How To Improve Singing Power And Tone

I don’t think I would be incorrect in saying that the majority of singers out there would love to know how to improve singing power and tone.

In this article, I want to focus on the concept of resonance and how it applies to the human voice and how we can use it to answer the question of how to improve singing power and tone. Lets get started shall we.

How to Improve Singing Power and Tone By Understanding Resonance

How to improve singing via the resonatorsI had an epiphany one day during a singing lesson when my teacher was explaining something to me. The revelation was this – the human voice is essentially a wind instrument.

This maybe obvious to others, but it was a revelation to me. Up until that point, I had always thought the human voice to be some mysterious contraption that nobody quite understood, but even though in some aspects it differs from wind instruments, from the perspective of resonance, they share much in common.

This revelation can also teach us how to improve singing power and tone………

Generally, all wind instruments have a resonator, usually a tube, in which a column of air is set into vibration.

In the human voice, this is achieved by the column of air from the lungs causing the vocal chords to open and close rapidly creating sound. The length or tension on the vocal chords, determines the frequency of the sound or pitch of the note.

This action can be found in many wind instruments. An example would be a single reed instrument such as the clarinet, where a thin cane reed oscillates against the mouthpiece causing the open/close effect much like the human vocal chords.

In the diagram cross section above, you can see the resonance tube starting below the vocal folds, running all the way up past the soft palate into the nasal cavity.

So, how does all this answer the question of how to improve singing power and tone? Well, let me explain…….

We now know how sound is created and also how the pitch or frequency of the note is determined. Here comes the interesting part – in order to to achieve true pitch, the singer must utilize the resonating chambers in such a way that they reinforce the pitch created by the vocal chords.

If the resonance chambers are not utilized correctly, then the original tone may be muffled or dampened out, which would compromise vocal power and tone.

how to improve singing imafge 10For example, C one octave below middle C vibrates at 128 cycles per second. This would be the fundamental of that given pitch. Along with the fundamental, many overtones are also present, the first vibrating at 256 cycles per second (middle C), all the way up to 1024 cycles per second (C two octaves above middle C).

If the proper resonance chamber is used for the C at 128 cycles per second that will be the strongest. Any overtones not needed will be dampened out. If not, then the fundamental maybe dampened out and the overtones may become stronger than the fundamental.

This is the first part of the answer to the question of how to improve singing power and tone using resonance. The important thing to take away from the explanation above is that if resonance is not employed properly for the given pitch, then the singer may damp out the original tone. Next we will talk about the different resonating chambers that make up the human voice.

Resonating Chambers of the Human Voice

Three different resonating chambers are used to varying degrees in human voice production:

  • The pharynx
  • The nasal cavities
  • The mouth

We will look at each of these in turn;
How to improve singing via the pharynx

The Pharynx

For all intents and purposes, the pharynx can be broken down into 3 distinct resonating chambers:

  1. The Laryngopharynx – Begins immediately above the vocal chords and provides reinforcement for low tones. It is also commonly referred to as the “chest voice”, although it doesn’t resonate in the chest. It is shown in green in the diagram to the right
  2. The Oropharynx – Straight behind the mouth and primarily reinforces tones between middle C and one octave above. It is shown in orange in the diagram to the right
  3. The Nasopharynx – Mainly in the nasal cavities but does extend down to the top of the Oropharynx. Primarily reinforces high tones from middle C# and upwards. This is often referred to as the “head voice”. It is shown in yellow in the diagram to the right

The Nasal Cavities

The nasal cavities house the Nasopharynx and because of the many jagged corners, bizarre outcroppings etc, waves of high frequency can be reinforced here.

The Mouth

The mouth acts as the megaphone for directing the sound. It should not be used as a major resonating chamber, as its walls are too flexible for constant sound reinforcement. Essentially, the mouth acts like the bell of a trumpet or trombone. The note is created in the resonance chambers, but is projected to the listener via this mechanism

Now you know about the resonance chambers of the voice. So, now onto how to improve singing power and tone using this information.

The big call out here is keeping all the resonating chambers of the pharynx open so the the notes can be reinforced in the correct chamber. This is not so difficult with lower notes as they resonate in a fixed chamber, but as we go higher and move into the Oropharynx and Nasopharynx, things become much more difficult.

Firstly, the Oropharynx is a variable chamber i.e. the front wall of the Oropharynx is the tongue which can move. Secondly, the soft palate needs to stay open or away from the back wall of the throat (see the red oval in the diagram below).

If a singer can achieve this, then any pitch that they sing can resonate and be reinforced in the correct chamber, giving the singer a full tone and vocal power to spare.

How to improve singing via lowering the soft palate

I hope this article proved useful to you and I also hope it answered the question of how to improve singing power and tone. For more information on this topic, including exercises to help the singer control the tongue and keep the soft palate down, check out my introductory singing course and learn how to sing better today

To success in all your singing endeavors.

Andy Barnes

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