Advanced Vocal Techniques [For Next Level Singing]
If you’ve taken a few singing lessons or tried a few singing courses before – you’ve most likely learned just how important The Four Vocal Fundamentals are to a healthy singing voice and continued progress in your vocal abilities.
But what happens when you’ve mastered these four basics?
Are there a set of advanced “Next Level” techniques that you need to learn to become a truly great singer?
Is becoming a great singer REALLY as simple as learning the Four Fundamentals – or are there a bunch of ‘secret’ advanced techniques that voice coaches and professional singers are privy to that they’re just not sharing with you?
The truth is – every single technique out there, yes, even the advanced ones are a direct extension of these four fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- All In One Flow
- Mixed Tonality
Yes, even vowel modification is a direct relation to singing with height in the vocal tract as your vowel modifies in the vocal tract as the soft palate spreads/narrows/raises within your resonant space to (you guessed it) create height in the vocal tract to facilitate your high range. What about Twang and exercises like Nay and Nyah or singing with a bratty tone? You guessed it – these are all designed to help you lift the voice from the throat by resonating within the bones of the face for/with a forward placement.
So when we talk about ‘advanced’ singing techniques, it’s really just the next level of development for your fundamentals – think of the techniques I’m about to share with you as 2nd, third and fourth gear in your vocal transmission.
Next Level Singing Technique
Once you’ve mastered the basics of keeping a forward placement, raising the soft palate, managing your airflow and balancing your resonance – it’s time to take your voice to the next level with advanced techniques like vowel modification, compression and sub-sets of each fundamental by developing an understanding of vocal overtones and how they relate to each vowel sound within/between each register.
The first technique you should learn after developing the four vocal fundamentals is definitely Vowel Modification.
Now, when we say “vowel” modification, I’m not talking about your speech accent A/E/I/O/U vowels – I’m talking about vowel overtones occuring within the vocal tract.
The “modification” isn’t actually a change to the base vowel sound per se, it’s really just a subtle shift in the size/shape of the vocal tract itself to make better use of your resonance. As you ascend in range, the vowel often narrows within the vocal tract to ‘ping’ within each register overtone in your high range.
A great example of this is singers who open their EE vowels up into an EH through the middle of their voice instead of correctly modifying the vocal tract to match the size and shape required for each register overtone within the EE vowel itself – this is an important definition. Changing your vowel sound is NOT modifying your vowel overtone.
Let’s take it one vowel at a time by first focusing on the AH based vowel overtone. In chest voice, the overtone sounds a little like the word “Hard” (think of a Boston accent – “Pahk the cah” instead of “PaRRk the CaRR” with a rolled R sound), then as we ascend towards/through our first break period this overtone changes as we spread and raise the soft palate into a slightly French sounding OH sound (for me personally, the way I speak the word “laugh” with my Australian accent is pretty spot on for this overtone), into a narrow OU sound (like the resonant vowel portion of the word “Heard”) and finally a fully raised OO vowel like “Who’d?”.
Now, if you just practiced along with me there and you sang the words Hard/Hord/Heard/Who’d – you just changed your vowel sounds rather than modifying your vowel overtones. Remember, these changes occur within your vocal tract and hence are an extension of singing with the first vocal fundamental; Height In The Vocal Tract.
The Four Fundamentals Are King
When it comes to developing any second level vocal technique like vowel modification, it’s important to understand that The Four Vocal Fundamentals are KING at all times. Just because you’re reaching the next level in your vocal development doesn’t mean that we suddenly ditch our forward placement, mixed tone, controlled air and raised soft palate – no, we actually use each advanced technique to strengthen and solidify these vocal fundamentals.
Learning to sing with these four basic steps has absolutely changed my life as a singer. One step better than just telling you over and over again to work on these four fundamentals, I’m actually going to SHOW you how it’s done in this exclusive Mixed Voice Singing Lesson which will share with you the exact method I use to help my own students develop a mixed tonality while mastering the four fundamentals in their singing voices.
If you’re experiencing issues with your singing voice, you need to first ask yourself these four simple questions:
- Is my soft palate raised?
- Is my placement forward?
- Am I singing “All in one flow” rather than staccatto?
- Is my tone Mixed?
Did you answer Yes or No to each of these questions? If you answered “No” to even one of these simple fundamentals, then it’s definitely time to improve the Four Vocal Fundamentals in your singing voice.
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.