The Art of Singing Modern Music
by Stephen Falk
The ability to sing has been around since man started talking and communicating with tribal languages.
Singing is both an art and a science that can be improved and refined. Singing Pop or Rock and Roll has many rewards and challenges for the vocalists like - High notes, pitch and loudness which are vital to a singer. But laryngitis, hoarseness, and vocal damage can ruin a voice. To achieve these goals, one must be willing to change their habits to reach their maximum goal and sing correctly and safely.
Your voice and your accent is developed in your 2 - 4 yr child stage. The voice can always be improved, refined and adjusted, but you will always sound like yourself, unless you’re a voice impersonator.
The female vocal sound never changes after 9. However, male voices change drastically between 12 and 18, and go downward. So both males and females can really benefit from these techniques, for example, to sing high notes or hold a long note.
Also, singing is picking the right songs in the right keys for your voice and knowing when to avoid songs that don’t fit your voice.
Dynamics and expression are another important ingredient to add to your singing style.
Your act (performance style) is the end result of your charisma, personality, sound, looks, style, delivery, and most importantly, your collection of songs. All great singers are really good story tellers! You must learn how to convince the listener, with your singing and style, how good a storyteller you are.
To reach your goal as a singer; technical, physical and mental changes have to take place or nothing will change. Commitment, consistency and a “I don’t quit” attitude are essential to following this course and becoming an outstanding singer.
Here are 7 steps to improving your voice.
Breathing correctly is essential to singing. The diaphragm is a large and powerful muscle underneath your lungs. It’s purpose is to push the lungs upward and expel the carbon dioxide from your body. In singing, the diaphragm is the power to sing rock and roll. For centuries Opera singers have used “diaphragm breathing” to project their voices and fill the opera houses with sound. Rock and roll requires the same power and technique. Here’s how they do it:
1. Push the belly outward as you breath in (inhale as if you were going to blow up a balloon). Then lock the muscle and pull the diaphragm inward slowly.
Exhale the air slowly for 10 to 15 seconds.
Blow in your hand and judge how steady the air is. The steadier the air
flow, the smoother your singing will sound.
2. Spread your ribs outward and lift your chest as you inhale.
Combine both new techniques as you breath slowly and smoothly.
3. Lift your shoulders slightly and breathe deeply. Combine all three
movements together to maximize the amount of air in your lungs.
The technique of diaphragm breathing not only increases your power, but is necessary to hit high notes. It also makes the body vibrate better when your torso is full of air.
Stand or sit. Practice each day, for 5 minutes, yoga breathing to increase the air in your lungs. It will be relaxing and therapeutic. Breathing correctly is one secret to singing rock and roll without hurting your voice.
Sit-ups, running, soccer, swimming and basketball: all will help in your breathing strengths and build stamina.
Intonation is the ability to hear a pitch, and then sing that exact pitch. Usually a singer sings along to other musical instruments. So the singer must match the intonation of the instruments with their voice precisely.
Take deep breaths and practice long tones to warm up your voice. Start low and go note by note, matching the piano or guitar note.
A E I O U
Long Tones: A (day) E (me) I (shy) O (Show) U (You)
Always practice with a beat, you will remember the exercises better.
Listen to each tone and make it as sweet sounding as you can. This is what the audience is hearing, the vowel sounds.
#3 The Three Voices (Passaggio)
The transition area between the vocal registers
To sing PoP/Rock, you must have a wide range of notes, from Low to very High. Your voice has three different ways of expanding its range.
1. First Voice (Natural Voice)
Low notes vibrate the torso and chest, like when you sound like a giant saying “Fee Fi Fo Fum”. Your throat and face should be very relaxed when singing low. Keep back erect and open jaw wide to reach maximum tonal quality. Practice long tones A E I O U
2. Second Voice (Middle Voice)
Mid range notes are easier to sing if you pitch your voice higher. For example, in a crowded, loud room, you see someone you know and raise your voice pitch level and say “Hey Hey! Over here!” That higher voice can sing upper pitches better. You will gradually replace “falsetto” notes with your mid-range natural voice over time, but never stress the vocal chords or you will do permanent damage.
