Singing With Resonance [Step-By-Step Guide]
Singing with resonance was one of the biggest issues I faced when I was first learning how to sing - I found it particularly difficult to sing actual songs and consonant sounds without choking off and losing my resonance; but I've now learned that singing with resonance truly is the key to building a powerful and impressive vocal range. Many singers struggle to make the distinction between speech sounds and correctly sung resonance when they sing, resulting in a lack of resonance and other issues such as strain, tension and a lack of range.
Resonance can be defined loosely as prolonged vibration and perpetual resonant frequencies - and when applied to singing, can be used to describe the 'buzzing' quality of a trained singer's voice. Resonance in singing is the true key to vocal health, along with allowing a powerful and sustained vocal tone.
Want to know my secret to singing with vocal resonance?
It's not a magic trick, a special technique or something that only "I" know the answer to - the true secret to singing with great resonance is to develop The Four Vocal Fundamentals which I'll gladly share with you. This step-by-step guide will show you how to sing with resonance while building a powerful and consistent foundation for your voice using these four simple vocal fundamentals.
How To Sing With Resonance
It's likely you already know how to make a resonant sound in speech - sounds like N, M, V and Z all display an element of resonance which isn't necessarily related to aspiration of air. My favourite example of a resonant sound is a Z, which illustrates resonance when you alternate between a sibilant S and a resonant Z sound - like SSSSS-ZZZZZZ, or the sound of a snake's hiss turning into the buzz of a bee.
It's extremely important that you make the distinction between articulation of air (the "S" sound) and actual resonance in the vocal tract (the "Z" sound). By defining these two sounds, you can easily identify your true voice and your true resonance. The very first step in finding your resonance is to learn how to place your voice;
With vocal placement, singing with resonance is very easy to do. The reason it can be so tricky to learn to sing with resonance is due to all the various speaking accents and voice types out there - with a speaking voice that lacks resonance it can be difficult for certain singers to differentiate articulation from true resonance. The simple exercise I showed you in the video above really will change your voice for the better and help you separate speech sounds from true vocal resonance - but with placement, you'll find your vocal resonance instantly.
Exercises To Build Vocal Resonance
Taking the "Z" resonant sound we discovered above, you can now take any scale or exercise you like and turn it into one of the most powerful singing resonance exercises available. Many other sounds such as N, M and NG will also help you create resonance. The true key to singing with resonance is actually porting this same buzzing and resonant sound into your vowels. Learning to sing vowels with resonance takes time, perseverance and practice but really will change your singing voice forever.
The best vowel to start practising singing with resonance with is an EE vowel because it naturally lends towards a bright and buzzing sound. By alternating through your vowels sounds incrementally from small to large such as EE-AY-AH-OH you will soon learn which vowels lack resonance when you sing.
NG is a fantastic sound to create resonance in your voice because most accents and voice types have some similarity in the way this sound is created - as apposed to many vowel sounds which come with various forms of pronunciation and differences between each accent, voice type and language. By alternating between an NG and an EE (be careful to raise the soft palate on the EE so there is no nasal airflow!) you will soon learn to sing your vowels with resonance.
4 Steps For Better Vocal Resonance
Singing with resonance is easy when you make use of these 4 simple but important Vocal Fundamentals. Learning how to sing with resonance will help you sustain your voice while improving your vocal tone and ultimately allowing you to learn how to sing with vibrato, which itself is a direct result of sustained resonance - when it comes to great singing; resonance is king!
The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- Mixed Tonality
- "All In One Flow"
You'll probably be surprised to learn that every single vocal technique out there relates to one of these four simple fundamentals - an example is how Vowel Modification, Yawning and Raising the Soft Plate are all simply an extension of creating Height In The Vocal Tract - and without this fundamental step, you voice will fail with every one of these broad instructions. It's exactly the same with Diaphragmatic Breathing, Compression, Appoggio, Prop and Lean - these are all simply an extension of singing All In One Flow, or more simply put singing with consistent airflow.
