A lot of singers come for lessons looking to find out how to get more volume, or power, in their voice. Usually they are struggling with this as they have been relying on a ‘big breath’ to ‘power’ through a phrase, but cannot understand why the voice remains airy, weak, or strained.
As discussed previously in this blog, using a lot of air creates too much pressure on the vocal cords, often pushing them apart to create an ‘airy’ sound (air=airy, go figure). So, the idea that a big breath makes you more powerful, or louder, is instantly scotched.
Volume is created purely by how the vocal cords close.
The vocal cords sit either side of the opening of the trachea (airway) and in order to create sound they vibrate really really fast and also open and close really really really fast, meeting in the middle to touch each other on closure.
How fully the vocal cords touch on closure, and the amount of force used to close, determines how loud you sing.
So, let’s say, for sake of argument, that Norah Jones – soft, jazzy, – averages 40% closure with minimal force; and perhaps Adele – belting, firm and loud – averages 75% closure, with more force – this starts to give us an idea of the difference closure can make to our sound.
In fact, it’s the seat of our sound, the core. Your vocal cords create your voice. Not your lungs, not your diaphragm. So, the compliment, “what a singer! Must have a cracking set of lungs!” is a misleading inaccuracy.
The shape of the vocal tract has a bearing on your overall tone, but we will look at that in another post.
I will also address why Adele has had two surgeries on her vocal cords, before hitting her mid-twenties …
For more info and practical application of the techniques and ideas discussed in this blog, please contact me or visit http://www.fionawallace.com