How To Get A Better Singing Voice
Singing is a simple process of balance which involves pressure, vibration and resonance. Pressure is managed by your support mechanism – known as diaphragmatic breathing, vibration results from efficient vocal fold closure, and resonance is managed by the size and shape of your vocal tract and how you sing your vowels. If you want to learn how to get a better singing voice, the first place to start is developing these three basic elements that make up every great voice – support, closure and vowels.
How To Sing From The Diaphragm
The diaphragm itself is a large and dome-shaped muscle that sits at the base of the lungs, just above the abdomen. When you engage the adjoining musculature of the diaphragm such as the intercostal muscles, lower back muscles, abs etc – the diaphragm descends down and draws air into your lungs, like a vacuum. You can then develop a balance of air flow and air pressure – known as support, by developing compression and ‘resisting’ the recoil of the diaphragm as you sing a phrase and sustain notes.
Vocal Cord Closure
Vocal fold closure, often known as adduction or cord closure is something that you can already achieve by sustaining any resonant sound, such as an N, NG or M. Now, this buzzing resonance that you feel and hear on each of these resonant space can also be achieved and maintained on a vowel sound by maintaining the same relaxed by controlled fold closure as each of these resonant sounds. You can try this by starting a vowel sound, such as “EE” with a resonant consonant like N, like: N-EE or NG-EE. Can you recognise the continuing resonant that sustains as you move to the vowel sound? Learning how to sing the vowel sound with instant resonant is known as a balanced onset and occurs when you learn to manage your resonance using the soft palate for resonant space and also balancing airflow with vocal fold closure to create ‘instant’ resonance that neither has air nor hard closure before vibration is achieved at the folds. A great way to practice and strengthen vocal fold closure is to practice a crescendo on each vowel sound throughout your full vocal range.
You might be surprised that ‘vowel’ in singing actually means something very different to vowel in speech. While we often pronounce each vowel sound in speech at the front of the face using the articulators including the teeth, tongue, lips etc – a vowel in singing refers to the shape of the back of the tongue and size/shape of the vocal tract itself. So, instead of simply pronouncing an “EE” sound on a word such as “SEE” – you need to raise the back of your tongue to create efficient resonance and “EQ” your frequencies into the “EE” vowel while also managing resonant space using the soft palate and vocal tract to tune your resonance and vowel for the most efficient, powerful and stress free vocal tone.
There are three main tongue shapes that make up all other vowel sounds; “up” at the back for EE, “down” low and concave for an AH and “back” with lips forward for an OO vowel. There are also variations on each of these positions to create alternate vowel sounds such as AY, OH, AA and ER.
A great place to learn how to support your voice, achieve vocal fold closure and manage your resonant space is our Foundation 101 singing course which will show you how to;
- Connect chest and head voice
- Create mixed resonance
- Balance your onset
- Achieve and manage resonant space
- Shape the main vowel sounds
- Sustain and build resonance
- Achieve placement
- SO much more!
Are you ready to take your singing voice to the next level with a rock solid vocal foundation? Let’s get started here.
If you have any questions about learning how to sing better, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
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.