Resonance in a choir setting is just as vital as for the solo singer – resonance improves sound quality. A choir with members with good resonance will naturally have a very pleasing sound.
So first of all what does improved and controlled resonance allow a choir or soloist to do? I can outline 5 things that resonance will do for your choir or vocal group:
Great resonance improves tonal quality and allows you to sing efficiently
The vocal tract which is made up of the larynx, the pharynx and mouth resonate to produce improved tone and higher sound levels. They can also act as a bit of a filter to dampen some frequencies. Good resonance allows a singer to convert breath energy to sound.
So what is Resonance exactly?
Resonance is a sound enhancer – it colours and amplifies your voice.
Sound is created when your breath passes over your vocal folds but resonance is created in the vocal tract which creates the colour and amplification of your voice.
In the simplest form the vocal tract is made up of three parts:
These three components can be termed ‘resonating chambers’ Air vibrates through all of these chambers at the same time. The shape and size of the vocal tract dictates the sound quality produced.
a. Oral and nasal pharynx
The oral pharynx is a fancy name for the space in your throat above your voicebox and vocal cords. The nasal pharynx is the space above the soft part of the back of your throat (vellum) reaching up towards your nasal cavity.
b. The nasal cavity
The nasal cavity is the space behind your nose which includes the sinuses (cave like spaces in the bones of the scull. You’ll notice when you have a cold and your sinuses are blocked the sound of your voice changes. This is because the vibration in the sinuses is reduced due to congestion. For me I struggle with sinusitis year long and need to use nasal sprays and cortisol injections to control inflammation of this area due to allergies.
c. The mouth
Finally the mouth is a big contributor to the colour and amplification of your voice. This is because of the many shapes the mouth can take and also the soft pallet or vellum. When you yawn your vellum lifts and stretches back into the throat. Just by patiently saying some vowels sounds like Ah, Ay, Ee, Oh and oo you can feel all the different shapes the mouth makes to produce these sounds.
Vibration is the sensation created when proper resonance is induced. Vibration occurs in the chest and in the sinuses. At certain frequencies you will feel vibration in the bones of your face and chest. Try singing ‘mm’ quite low in your register and place your hand on your chest and forehead. You’ll feel vibrations in the chest and a buzzing sensation around the ligs. Change the sound to a higher ‘oo’ sound and you will feel the vibration lift into the head and little or no vibration in the chest. Try it with your eyes closed and focus on where the vibrations are sitting.
In the next blog I will give you some practical exercises to help you achieve resonance and experience vibrations for yourself – so keep an eye out for that one.
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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