I’m Camille, singer & voice teacher with 30 Day Singer and this is How To Sing - Part 6: Stylize Your Voice
The fact is: most people can sing at some level. But not everyone sounds like a natural, polished singer. What sets those singers apart, aside from technical skill and experience? For me, it all comes down to style. And while the mechanics of singing are crucial, we can’t neglect stylization!
How do we learn to stylize? We imitate! In order for this to be effective, though, we need to know what to listen for. Here are a few elements of style for you to start paying attention to;
1. Vibrato usage
Is the singer using vibrato or straight tone? If there’s vibrato, where is it showing up?
2. Vowel modification & mouth posture
Are the singer’s vowels rounded, like Adele, or wide and flat, like Carrie Underwood? How is their mouth posture affecting the tone?
Is the singer letting a lot of air pass through their vocal folds, like Billie Eilish? Where is that happening, and how does it add to the meaning they’re conveying?
How is the singer’s volume? Are they increasing or decreasing volume? Is it gradual or sudden?
Does the singer start words cleanly? Do they begin with air? Is it a strong, or even harsh start? Maybe there’s even a bit of vocal fry?
6. Pitch variation
Is the singer scooping up to certain notes? Are they falling off of some, or sliding from one pitch to the next?
Of course, we could keep going - but that’s probably enough for now! The point is: listen not just to the lyrics and the melody, but to how the singer is stylizing, and what that does to the meaning they’re able to convey.
Above all technical goals, singers are storytellers, and stylization is the main way they communicate with their audience! It may feel a little awkward or forced to copy these stylistic elements, but I promise: it’s how we all learn. All of your favorite singers were influenced by singers who came before them, and they spent many hours listening and copying those singers, too. Over time, you’ll find what techniques feel natural to you!