If one wants to be a good singer, he/she needs to be able to control when they want their voice to be breathy and when not.
Of course, there are moments when a singer wants to add breathiness to their tone but a good singer chooses when to do so and when to sing without it.
So, to help you in your singing journey, I will teach you two things in this article–
- Why you might be singing with a breathy voice?
- How you can control that breathy voice?
Cause of Your Breathy Voice:
To understand the cause we need to know how the human voice works. Whenever air passes through the vocal cords, cords come closer and vibrate hence producing sound. This process of vocal cords coming closer so they can vibrate against one another is called ‘adduction’. When a singer is using just the right amount of air to produce the sound, the vocal cords adduct and vibrate seamlessly. As a result, the sound is clear, efficient, and easy to produce. If the singer uses an excess of air to sing, adduction isn’t as efficient. The sound, coloured by the extra air rushing past the vocal cords, becomes breathy. This may be the result of improper vocal technique or some health issues.
Try to notice if your voice is breathy when you speak or is it just while you are singing? Or is it when you are singing in a very specific part of your range? Narrowing down these questions will make it much clearer what to do to be able to fix the issue. For instance, your voice is nice and clear when you are speaking in your lower range but as soon as you sing in your higher range, it starts to get breathy, which means that your vocal cords are pulling apart as more tension is put on them when they go up to a higher pitch which is forcing them to spread apart. If that’s the case, putting in more effort to find cord closure of your voice in a higher range would be the priority rather than spending more time honing your lower range since it is already under control. If your voice is breathy all the time while speaking as well as singing despite the range you use, Visiting a doctor would be preferable. Untreated breathiness can be caused by chronic swelling, pre-nodular lumps, and other serious issues that could lead to vocal haemorrhaging or vocal nodules. If these issues become too severe, they can require therapy and even surgery to fix.
Tips to Control Breathiness of Your Voice:
If you are using breathiness as a stylistic tool for singing, still some measures have to be taken to avoid any further risk:
- Limit the use: Although it’s completely fine to use a breathy voice, one should know where to stop. Putting more stress on vocal cords for a longer period of time may cause severe damage to the cords.
- Use a comfortable range: Going beyond your range and that too with a breathy voice is not a very good choice for singers. Since the beginnings of contemporary songs tend to be in a moderate range, you may want to experiment by starting a song with a breathy tone and then coming in stronger on the chorus. This is a fairly common approach in pop, R&B, and other popular music.
- Have a mentor to guide you through the process: Sometimes, we try to experiment with the vocal ranges and techniques and we never know which action can affect our voice in which way. So it is better to have an experienced mentor by your side.
If breathiness is undesirable and you want to balance it out, then here are some tips:
- Use vocal warmup training: Speaking out words like, ‘oh’, ‘uh’, ‘ma’, etc in different ways may help set your range. One can either ask for their mentor for guidance, or there are many vocal couches available on online platforms for easy access. Example: Vocal trainer Cheryl Porter is available on youtube and gives amazing tips on vocal techniques.
- Try lip trills, tongue rolls, singing through a straw, humming, singing on an “ng.” For the latter three, you’ll have to do a little more self-monitoring to make sure you aren’t leaking a ton of air. The first two, if you’re able to do them, should take care of themselves.
- Have a regular checkup: Being a singer, one’s vocal cords are the most important part. Protect them well.
People want to hear the variation in the singer’s voice. It’s what they enjoy. But for singers, it is important to get hold of the basic techniques first and then be dicey with it and play around adding variations. The most important thing is to be consistent and you will feel your voice building up fairly quickly, provided you have the right guidance.