Singing: An Intro to Being a Better Singer
The human voice, apart from being a tool for speaking and communicating, is a complex musical instrument all people are given by nature. At universities one can opt as his/her main instrument the voice and study singing. Voice might sound an easy instrument to handle, but if we take an inside look we will find that it doesn't differ much from human-made instruments in terms of its structure.
Voice is like a musical instrument consisting of resonators from where the air passes and vibrates, chords for the production of sound, and of course air. There are four cavities in our body which function as resonators while singing: the frontal, the rhinal, the oral, and the chest cavity. Even the skull participates as a resonator by sending the sound out via the bones. These cavities are the “sounding boards” of our body where the sound vibrates and then comes out, similar to the soundboard of a piano or of a violin. The other human tools in the production of voice are the diaphragm, the pectoral muscles, and the lungs and finally the vocal chords in the larynx.
The range of a person's voice – the lowest and highest pitch one can sing – depends on the length and the thickness of the vocal chords. Therefore, singers are divided into four main categories which characterize their different pitch:
Soprano and alto are usually referred to women's pitch range, while tenor and bass to men's range. Soprano is a female singer with the highest range of voice starting from middle C to the A above the middle C. In choruses consisting of children, boys are characterized as soprano, because the depth of their voice isn't yet developed. An alto is the lowest female singing voice which lies below the soprano and above the tenor. The range is from the G below middle C to the D above middle C. A tenor is the highest adult male voice with a range extending from C an octave below middle C to the A above middle C and a bass is the lowest male voice (ranging approximately from the low F on bass clef to the D below middle C).
Apart from these classes there are other subdivisions on female and male range of voice. All these categories are not a norm but rather a conventional way to divide the range of human voices. And this is because apart from the physical construction of someone's vocal chords another factor that affects the pitch range is the extend to which some people have developed their voice by exercising.
After this short introduction let's outline some tips on how to sing correctly.
- The primary factor that will determine how we sing is body relaxation. Every muscle from the chest and upwards must be absolutely relaxed and the body must be in straight standing position.
- It is also very important to know how to control your breath. Before starting to sing take a deep breath then “lock” the air in your lungs.
- Next, we start singing by gradually pushing the air at the back of the thorax and the lateral parts of the diaphragm. Ever syllable of a word or better every note we sing must bear a steady pressure from the diaphragm. Be careful to spend the saved air economically and don't simply blow it on the first note. This is because when one has to sing a phrase the air must be sufficient to last to the end of the phrase before a new breath an be taken.
- If you have trouble understanding what singing is think of screaming. When you scream it is similar to singing. In both situation the body is more involved e.g. all the muscles constrict harder, and the vocal cords flex more.
All the mentioned tips on singing are mainly based on classical singing. From classical one can set the correct foundations on voice mastering. However, irrespective of a person's preferred singing style, these tips apply to every type of singing, e.g. pop as well, Latin, jazz, opera, and hymns. That is because once you learn and possess the correct way of controlling your voice you can sing any kind of song.