In a world dominated by pop culture, we are often immersed and fascinated by artists who can do insane vocal acrobatics. You may find yourself using this quarantine to listen to music or watch the at-home performances that artists are doing online. To us, these people are like superhumans. Some of us could never imagine being able to sing like that, so we tend to prefer these artists. However, as talented as they are, pop culture society has strayed from also appreciating singers with gentle, calming voices. We immediately brush them off because they can’t belt like Whitney or Mariah. A lot of people don’t know that the basis of being able to sing and carry a tune actually just relies on technique and control. Let’s get into some of the main concepts:
Breathing: For singers, being unable to breathe properly means you are nearing the title of “bad singer”. Being able to breathe properly while singing involves a lot of breathing exercises, but this actually improves their singing. All breathing involves the diaphragm – that means singers have to move their diaphragm, not their shoulders or chest. Moving your shoulders and chest while taking a deep breath actually causes tension when singing. Through breathing properly, singers are able to fully access their vocal range without damaging their voices.
Placement: Placement in singing is being able to project your voice in a way that creates resonance through your body. Basically, this means finding a comfortable place to be able to sing with better tone and volume. A lot of singers find their placement by focusing on singing towards the front of their face, which gives them a softer tone. Others find it more comfortable in their chest, which emits a darker tone. In order to do this, singers have to be able to visualize where they want their placement to be. Once they find that placement, singers can project their vocals in a comfortable and healthy way. Being able to find your placement also leads to being able to belt better.
These two concepts lead to better volume, tone, versatility, pitch, range, and more. With some knowledge on the structure of singing, hopefully you’ll be able to appreciate singers for their overall craft. Still, we can definitely appreciate riffs, ad libs and belts. In fact, a good singer not only practices good technique, but is able to move their audience through their music. Kelly Clarkson recently interviewed Selena Gomez – who actually has pretty strong placement and the ability to easily switch her vocal register – about what makes a good singer. Clarkson told Gomez, “The best singer in the world is not the loudest, is not the ‘Oh my God you have to sing like Whitney Houston every time. The best singers in the world move you.” Clarkson continued, telling Gomez: “From a singer to a singer, it’s beautiful what you do… so don’t ever negate your gift, because it’s powerful.” If an artist moves you with the emotion in their voice, they are doing their job. Your job is to appreciate the training that goes into their singing.
If you’re looking to test your new skills on singing technique, you can watch singer-songwriter Tori Kelly’s Instagram live show Quarantea with Tori Sunday-Friday at 1PM PST – riffs and ad libs are a plus.