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Advanced Singing Technique - Intro to Harmonics and Frequencies (Formants)

Updated: May 6

artistic depiction of sound in an equalizer

Every pitch contains a series of pitches above it. You can see an artistic rendering of the visual for sound in the image to the right. To simplify, we're going to say that I am going to sing a sound at a frequency of 1. That sound will also contain 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. Each sound we sing will have a series of these other present notes, yet unnoticed to the casual listener. The series can be altered, but for now, we are going to assume the simple pattern above for all notes.

If I'm singing at a frequency of 1 and I sing in a strong chest voice, I am amplifying the lower frequencies of 1, 2, and 4. When I switch to head voice I am amplifying the frequencies of 6, 8, and higher. Many people will interpret chest voice as then doing the techniques required to make "1" bigger, but what if I was singing at a frequency of "8"? What I did before for chest voice makes "1" louder and what I did before for head voice makes "8" louder. If I push for chest voice the same way I did when singing "1" I'll end up shouting, straining, pushing, or just sounding bad. Rather, what I did for head voice before has BECOME chest voice for the higher pitch.

For a specific example, let's say I'm (a tenor) singing the pitch C4 (middle C). If I push my tongue forward a little to create a vowel that sounds like "Ah" I'll amplify the middle frequencies of that pitch, but if I pull my tongue back towards a vowel that sounds like "Uh" I'll amplify the bottom of the pitch. If I then sing a short warm-up to G4 the "Ah" sound will now be amplifying the middle lows while "Uh" will be pushing right at the very lowest. If I finish that scale up to C5 the "Uh" will be nearly unfeasible while "Ah" will now amplify the lower part of that note.

This is all a very simplistic way of looking at it, but the main takeaway is to adjust how you sing for each pitch. If you're going for consistency of sound, strangely enough, each note needs to be sung differently. If you're having trouble hitting high notes, you might be singing them too similarly to how you sang middle notes. If you're having trouble hitting low notes, you may need to amplify more low frequencies. Is your voice not sounding stylistic to a specific genre? Maybe those singers amplify more high or low frequencies than you currently are, or maybe they don't amplify much at all. For more help on advanced singing technique, sign up for a trial lesson or leave a comment and I can help you out.

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