3. Third Voice (Falsetto)
Falsetto means “fake voice” in Italian. A falsetto is when you touch the vocal chords in their center and raise the pitch an octave (a Harmonic) vibrating your face and nose. For example when you say “Yahoo” or talk like Mickey Mouse, that’s a falsetto. A falsetto can substitute notes when your sick or stuffy. A falsetto can also color the tonal quality of the note. But by and large, A falsetto allows you to sing high notes your natural voice can’t reach.
Practice falsetto notes like your natural voice. Try to send the sound back through the mouth, to get rid of the “nasally” sound. Keep the mic close to your lips when singing falsetto and less with the natural to balance out the total sound. Practice long tones: A E I O U
Range: If you are a male, a high note to start with would be an F# or a G above middle C on the piano. Males should be able to reach an A and possibly a B above middle C, but that is about it. From that point he must perfect a falsetto and use mic volume control and match the sound of higher notes without hurting himelf.
If you are a female, a high note to start with should be an A and you should be able to reach a C or C# above middle C with your natural voice. Now some females can reach very high notes, but for most girls, high C is the point where you must perfect a falsetto and use mic volume control and match the sound of higher notes without hurting your vocal chords.
#4 The Scales
The must common scale in music, be it jazz, blues or classical, is the diatonic scale (Do RE Mi…).
This scale is still common and popular in Pop and Rock and Roll music.
A scale is an orderly, up and down, step by step, of the pitches you need to know when singing. Practice using both natural, middle and falsetto voices. The art of “mixing” the three voices must be mastered to sing Pop/Rock.
Practicing scales is also, important because it helps the ear define the intervals (spaces) between the notes. The practice of tuning your voice to a scale is very important for young or beginning singers.
As you go higher in your range, switch the voice back and forth from natural to falsetto, so you can reach all the notes. Keep your volume level between the two voices equal.
Practice scales up and down, down and up.
Breath at the beginning only, no breaths in between going up and down.
Do scales every day or to warm up.
Keep back straight and erect when doing vocal exercises.
Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do
Do Ti La So Fa Mi Re Do
Enunciation of Scale tones
Enunciation is speaking the consonants clearly with your lips, teeth and tongue. Over emphasis the Scale tones consonants moving the tongue and lips brightly, crispy and clearly. Say tongue twisters to help enunciation: “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers”
Dynamics is when you increase or decrease the volume of your voice. The effect of changing volumes in your voice will make you more effective and dramatic.
Practice long tones by going soft to loud and loud to soft.
Do the same with your scales: Soft to loud and loud to soft. Taper off the end of your phrase with decreasing volume, like when a light fades slowly when turned off.
#6 Phrasing, Attacks & Release
The start and finish of each lyric line is the art of “Phrasing”. You must time the entrances correctly when doing “cover” songs of other artists. Listen to the artist and then put on the background and mimic the style and phrasing. Written music can help your phrasing, but mostly listen carefully and mimic. Then and after some practice you’ll begin to improve your phrasing.
Legato (connected) and staccato (short, disconnected) are ways of attacking and releasing the notes, using teeth, tongue and lips. Legato means to run the notes smoothly together and staccato is a short, disconnected attack of the note. Staccato is easier if you use the diaphragm rhythmically, like when you laugh, it causes you to pump the diaphragm. Release (end) the note by slightly fading the voice out, like a light slowly fading out >. Decrease the sound gradually at the end of your long tones.
Vibrato means to vibrate the voice when holding a note. A good vibrato is when the voice dips the pitch in a smooth rhythm pattern. A Vibrato always dips downward, then back up to the pitch. Go slowly at first. Practice your vibrato with the last vowel of A E I O U.
Hold the U sound and turn on the vibrato in your voice. Slowly fade the voice during the release of the pitch. When you hold a note or sustain a half or whole note, turn on the vibrato to enhance the sound.
When singing high pitches with your falsetto, a vibrato will help in the tone and pitch of the note.
A E I O U ---~~~~~~~~~~~>>>>>>>>>>>>>
These 7 steps to singing better will progress and improve your voice, if your consistent with your practice habits.
Practice this schedule each day:
1. Breathing Exercises 2-5 minutes
2. Long Tones - AEIOU minimum 6 notes (practice vibrato)
3. Scales - Do Re Mi ….. up and down 10 times (enunciate)
4. Try singing alone slowly getting each word and line right without music.
5. Listen and sing along with artist of song
6. Sing on top of background.
7. Practice without the words, memorize the lyrics