This is the second in a series of Blogs on producing great vocal tone. In this edition I touch on pitch and how different pitching with voice is to so many other "instruments". Yes that's right I said "instrument" because your voice is an instrument and if your sing - your a musician. It just happens that as a singer your instrument in in your voice box. Your vocal anatomy is so complex - it might surprise your all of the small adjustments you can make to improve your vocal tone. Keep reading these blogs because I'm going to reveal some of my best tips to producing beautiful tone in your singing.
So let's get into this weeks topic VOICE101
Vocal sound is produced as air is exhaled causing the vocal chords (or true vocal folds) to vibrate. They lie across your throat and the pitch of a note sung is altered by the amount of tension of the vocal folds. The human voice is probably the most difficult instrument to pitch. When I’m singing the pitch of the note starts in my mind, you need to ‘hear’ the note in your head before you sing it. Dame Nellie Melba in the 'Melba Method' states that one should "never memorise anything by singing it repeatedly. Memorise silently, looking at the music and then repeat the phrase in your mind without looking at it" She goes on to explain the usefulness of silent singing - still taking breaths as if you were going to sing but without the sound and still forming the words with your mouth. This is really sound advice particularly if you have a cold when your throat is inflammed but and even if you don't have a cold you'll save your voice - after all it's got to last you a long time. Singers are doing 'silent singing' before every phrase they sing, hearing the note in the head and getting the right placement before producing the sound.
It’s easy to learn to play notes on a keyboard and they will always be in pitch on a tuned instrument but it’s much more difficult to sing a particular note unless you hear it from another instrument.
So to get the right pitch a singer needs to use the right amount of breath pressure so that the vocal chords vibrate at just the right tension for a given pitch (a singer usually does this without thinking). Just remember like I mentioned in the last blog, it takes very little "breath" to get your vocal chords vibrating, in fact I believe that the less breath you use the better. Those tiny vocal chords have to hold all that breath back - so if your gulping it in, as so many teachers are recommending - you could do some real damage. Controlled breathing is so much healthier!
Pitch is different to tone, but you need to start with the right pitch or it won’t sound very pleasant at all. I truly believe that anyone can sing but so many have never flexed their vocal muscle and expect to be able to sing like a trained vocalist without putting the work in. It takes consistent effort and patience to improve your craft. Why not start with some regular breathing exercises, get some vocal coaching or join a singing group. You'll be amazed what you can achieve through regular consistent effort. Did you know that there are well over 1000 choirs in Australia, there may be several thousand with participants ranging from under 18 to over 65 - so there's something for everyone.
Subscribe to this blog and hear about a key to healthy and quality vocal tone – "Retraction" in the next one.
If you enjoyed this blog have a look at our recent blog on vocal tone and the role good breathing plays in it here or leave a comment below.
Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Jason or (Jase) as he likes to be called is Founder & Creative Director of Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR) and is a passionate musician who wants to bring his love for music to a broader audience.
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