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Dynamics of the singing voice

Most singers are inspired to by listening to another popular or famous singer do what seems to be a backflip and cartwheel with their voices. These vocal somersaults or singing embellishments are what we like to refer to as ”complex dynamics.”

Now let us look at some of the terminology for “Complex Dynamics” known more commonly as singing embellishments;

1. Vocal Trills– a musical ornament consisting of a rapid alternation between two adjacent notes, usually a semitone or tone apart, which can be identified with the context of the trill. Here is an explanation of “Trills” by Maria Callas:

2. Vocal Licks, and Runs -A rapid variation in a vocal melody. Most commonly resembling a scale sung dynamically. This creates a spark in the melody to lift the meaning. Here is an example of Stevie Wonder using “Licks” and “Runs”:

3. Vocal Pronunciation– How you personalize singing. Sing the words with the same personality you would say with your friends. In a natural way. The honesty of the message comes through as exactly who you are. Listen to how clearly Julie Andrews enunciates each lyric of “My Favorite Things”:

4. Vocal Attitude– The reflection of your emotion, or just the confidence of a singer who sings without any fear or hesitation. This usually comes from the joining of confidence and the ability to perform with ease. You must also say nice things to yourself when you DO slip up. People usually have no idea when you are having trouble on stage until you let them know. Notice how Beyonce’ continues to sing, unbothered after her hair gets caught in one of her stage fans:

5. Vocal Scoops/Falls– A slide form underneath the note, up to the note that is to be sung or vice versa to accomplish a ‘Fall’. In this stage production of “Dreamgirls” Jennifer Holiday Scoops and Falls several times throughout the main sections of ‘And I Am Telling You,’ which begins at 3’30”:

6. Vocal Note Bend– One of the simplest of all style exercises yet, it truly goes a long way. It is the simple momentary bending of a note, and then back down to the original pitch. Artists frequently use them to add their own personal style or touch. It could be said that Ms. Sarah Vaughan had one of the most colorful voices in vocal jazz in part because of her many uses of vocal dynamics, including her many vocal note bends:

7. Vowel Bend– Done frequently in everyday speech. Variations on pronunciation to enhance personal style, and better communicate with audiences. Betty Carter exudes personal style with the way she chooses to pronounce her lyrics. The way she held her mouth when singing gave her an especially unique timbre, and overall vocal sound:

8. Falsetto– Used for affect to create a soft whispery sound. This sound is exciting when used correctly, but make sure that this jewel is not used as a crutch to replace your mix. Use this jewel sparingly and tastefully. In the old Motown days there was usually a singer in the male groups who sang falsetto such as Smokey Robinson, Eddie Kendrick, and even Philip Bailey of “Earth, Wind, and Fire.” Here is a much more contemporary version of the great use of it sung by Brian McKnight:

A safe mixture of all or just a few of these vocal tricks could enhance your overall singing performance on stage and allow you to connect deeper with your audience.

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