Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Singing Soft Powerfully - Make Light Phrases Zing!


 Singing soft doesn't have to mean communicating weakly. Getting this right can make the difference between a soft passage that no one pays attention to and one that subtly but surely sucks the air out of the room and demands attention!

First verses, breakdown choruses, light bridges, tags are some common places that can be more effective with softer dynamics. Confusing soft singing with meek, ineffective sound is actually something I hear all too often and is too important to leave uncorrected.  Here are some ways to get powerful emotional responses from soft singing:

Don't drop your voice off the map...

Good and interesting vocal dynamics require variety in volume intensity. However, level your intensity a bit... definitely back off loud notes, but also don't sing so soft or 'covered' (hollow, hooty) that you can't be heard, especially on low notes. Use tone variation -- communicate passion in all the notes and lyrics -- instead of huge volume swings. Your voice won't scare or lose your live performance listener, and it will also record much better.

Keep your articulation clear...

Lowering vocal volume shouldn't lower your clarity. You can whisper and still draw the ear to you if you make sure to make the words are understandable.

Use the power of hushed intensity...

This is something I learned as a jingle singer where everything we sang had to have memorable impact as well as surgical precision. Keep energy in your breath compression power source! Your soft tone needs to be supported and controlled. Singing soft is a kindred art to ballet, juggling, plate spinning, putting a golf ball... it looks so easy, but it takes real power to support the apparent effortlessness (quite the paradox, isn't it?)

Listen to playback

Put on the listener's hat. Do you hear yourself communicating or just keeping the message to yourself?

Remember: Soft singing is not for wimps! Come on... zing somebody!



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3 Comments :

  • At February 18, 2013 at 9:26 AM , Blogger Embro Thistle Singers said...

    It is a good reminder to all singers to work on the softer or quieter parts of a song. As we all know, we demand attention when we suddenly start to whisper. The same is true of a changing dynamic. It demands attention. I used to tell my singers, especially young ones that they had to think of that soft sound reaching the older person in the very back row who couldn't hear from one ear and was deaf in the other. Not only did it keep them focused on the back of the room, but helped with the projection of sound. Once supported with proper breath and posture the sound needs to be "thought" to the back. Even in studio work, the singer can visualize the auditorium and sing to that person in the back wanting to hear.
    Kitty

     
  • At February 23, 2013 at 12:43 PM , Anonymous Diane Hurst said...

    Was just listening to a song on the radio where I really enjoyed the soft quality of the singer's voice, and thought she put some great expression into it. Then she zoomed to the chorus and pulled out all her vocal power, and to me at least, it was just too much (but not for the people who put her on the radio). I think the strength in a soft tone is sometimes underestimated.

     
  • At February 24, 2013 at 5:31 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Oh Diane I SOO agree!! You might win American Idol with that kind of sonic ear thrashing, but music that we remember our lives by? I don't think so. I also believe the reason people over-sing is that they are not clear on what their voice's job is. I'll save that for another post:)

     

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