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Q&A 3. Singing Tips – How to change vocal colors?
How to change vocal colors?
I get this question in one form or another frequently. Most of the time from singers who want to add distortion, or change vocal colors, or sound more like a singer they like and so forth.
Here are 3 ways to color your voice. One, change the level of your larynx, Two, change the compression of the vocal cords. Three, change the shape of your mouth cavity and/or the position of your tongue.
Let’s break it down further:
Raise the larynx [Demo]
Lower the larynx [Demo]
Compress the vocal cords [Marlon Brando]
Relax the vocal cords [Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), Marilyn Monroe]
Change the internal shape of your mouth and the position of the tongue, such as with an accent.
Different combinations of these together creates a huge variety of tone colors and sound qualities.
Porky Pig (Mel Blanc)
Oak Ridge Boys – Richard Sterban (Bass)
Guys and Dolls – Vivian Blaine (Miss Adelaide)
Do the same thing with your voice when changing color and tone when singing.
But I don’t recommend you do any of these things when you sing. Why? Because in doing them you introduce tension and stress which throws the voice out of balance and prevents ideal function of the vocal cords.
Instead of purposely manipulating the voice use the libretto, lyrics and music to create the emotion and feeling within you. Express that emotion and feeling with your speaking and singing voice.
If you deeply feel the emotion and meaning of each song you sing, and combine that with the feelings the music and melody create within you, the tone and color will be perfect for that song.
Listen to this song from Cyndi Lauper. Can you hear the different tone quality between the beginning and the end of the song? I don’t think she’s thinking about changing the larynx or the vocal cords. I think she’s consumed by the lyrics and music and she’s connecting on a deep emotional level to the song. What the song asks of her emotionally, her voice gives. [Song:I’m Gonna Be Strong]
These are the moments that move us when we hear the song. The singer is giving expression to feeling and emotion and we feel happier, or we get the chills, or we begin to cry.
We are feeling a connection with the singer. We aren’t wondering about their change of tone color with a higher larynx. In fact, they can be using poor technique and have a damaged or poor singing voice and the song can change our lives.
Each of us sound different because of our different physical shapes and sizes. Our job really should be to find a balanced voice that represents our home base in speaking and singing. And regardless of how we change our basic sound, we need to return to home base. After all, this is the real you. People will love the sound of the real you.
One way to develop a balanced voice is to determine your vocal type and do exercises designed for your vocal type.
To discover you vocal type, go to PowerToSing.com and take the vocal test, which I call the PowerTest. Take the quiz and get your vocal type. Then visit the Knowledge Center and watch the videos about your vocal type.
Download the free exercises for your vocal type and start improving your voice today.
I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing. You can sing higher with beauty, confidence and power. I’ll see you inside the next video.
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