I have been a singer for 8-9 years. When I started singing I was terrible and it took me a long time to find my voice, develop my own sound and train my vocal chords to sing on key and not sound "pitchy". I was never fully satisfied with my voice, but after many years of practicing Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Beatles, etc, I was finally able to convincingly hit MOST of the notes in some of the harder songs, but I was never able to hit the high notes in some of my favorite songs like "A Change Is Gonna Come" or "Oh, Darling" (The Beatles) or "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" and other amazing vocal tunes.....until, I started smoking cigarettes...
Immediately I was able to hit notes with very little effort that I could never hit before on a GOOD day, at midnight, after warming up my vocal chords all day and doing vocal excercises.
Furthermore, my TONE improved greatly....I got a more velvetty smooth tone (think the nasally tone of young Tony Bennett versus the smooth "whiskey soaked" quality that we've come to love). Low notes were easier to hit and sounded better too! Falsetto got a little worse, but I RARELY sing falsetto. "Pitchiness" all but disspeared! My confidence and performance greatly improved at gigs, because I didn't need to worry about having a "bad" singing day or wondering if I'd be able to pull off certain songs. I started recieving glowing compliments about my vocal chops that I'd never gotten before!! We got more gigs, and made more money and tips, which helped pay for the pack of smokes every day or two!
Of course, I suffered all the obvious downsides to smoking (coughing, lower lung capacity, nasty feeling, bad breath, addiction, etc.). I've always been kind of a health nut, so I really didn't like smoking and I'm very much aware that it WILL shorten my life and eventually KILL me!
So just recently I quit for about a month. Immediately within a couple days my voice was right back to crap....I sounded like a 14 year old kid. The velvetty smoothness went away. I tried many different techniques to hit the high notes and improve my tone, but nothing worked. I'd do warmups all day, sing louder, softer, change my vocal inflection, drink teas, drink whiskey, use that stupid vocal eaze spray....nothing! After about a month, it became apparent that this was not getting any better, and I had a big gig coming up. So I consciously, but reluctantly took up smoking again. BINGO! Within a couple days "my" voice was back.
What's going on here?!?! Is there something else I can do to simulate the effects of nicotine/tobacco on my vocal chords, without having to smoke them nasty cancer sticks? I don't think this is a stress/relaxation issue, because I was relatively stress free before I started smoking, and when I took up cigs, I IMMEDIATELY noticed a HUGE improvement! I know that smoking will shorten my life....but I'm a musician, and a singer....that IS my life. With a wimpy singing voice, I am not able to enjoy my purpose on this earth as much.
I really don't need a lecture on the harmful effects of smoking (I know!!!)....I'd really like to get some insight as to what I can do to get the same positive effects, without putting my health at such a huge risk!! I may also post this on a newsgroup for ear, nose, and throat doctors. Anyway, thanks in advance for the advice!!!
I sing in an amateur choir and several members do smoke. Most are Bass voices and no tenors that I know of.
They claim that smoking gives them a deeper voice.
I see no logic in that smoking could help you to attain higher notes and improve your voice quality.
In my case, even second hand smoke is catastrophic for my voice, so I avoid standing near smokers in rehearsal intervals, although we take our pauses in open air.
There are a few ways to get nicotine in your body if you want to test whether the effect comes from this drug or from any other reason. You can use nicotine patchs (stick on your arm skin) (I believe there is brand "Nicorette", but I do not know in case you are in USA). There are nocotine pills and also a kind a smokeless plastic cigarrete tah many addicts use to calm the urge when they are in places where smoking is forbidden.
Be careful with nicotine, because (as you probably know) it is extremely toxic in quantities beyond a certain level