Hello! It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I really have been meaning to give you some simple tips to demystify your singing in your self-directed practice. I find it so interesting to listen to self-taught singers and ask myself – “what are they doing well?” One such musical technique that can dramatically affect the style elements and expressiveness of your vocal performance is adding musical dynamics.
Dynamics is the umbrella term for musical loudness, and is often described in the Italian words for very soft (pianissimo) soft (piano), moderately soft (mezzo piano), moderately loud (mezzo forte), loud (loud) and very loud (fortissimo).
Not to go into too much detail, but the thickness of the vocal folds affects pitch and volume. Paying attention to your dynamics, or the dynamics of a song you’re wanting to imitate, can give you a short-cut to getting the registration and style of a song correct – and creates more interesting performances! (Sidebar: If you’re not familiar with vocal registers, some common terms for those are chest register/mechanism 1, head register/mechanism 2, flute or falsetto register/mechanism 3 – they’re sort of the different ‘zones’ or gears of your voice).
I ran a workshop recently when we had one of the competent singers in the group demonstrate a pop song. This singer sang the song in a similar style to the original artist, but without over-manipulating her natural voice – lovely. Then a second girl in the group asked how to perform a stylistic “flip” between her two primary vocal registers (similar to a subtle yodel) which the first singer had done with ease. The second singer’s technical vocal training had smoothed out her register transition beautifully meaning she could sing with consistent tone throughout her range, but this made a stylistic un-smooth change difficult for her! I explained that we can simply listen to the technique through the lense of dynamics, instead of analysing the registers. We found that the “flip” also involves going from moderately loud (mf) to soft (p or mp) in a split second. This gave her a simple way of practicing this song at home.
Wanting more of a belt and less of a mix? Try thinking of your sound in terms of dynamics – go a little louder (keep your whole body involved… more on that some other time) and see what happens! More of a mix and less of a belt? Try calming down the dynamics! Want to sound more rhythmic? Try adding in quick crescendo-decrescendos to accent your rhythm (see the last blog post for more on this pulsing technique). Want to put your own stamp on a song? Experiment with your dynamics!
I hope this has given you some great ideas of how to develop your voice without the help of a teacher; however, if you have questions about how to apply this, or want some help developing your vocal register zones, please hit the Contact Me tab up the top of the page – I’d love to help you find your best and most expressive voice.