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Simplifying Classical Singing Terms

To make your journey towards being a powerful and commanding singer an easier one, I’ve put together this super simple guide to de-mystifying some of those confusing classical singing terms you may have heard along the way like Inhalare La and Messa di Voce, Vibrato or Passaggio.

If you have any questions, you can leave me a message in the ‘leave a reply’ box below or book a session with me personally for a more advanced lesson.

Messa Di Voce – An advanced exercise/technique of singing into a crescendo (increasing volume and resonace) and then a diminuendo (getting softer) while keeping a single pitch.

Inhalare La Voce – “Inhale the voice”, a confusingly archaic term for a very important singing technique! Just think of your voice as stationary, or moving ‘inward’ rather than flowing out of your mouth with air. This places your voice better and allows you to sing upwards into the soft palate rather than through your mouth.

Solar Plexus – That’s actually just another anatomical term for your sternum! Aka the hard bone that sits between your ribs at the front. A little tip: it should be raised slightly when you sing.

Diction – The clarity of the words you create using correct vocal technique (not to be confused with enunciation – the act of pronouncing your consonants)

Legato – Singing as if all the notes are connected together rather than separated by breaks.

Belting – A technique where the vocal chords are held together tightly while singing higher into your range. This is often confused and ill-explained as ‘singing a high note in chest voice’. Belting is always done in the middle/mixed voice and also invokes/requires changes in your vowel position/modification and placement. Associated most with rock, blues, R’n’B and other forms of contemporary singing, Belting creates a ‘heavier’ and ‘louder’ sound than the really relaxed, light tone you may associate with warming up or singing gently.

Passaggio – The vocal break/where your voice ‘flips’ up into your higher register due to lacking technique or an incorrect approach. ie: “Passage” where you travel between vocal registers.

Timbre – The character of your voice. For example, dark, bright, warm, pleasant, nasal etc.

Mixed Voice – The register that sits between your ‘chest’ (low) and ‘head’ (high) registers. I recently posted a guide about how to sing in Mixed/Middle voice – tip: it’s all about tone and timbre!

Were these simple explanations of complicated classical singing techniques helpful? If you’d like to learn more or develop your vocal technique to get past that Passaggio, improve your vocal timbre and develop advanced techniques like Inhalare la Voce, you can book a session with me now.

Feel free to leave any questions or feedback 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.

2 thoughts on “Simplifying Classical Singing Terms

  1. Very neat breakdown of classical singing terms! I didn’t know that your solar plexus should be raised when you sing. Which singing techniques can help someone looking to increase their range in pitch? I definitely struggle to get out of my comfort zone keys (D, A). I would love to be able to master other keys as well. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hey Ciara! It’s actually lateral expansion of the ribs you’re looking for while raising your sternum, but it’s much the same physical process. Absolutely, diaphragmatic breathing, vowel modification/vowel positions, placement and a good approach will totally build your higher range in full voice – try moving your vowel sound gradually towards “OH” like “TAR” when you hit your first break or start to strain, this will at the least get you on the right track.

      K

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