing medium loud (‘mf’ or ‘mezzo forte’) and by women singing loud (mf-f) in the middle and low part of the voice. Curbing is used in everyday life when you are wailing, moaning or whining.
Singers who often sing or sang in Curbing
Christina Aguilera, Charles Aznavour, Beach Boys, Bee Gees, George Benson, Mary Black, Michael Bolton, David Bowie, Toni Braxton, Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Peabo Bryson, J J Cale, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Neneh Cherry, Eric Clapton, Marc Cohn, Phil Collins, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Terence Trent D’Arby, Roger Daltrey, Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention), Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Agneta Fältskog (ABBA), Peter Gabriel, Liam Gallagher (Oasis), Ian Gillan, Steve Harley (Cockney Rebel), Murray Head, Jimi Hendrix, Don Henley (Eagles), Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), Iggy Pop, James Ingram, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Salif Keita, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Bobby Kimball (Toto), Tommy Körberg, KD Lang, Lyle Lovett, Bob Marley, Michael McDonald, Madonna, Meat Loaf, soloists in Mills Brothers, Roy Orbison, Elaine Paige, Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against The Machine), Lionel Richie, Paul Rogers (Free, Bad Company), David Lee Roth, Seal, ‘Skin’ (Sylvia Massy, Skunk Anansie), Britney Spears, Status Quo, Stephen Stills, Sting, Michael Stipe (REM), Jennifer Warnes, Fee Waybill (The Tubes), and Stevie Wonder.
Condition for Curbing
Can be found by establishing a ‘hold’.
Pitch in Curbing
Men can use Curbing through all the various parts of the voice. Women can use Curbing through all the various parts of the voice up to the High C. Women cannot sing in Curbing in the very high part of the voice. Women particularly use Curbing when Overdrive gets too loud or when they reach the limit of Overdrive and when the volume should not be as powerful as in Edge.
The higher you Curb, the more powerful the volume can become, while the sound colour often becomes lighter. The vowels should be directed to ‘I’ (as in ‘sit’), ‘O’ (as in ‘woman’) or ‘UH’ (as in ‘hungry’). Even though Curbing can become more powerful in the higher part of the voice, it will never be as powerful as Overdrive or Edge.
There is no lower limit to how deep you can sing in Curbing, but the mode becomes weaker, more ‘squeezed in’, and often ‘flatter’ in sound as the pitch gets deeper.
In the low part of the voice, Neutral and Overdrive are used more than Curbing as these modes are capable of producing a darker and less suppressed character. Curbing is easiest to use in the middle part of the voice and the sound may assume many different sound colours.
Vowels in Curbing
In Curbing you can only use the vowels ‘I’ (as in ‘sit’), ‘O’ (as in ‘woman’) and ‘UH’ (as in ‘hungry’). It might seem as all vowels can be used in Curbing in the low part of the voice because the vocal modes might resemble each other here. But if you want to be sure you are in Curbing and especially in the high part of the voice it is necessary to direct the vowels towards ‘O’ and ‘I’, and ‘UH’ in order to remain in the mode.
Even though there are only three Curbing vowels in the high part of the voice, it might seem that Curbing has a wider range of vowels than Overdrive and Edge. This is because the ‘UH’ can start with many vowels sounds as long as it has the ‘UH’ ending, like in French ‘un’, ‘en’ and ‘in’.
Volumes in Curbing
The volumes in Curbing are largely medium. It is not possible to sing very quietly (‘pp’ or ‘pianissimo’) in Curbing, as the voice will lose the metallic sound and end up in Neutral. The higher the pitch, the greater the volume usually required. However, be careful not to sing too powerfully in Curbing as this usually results in a full-metallic mode (Overdrive or Edge). If this happens while the ‘hold’ is maintained it may feel uncomfortable and strain the voice.
Curbing is usually quiet in the low part of the voice, so in this range Curbing is not used much as Overdrive and Edge (except by female classical singers). The volume is medium in the middle part of the voice and loud in the high part of the voice.
Sound colours in Curbing
The sound colour in Curbing is often light and a little plaintive, but you can easily colour Curbing in other directions. Almost all sound colours are possible, but remember this requires competence in the overall principles for singing and sufficient familiarity with the healthy limits within the voice.
Curbing in classical singing
Men use Curbing in the whole range of their voice in classical singing when the volume is medium and when a certain amount of metal is required. Counter-tenors for example often sing in Curbing.
Women use Curbing in classical singing when they have to sing medium loud, in the middle and low part of the voice.