How To Sing With An Open Throat

How To Sing With An Open Throat

Open Throat is a term that often gets used in contemporary and classical singing technique, and comes from a literal translation of the Italian term La Gola Aperta – and like most classical singing techniques, is intended as a figure of speech. Unfortunately, this has led some guru voice coaches out there to use Open Throat as a marketing term, packaged it as the ‘secret’ to great singing. In this tutorial, I’m going to SHOW you how to sing with an Open Throat the way this singing technique was intended, and break through some of the myths and marketing terms you may have heard while learning how to sing.

Open Throat singing technique refers to a very specific setup in the vocal mechanism surrounding your vowels, resonance, frequencies and finesse where onsets, breathing, support and articulation are concerned.

5 Simple Steps to Singing with an Open Throat

These five steps will show you the physical mechanism behind learning how to sing with an Open Throat so that you can sing with a powerful and naturally resonant sound – releasing strain and building healthy habits so that you are consistent with resonance, pitch and in control every time you sing.

Using these steps, you can easily create the right environment for open throat singing. Are you ready to sing with an Open Throat like a professional singer and your favourite vocalists? Lets get started.

Step #1 – Foundation (Breathing, Posture and Placement)

Foundation really is the most important step when learning how to sing. Setting up a healthy and strong posture will allow you to them support your voice and maintain efficient resonance when you sing. Healthy posture looks a little like this;

  • Head up
  • Shoulders back
  • Chin Parallel with the floor (look straight forward with a high head)
  • Proud chest/wide ribs

These simple posture steps will allow you to then engage the diaphragm more effectively and create support by managing air flow and air pressure to allow more powerful and efficient resonance.

Step #2 – Resonance

Resonance is truly key to singing with an open throat. Without resonance, you are singing closed and forceful, and when you are singing closed and forceful – you are singing without resonance!¬†Resonance starts with your vowels, but we’ll get to that in the next step. For now, lets focus on practising the resonant sounds you’re likely already familiar with;

  • V
  • Z
  • N
  • NG
  • M

You’ll notice that most of these sounds, if not all of them, feature an element of continual resonance when you sustain them, that bright and continual ‘buzz’. With time, you can learn to create this same powerful buzz on each of your vowel sounds.

Step #3 – Vowels

Sung vowels are very different to speech vowels. In speech, we often pronounce our sounds using the articulators at the front of the face – the teeth, the lips, the tip of the tongue. But in singing, you actually need to shape each vowel using the back of your tongue while matching resonant space in the vocal tract using the pharynx, root of the tongue, the glottis, the soft palate and other elements of the vocal tract itself to shape, form and facilitate resonance throughout various registers of your voice.

[one_third padding=”0 20px 0 0″][/one_third]A great example of this is the difference between an EE sound where the tongue rises at the back, and an AH sound where the tongue lowers to a concave. Learning to form these shapes, among others such as AA, AY/EH, OO, OH and the many variations will allow you to sing with peak efficiency and peak consistency every time you sing. If you struggle with pitch issues, or vocal strain – your first port of call needs to be correct vowel formation.

Step #4 – Support and compression

With a healthy foundation comes the ability to support your voice effectively by moderating air flow and air pressure using the breathing mechanism at peak efficiency. Support occurs when you maintain engagement of the diaphragm as you ascend in range or sustain a note or phrase instead of allowing your posture, ribs, diaphragm and breath support collapse – causing a weak and breathy vocal tone. By maintaining diaphragmatic engagement through support, you will learn to increase and moderate air pressure instead of simply blowing weak air across your vocal folds.

Now, compression is a tricky term because it really refers to a balanced amount of compression, not “more compression” – many beginner to intermediate singers take the ball and run with it when they learn a new technique, so be careful to use compression for consistent airflow, not excess pressure

Step #5 – Finesse and Articulation

As you can expect, maintaining an open throat requires you to sing with balance, finesse and consistency. Things like balanced onsets, consonants, mix voice, frequencies, resonant space and learning actual songs – these are the final key and piece to the puzzle that will allow you to sing with freedom. Learning to sing onsets in particular has been especially important in my own baritone voice – consistency was one of the final steps that came together with consistent practice and training.

For many years, I too struggled with the concept of Open Throat, along with other advanced techniques and concepts like Mixed Voice and Placement. Taking these five simple steps will allow you to create the perfect atmosphere and situation for Open Throat singing to occurs – leaving you with naturally mixed resonance and a healthy, powerful placement that allows you to sing with freedom, power and consistency.

