Find Your Voice Session Four : Tone and Resonance part 1
Session four is going to help you extend your understanding of what affects your tone and how to develop it. One aspect of tone that we’ve already discussed is how your vocal cords connect. If they slam together forcefully, that will result in a squeezed sound in your tone. If they can’t connect properly, air will leak through and the sound will be under-powered. Any time you can hear air in your sound, it’s because your vocal cords are not connected. A ‘G’ sound is useful to help them stay connected if you notice that this is an issue for you – (typically, you may notice air coming in at higher notes – use a ‘G’ sound to train your cords to stay connected).
In addition to what’s happen with the cords, the sound is affected by free release of air, and by the places where the sound vibrates.
The full potential of your sound can be accessed and released when the air is being transformed into sound vibration as efficiently as possible. The places where the sound vibrates are your resonators. There are several, the primary resonators are the mouth, chest and larynx, and the nose/pharynx is another resonator. All the work you’ve done with sliding on ‘ng’ and lip rolls has helped train you to be able to focus the vibration in different places, and now we’re going to add another dimension to that.
One of the biggest resonance-killers is the tongue, as it is prone to pulling back and cutting off the vibration in the larynx. Release tension in the tongue by blowing a raspberry before you get into your warm ups. (Really! It’s effective). The position of the soft palate also really changes the resonance. Awareness of where the soft palate is and what it’s doing helps you regulate how much nasality you add to your sound. If it’s really really high (think hot egg) you get a Kermit the frog type of sound (try this now!) and if it’s too low, you get a really nasal sound. You want a balance between the two. Make an NG sound and plug your nose. You will probably find that as the NG is a 100% nasal sound, plugging your nose will stop all the sound. Now make an ‘ah’ sound through the mouth. If the sound is coming through the mouth, plugging your nose won’t really change it. Now make a ‘hung-ah’ sound and feel the vibration moving from nasal to mouth. Now do this again, but try to keep your tongue totally relaxed so that it doesn’t move up to meet the soft palate.
If your sound has an overabundance of nasality, it’ll sound a bit …nasal. If it doesn’t have enough nasal resonance, it might sound a little dull. Nasal resonance adds brightness and treble and it helps create a perception of volume without using force. Dolly Parton has a lot of nasal resonance in her sound – when she sings with other vocalists even if the mics are at the same volume, she tends to be the most audible because the twang from the nasal resonance cuts through. Play around with moving the resonance between mouth and nose at different pitches.