Belting is a singing technique by which a singer sings higher pitches using his or her chest voice. The results are louder and stronger than what can be achieved with a low head voice. Voice has two main registers; head voice and chest voice. The head voice represents sounds of a higher register while the chest voice lets you talk in the lower register. Some people refer to belting as “high Chest Voice” which is technically incorrect. If belting doesn’t come out naturally it is possible to learn how to belt without straining your voice, all you have to do is to follow a good belt exercise.
What Is Belting?
Belting is a singing technique, which is contemporary producing a high-intensity, powerful, big (such as loud) vocal sound. The belting method is present in all singing styles and contemporary genres. These genres include folk, jazz, rock, and pop. But belting is associated mostly with musical theatre, at times also called Broadway Belt. However, when recording or performing it is not necessary for every singer of these genres to belt.
This way of singing served a purpose when microphones and other sounding equipment were not used or not available. Belting allowed the audience to hear the low-middle range of a female singer over the brassy orchestra. Today, belting is not necessary for a singer because of the use of amplification, i.e., microphones in almost all the contemporary genres. But, belting is still used by singers today in the world of non-classical singing. This is due to the fact that the audience always enjoys the quality of the sound, which belting produces. So if a singer wants to use this style, a singer must learn the proper technique of belting so that they may connect with their audience.
Singers Who Were Famous For Using Belt Singing Techniques Effectively
In my opinion, Christina Aguilera, Bruno Mars, and Sam Smith are among the singers that can handle and master the art of belt singing very successfully. The unique belting styles they used are the most powerful skill that let them being so famous and distinctive in the music industry today.
Steps on How To Belt Singing Correctly
1) Breath… Let The Air Flow
One of the biggest challenges that most singers face while belting is pressure coming from the throat. Belting requires one to use less breath pressure and not strain so hard to sing the vocals. For the best results in belting, breathe so deep and fill your lungs with air, Use that air to power up your notes. The larynx is a very sensitive part of your body, so if you are adding more air pressure to your lungs, make sure that you are doing everything right.
Learning how to close and open your throat will help you learn how to belt. Most people are not aware of how powerful the head muscles are. Singers who can belt at high voices know how to use those tiny muscles of their head.
When practicing how to belt, use your “neh-neh” sound and make long deep. Feel how much air is coming out when you sign. Doing the “neh-neh” with an open throat will make your voice sound good, but if you do it with a closed throat, your voice will sound too harsh. Any form of pushing, squeezing, yelling, extreme nasality and squeezing can lead to musical and vocal health problems.
2) Avoid Vocal Strain
Great belters don’t sing under pressure. If you want to sing good notes you have to stay relaxed and calm. Most singers tend to hold unconscious tension on their face, shoulders, neck, etc. You have to shake off that negative feedback and keep your mind tension-free to make good belts.
Just like a soprano hits her highest notes, you also need to trust your higher chest notes when belting. Don’t force your voice or push your notes at all, staying calm and confident will enable you to sing those notes with a great voice.
Your head, body, and face should be in harmony in a way that will make you more comfortable to belt. A higher sound requires one to use more energy and do more activities to belt properly.
3) Establish Your Stamina
Belting is also an athletic experience, and it requires one to have good stamina. Just like singing large opera roles, belting also requires you to use your body energy when singing those notes.
Most singers can’t belt naturally and if you happen to be one of them just do some few practices, and you will be able to perfect your skills over time. To avoid being tired, make sure you build up enough endurance that will enable you to focus with your belt when you feel exhausted.
Regular practice will help you to build your stamina over time. In any new physical activity, stamina builds slowly, and you should have some patience to see any good results.
4) Always Keep Your Mouth Wide And Open
If you want to sing those notes with a good voice, learn to keep your mouth wide open. A singer who’s mouth is wide open finds it easier to learn how to belt.
To project your sound, place your tongue near or around the back of your bottom front teeth. Make sure you don’t spatulate your tongue, flatten it with a spatula.
