Welcome to our May Blog
So you’ve found a good vocal balance and mix what next?
You’re feeling a good chest voice, you have discovered head voice and you blend them pretty well ascending and deciding what now?
The next step in your vocal development will be to test dynamics, stamina and agility in the whole range. Can you sustain notes, do you have vibrato? How balanced are you on riffs and runs? How is your volume control? How are you in faster tempo songs? Can you do all of these things on vowels without the aid of consonants or unfinished sounds? We will be exploring all these concepts over the next few months. But we will begin with vibrato.
What is vibrato?
Vibrato is taken from the Italian "vibrare", meaning to vibrate. It consists of a regular, pulsating change of pitch and is used to add expression to your vocal production. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation ("extent of vibrato") and the speed with which the pitch is varied ("rate of vibrato"). In singing it can occur spontaneously through variations in the larynx if we are in vocal balance.
How is this achieved?
All human voices can produce vibrato and it can vary through training and styles of music. There are different voice vibrato processes that occur in different parts of the vocal tract. A combination of the vocalis muscles vibrating and the diaphragm vibrating at two separate but similar frequencies results in a vibrato.
How do we do it?
We can mimic vibrato in the larynx with bleating sounds like a sheep but to add in the second frequency using the diaphragm we can try sounds like chimpanzee noises or laughing. There are many ways to experience the mechanism for vibrato and not everyone will be the same. We can manufacture it or it can occur more naturally when we are in vocal balance but these are all good ways to get us starting to feel the muscular functions that create vibrato in your voice.
Look out for our YouTube video on our channel to see some examples for you to try out for yourself.
Welcome to our April Blog all about Mix Voice.
What is a mix voice?
Mix voice is associated with the middle of the voice, although we mix throughout our range to one extent or another. When we talk about mixing we are talking about balancing the head and chest registers in the middle of the voice. You may have heard the term bridge used to describe this part of the voice because it is the bridge between the chest register and the head register.
It is right at the top of your chest register and speaking pitch where you transition into head and so therefore is a tricky place to navigate. Unlike the chest voice where you are used to speaking and the head voice where you are used to whooping it is not used as commonly. It also requires some coordination of the muscles responsible for the chest and head and this does not come naturally to us.
Last time you may remember we said it is possible to have too much head voice in the chest register and too much chest voice in the head register. Both are true at the bridge.
As mentioned in last month's blog, a balanced voice will tend to have a strong chest voice and head voice and a mix of both in the middle. Lighter or heavier voices in either register should be a style choice but we should always start with Vocal Balance.
How is this achieved?
In previous blogs we have been discussing how two muscle groups are responsible for shortening and thickening the vocal cords and lengthening and thinning out the vocal cords. To be able to mix or blend the middle notes we need to be able to use both muscle groups together to create the correct thickness and length. As we ascend we need to thin and as we descend we need the thicken. We can use these muscles to affect how much of each we do. As previously mentioned this can be adapted for different styles etc.
How do we do it?
We mentioned above that it is possible to have too much chest or head in the middle of the voice and this can throw us off balance. Therefore how we explore our mix voice will be very different for each singer. A heavier singer will need thinner tools and a lighter singer will need thicker tools. But as a rule of thumb, if we stick to mid vowels and voiced consonants we should be able to experience something near to a mix voice.
We suggest using both thinner and thinner vowels to see what fits you best. A good all round tool is a hooty GEE.
For male singers the mix voice is around E4 and for a female A4. Using scales which start above the passage and move through it can help to build the mix voice. Similarly larger spans, like an octave and a half, that start in the chest and pass through the bridge into the head can be helpful.
However it is worth mentioning that this is just a building block to better control and balance. We don't want to become so light and thin that we cannot thicken up when it matters. This is why it is always better to have a Vocal Coach guiding you through the learning process.
Next time - So you think you can mix, what next?
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