7 Insane (but true) Facts About Singing
Singing sometimes seems a little like a mystery with few answers, or many small clues scattered all around. You might be surprised to learn these 7 Insane (but true) facts about singing and how they might change how you think about your voice forever!
Singing itself is actually a pretty simple process, but there's a lot more to developing control over your voice than just building a few muscles or pulling this or that tendon. Are you ready for your mind to be blown?
#1 - Your Voice Is Similar To A Reed Instrument
Your 'voice' occurs when your vocal folds come together (known as adduction) and resist air pressure held via an engaged diaphragm, causing vibration - the sound is then "EQ'd" and altered by the shape, length and size of your vocal tract and use of your articulators. This is a similar process to a Saxophone and other instruments that use a reed and fingerholes to produce sound - think of your vocal folds as the reed, your breathing is then the same as it is for singing, and you alter the pitch and sound using both your vocal folds and alterations to the vocal tract!
When was the last time you saw someone yelling into a saxophone?
Keep this in mind next time you push for those high notes, your vocal folds are delicate and need to be cared for and maintained, and can't simply be replaced like a wooden reed!
#2 - Vocal Cords Are Actually Folds
Often called vocal chords or vocal cords, the correct name is actually vocal folds and they are made up of fine membranes that stretch from the back of your throat to the front. The way they function is actually to resist air pressure, in essence causing vibration which hence becomes resonance generated within the vocal tract.
Keep this is mind next time you try to force air out to sing louder or higher, the function of your voice is actually to resist airflow!
Vocal compression occurs when you resist airflow through each valve of the vocal tract (the sub/supra/medial aspects of the glottis) to create a powerhouse or perfectly pitched resonance instead of a hurricane of air travelling out of your mouth.
#3 - Being A Good Singer Isn't Genetic
In essence, singing 'talent' doesn't exist. Sure, there are those that possess a natural aptitude for singing and the coordination required to sing well, but studies have shown that even those who lack the ability to sing, or are self professed 'bad singers' in fact can still judge pitch effectively and simply lack coordination between the various elements of the voice.
Next time you say you 'have a bad voice' or you 'can't sing', perhaps it's better to say I haven't trained my voice properly yet!
#4 - Singing Stops Your Voice From Aging
This one can't be true, right? It actually is. A recent study showed that voices used regularly for singing, of course using proper vocal technique without strain, didn't deteriorate with age and experienced no decrease in stability of pitch, amplitude or control with age.
Keep this one in mind the next time you take a break from singing!
#5 - The first known recording of a human voice was in 1860
The first known recording of a human voice was of the French folk song “Claire de la lune” in 1860, and was recorded by a machine that etched a waveform on paper using soot. This recording has now been played by a 'virtual' stylus, in essence a computer that has read the etching and playing it back, just like a vinyl record!
Originally, it was thought that Thomas Edison was the first to record a human voice in 1877 when he invented the phonograph. So, humans have been messing around with recording singing voices for over 150 years so far!
#6 - Ladies, hormones DO effect your voice
Birth control pills and your period effect your singing voice in a manner of ways. Hormonal variations and the psychological changes that follow affect your voice in many ways from ability to control pitch, ability to release into vibrato and the general feeling of control you have over your voice.
This is in part due to the involuntary nature of 2/3 of the main musculature used for singing, the diaphragm and the vocal folds. Your thought process, overall health and yes, hormones affect your ability to communicate with your voice.
#7 - Guys, It's actually NOT a Tenor's world
There's a long standing myth when it comes to male voice that only Tenor's voices are capable of being trained properly or used professionally - hence the saying It's A Tenor's World. While I agree that a Tenor generally has a shorter learning curve than say, a baritone, and can generally get away with the odd flub and still sound 'okay', you'll find that many of these natural Tenor singers eventually experience vocal issues of some kind due to incorrect technique - Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Perry and numerous other 80's singers with a Tenor voice now experience a variety of issues with their vocal health. This may have something to do with the shorter and faster vibration that occurs in smaller vocal folds, and being able to sing higher notes without developing the right technique - but I like to think that being a baritone is actually a gift and you high voiced singers are missing out (j/k - kindof?).
Keep this in mind the next time you hear a singer that says they've never taken lessons - a trained voice coach will likely be able to point out numerous issues and inaccuracies in their seemingly natural voices. Fortunately, this inaccuracy can actually be fine tuned out of the voice with proper vocal training and consistent practice.
How To Develop The Four Vocal Fundamentals
For me personally, developing these four simple Vocal Fundamentals was an absolute game changer;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
These four steps alone are actually the cornerstone for EVERY other technique and concept out there. Vowel Modification refers to altering the size and shape of the vocal tract and is directly related to raising the soft palate (height in the vocal tract). Brightness and balance in your vocal tone is a direct result of Forward Placement - as is distortion, intensity and power in your voice! And so forth.
If you're serious about improving your singing, you absolutely MUST master The Four Vocal Fundamentals.