5) Tongue Down, Opening Soft Palate up
When you watch a great singer belting, you will observe that their throat opens up entirely and one can see their tonsils. It’s because the back of the tongue is down-where it ideally should be. The tongue should be going down, except in the case where a high tongue is required (for example, ee’s). This helps the singer to have a large laryngeal compression. This will provide control against an increase in air pressure. While singing, getting the back of the tongue to stay down is a technique that one learns with practice. It is not something that can be done instantly, and it should not be forced. With the right training, one can teach the tongue to move this way without forcing it. Then slowly and gradually, it becomes muscle memory. It’s the same way as learning to ride a bike. In starting, one will wobble and fall. With continued practice and the right balance, riding a bike becomes muscle memory, and you will never forget how to ride. Teaching the proper technique requires the singer to get more control of their tongue, without forcing it. The position of the tongue is vital. The location of the tongue helps in keeping the larynx down. Keeping the larynx down helps in belting of the voice and handling the pressure of power and volume.
6) Use Healthy Mix Belting
You have to develop a healthy belting voice to prevent jeopardizing your vocal cords in the long run. A healthy mix belting voice is produced with a powerful and intense trumpet-like sound without causing any stress or fatigue to the singer. It requires singers to use the proper breathing techniques and strong abdominal muscles to belt through the song smoothly. Chest voice and belt are quite related in some ways, but they are not the same thing. Belt only uses a little chest voice and not a whole pure chest voice. Mixing means that one is combining different registers. Healthy Belting is not a combination of different voice registers. The term mix belting is used to help people understand that belting does not use a pure chest voice.
Mixing is the main reason why most Broadway stars can belt extremely high without losing their voices. It also enables some singers, both trained and untrained to be able to belt naturally without hurting themselves. If you want to learn the advanced techniques of how to mix, get help from a voice teacher and train with her.
7) Add Some Colorful Vibrato
You can apply some vibrato techniques in belting to make your belting voice more powerful without been seem like yelling and screaming while singing. The vibrato represents a steady pitch fluctuation of the voice while singing. Sometimes the pitch can be extended to the highest pitch in a singer’s range to achieve vibrato. When belting there is no continuous vibrato when the singer is singing sustained notes, except when he or she is adding color to the sound.
Vibrato does not involve moving your mouth. When you hit your notes, always make sure that your vibrato is tact. It needs to be in your throat where you can feel it vibrating as a natural part of your voice. If you can sing your notes with a straight tone, just know that can hit with a vibrato.
8) Point of Appoggio
Using the correct support is one of the most important things about safety in belting. One does not want to belt the throat, as it will lead to the destroying of the voice-over period. Using the body instead of the throat muscles is one of the best ways to take the belt off.
If not, correctly trained singers can experience the “Point of Appogio” while singing and possibly risking damage. The Point of Appoggio’ in vocal techniques refers to the point maximum muscular tension felt. Learning the proper vocal technique will prevent singers from experiencing the ‘point of appoggio’ at the back of their neck, throat, or even both.
By following current vocal techniques, one practices feeling this ‘point of appoggio’ at their chest area or sternum, which helps to take the tension or pressure off the jaw, throat, and neck.
Dangers of Incorrect Belting
When done incorrectly belting can lead one to so many problems and health conditions. There have been many occasions where singers have reported constriction of the muscles surrounding their vocal mechanism due to incorrect belting. If you are new to the belting and just started learning how to belt, look for a good instructor or musical teacher who can help you become a great belter. Singing is a very simple talent that doesn’t require one to strain or stress himself to perform flawlessly. Most musicians are born without the skills of belting, and they acquire them through practice and regular training from a vocal teacher.
When vocal muscles constrict due to incorrect belting, a singer might experience some deterioration and uncomfortable muscle aches. Correct use of vocal muscles and retraction of the ventricular folds is crucial when practicing safe belting.
Most singers who belt have very little control over their voices. When you sing softly, you might harm your vocal apparatus which can eventually make your voice sound thin, shaky and weak. Without good training, belting can result in serious complications that might require urgent attention from a doctor, so when belting makes sure you follow all the safety rules regarding safe belting.