Singing is one of the most natural things we do in life. We sing when we feel sad. We sing when we are happy. We sing to while away time. We also sing when we want to show off. Although most of us can sing, yet, not all are gifted with a great singing voice.
A gifted singer cannot perform on talent alone. Whether you’re a trained vocalist or an amateur with a dream, there will always be room for improvement for you. There are many vocal techniques that you can practice to develop your voice further. There are also some vocal techniques that you can use to enhance your singing skills.
Vocal teachers have varying opinions on some of these vocal technique terms. So, you will encounter some variations in their views and approaches in teaching. Here is a complete list of the different vocal and singing techniques that you need to be familiar with:
Dental is a diction technique! It refers to sounds that you produce when your tongue is positioned behind your top front teeth. One example of such sound is the Spanish “D.”
Covering is a vocal technique in which you slightly round your lips when you sing high notes. You do this to achieve a particular sound.
Diction refers to the way the parts of the words are formed, then pronounced. These components include vowels and consonants. The study of diction often consists of the study of the diction of international languages for classical singers.
- Vowels—are resonance structures that let a tone to be sustained. You can produce vowel sounds by changing the shape and size of your mouth cavity. You can also change your tongue position while you produce vowel sounds. These altering of the mouth cavity helps determine the way the resonance cavities reinforce the initial cord tone’s specific frequencies. These results in recognizable sounds like “Aye, Ah, Oh, Eh, Ee, and Oo.”
- Diphthong—this is a diction term that refers to the gradual change of one vowel to another vowel. This creates two vowels in a single syllable. This frequently occurs in the English language. Yet, seldom does it happen in other languages. You should also check the gliding vowels. Gliding vowels are two vowel sounds that occur in a syllable.
- Glottal Stop—This sound happens when you press your vocal folds together prior to creating a sound. This is usually obvious at the start of many words that begin with vowels in the English language. Example of which is the word “umbrella.”
4) Head Voice
Head voice refers to the upper vocal register. Countertenors and women use head voice in classical music. This is the vocal register’s higher part. This voice resonates around your head structures, including the sinuses, mouth, and nasal cavities. The head voice is characterized by higher, brighter, and lighter notes.
If you stop or breathe in between notes, you are doing “phrasing.” Stops happen in periods, semicolons, commas, or colons. Aside from these natural Phrasing, you will need additional Phrasing so that you can catch your breath. You will also need additional Phrasing to achieve certain styles. To improve your Phrasing, you need first to mark your Phrasing in your sheet music before you start singing. This will help you stagger your breathing. It will also help you avoid awkward Phrasing and loss of breath.
Mix is a way of singing that mixes chest voice and head. This register is known as the middle voice. You usually mix head and chest Voice to come up with a better sound. It is like adjusting the bass and treble of a sound system. You achieve perfect mix by voice placement and resonance.
You get perfect placement when you use your head’s sensation of vibrations. You do this to attain a healthy sound that resonates well. You achieve proper placement once you engage in the forward placement (mask) while keeping vibrations behind your teeth/lips, on the cheekbones, and at times, forehead or nose. The sound you can produce is full. It is not thin or nasal.
Passagio is an Italian term that means “passage.” It refers to the transitional areas of the voice. In these transitional areas, you should take extra care when you are singing them. Passagio occurs in different areas based on your voice type.
Registers refer to the parts of the voice that are differentiated and distinguished by vocal quality and, in some instances by range. Examples of which are chest voice, falsetto, and head voice.
This is a sound quality term like the tone. It pertains to how warm or round your sound is. It may deal more with overtones. It may also refer to how a sound interacts with the ambiance of the room. An example of which is when you sing in a domed building or cathedral. Resonance may refer to the enhancements of vibrations. This leads to creating a tone within or through your throat, mouth, sinuses, and nasal passages. In some styles of singing, a full and sizeable resonant tone is highly desirable. Yet, this style may sound inappropriate in some other singing styles. Resonance is referred to as “timbre.”
Tone refers to the voice quality. This quality is the byproduct of the resonance reinforcement of the sound that is produced by your larynx. Each person carries a voice that has a unique color. Tone can be described as dark, warm, light, or heavy. Because each voice has a unique tone, singers who sing the same notes may sound different from one another.
It is an Italian word that means “texture.” The tessitura is defined as the average pitch level within a given piece. If a song has many notes in the higher range, then you describe this song as having a high tessitura.
Trill is a technique employed by singers wherein they quickly move between two notes that follow each other. It is also a diction term that refers to two consonants that don’t have a vocal sound. Examples of which are the S and T.
Vibrato refers to the natural oscillation between different pitches. This is present in different singing voices. It can also be described as a regular pulsating pitch change to accentuate expression in a music piece. When you do vibrato, your voice alternates quickly between two varied pitches that are adjacent or close to each other. Both the larynx and diaphragm contribute to these vibrations.
Belting refers to the act of raising your chest register, giving it an above moderate volume. When you belt a song, you usually mix your lower and upper resonances in proper proportions. This results in a sound that is tantamount to yelling. Yet, you still control it and sustain your phonation. Some would say that belting is a vocal register. This is technically not right, though. You can engage in belting to heighten your existential state.
Falsetto is a technique that you can use to sing notes that are higher than that of your natural range. Your falsetto sound is airy and light. Moreover, you may confuse falsetto with head voice. It is situated at the upper register of your vocal range. Falsetto is an Italian word that means “false.” It means it’s an “artificial voice.” This is because when men sing in this way, men sound like they are singing above their speaking voice. This makes them appear to be faking their voice.
Scatting is a vocal improvisation using wordless “vocables.” This type of vocal improvisation is usually found in Jazz. This type of singing is difficult. It requires you to sing and improvise rhythms and melodies using your voice as your instrument.
Sirens is a vocal technique that you can use to create one voice within a specific register. You can use it to smoothen out the breaks, cracks, and flips within your voice. The sound that you can create with this vocal technique is like the sound of a war siren.
Twang is a vocal technique that is quite nasal. You can use this technique to achieve a crisp, yet, powerful breathless head voice. You use this technique when you move from head voice to chest voice. One example is the vocal fry. Vocal fry is a low and creaky vibration that occurs when you flutter your vocal cords. This is known as “husky voice.”
Yodelling is a form or type of singing that features rapid and repeated pitch changes. It is characterized by alternation between your falsetto and normal voice.
21) Full Voice
It refers to the whole range of your voice in which you can sing loud without creating an imbalance between your vocal cord tension and airflow. It also refers to a tone that features the quality of balanced resonance.
22) Singing from the Diaphragm
The large muscle for respiration is called the “diaphragm.” It is situated beneath the lungs. It pushes the lungs when you exhale and pulls it when you inhale. You will often encounter this phrase when you take your singing classes or lessons. Your music instructor will often tell you to sing from the diaphragm.
You will do it before your rehearsal or performance. It consists of vocal exercises like running scales. It also includes warming up your body via stretching. You do this to relieve tension and awaken your senses. Yet, the emphasis of this warmup is on the tongue, jaw, and lips. It may also include the use of tongue twisters.
24) Overtone Singing
It refers to harmonic singing that comes from the throat. In such type of singing, you manipulate your resonances, allowing air to travel from your lungs through your vocal cords and then, out of your lips, to come up with a melody.
Unison refers to two or greater numbers of voices or instruments that play the same note together. You usually hear one voice when you listen to the chorus of people singing together in one voice.
harmony Singing refers to the combination of 2 to 3 tones that are played together to make a pleasant sound in the background. It is usually accompanied by a melody. The specific study of chord progressions is also referred to as “Harmony.”
Opera is a drama wherein the words are usually sung and not spoken. Characters express their feelings in the opera via singing. Hence, you will often feel that the action in an opera is delayed because it takes longer to sing than to say a word. Operas are acted on stage. Performers in opera, like in a play, wear costumes, makeups, and wigs.
Tenor refers to a male classical singing voice whose vocal range lies somewhere between that of the countertenor and baritone. It is one of the highest voice types for males. It extends up to C5. The extreme low for tenors is Ab below C. Some tenors, however, can sing up to 2nd F, right above the middle C.
Bass is the lowest of the singing voice for males. It ranges from the second E just below the middle C up to that of the first E above the middle. Low voices often indicate wisdom and age. It also indicates seriousness. In opera singing, old characters usually sport low voices.
30) Bel Canto
This type of singing is focused on beautiful sound. It is an Italian phrase that means “beautiful singing.” Its emphasis is on tone, Phrasing, technique, and coloratura passages. Some operas are also written in this style. These operas are referred to as “bel canto.”
Baritone is a mid-range male singing voice. It is amid the bass and tenor. Its range is from the second G right below middle C up to the first G, right above middle C.
Contralto refers to the lowest singing voice part for females in classical singing. It is often referred to as “alto.” It extends from that F just below middle C to that of the second G just above middle C.
Countertenor refers to the highest singing voice part in classical music. It has an elevated range. You can train your voice to make this voice your natural voice. It is the counterpart of the alto.
34) Back Phrasing
Back phrasing is a stylistic technique that involves a singer who sings either behind the beat or ahead of the beat on purpose. This technique is frequently used by jazz singers. Some pop singers also employ this technique.
Break is the abrupt change in tone between chest voice and head voice. This is caused by vocal tension. The break is characterized by the popping sound or other sounds that are jarringly ugly. You will hear this sound when a singer hits her or his break. You can avoid this sound by employing some vocal techniques.
36) A Capella
Sometimes, it is called sing without music. This is a type of singing that is devoid of instrumental accompaniment. You can sing a capella solo or in a group. Some music pieces are intended to be sung without accompaniment.
37) Parlando Singing
It is a style of singing wherein the rhythm and, more often, the pitch of the tune is sung. Yet, the singing sounds as if you are speaking rather than singing. In this style of singing, 0you shorten the notes. And the termini of phrases are often done with a downward inflection. It mimics the natural English speech.
It is a type of breathing technique. It lets you stay consistent with the specific phrase. You tense your abdominal muscles around your diaphragm. Then, control the flow of air as you produce the sound. It is an essential technique in some types of music. Yet, it is often overlooked outside of the classical genre.
39) Sight Singing
Sight singing is the ability to read a music sheet and sing it perfectly. Not many singers have this ability. Many professional singers know how to read music. Moreover, many of them can read with a certain level of accuracy.
Though not necessarily a vocal technique, recognizing one’s timbre is essential in your evolution as a great vocalist. It is the unique quality of voice that an individual has. Every voice has a different tone, color, and quality. You can have a very deep soulful timbre, or a light and soft timbre. However, your timbre may also vary and change over time depending on your vocal ability, and how you would want to present your voice.
41) Thyroid Tilt
One of the primary qualities you should master as a singer is how to use your chest and head voices correctly. Hence, you should learn the thyroid tilt. The thyroid tilt is a technique that enables you to sing in your head register with a pleasant resonance. You do this by tilting your thyroid gland— the gland that sits on the front of your windpipe—at a 45-degree angle. Doing this will induce a cry-like sound. This cry-like sound is a good indicator that you are doing it properly. The thyroid tilt is important in enhancing the depth and color of your voice without straining it.
The power vocalists of every generation are masters of the classic run. It is when a singer either goes up or down a musical scale in the span of one or two seconds. The singer can either go up the scale or start from the highest note and end up at the lowest. This exhibits one of the greatest forms of vocal control in the music industry. Take notes from Christina Aguilera, perchance.
You may think of the vocal lick as a stylistic embellishment to a song. It doesn’t strictly have to follow the rules of executing a vocal run. But it can be molded and shaped depending on the song choice of the singer.
The portameto was a technique that gained popularity in the 19th Century when Italian opera flourished. It translates to “carriage” and is essentially a slide from one note to another. In other terms, it connects two different pitches to unite them and create a deeper form of expression in one’s delivery. In the present day, the portamento is adapted in various genres to evoke more emotion in singing.
45) Parlando Singing
From Italian opera to modern-day musicals, parlando singing is used to portray a different type of expression that cannot only be done through normal melodies. The performer would sing in a speech-like manner, while still retaining the pitch and tune of their piece. Look at Rex Harrison playing Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” as a sublime example of this technique.
Vocal techniques are not solely for soloists, but there are also some examples used by groups to create a sound that cannot be done alone.
46) Staggered Breathing
Staggered breathing is a shared technique, which means that it is only done by groups or choirs. It is done during long phrases in a piece where one’s breath cannot hold out for its entirety. Singers take their breaths at different times to create an illusion of one, unbroken sound. This technique is important in producing a whole sound without tiring out the members of the group.
The term canon is a word widely used in classical music. In singing, it poses the same definition. A canon is when a piece is sung by different individuals at different times or pitches. The melody may also be altered in terms of speed and how it is played.
A round is a type of canon wherein the melody is performed by two or more voices. The first individual sings the melody. Depending on the piece, the next individual sings the same part from the start a bit latter than the first individuals. This process repeats until the last person has finished singing, or after a given period. This is the reason why it is referred to as “round.”
Blending is most often used about a group of singers who combine their voices in complementary pitches. To simply put it, it is singing in unison. But with different tonal qualities. Yet, it can also refer to a smooth transition between one’s chest and head voice.