In the blog post about “why you need good technique”, we talked about vocal balance and why it was important.
It’s such an important subject that it’s worthy of its own post, so let’s take a more in depth look and find out what is vocal balance.
Vocal balance is the single most important thing that a singer must learn!
To understand this, we need to understand what the voice is and how it works. First, let’s find your larynx (also known as your voice box). For men it’s the big bump that sticks out (also known as your adam’s apple). For women if you place your hand over your throat and swallow you will feel something moving up – that’s your larynx.
The vocal folds sit horizontally across your windpipe inside your larynx. When you breathe they open (abduct), and when you make sound, they come together and resist the airflow (adduct).
To help you understand the process, imagine a pair of wooden doors blowing open and closed against a stream of wind. The opening and closing of the vocal folds creates sound waves. Try this out for yourself by making a mmm sound (like something tastes good). Did you notice the vibrations? That’s the opening and closing of your vocal folds making sounds.
When you make sound, there are two opposing forces needed to make it; air that is coming from your lungs up your windpipe vertically and the vocal folds closing horizontally over the windpipe to resist the air. When there is a balance between the air and the vocal folds it’s called Vocal Balance.
What is Vocal balance exactly?
When you train your voice, you are looking to maintain that balance of the two forces regardless of what pitch, volume or style you are using. This balance is the foundation of good singing.
Let’s illustrate this further with an example. If you think of a see-saw, on one side we put your airflow and the other side is the vocal fold closure.
When there is too much airflow, the vocal folds are overpowered and you will most likely end up with a breathy, airy, weak tone. You may find it difficult to produce any power or projection with your voice. This can be tiring on your voice, and all that extra airflow can dry out your vocal folds.
When there is too much vocal fold closure, there isn’t enough airflow to stop you from becoming strained and you may sound like you are yelling or shouting. This can be very tiring and damaging to the voice, too.
These conditions would be described as an imbalance in the voice. In both cases, they can result in muscles that are not normally used to make sound being recruited to assist in the pitch making process.
Why do I need vocal balance?
Now that you know what vocal balance is, it may already be obvious to you why you need it. But let’s for a second assume that you aren’t aware why you would need it.
When we sing, we want just the right balance of air and muscle to produce the sound. When your vocal folds close (adduct) to make sound with the right amount of air, everything feels relaxed, free and easy, just as it would be in a healthy speaking voice.
When this vocal balance is present, your vocal folds operate and adjust to different pitches in a free and flexible manner without strain or squeezing. When your vocal folds are free and flexible, you are able to produce a strong and healthy tone.
When a person sings out of vocal balance, most often they find their voices get tired, strained and worn out, and over time this can lead to vocal damage.
But with vocal balance you will find it easier to:
- access more of your range
- to sing in a greater range of dynamics
- feel confident about what will happen when you sing
- perform at your vocal best
Some singers may find that they are able to sing with vocal balance in some parts of their range but not others. Some may never have experienced it before! Either way, if you would like to experience vocal balance or find out more about it, then why not get in touch and book a lesson with us.
What is your experience of singing? Have you noticed that you alway sing with a breathy tone, or maybe you feel squeezing or straining when you sing? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Google + profiles.