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. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

How Imagination Creates the Speaking and Singing Voice

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Remember making up stories, finger-painting abstract art, playing with your imaginary friends? If you don’t, ask a family member who knew you well as a child. I bet they can remind you. Human beings all develop, to some degree, the ability to imagine. Creative imagination fuels intention and expectation. Did you know your voice largely runs on this? Let’s talk about some ways your imagination directs your voice. It starts with your focused intention.

Premeditate a conversation

A bit like a well-executed crime, a conversation goes better when you brainstorm before you act. Even if it’s an almost unconscious split-second flash in a casual conversation, thinking before you speak helps you…
  • Fully enter the scene
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel dissed when listening to someone who talks or sings while distracted. When you aren’t fully present, your voice will communicate that fact. Or will not communicate at all. Make use of your senses to read the room, and chose your one-heart focus. Who are you talking to? What do you want that heart to understand?
  • Fully claim the reaction you want
Unlike most other moral situations, the Machiavelli principle… the ends justify the means… works here. If you were successful at making your listener respond a certain way, what would their reaction to your voice be? What would that look like in their body/facial language? That is your end goal… now do what it takes to get that reaction! 

Choose your sound

Guided by your premeditated intention, you can imagine how you want your voice to sound. Note: don’t worry, in practicality, these intention choices can be quite short… split-second. It's just important to know they should take place!
  • Choose the type of sentence you want to use (question, exclamation, statement).
  • Intend the length of your line. This tells your automatic nervous system how much breath to take and use. (Good vocal training makes this a lot more efficient!)
  • Choose the tone color, volume, inflection and clarity of articulation you’ll use to deliver your words. (Again, with good training the pool of possibilities to choose from will be a lot bigger)
  • Intend the pitch you want to use. For speakers, this means the area of your vocal range you center your voice in, and the shape of the curves of your speaking melody line. For singers, of course, it will mean the exact pitch of your intended notes. If you fully intend to hit those notes, you’ll actually aim and be much more likely to hit them!

Imagine you are someone else

OK, sometimes we actually want to match someone else's voice. A terrific way to do this is to mime while deeply listening. That way your imagination starts directing your vocal apparatus, breath, rhythm and articulation to match what you're hearing... BEFORE you even try it! You learn the intricacies of the other voice much quicker by imagining before sounding your voice. 

Here are some very valid reasons for mimicking another voice:
  • You want to learn a new style. 
  • You want to learn a new language.
  • You want to do a 'sound-alike'... sounding just like another lead singer for fun at a Karaoke event, or for commercial purposes when the jingle client wants a specific kind of voice.
  • You want to sing tight harmony with another lead singer as their background singer for stage or studio. This may entail really changing your vocal tone and inflections to match another's perfectly.
  • You want to mimic your vocal coach to learn a new technique. (A good coach will be very careful to help you find your own voice for your own reasons in the technique being learned.)
  • You want to mimic your dialect coach to change your accent.

Bottom line:

Human vocal sounds… speaking and singing… are amazingly intricate in variety. Like all creatures’ voices, the human voice exists for a reason. Even when we talk to ourselves, we’re telling ourselves something. If you’ve been feeling invisible, and you want to express your voice and its messages more successfully, try being more present in the moment, more intentional with your messages and more creative using your imagination!

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What about you? How do you use your imagination for your voice? 

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  • At February 10, 2020 at 12:23 AM , Anonymous Ron Calabrese said...

    Hi Judy. As usual your blog reveals a very interesting, not always evident truth! Communication when speaking and singing requires at least momentary forethought before the vocal emission. There are many examples of singers with beautiful voices who could not communicate. One that comes to mind was Vic Damone, who had a silky voice, that at least in my opinion, became very boring after a few songs. Sinatra is the opposite. He sang every word with the clear intention of communicating an EXPERIENCED TRUTH. You can listen to Sinatra over his extremely long career and notice the loss of clarity in his voice, (in the later years), but the communication is always there. In fact, Frank Sinatra often criticized Andy Williams for not using his extraordinary instrument to communicate.

    Now that I sing mainly in church, I have to temper my Italian emotions when singing religious music. However, when the meaning of the words call for a variance in volume, sustaining a note, a crescendo, I can’t always help myself! Singing like a robot should be left to the robots.

  • At February 11, 2020 at 12:18 PM , Blogger Billy Wright said...

    Enjoyed this one too!
    Your blog posts are always wonderful, Judy!

  • At February 12, 2020 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Thank you Ron, and unknown... it means the world to get your feedback. Ron... I think you're absolutely right... Sinatra was the communicator. Love 'singing like a robot should be left to the robots"... indeed!!


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