How to Stabilize Long, High Tones

Weekly Teaching Tip – Aug. 15, 2016
by Dr. Hubert Noe

How to stabilize long high tones?

It is not holding, but a constant continuous exhalation (singing on the flow) together with a constant mode of oscillation of the vocal folds (=registration).

There are two important stabilizing factors which we use consciously.

  1. Stabilization with formant tuning. The vowel formant should be a little higher than the harmonic to reinforce. The neutral vowel schwa, [e] and [i] with relatively high second formants are suited for chest like mix tones between G4 and E5. For very high tones from G5 to C6 the open [a] vowel with its high first formant is the right choice.
  2. Stabilization through a steady airflow together with a constant oscillation mode of the vocal folds.

The second stabilizing factor is always necessary and teachable.

But there are words with unsuitable vowels for the desired pitch. Here the advantage for the singer singing on the flow with a good breath legato is all the greater.

Example 1: B. Streisand sings a high Db5. The word is “grow”, the vowel of choice to sing is [a] because both the first and the second formant of [o] and [u] are too low for the second and the third harmonic respectively. With the vowel [a] only the second harmonic is reachable for the first formant. So it is a F1/H2 tuning. But increasing the airflow without squeezing the neck muscles Streisand combines a chest belt resonance with a moderate mix like glottal function and a relaxed low pharynx (indicating open sinus piriformes). at 3’25’’

Example 2: P. Douwes sings a high Ab5. The word is “mir”. She combines the [i] with the F1 opening of an [a] vowel and a high constant airflow to the disadvantage of the pressure in the energy formula E = P X U, because a higher pressure would raise the closed quotient unintentionally making head voice difficult. at 3’40’’


Related Articles


Weekly Teaching Tip – June 25, 2012 Question: I am still confused about how a belt sound is created from a physiological standpoint – what’s a…