What is this resonance that everyone is talking about? Why do you want it in your voice? And how do you get it? That’s what today’s blog post is all about.
I am of course also going to give you two exercises that will help you add resonance to your voice so you can start practicing it with your songs.
Watch the video or read on to learn more.
What is Resonance?
This question revolves around physics so some of you might already have learned about it in school. This is deliciously nerdy so were gonna geek out on this for a minute 😉
Sound waves travel through the air and depending on their pitch they are either longer or shorter.
If the waves are long they have a low frequency, meaning there are not that many waves per second. If the waves are short there are a lot of them per second and their frequency is high.
An example here is the pitch A4 which has a frequency of 440 waves per second whereas A3 has a lower frequency of 220 waves per second.
All objects have one, or several, natural frequencies based on what they are made of and the shape they have. When object is hit with a sound wave that matches that objoects natural frequency it makes it vibrate or RESONATE.
This goes for all objects: Trees, plastic bottles, bridges, rubber ducks… you get the picture 🙂
Maybe you’ve heard of sound breaking glass when it resonates or experienced drum skin rattle in the rehearsal room when you play with your band. That is resonance.
For us as singers our bones pick up the sound waves from our vocal folds which makes them vibrate and it bounces around and is amplified in the cavities in our skull and throat which are: the larynx, the pharynx, the nasal cavity, and the oral cavity (see below).
These are called your resonators. The amount of resonance that your voice has depends on how you shape these resonators.
Why do We Want to Sing with Resonance?
Resonance gives your voice a fuller tone and it allows you to sing louder without straining your voice. Many people try to emulate a resonant sound by pushing their voice or yelling but with resonance the tone manipulation happens in the resonators above the vocal folds so it does not hurt your voice.
When you get familiar with your resonance it is also fun to manipulate your tone by adjusting your resonators individually. You can make the space in the larynx larger to create a fuller sound, place resonance in your nasal cavity for a nasal sound, or get a forward sound that is centered in your oral cavity. We can work on that in a later post. Today we’re focusing on adding resonance to your voice.
We’re going to first get you to feel the vibrating resonance in your voice and then we are going to practice placing the resonance, meaning directing the resonance in a place where it sits well with your voice so that you can start practicing it with your songs. The focus here is the relationship between sound waves from your vocal folds and your resonators so remember to use good breath support.
Exercise #1 Feel Your Resonance
- We’re going to feel the vibration from the resonance in your nasal cavity. So, hum a in the middle of your vocal range. Not just a gentle hum but a resonant hum and focus on making it vibrate your nose and your sinuses. Some people can also feel it in their lips, cheeks, and jaw bone. We call this “the mask”. Sometimes you might hear voice teachers say. “put it in your mask”. This means basically direct your resonance to your face.
Exercise #2 Place Your Resonance
- Ok so now you have a feeling for the resonance let’s move on to placing it because we want to hear your voice not just your humming.
- Let’s start by relaxing and lowering your jaw to make create space both in your larynx and in your oral cavity.
- Then we are going to lift your cheeks with an inner smile and raise your eyebrows. This makes the skin inside your resonators taught so that the sound can more easily resonate. It also brightens your sound. Relax your tongue behind your bottom front teeth.
- Now were going to hum with resonance and take this position to send your sound outwards with resonance. Hum-ah. You can still feel some resonance in the nose but not as much as the sound is now more in your oral cavity. Try to see if you can feel some vibration at the roof of the mouth. Either in the front middle or back.
- In my experience the best place to place or send the resonance is a bit further back then the middle of the roof. This really engages the resonant space of the pharynx and gets you a fuller tone in your voice that feels effortless. Here is the resonance with a lot of emphasis in the oropharynx “iah iah iah”, here it is a little further back “iah iah iah”. When I send it here I feel this ringing all over. Lots of resonance. At this point of your voice feels healthy it comes down to taste.
A few things to look out for.
Some people can sometime get an unwanted nasal tone when applying resonance. If that happens to you I think that a bit of nasality can be nice and help you feel the resonance but if you are experiencing too much. Try raising your soft palate to close the nasal passage. I made a video on how to raise the soft palate. You can find it here.
Also, be aware to not bring the sound too far back. I see this sometimes when singers try to force a round tone in the voice. What often plays tricks here is that the tongue tightens in the back of your throat and pushes back against your throat to you get this Kermit the frog sound. This trap the resonance in the lower back instead of letting it resonate here. If you feel that happening relax your tongue and focus on sending the sound more upwards. It helps some singers to scrunch up their nose like this. You might have seen it in shows like the voice or American idol. It’s a pretty common way that singers use to direct the resonance to the mask.