Singing is the result of two different aspects – tonality and voicing. Tonality refers to the quality of the sound produced, while the last component, which is the voice itself, describes the quality of how it sounds. It is important to note that voice and singing are very different concepts. While singing is concerned with being able to produce a pleasing sound that reaches the listener, voice is more specifically concerned with communicating the intent of the singer.
Voice or tonality is the result of a voice’s vibration. This vibration is the result of the airflow through the vocal cords. Vibration results in the sounds we hear as words such as “oo,” “u,” and “ah.” The length of each breath is referred to as the breath.
The quality of each voice’s vibration can be affected by how the voice is released and mixed. Some voices tend to have around, breathy quality while others are more long and drawn out. Those with a round voice are said to have a mixed voice while those with a longer and deeper voice are said to have a closed or open positioning of the vocal cords.
Closed positioning of the vocal cords is called voiceless singing. Voicing is achieved by a click, snap, or breathy tone on the first note. Those with open positioning have a brief but audible click or snap. Both types of voicing are considered to be “open” because the sound of the chord that is produced does not have any sort of timbre or clarity.
One of the most common ways of voicing the voice is through phonological articulation. Phonological articulation describes a particular set of singing rules for identifying particular syllables or words. This type of voicing is sometimes referred to as “phonetic singing.” The use of phonological articulation is especially widespread in classical music.
One of the most common problems with voiceless or phonetically delivered singing comes from the difficulty of hearing pitches above, below, and right and left of the primary use of the voice. Pitch variation occurs when two different vocal folds hit each other at different pitches. For example, the e note can be sounded like a G, the I note can be a D, and the g note can be an A. This can occur because the pitches A and E are played separately (with the exception of the pure pitch interval between A and G), or because they are played together.
There are two distinct advantages to using phonetic singing over voiceless. One is that it eliminates the need for pitch conversion or pitch shading. Since the words are spoken in pure tonal harmony, it is clear that pitch is being used. Voice over the Internet provides many free resources for practicing and improving voiceless singing techniques. Many also use their voices as part of their stage performances. In short, this technique results in the same clear expressive quality as vocal chords expressed through the use of the lips.
The second advantage of this type of voice projection is that it allows the singer to control the tonal quality of the sounds produced. When a singer produces a resonance sound, i.e., a low-frequency sound produced by the uvular muscles (the muscles behind the teeth that articulate the sounds of the voice), then she can control the amount of high-end energy that is produced, thereby reducing the amount of high-frequency noise that is produced. This is achieved by placing the hands below the diaphragm in a “digging” position. Even with the best equipment, however, a resonant voice will not match the tonal quality of a sung performance.