Don’t we all want to sing with more power?! Ha, well maybe not all of us but singing with more power is a pretty common goal for singers.
One of my favorite quotes when it comes to singing is ‘Good singing is free singing’ (I think this quote is by Dr. Hubert Noe).
Above the power stands the freedom! Otherwise we are just yelling and that hurts your voice and your listeners ears.
However singing with freedom and power is amazing and really the greatest power comes from singing freely!
Let’s look at 3 factors which enable us to sing with more acoustic power or volume.
For the vocal folds, singing with more power means that more mass of the vocal folds is vibrating. This is called glottal adduction (=vocal fold closure).
More glottal adduction leads to a longer closed quotient.
Before you roll your eyes thinking ‘what’s that’, let me explain 🙂
During phonation, the vocal folds open and close rapidly to create sound, releasing air during the open phase. The longer they stay closed the greater the volume and this is achieved through vocal training and exercises.
The open quotient is the percentage of time in which the vocal folds are open.
Consequently the closed quotient is the percentage of time in which the vocal folds are closed.
Therefore more adduction of the vocal folds leads to a longer closed quotient and a louder sound source.
#2: Vocal tract
If you recall from a previous blog about the ‘Source-Filter Theory’, the sound source (=vocal fold vibration) is only one part of the articulatory and resonance system and in our case also only one part of singing with power.
The sound which is created by the vocal folds needs to resonate and be amplified somewhere.
This occurs in the vocal tract which is the air passage above the larynx. In the human body the vocal tract consists of the pharynx and the oral cavity (mouth).
By altering the shape of your vocal tract you can amplify certain frequencies and increase the volume. This leads to more power without strain.
Vocal coaches call this formant tuning. Vowels are being modified to tune to the two lowest formant frequencies to harmonic frequencies and therefore achieve an amplified sound.
When we sing with more power, more mass of the vocal folds is vibrating. We talked about the closed quotient earlier but the open quotient is also important to avoid pressed phonation and overusing your vocal folds.
When you sing with more power, your vocal folds are adducting more because more mass of the vocal folds is vibrating. In addition, when you sing higher, the vocal folds are stretched out, just like a rubber band.
This additional pressure on the vocal folds requires more air pressure, in order to remain the freedom in your voice.
This means that the velocity of the airflow needs to increase (= air traveling faster through the glottis and making sure that the vocal folds open and close).
It’s not so much the feeling of blowing a lot of air out at once but rather sending the air out faster. You do this by engaging your abdominal muscles during exhalation to support your powerful notes.
You see that singing with more power is not about pushing or pressing more. It’s about working with vocal acoustics to boost your resonance, supply enough air and gradually building up volume.
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