Let me share The Four Vocal Fundamentals with you;
#1 - Height In The Vocal Tract
You've probably hear someone talking about "yawning" when they sing, or even had a voice teacher tell you to "yawn more" when you sing - and what they're really trying to do is get you to create height in the vocal tract by raising the soft palate.
The most effective way to achieve height in the vocal tract is with "The Internal Smile" - and it's called "internal" for a reason; don't just go grinning like the joker hoping for the best. The Internal smile is actually a set of key steps to help you achieve and manage resonant space when you sing;
- Bright eyes
- Cheeks raised under your eyes
- Sunken cheeks at the back of the mouth
- Narrow opening at the mouth
- Raised Soft palate
You can even take the internal smile one step further by inhaling from a "K" consonant sound (make sure not to actually voice the sound) with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, breathing in to create a little bit of pressure and then letting your tongue release to feel the rush of cold air ascending into the pharynx as the soft palate raises.
This last instruction is actually where we get the instruction to "yawn" before you sing - you might notice that this inhalation with a raised palate feels a little bit like the beginning of a yawn as the palate raises.
Developing Height In The Vocal Tract is one of the most important aspects of increasing your vocal range and ultimately learning to sing with Vowel Modification the right way.
#2 - "All In One Flow"
Depending on your accent and voice type, you might find you speak with a fairly stacatto release of air - like "hah hah hah" instead of just "haaaaaaaaaa" on one breath - this is where we get "All In One Flow" which really just means to sing with consistent airflow.
Now, this vocal fundamental actually requires some a different instruction for each singer. For an aspirate singer, it can be beneficial to hold the air back a touch by resisting the recoil of the diaphragm to ensure that you're not excessively breathy when you sing. On the flip side, someone with harder "clamp and push" voice will benefit from a slight "sigh" on their onset and to release a touch of air in a silent "h" through the middle of their range - it really depends on your voice and your current ability as a singer.
This is actually the simplest of The Four Vocal Fundamentals and can be achieved by developing a healthy approach to diaphragmatic breathing, a balanced onset and a balance between airflow and air pressure to achieve perfect resonance when you sing - The concept of compression is literally an extension of All in one flow - if you want to sing with power, distortion and intensity by singing with compression, then the key is actually this simple vocal fundamental.
#3 - Mixed Tonality
When you finally learn how to sing with mixed voice to connect chest and head voice into one long fluid note from your lowest to highest pitch - you really will feel like you can do anything as singer. Mixed Tonality has two aspects;
- Physical: Balance between the TA and CT muscles
- Resonant: A blend of resonance between the chest and head registers
By blending resonance between the registers and learning to blur each register overtone; you'll find that you can sing in any key and any range - no matter your voice type.
Instead of me continually telling you just how awesome it is to discover mixed voice and enjoy such effortless freedom and power when you sing, let me show you; here's just a few examples of what I'm achieving as a singer now that I've mastered these four simple Vocal Fundamentals - just imagine the killer voice you're going to enjoy when you nail these four keys to great singing!
#4 - Forward Placement
Singing with resonance allows you to sustain a long phrase with very little effort while maintaining that powerful and pleasant 'buzz' your favourite singers are known for - but without forward placement you'll find it gets harder and harder to resonate as you sing through a vocal line, or even that it's impossible to find your resonance in the first place.
Many beginner singers are simply scared of the bright tone that comes with forward placement - fearing that they sound nasal; when in fact forward placement is one of the key elements of a balanced vocal tone.
Instructions like singing brassy and nasal, or exercises like NYAH or NAY are all ways to force vocal placement to occur - but you would have seen from my instructional video above that I treat placement as a two step process to ensure it's natural and effortless instead of excessively twangy and forced.
When it comes to powerful singing, especially rock - Forward Placement is king.
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
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Do You Have What it Takes?
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