The Urban Dictionary of Singing

The Urban Dictionary of Singing

We recently released a simplified guide to the Anatomy Of A Great Singing Voice, and you can also download our De-Buzzing Buzz-Words eBook which tears down all those confusing classical singing terms into their tangible meanings and practical applications – but what about those abstract, urban terms and slang words that singers and voice coaches use like splat, fizz, edge and twang?

Welcome to The Urban Dictionary of Singing!

Splat

A splat, or vowel splat is used to describe the loss of your vowel sound, a spread in your vowel sound or a loss of connection in your registers for a particular vowel sound, often resulting in a strained, pushed or yelled sound that is shy of the pitch – imagine a water balloon hitting a wall at full speed, this is a vocal splat. This often happens when a singer widens their vowel at the mouth in a lateral sense from side to side instead of allowing a naturally vertical aperture that narrows the vowel and makes a healthy and seamless connection between your registers.



Twang

Not to be confused with country twang or a southern drawl, twang occurs when there is a narrowing of the glottis via the aryepiglottic sphincter – resulting in a specific boost of high frequencies that cut through a mix or live room and adds an element of intensity or presence to the voice. Adding twang to your voice can create a significant boost in volume and power with minimal effort, and is used to good effect by many great rock singers like Chris Cornell to maintain tonal consistency through the registers.

Mix

Neither chest voice nor head voice in their pure sense. Some approach the registers with the attitude there are three levels to your range, chest, mix and head, or chest, middle and head. This is often referred to as a chesty mix or a heady mix, depending on the balance the singer wishes to attain. The mix or middle register itself is more of a figurative concept than a physically separate middle or third register – but is a great learning and teaching tool.

Edge

While I don’t personally adhere or apply the concepts of this particular vocal approach, edge is simply another term for singing with twang and intensity.

Belting

Belting can be used to describe either an increase in volume through added vocal fold adduction and breath support, or a literal drag of the registers that results in a boomy and powerful sound high in the range.

Blending or Bridging

Blending or bridging generally refers to connection of the registers. If you’re struggling to connect chest and head voice, I suggest this easy guide to start building that bridge: Fix Your Voice Cracks In 5 Easy Steps

Fry

Vocal fry is a non pitched pulsing of the vocal folds or false folds, resulting in a creaking sound. Think of the start of a Frog’s “rrrrribbip!” or even better, that bluesy creak that David Coverdale started with on almost every sing note he sang in the 70’s

Pitchy

Either flat or sharp of the intended pitch. Basically, an inability to consistently sing in key or on the right pitch is called pitchiness or being pitchy.

Fizz

Fizz is also a term used in audio production and refers to lack of clarity, or unintended distortion or a brittle quality to the high end. This is often caused in singing by vocal strain, improper chord closure, unintended narrowing of the epiglottis or improper vowel formation.

As you can see, along with all the classical terms we recently De-Buzzed, there are also many confusing contemporary and slang terms for singing techniques and approaches that often go without explanation, but can/should be explained and clarified for the beginner singer or those wishing to try a new approach to singing.

If you want to do away with all these buzzwords, marketing terms and urban slang, a better place to start building your voice is the free foundations short courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, which will show you how to set up a strong base for your voice to be built upon. Remember, your singing will only ever be as strong and consistent as the foundation it is built on top of. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level, you can book a Skype Session and we’ll start working towards extending your range and building control and consistency in your voice every time you sing.

If you have any other slang or urban singing terms you’d like me to clarify, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!

8 Comments

  1. This was a great learning lesson, and I appreciate you teaching me something new about vocals. When I think splat, for some reason I think about Steven Tyler from Aerosmith in a video of him singing to his lungs and Not spatting but on the verge of it. Blending or bridging would be the way for me to go. I’d like to learn more on that. The only one I had previous knowledge of was fizz, and I’m glad I learned the rest. Thank you for sharing your article!

    • Cheers Michael! Yeah absolutely, that’s a great example. He doesn’t exactly splat, but he gets close with the way he pushes. Totally, blending is the only real way to connect your registers and sing with consistency. Let me know if you have any questions!

      K

      • Hello Kegan!
        Do you think – is Steven Tyler approach to sing is not healthy?
        He is 70 years old and sing with distortion – its blow my mind…

        Also I look many Chris Cornells live – he constantly put grit – and I sure you heard last song (when bad does good) – so much freedom and power in upper part of voice – seems grit doesn’t bother his voice….or not…

        What do you think about it?

        • At this topic –
          What do think – is correct way to describe grit as layer as lip or tonuge trill?

          We have clear tone and add “trrrrr” by tongue
          And if we add false cord closure – is the same principe?

          Recently I find this conception – may I ask – what do you think about it?

          • I’m unsure about this analogy and how a lip trill relates to grit? I haven’t heard this before, but I can imagine what they’re trying to say. I believe the point of this analogy is to say that the grit occurs in addition to a clean tone, not despite a clean tone.

        • I love Steven Tyler’s voice and especially 70’s Aerosmith. His voice has held up especially well considering how he sings. It wouldn’t be healthy for another singer to ‘copy’ the way he sang, but you can apply the same approach. The important thing to take away from Steven’s singing is that he’s not using excess weight when he sings, he’s not shouty or “chesty” as some people say, ever. This allows him to add the grit and lean in with ease without fighting for balance in the registers.

          Yeah, I heard it. He’s having trouble with his voice in that last song, honestly – as much as I love his voice. Originally, yes, in Soundgarden his high range was incredible and the grit he was able to command was incredible, but over time it became more shouty and throaty in Audioslave until his voice became tired somewhat. It’s a tiring way to sing for anyone, and again, it’s amazing his voice held up so well over so many years singing like that. The same thing to take away from Chris Cornell’s singing, such as on Euphoria Mourning, is that he is also not singing with excess weight and “shouty” in his voice, and then to illustrate a point, when he started adding in a more shouty belt in Audioslave, he started to have audible vocal issues.

          Grit is only ‘bad’ for your voice if you do it incorrectly, to excess, or do it in tandem inadvertently with added weight or tension – you should be able to lean in from a completely free and light sound towards either a fuller tone, or a distorted tone. If you can’t lean in like a crescendo, there is something likely wrong with your approach 🙂

          Hope that helps!

          K

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *