Hi, today we unlock some of the mystery that is the human voice, to take you to the next level of understanding the basics of vocal technique! This is important for you to know as you will very rapidly be building your singing and vocal knowledge on this foundation. So dive in and think of this as your second step to realizing your full potential as a vocal performer. If you want to know more about how your voice works to so you can get the most out of it, then this is for you!
You and the Science of Singing…did you ever think of yourself as a scientist?
We know that this title may remind you of the long, boring days spent in science class, but we promise that this will be a lot more fun—and useful to you!
Just as you can’t tune a car without understanding what its parts are and how they work together, so you can’t “tune” your singing voice without understanding how sound is manufactured and how the parts of your “voice machine” affect its quality.
All sound waves originate from some object that causes a vibration. The vibration creates a pattern of disturbance in the air (consisting of energy), which moves away from the source like a wave. The sound wave can be modified as it moves outwards, depending on what surfaces it passes through, reflects off, or refracts from.
Sound waves can be described using terms such as pitch, tone, and intensity (or volume). For example, a high-pitched sound will have waves scrunched up close together (high frequency). A low, deep sound will have very long, lazy waves (low frequency). A loud sound will have very tall waves (high amplitude). A quiet sound will have waves that are barely perceptible bumps (low amplitude).
You gotta love sound. Sound is what your voice is. It’s what music is. Without sound frequencies you wouldn’t have pitch—and that means your C sharps and B flats would have to be thrown out the door. Without amplitude you wouldn’t have amplifiers—and that would be a sad world indeed.
The Human Instrument
You are an instrument. You may not have realized it before. But your body produces sound in the same basic way as a wind instrument. The action of your lungs pushing air up through your windpipe creates the initial column of air. The air then interacts with the instrument of your voice box (or larynx) to produce an initial sound. That sound is then amplified by the resonant spaces above the larynx before leaving your lips … and broadcasting your own unique sound creation to the world.
Without vibrations, there wouldn’t be sound. As sound travels through your resonant areas, you will be able to feel the vibrations in your head. Think about the different parts of your head: the mouth, the throat, the tongue, and the lips. Each will vibrate differently. Also, different vowel and consonant sounds will produce different vibrations.
Try this exercise. Hum. Can you feel the vibrations in your head and mouth?
Make an ‘ng’ sound (as in sing), with the mouth only slightly open. The sound should feel as if it is coming from your nose, at the back of the bridge.
Now pinch the bridge of your nose. Can you feel it vibrate?
Make an ‘ah’ sound with your mouth open. Can you feel the vibrations in your mouth?
What Makes Your Voice Distinctive?
You may think that the voice box is responsible for what makes your voice unique.
Not so. While the larynx produces the initial “buzzy” sound, it is the resonators (which include the oral cavity, nasal cavity, and pharynx or throat) that amplify and shape the final sound quality so that it is transformed into your own, unique, personal voice.
Think about this: Can you change your own voice?
Answer: No more than you could change the range of sounds producible by a particular instrument without changing its shape.
Articulators finish off the sound by shaping it into clear, understandable words. Your articulators include your lips, tongue, and soft palate. The soft palate is the soft, spongy bit in the back of the roof of your mouth that opens up when you yawn.
When you sing, it should naturally be in a slightly raised position.
Try this exercise: Yawn, and then sing a note. Compare the sensations. Can you feel your soft palate raise, as it did when you yawned?
The Vocal Cords
The larynx contains the most important organs in the human body for the production of sound: the vocal cords. The vocal cords are a set of muscles and ligaments barely over a half-inch in length. Their opening and closing produces sound while controlling the pitch and intensity of your tone.
Basically, when the vocal cords remain closed, air pressure builds up behind them.
Then they burst open, releasing the air in the form of a sound wave. This happens at a rate of hundreds to thousands of times per second.
Making a Louder Sound.
When there’s an increase in the air flow behind the vocal cord, the air blows the vocal cords wider apart. As a result, the vocal cords stay apart longer and increase the amplitude of the resulting sound wave.
Making a Higher-Pitched Sound. When vocal cords are stretched thinner, making them shorter, they are moved more easily by the air pressure behind them. As a result, they open and close much faster, producing narrow sound waves that follow closely on one another. The thickness of the vocal cords, which you cannot change, also affects how high a pitch you can produce.
Review of the Voice Mechanism
Are you confused yet? Let’s take some time for a little review.
Here is a list of the steps involved in speaking. Put them in order from 1 (the first) to 7 (the last):
_____ Articulators shape words.
_____ Air passes through the windpipe to the larynx.
_____ The vocal cords blow open.
_____ Sound waves leave your body.
_____ You exhale.
_____ Resonant spaces amplify the sound, augmenting some frequencies and dampening others.
_____ Air pressure builds up behind the vocal cords.
Great work, you are now able to understand and discuss in detail the instrument that is your voice. Keep up the good work. We know your friends will be impressed with your new expertise. Prepare yourself for our next installment where you learn how to actually use your voice and entire vocal apparatus. .. We want you to have the best possible tutoring on singing your way to success. So go now to https://www.singorama.com/ and check out Singorama 2.0 our great new guide to singing like a professional.