A great place to start with developing Open Throat technique when you sing is the Foundation 101 singing course that I have developed specifically for singers who are frustrated with a lack of progress found with other courses and coaching, for beginner singers and even advanced singers who are looking to ‘tune up’ their technique and approach. The Foundation 101 course will show you how to;

  • Set up a rock solid foundation
  • Breathe diaphragmatically
  • Create a balanced onset
  • Sing with consistency
  • Increase your range out of sight
  • Improve your vocal tone
  • Sing your vowels properly
  • Create resonant space in the vocal tract
  • Sing with middle voice
  • Learn to use the articulators
  • Sing with peak resonance and efficiency
  • SO much more!

Along with the Foundation 101 singing course,  this exclusive Mixed Voice Singing Lesson designed for singers just like you who are struggling to sing with an Open Throat will show you the exact process that I have developed and used for the past ten years as a voice coach, along with the approach and techniques I have learned in almost 20 years of experience as a singer.

If you have any questions about Open Throat singing or the Foundation 101 singing course, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. This is so great. I am a vocalist who tries to growl and use vocal fry and false chords such as Randy Blythe or Phil Bozeman but it is so hard to produce the needed sound.
    I tried to learn it through zen of screaming (Melissa Cross) but it looks so hard to produce the sound.
    How can I growl without ruin my vocal cords?

    • I actually know how to do this and yes I have covered Lamb of God, particularly the song ‘Redneck’. The key to it is to start in the vocal fry area low then raise it up from under the larynx to above it. If you cough you did it wrong, you should feel it happen above the larynx which is why doing it that way will not ruin you vocal cords.

      The artist’s I emulated to get good at it was Axl Rose, then James Hetfield, then Phil Anselmo (this is hard) and finally Randy Blythe. The reason I did it that way was I went with the thinner buzz saw sound to progress to heavier singers ending when I got Randy down because he is one that uses a lot of compression/distortion.

      The other thing that holds you back is being afraid someone will hear you, you will need to scream at certain parts (mostly choruses) where you need the power to make your vocal presence known. Once you start doing it then it just gets easier every time. I have gotten to where I can belt out Randy’s style and then immediately after sing an Elton John song. Its how I know it isn’t damaging my voice.

      Again the easiest way I found was starting at the deep voice vocal fry (lowest register for you) and then just slowly increase. It will sound very thin at first because you tend to close down your throat when starting to learn it, you then have to learn to open it back up to get the thickness that you need. Randy is actually pretty thin but his is just so intense it is very easy to fall into the area of your voice that will destroy it. As I said before a cough is a warning your vocal cords don’t like something you are doing.

      You tend to over distort when first learning so after you get how to do it you will have to learn how much of it to add and how to control it. As you already likely know, singing is all about control, even adding compression and distortion. How you can tell if you are doing too much is if there are words you can’t clearly hear. It really don’t take much to get a nice decent distortion. You may even find it easier to start with a singer with a rasp to their voice, Janis Joplin (even though its a girl singer) is a decent place to start. For male singers if you want a lighter distortion to start with then someone like Layne Stayley is really good to learn from.

      Lastly the singer I always recommend to people to learn the most from is Mathew Bellamy from Muse. He has a ton of tricks and his technique teaches control, distortion, compression (both cleaner and more dirty), vibrato, open throat, falsetto and how to keep your larynx in a neutral position while going in to higher registers. He is by far one of the best singers out there to learn from because of how many different techniques he uses.

      Hope that helps and gets you compressing and distorting your voice, compression is pushing with your diaphragm, depending on how much of it you want is how you get to distortion, it should start sounding squeezed at first and then the more air you push through the closer to vocal breakup (distortion) should happen. Again I cannot stress this enough if it is below your larynx it will destroy your voice, always make sure it is happening at the top of it.

      • Hey Jim! There’s actually two types of fry – unpitched vibration of the vocal folds, and pulsing of the false folds; so, you’re correct, it should sit “above” the larynx. However, compression really refers to how you resist the pressure/airflow at the vocal folds, supraglottis, epiglottis and even within the vocal tract itself – while diaphragmatic compression IS a thing, it’s not how you’re getting the extreme false fold distortion you’re speaking of. Best, – K

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