Chest Voice Nuance/Understanding What I Am Attempting To Attain

Posted in Category Technique and Style
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    Andrew Kidd 4 years ago

    Hello, beginner singer here but, one with a fairly deep background in music theory and as an instrumentalist.  I mention this only because I think my ear being somewhat developed is causing me some unusual frustrations and observations as I try to hammer down exactly what we are trying to accomplish here.  As far as other useful context goes, I am primarily a fan of classic/alt country whereby a deep chest voice is heavily favored and my question pertains to understanding the nuance of "chest resonance."

    I have noticed that when I compare my early efforts to the singers I like most, I tend to find that, given a particular song, I'd generally prefer to select a lower key than they do. (Frustratingly, I find covering these artists in the original key is almost exclusively higher than I'd prefer and sometimes I miss the signature licks and collaboration opportunities lost in changing the key but, hope my range will improve with time). Generally, I also find that I have a (nominally) lower speaking voice than these artists and I am also generally able to match the lowest notes they would attempt without much trouble.  So far, this all makes sense to me as just being normal for a male with a naturally lower voice than the artists I am using for comparison.

    However, I also find that, when I match the note of one of these singers, that artist's version of the note will generally sound deeper/bassier than my own version of that same note as if it were somehow resonating from/in a lower place within the artist I am matching.  Yet, when I try to lower my own placement of the note, I am unable to avoid flattening the pitch of the note I am singing as I try to "deepen" the place from which the note is resonating.  

    I should be clear that I do not expect someone to "fix" this observation for me as I know I have a lot of work to do in becoming a competent singer given my lack of a predipsosition towards sounding good without much effort.  Instead, I am more trying to understand which portions of the voice I can change if desired and which portions are simply unique characteristics of my voice that I am better off embracing than attempting to change.  Stated differently, I am trying to grasp whether I can cause a given note to resonate from a "deeper" place within my chest voice or whether the "depth" of my chest resonance is attached to the pitch I am producing?  I should also note that I understand that one can "place" resonance in the nose, front of the mouth, back of the throat, head, chest, etc, without altering the pitch (so long as that note falls within the range of that particular protion of the voice of course).  It would seem to follow that one could therefore also move the placement of a given lower note within the "chest voice" without altering the pitch? Stated differently still, can one place a given note "higher" or "lower" within the place where the "chest voice" resonates without altering the pitch or does the place from which the note resonates dictate the pitch being produced?"

    Still learning the lingo so please forgive my wordiness and difficulty articulating the question in this first post.  Singing and especially learing to sing seems to be a bit more abstract than most other music I've studied, at least in these early stages, which is causing some problems in figuring out exactly why we are doing a particular exercise.  Thanks in advance for your time in reviewing this post and any incite you can give me into understanding exactly what it is we are doing and hy as we run through these exercises.



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    Camille van Niekerk 4 years ago

    Great question, Andrew! I agree completely that singing seems more "abstract" than other instruments, simply because our "instrument" is hidden, it's heavily influenced by our anatomy (as you touched on), and it also requires skillful training of our ear to stylize and shape our tone in different ways. 

    To specifically answer your question about achieving more "depth" and "fullness" in chest voice: it's certainly possible! I'd try (1) lowering your larynx, (2) lifting your soft palate, and (3) training on wide, open vowels to encourage more mouth + chest resonance, and less head + nasal resonance. That said, if a pitch is at the top of your range (in any given register), it may be thinner and less rich than your low-mid comfortable range. 


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