What is Mask Singing? [How To Place Your Voice]
Mask Singing and Vocal Placement are tricky concepts for many singers. If your voice is a balance of pressure, vibration and resonance - how exactly can you "move" or "place" your voice, and why should you sing in the mask? Let's find out.
Mask Singing is a form of vocal placement that allows you to make the most out of your acoustic frequencies and vocal resonators. When you sing, the efficient resonators for the voice are actually the mouth, pharynx and nasal resonators. "But what about chest voice and head voice?" I hear you ask - Chest Voice and Head Voice are simply two forms of resonance rather than actual resonators in singing, your physical 'chest' isn't an efficient resonator for the voice, nor is the brain or head.
3 Types of Vocal Placement
There are three types of vocal placement and one very important beginning stage that many singers and voice coaches overlook when teaching/learning how to sing. The very first stage of developing vocal placement is to achieve resonance in the three efficient resonators of the voice;
- The Pharynx
- The Mouth
- The Nose
Once you have achieved resonance in these three powerful resonators, the next step is to direct the sound 'forward' to the harder parts of the vocal tract that resonate with more power such as the bones and nasal resonator. This allows you to expend very little energy to create a MASSIVE and powerful sound. Forward placement is sometimes known as Mask Singing.
What is Mask Singing?
Mask Singing is a classical term, sometimes written as Masque, as a way to encourage singers to achieve forward placement. If you imagine wearing a masquerade mask over the eyes, the most effective way to achieve a forward and powerful sound is to imagine singing through the character of the mask, between the eyes in a figurative sense. When you achieve mask singing, your tone will rise out of the throat and mouth up into the nasal and pharyngeal resonators to create impressive power, endless range and a beautiful tone.
Now, there is such a thing as excess mask, and like many singing techniques - it's easy to take it too far in the beginning stages. A singer that relies too much on masque resonance is Axl Rose, and a singer that actually uses nasality is Stevie Nicks - where Chris Cornell, Aretha Franklin and Myles Kennedy all make use of forward placement in a healthy and moderate way.
Improve Your Vocal Placement
With the Foundation 101 Singing Course
Vocal Placement is a key aspect to your vocal foundation and should be learned early on in the process of developing your voice. Foundation in singing is similar to the foundation of a house - the rock solid base that your tone and range (walls and roof respectively) are built upon when you learn how to sing. Vocal Foundation includes;
- Diaphragmatic Breathing and Support
- Shaping your vowels
- Resonance space and tuning your frequencies
- Balancing your onset
- Connecting chest and head voice
- Ensuring vocal health
- All base elements of a great singing voice
The best place to start building a rock solid vocal foundation is our Foundation 101 singing course which will show you how to develop each of the above techniques and so much more - with 60 minutes of video content and interactive warmups, Foundation 101 really is the most powerful way to build your voice.
If you'd like to get started straight away this exclusive Mixed Voice singing lesson will show you how to develop mixed resonance that blends between chest and head voice to create one long and fluid note from your lowest to your highest pitch.
If you want to know what all the fuss is about with the Foundation vocal approach, here's just a few examples of what I'm achieving now that I'm free from strain and placing my voice correctly with the Foundation 101 course - just imagine the amazing things you're going to achieve when you start placing your voice correctly!
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.