Different Vocal Colors

Weekly Teaching Tip – May 1, 2017
by Chrissy Rogers

There are several different vocal colors or qualities of sound that we can produce. When you are producing these different sounds in a healthy way, they are not bad or wrong. Personally, I think it’s boring if a singer can only produce one quality of sound. I think a song and/or singer is more interesting when the vocal colors are varied, especially in the same part of the range. You just want to make sure you are making the choices AT WILL and not because it’s the only quality of sound you can make. Here’s a list of possible qualities of sound. Some people use different terminology to describe these colors of sound so I have added descriptions.

You can hear the hiss of air in the tone because there is not a complete closure of the vocal folds.

Light Chest
You have closure of the vocal folds but less TA in the vibration, for a lighter sound in the low range.

Chest Voice
You have closure of the vocal folds and more TA in the vibration for a full, resonant sound in the low to middle part of your range, depending upon whether you are male or female.

Head Voice
You have closure of the vocal folds but only the edges of the folds are vibrating, not the full thickness of the TA, in the higher part of your range.

Light Mix
This is when you use a lighter quality in the middle and upper part of your range, depending on whether you are male or female. There is still vocal fold closure but less TA in the vibration than strong mix.

Strong Mix
This is when you use a relatively high degree of TA in the vibration and it is a chest quality of sound in the middle to upper part of your range, depending upon whether you are male or female. Your vowels are more centered, towards the schaw [ə]. This is a rich, resonant quality of sound.

The vibration mode is like Strong Mix but the vowels are front and open like the [ɑ] vowel. This is not a “pulled chest” or a pressed mode of vibration. This is a very open, chest quality of sound. It may not seem as “beautiful” as a mix quality of sound, but it is intense, exciting, and amazing! Female Belt Range is approx. B4 to Eb5, Male Belt Range is approx. F4 to C5.

How Do You Vary Vocal Colors?

1) You decide the amount of TA in the vibration you will use.
2) You can vary the mode of vibration and dynamics, gradually, at will.
3) You make sure to increase the airflow together with the pressure for high and powerful tones.
4) Soft and Fluty sounds are highly effective, especially for contrast to powerful tones. (F1/H1 and F2/H2 Tunings)
5) You can achieve different colors with different variations of vowels.
6) Mix sounds are produced from a more centralized vowel approach, towards the (ə) schaw.
(F2/H3 and F2/H4 Tunings)
7) Belt sounds are produced with front, open vowels such as æ and ɑ, due to their higher 1st formant.
8) For Belt, allow a slightly higher larynx due to tracking of the 1st formant.
9) Always make sure to relax the jaw and root of the tongue.
10) Don’t “create space” and open the back of the mouth.
11) Only open the front of the mouth by allowing the jaw to take the rhythm, passively.
12) CONFIDENCE is being able to do anything you wish on any note you wish, when you TRUST THE AIRFLOW as the only stabilizing element!

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