Singing With Resonance [Step-By-Step Guide]
Singing with resonance truly is the key to building a powerful and impressive vocal range. Many singers struggle to make the distinction between ‘air flow’ and ‘air pressure’ when they sing, resulting in a lack of singing singing resonance and ultimately the many issues such as vocal strain that come with being unable to sing with resonance.
Resonance can be defined loosely as prolonged vibration and perpetuation of 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 when singing.
This step-by-step guide will show you how to sing with resonance while building a powerful and consistent foundation for your voice.
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.
Singing with resonance is actually very easy to do, but because of the many various speaking accents and voice types out there, 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. Remember, when you sing a “Z”, there is actually two separate sounds, the articulation of air at your lips/teeth that makes the “S” and the resonance that creates the deep “Z” sound.
Singing Resonance exercises
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.
5 Tips for Singing With Resonance
Singing with resonance is easy when you make use of these 5 simple but important tips. Remember, your voice works via air pressure and vibration – not airflow. 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. Vibrato itself is a direct result of resonance rather than a ‘trick’ or ‘technique’ in itself and really requires you to sing with proper vocal technique and a resonant vocal tone.
#1 – Singing requires air pressure, not air flow
Breath support, aka air pressure, occurs when you balance between the flow or air and the pressure in the air you hold. By creating air pressure instead of excess of airflow you will create a very powerful and strain-free resonant singing voice. Support really is key to a great singing voice, and ultimately the key to singing with resonance.
#2 – Placement is key
While it’s not possible to physically ‘move’ or ‘place’ your voice, it IS actually possible to encourage the creation of frequencies which resonate efficiently within the vocal tract. These efficient frequencies are sometimes called placement, or are a result of placement. Placement occurs when you alter your vocal tone to encourage specific healthy and powerful frequencies instead of wasting energy on frequencies which really aren’t designed to resonate within your vocal tract.
#3 – Vowels ain’t vowels
Singing and speaking are ultimately two different acts, just like running and walking are two different processes – running isn’t just fast walking in the same way that singing isn’t just speaking at pitch. Learning how to form your vowels properly for efficient resonance and strain free singing really will change your life as a singer and allow you to start singing with resonance.
#4 – Onsets, Onsets, Onsets (and onsets)
A vocal onset is literally the onset of your resonance, the way that you initiate resonance in your voice. If you create a balanced onset where air and vocal fold closure occur at the same moment, sometimes called a simultaneous or coordinated onset (I personally prefer the term ‘balanced’), you will encourage and attain efficient and powerful resonance when you sing. Now, on either side of this balanced onset is a breathy onset where aspiration of air precurs vocal fold closure resulting in a breathy and often flat intonation that lacks resonance, and on the other side we have a glottal onset where closure occurs before airflow, resulting in a harsh “attack” that often creates vocal strain and a pitchy intonation. Learning how to sing with a balanced onset will allow you to start singing with resonance!
#5 – Resonance occurs on vowels (and resonant consonants)
As an extension of your onsets, learning how to sing consonant sounds properly really is an important part of singing with resonance. Remember, your vocal onset occurs on a resonant sound, not a sibilant sound like S,T or even a plosive like P or B. Separating your consonants from your resonant sounds and vowels is an important and key aspect to singing with resonance.
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. By practising singing resonance exercises you will encourage the same powerful buzz that professional singers are known for. Singing with resonance result in a completely strain-free singing voice that can be balanced and tuned tonally in many different ways so that you can sing any style and any song with your own natural and true resonance.
A great place to start singing with resonance is the free foundation 101 singing course available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will show you how to set up a rock solid and bullet-proof foundation for your voice. Foundation in singing really is just like the foundation of a house, the solid concrete base that your range and tone are built upon. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching you’re welcome to book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll start working towards extending your range while creating balance and consistency in your voice every time you sing.
If you have any questions about learning how to sing with resonance, 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.