Knowing how your voice makes sound can help you to sing better, look after your voice and develop your unique signature sound.
How your voice makes sound
These three steps are essential for making sound and singing.
- Air or Breath = Power / Generator for the sound
- Vocal Folds = Source / Vibrator of the sound
- Vocal Tract = Filter / Resonance areas
How your voice makes sound using Breath (Power)
Breath provides the energy and air pressure that builds underneath your vocal folds and vibrates them.
This vibration produces a sound wave that moves the air particles or energy into the spaces above your vocal folds.
This is how the sound is powered. Similar to wind energy causing a wind turbine to move.
How your voice makes sound using the Vocal Folds (Source)
The vibration of your vocal folds creates the source of the sound and the fundamental tone.
These folds of tissue, ligaments and muscles are pliable and can lengthen and shorten to change pitch. The pliable body covering can also adjust into different positions to produce voice qualities.
If you’ve never observed the vocal folds in action, prepare to be amazed!
Vocal Tract (Filter)
The vocal tract is made up of the spaces above your Vocal folds, which includes your Oral cavity and Nasal Passages including your Tongue, Soft Palate, Teeth, Lips and Jaw.
I like to think of my filter as my own built in sound mixing desk! When you consciously change the shape of your vocal tract you can brighten or darken the tone of the sound wave you’ve produced.
A smaller space can create a brighter sound and a larger space can create a warmer or darker sound.
Your articulators (tongue, teeth, lips and jaw) help you to produce sounds or words.
When we sing, we are essentially sustaining the sound on vowels and enunciate or use specific diction tools to enhance or minimise the impact of a word.
This can help to make singing easier by softening consonants (like plosives – ‘p, t, k, b, d, g” in English) if needed. Or spotlighting then if we want a little “oomph” in the delivery or a spotlit word or sound.
There are so many ways to explore and have fun with how you make sound.
Play around with these three elements of sound productions. Try to do things you’ve not done before and see how it feels and sounds.
It can also encourage you to make sound in the most efficient way possible which means easier and more confident singing.
Tips For Making Sound Efficiently
- Vocal Health
Understanding that your instrument is housed in your body can help you to ensure your voice is healthy by spotlighting daily vocal care habits to nurture your body and in turn, your voice.
Hydration, Sleep and Nutrition are the first habits to pay attention to.
- Neutral Postural Alignment
Be mindful of keeping a neutral postural alignment in practice or when checking in with your voice to make sure that the air can move freely and create sound efficiently.
- Release tension
If you find any tension in your body after checking in with your posture, stretch it out using my Singers Stretches. These are a great addition to your daily vocal care habits in general.
Working with a vocal coach and learning more about your voice always offers you more tools for troubleshooting and exploration.
At the end of the day, we want as many options as possible to tell the stories (songs) we want to tell (singing) in the way WE want (signature sound)!
Knowing how your voice makes sound also helps you to do it safely, efficiently and with longevity!
Let me know if you have any questions about how your voice produces sound by commenting below.