Hi everyone. If I had a dollar from every new singer that asked me the following question. I would be a very rich man!
“If I take singing lessons can you teach me to learn how to sing and sound like my favourite singer”?
Okay here’s the no “BS” answer to that question.
Your ability to make sounds similar to your favourite singer is largely dependent on six crucial factors.
1. Vocal chords
Your vocal chords would need to be similar or the same approximate thickness and length as your idols vocal anatomy.
2. Physical similarities in muscle and anatomy structure.
Inside your head, throat, and thoracic cavity, (upper chest area). There are a million in one variations going on in regards to the size and shape of your resonant cavities.
What are resonant cavaties? (areas where the vibrations of sound are amplified and rich over tones, called (harmonics) are produced, these additional harmonic frequencies in the voice among other things are responsible for creating the unique signature vocal tone of the artist.
The uniqueness of the sounds produced by your favourite singer, depend largely on how thick there vocal chords are to begin with. When a singer is born and blessed with above average thickness and vocal chord length (longer vocal chords than the average person) they are said to be natural singers. Your vocal range is dependent on how efficiently your vocal chords can thin down to reach the higher notes while also maintaining enough thickness in the chord to produce a pleasing vocal tone. Lots of people, can thin there vocal chords down at the expense of the audience to produce awfully high shrill sounds that are on pitch, but the vocal chords have thinned out so much (because they lack the required natural mass) to make these notes usable in a singers range. No audience wants to sit through shrill thin high notes that lack musicality! Would you?
3. The resonance cavities inside our skulls, and upper chest, vary greatly in size.
Put simply the bigger the body parts (usually) means the bigger the accompanying resonant cavities will be.
Singers that are born with a wider face and squarish jaw lines will naturally have much bigger resonance cavities to work with compared to a singer that is born with a narrow face and or a underdeveloped jaw line. This also means that a singer with a wider jaw and larger face will naturally have a bigger resonance area to play with in the back of there throats. These types of singers will naturally produce distortion sounds more easily than their narrow faced countreparts.
* (look out for an upcomming post on how to create safe healthy distortion).
4. Diameter of the wind pipe.
Singers like Sebastian Bach, or Brian Johnston from ACDC or Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, are likely to have been blessed with a wider than average windpipe, this provides these type of singers with added volume, and additional options in regards to making it easy to produce rumbling chest distortion sounds with minum thought and effort. In essence the wider the wind pipe the easier it is to create the right type of air compression bubbling up between the chords to produce distorted sounds and the safe kind of chord compression needed for healthy heavy metal screams!
5. Power house singers are usually under five ten for men and five feet five inches for women in height, is this just a coincidence?
The answer is no, power house singers are created through favourable anatomy design. Shorter singers under six foot are born with naturally shorter tendons and muscles and ligaments. These shorter thicker tendons and ligaments provide an immediate benefit for handling higher levels of physical resistance and improves the persons ability to perform physical exercises and activities that require more body strength to really excel in performance. The taller person has thinner tendons and ligaments and muscle tissue because the muscle has a greater surface area to stretch and attach to the bodies skeleton.
*(Singers like Sebastian Bach are an anommaly in regards to his height, he has a shorter neck and thicker wider throat when compared to most people of similar height).
How do shorter tendons and ligaments benefit a singer?
If your born with above average thickness in size and length of the vocal chords, the next part of the equation is to develop the conditioning and strength for the tendons ligaments and cartilages that are responsible for anchoring the larynx these I refer to as the “micro muscle groups”.
The micro muscle groups are the tiny muscle groups that are really responsible for producing pitch, range and volume.
The benefits of having shorter tendons ligaments and muscles should be self explanatory? They are literally thicker, and can handle greater levels of initial tension, for longer periods of time, with out displaying signs of fatigue. This is very important because these micro muscle groups are literally responsible, for anchoring the larynx and reducing all the unwanted excess muscle tension in and around the throat. This then allows the larynx to correctly tilt forward (often referred to as a laryngeal tilt) on its base and lengthen out and thin down to stretch the vocal chord to produce higher notes in our vocal registers.
The higher you sing or scream for that matter the more tension the micro muscles need to handle to anchor the voice and allow the laryngeal tilt to continue unimpeded. Hence singers with naturally thicker and longer vocal chords can stretch further and maintain enough mass to make these sounds musical and pleasing to the audiences ear.
6. Vocal technique
It doesn’t matter how big or small your vocal chords are if you don’t know how to use them safely and correctly your voice will never reach it’s true potential! I’ve seen plenty of naturally gifted singers struggle with bad technique. I’ve witnessed some exceptional singing performances from singers that weren’t blessed with big vocal chords, but simply work harder at strengthening up the micro muscles to compensate and over come their genetic short comings.
Okay so some of you reading this blog post are feeling pretty good about now. Because your identifying that you have been born with some or all of the traits that naturally completent producing a strong singing voice (Healthy singers DNA).
Some of you are reading this article and are feeling that sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach because you’ve identified that you lack the natural strength or size required in these singing muscles to produce the sounds you want to make?
The good news is that with some notable exceptions. Most people born with average size vocal chords or under average sized vocal chords can learn to isolate and strengthen up the micro muscle groups that are responsible for correctly producing your singing voice. To learn whether your voice is going to take a little or a lot of work to realise your singing goals I highly recommend finding a vocal coach that offers a full vocal diagnostic service.
I recommend that every student should invest in a vocal diagnostic session prior to commencing singing lessons. This way they will obtain a clear understanding, about how much work and effort it will require to reach their own individual vocal development goals.
There are plenty of vocal coaches out there that are just in it for the money and will tell you what ever you want to hear. As long as you can afford there services. I reckon this approach stinks!
At Rapid Vocal Results. I pledge to always give you a no “BS” frank appraisal on your vocal genetics. My goal is to tell it, like it is! I want to help as many singers as I possibly can to reach their vocal goals and realise their
music career aspirations!
Better singing everyone.