The Best Way to Add Colour to Your Voice.
Updated: Feb 2
Resonance... it's a fundamental aspect of what creates the depth and range of sounds we can make with our voice.
Playing with resonance is a huge part of what I do as a vocal coach and by the way it's absolutely fine, in fact its absolutely usual, if you're completely new to this term.
(To help you get the most out of these articles I've also recorded podcasts on these topics. You can listen to the episode about resonance here.)
The vocal process of creating sound (phonation) and the subsequent amplification and filtering of that sound (resonance) are the fundamental elements with which we shape our voice. That sentence in itself hopefully highlights just how important and integral it is for you as a singer to have a firm grasp of what resonance is.
So... simply put, resonance is a sort of selection process. Through small adjustments in the vocal tract we can effect the prominence of certain vocal sounds or what we might call tonal qualities.
The vocal tract is anything between your vocal folds and your lips. Your vocal folds vibrate and then vocal tract adjusts to sort of refine that sound.
Singing by nature is a very physical act, in totality it's your body and nothing more. Because of this the similarities between singing and physical exercise programs are vast.
If you're in the gym and you train with poor technique and heavy weights firstly you'll struggle to gain the results you're working for and ultimately you may develop injury, muscle imbalance and all sorts of other fun stuff. Training as a singer is much the same.
The main comparison I want to make here is that when you exercise, your body sends you signals and you feel all sorts of sensations relating to the functionality of your body. Equally the first step to identifying resonation is by reading those signals and being receptive to where the sound is resonating in your body.
This may change in different parts of your range and when using different vowel sounds.
There are vowel sounds that can encourage more nasality in the tonal quality of your voice. For instance, try singing a scale using the word knee and pay close attention to what you feel. You may find that its obvious and you can really feel the resonation of the sound in and around the back of your nose (nasal cavity) especially in your upper range
Alternatively if we use a tired, dopey, yawny sound like a tiresome ughhh in a scale around the lower end of your voice you may feel the sound is resonating much more in your throat and often in men we can feel it almost in our chest.
If you've ever heard the terms "chest voice" and "head voice" it may have become clear now why they exist.
We have perceptually distinct "registers" in our voice. Usually it's fairly easy to access a solid vocal sound in "chest voice." We're used to how this feels.
The biomachanics of our voice know how to create sounds in an area of our voice we use regularly in speech.
However, being able to create a resonant and full sound higher in our voice is challenging and requires training. I'll talk more about this in a blog post solely dedicated to the expansion of range.
Obviously I'm biased here regarding the importance of proper vocal coaching, but ultimately, to get the most our of your voice and to be able to reach your potential as a singer you need good quality vocal coaching that will unlock areas of your singing voice far greater than you thought achievable.
That's all the physiological stuff out of the way but what does this mean when we're actually singing songs?
Well... If we learn to manipulate our vocal tract and utilise resonance to effect the tonal quality and/or "timbre" of our voice we have much more depth to what we can do stylistically with songs. Building dexterity and versatility into your voice should be a primary goal. In doing so, you'll have the ability to engage with songs in a much fuller and richer way. You'll enjoy singing more and your audience will enjoy your performances more.
As always if you have any questions feel free to get in touch or book online singing lessons via the Book Online tab of the Popcast School of Music website.
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