Learn how to sing better with Legato
If you’re trying to learn how to sing better, then one of the best tips you’ll ever hear is that CLEAR and SMOOTH singing only happens with Legato. Are you straining and pushing in your high range, or struggling to create specific words in a fluid and articulate way? The answer is to practice using LEGATO.
What is legato? In a literal sense, Legato refers to the playing of any musical instrument in a fluid and connected way without any, or at least many, breaks between notes. SINGING with legato is really no different, although does require some training in your voice to achieve this fluid, connected and smooth sound.
How do I sing WORDS though? It’s super easy actually! I recently released a three-part series on creating consonant sounds in the correct manner while singing – so you’ll see that singing consonant sounds doesn’t necessarily involve singing an onset, or breaking up your resonance:
So you’ll see, disconnection and onsets are not necessarily required for phonating words correctly. You don’t have to ‘slur’ or ‘mumble’ your consonant sounds to sing with a smooth Legato sound, you simply need to create your consonant sounds in the correct manner and keep a connection in your resonance through and between each vowel change.
Why Legato? Learning to sing using legato will leave you with a smooth, connected voice that can be used in various manners to achieve the style you are trying to sing – whether you’re learning how to sing rock, jazz or even classical! On the flipside, if you’re always practicing with a staccato delivery, then this will translate to your singing voice and force you to release pressure on each syllable, word and pitch – leaving you with a jagged, tiresome and very unpleasant tone.
Learning how to sing smoother using legato is an extremely important tool for your singing voice, and really starts with your practice routine.
How do I practice Legato? Regardless of whether you practice using octaves, or a major scale, or any other number of possible exercises – it’s important that you keep a smooth connection, just like I showed you in the above video. Each time you change pitch in your scale, it’s important that you’re not creating a ‘syllable’ or using an onset to start your note – you need to simply slide up to pitch and keep your connection without adding any force or articulation to the note change.
What about intense rock singing? If you listen to a really GREAT rock singer like Chris Cornell, or Paul Rodgers – you’ll see that they both actually sing with Legato the majority of the time – sliding between words and creating resonance in a comfortable and relaxed way, EVEN when they are singing ‘intense’ or with distortion. The secret to this sound is practicing with Legato, then simply changing the delivery of your vocal lines to match the intensity, or aggression of the song. Actually singing staccato in this case would wear out your voice and create way too many stepping-stones you have to traverse throughout a vocal line to sound fluid, pleasant and powerful.
How can I sing with more power? Singing powerfully is not related to singing staccato, and in fact, excess onsets and force or your syllable will only serve to tire and strain your voice in the long term. I recently released a video on singing well up into Chris Cornell’s high range with POWER and connection, WITHOUT belting, forcing or singing staccato:
So you’ll see, singing with Legato will actually provide you with MORE power and a sharper delivery than singing disconnected and with force.
I need help singing Legato! You’ve come to the right place. If you’ve checked out the above videos and you’d like some tailored and personalized help building your singing voice, you can book a session with me personally here at www.bohemianvocalstudio.com and I’ll show you how to achieve this powerful, and strain free sound in your voice.
Why should I sing Legato? Practicing using a Legato approach will allow you to increase your range and improve your tone without strain, and very little effort. In turn, this will allow you to sing high and powerfully throughout your full vocal range with connection, power and a pleasant delivery. The more you practice using Legato, the more released and strain free your voice will become – if you practice with heavy ‘steps’ in each scale you’re practicing, this will translate into your singing voice and cause a whole raft of issues.
Why the Italian terms? I know, I know – these classical terms are really boring and confusing, right? I always explain the nature and intention of each of these terms when I teach, or I avoid them altogether where I can. Legato is one of the few that I find practical and informative to use, so I generally stick with it – but if you prefer, you can simple call it “singing with connection” or “singing without excess onsets” if you like. Here’s a few other classical terms that I often break down for people:
Vibrato – A released and healthy oscillation of your vocal folds that causes a controlled and fluid wavering of frequencies, heard as a repeated pitch change, but unrelated to Tremolo, which is literally changing pitch repeatedly, straining your voice.
Tessitura – The most comfortable, and pleasing part of your range. This is irrelevant when you learn how to sing properly – as a low baritone, I often sing and am complimented on my singing in the Tenor range.
Appoggio – “Outwards breathing” – meaning that your ribs sit outwards to disengage the intercostal muscles so your diaphragm can move freely into the abdominal cavity without the ribs then forcing the air out like bellows.
Passaggio – The part of an untrained singers voice that ‘breaks’ between chest voice and head voice. Once you learn to tune your vowels and release through your registers, it connects with power and resonance, but is still referred to as the passaggio.
What about terms like “Edge” and “Curbing”? I don’t sing using this approach, nor are these classical terms.
Vowel modification – Not so much a classical ‘term’, but a classical approach. Vowel modification involves making very slight changes in the width of your vowel to allow for the most efficient use of your resonance. This is a super-simplified version of what I personally use and teach called vowel tuning.
If you’re ready to power up your legato and build a connected, smooth and fluid vocal range – or you need some help with the other techniques we’ve talked about like vowel tuning, bridging your passaggio or breathing using the appoggio approach, you can book a session with me today and I’ll show you how it’s done!
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.