Improve Your Vocal Tone and Articulation
If you were to listen to your top three favourite singers side by side - you would notice that while singing is easy and effortless for them; they all perform with a variety of vocal colours, tones, timbres and styles.
When it comes to vocal tone, there really is no such thing as "one size fits all" - especially considering how unique our vocal instruments are.
But how do you learn to sing with the right tone and articulation?
Learning to develop articulation as a singer is an incredibly important skill - otherwise you'll just sound like you're slurring between vowel sounds, or sound excessively classical and operatic even when you're trying to sing rock or pop.
The key here is actually to develop the most OPEN vowel that you possibly can, then learn to articulate as a secondary to the vowel, instead of prioritising speech sounds over your resonant vowel.
How To Sing An Open Vowel
What IS an open vowel?
If you've been through a few YouTube singing videos before, you've probably got a head full of singing terms and concepts - and probably even less understanding of how to achieve them than before you hit the play button in the first place.
One of the terms you might have come across is "covering", "vocal cover" or even the term "vocal protection".
What does covering the vowel really mean?
When it comes to singing, speech sounds and sung vowel sounds are actually two different kettle of fish - where a speech sound occurs in your mouth, an "open" or "covered" vowel occurs in the pharynx at the back of the head as you raise up the soft palate to modify your resonant overtone (clear as mud, right?)
A super simple way to learn the first overtone change in your voice (there's generally four resonant overtones per vowel sound when you sing) is to subtly alter the character of each of your vowel sounds;
- AH to AW (hard to hawed)
- AY to EH (hey to yeah)
Now, don't "pronounce" these sounds like you would in speech, just let the resonant character of the vowel change a touch as you aim for the back of your head with the vowel and you'll notice an instant increase in range and ease in your singing.
Now, learning all four vowel changes takes time and practice - but with a little perseverance and training, you'll be nailing your high range with ease and ready to articulate your sounds like a pro.
Vocal Tone and Articulation Examples
Many of my favourite singers have achieved a balance of open, resonant singing with a touch of stylistic articulation - from Layne Staley to Bon Jovi, Aretha Franklin to Adele; by first developing a powerful foundation and the right technique, these stylistic choices and all the "cool stuff" in singing becomes easy and effortless.
I've started releasing vocal covers on the BVS vocal channel along with "what I learned" tutorial videos to help you develop GREAT singing technique while also learning the finer points of vocal articulation;
The Key To Great Singing
When it comes to excellent Open Throat Singing Technique and the finesse it takes to articulate correctly for a great vocal tone - the key is really a strong foundation.
When it comes to a strong vocal foundation, there is nothing stronger, more effective, more powerful or simpler than The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
If I could go back in time to meet myself as a beginner singer almost 20 years ago and give myself just ONE piece of advice for improving my singing (and avoiding so many years of wasted time, effort and heartache!), it would be to develop my foundation as a singer with The Four Vocal Fundamentals above all else.
After all, every single great singer out there from Aretha Franklin to Myles Kennedy, to Scott Weiland and Adele has mastered The Four Vocal Fundamentals and learned to articulate with ease.
Isn't it time you mastered The Four Vocal Fundamentals?
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With the Foundation 101 Singing Course
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.