I Help people sing and speak expressively and powerfully no matter the level of experience :)
HI, I'M JORGELINA
FREE 20 MIN AUDIO LESSON
Grab today my 20 min INTRO TO HOLISTIC SINGING audio lesson!
GRAB IT NOW
We use our magical voice instrument to communicate every day. It seems that if we are able to have a functional instrument to communicate, we should be able to sing too, right? Well, yes and no. There are quite a few differences between singing and speaking, and this has something to do with the way you organise your instrument to achieve different outcomes. In this article, I will explain the main differences between singing and speaking, so keep on reading!
In a previous article, I have talked about the difference between the high-pressure system and the low-pressure system. You can learn more about that HERE.
To put it very simply, the larynx area has different functions. Believe it or not, singing is not the main one! The main function of this area is actually to protect you. As it is a space shared between the respiratory system and the digestive system, you need a sophisticated system to prevent anything other than air from going to your lungs.
That is why your system tends to be “closed”, because as far as your brain is concerned, keeping you alive is more important than singing. And that is why beginner singers, even if they are “naturally” talented, still have to train to make sure they don’t hurt their voices.
This is because when you sing from this protection system, you are using a lot of muscles that you don’t need, resulting in a forced voice that will wear out over time.
When we speak, we do so from the high-pressure system – people who have trained their voice professionally will do this less so – and that is enough for speaking, as it doesn’t require too much effort. However, if we intend to become singers, we need to train our voice to sing from the low-pressure system instead. So this is one of the main differences between singing and speaking and why the singing voice sounds different from the speaking voice.
One of the differences between singing and speaking is the differentiation needed to produce the different voice sounds we need and want. When we talk about differentiation in this context we are talking about the fine work that our voice muscles have to do.
To put it simply, when you speak there is not a huge level of differentiation. Your vocal cords work by reacting to certain circumstances. But when you sing, you learn to allow your vocal cords to lead the process instead. This process takes years to master, but it is necessary to have control over your sound.
Another difference between singing and speaking is the vocal range you use. The range we use for speaking is not too wide, although, of course, some people will use a wider range than others.
Also, when you speak you generally do so using a voice register that is commonly known as “chest voice”, unless you’re Mickey Mouse.
When you sing, you use a much wider range. Even songs for beginners use a range of an octave or more. Usually, for a lot of pop songs, you will be using over an octave.
And when we train as singers, as well as train our “chest voice”, we also train another register that is generally known as “head voice”. This allows you to not only reach higher notes without effort but also gives your whole range balance and higher differentiation.
Another difference between singing and speaking is the vowel quality we use. This is important because the different vowels define the quality of your vocal tone to a large extent. When we speak, we use vowels that are shaped by our mother tongue. When we sing, however, we are training our voice to develop its full potential, and so we work with different vowel sounds. Also, the higher you go in the register, you need to modify your vowel sounds to make it even possible for you to reach those notes without hurting your voice. For example, an “AH” sound from my native language (Spanish) will raise my larynx as I go up on the scale and will make me yell and force my voice. That’s why we learn to “round” the vowels when we sing, to keep the larynx more flexible and stable.
This is one of the most important differences between singing and speaking. If you want to develop your full voice potential, you can’t do so from your accent, whatever it is. It will be useful for certain styles of singing, however, it can only take you so far. At some point, you do need to train your vowel sounds, so you are in charge of your sound quality.
The intensity of our voice (how loud or soft we are) is also different when we speak and when we sing. There are people that are louder than others, in general. We all know someone that speaks really softly, and we kind of have to make an effort to hear them. We all also know someone that is so loud that we need to take a step back.
The intensity of our voice is given in part by how much air pressure we use when we speak. This has to do with different factors such as your lung capacity, your posture, your overall body tonus, etc.
When we sing, however, we again need a much bigger level of differentiation. We need to learn to be in control of our intensity because we use pianos, fortes, fortissimos, pianissimos, etc. We
need to learn to control our intensity, instead of reacting to external circumstances, if we want to create art with our voices. This will also influence the quality of our voice, as well as how much or how healthy a vocal technique we want to use.
We learn to be in control of our intensity from holistic work. Our voice is always a holistic exercise because the vocal system is influenced by everything that happens in your mind and body. So this is part of the general voice training, which you train from day one through posture, breathing, vocalisation exercises, breath support, etc.
The vocal training will, hopefully, allow your vocal cords to guide this process, instead of just reacting to it.
Again, this differentiation process takes years to master. That is what complete beginners need to understand when they ask things like, “So, how do I sing louder?” It is not a one-day process if you want to actually be using your voice professionally, instead of just yelling and breaking your voice in the process.
We build many habits in the way we use our body that conditions this process, and this is different for everyone. A person with a high body tonus will generally struggle to soften their voice when needed. And a person with a low body tonus and a breathy voice will usually struggle to control a louder volume. There are many the habits we create over the years for our voice to sound like that, so being able to change those habits is not something you can do in one session. Patience, grasshopper.
And those are the main differences between the singing and speaking voice!
We offer private singing lessons in Auckland (North Shore area – Unsworth Heights), singing group lessons and classes, and online singing courses 🙂
Vocal coaching available in Auckland (Unsworth Heights – North Shore) and online!
Check our our programs:
Subscribe now to receive the free cheat sheet - learn to sing a song step by step!
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.