Acoustic Energy and Airflow Management
For the last couple of posts we’ve been talking about some of the reasons that intonation goes sour. We talked about how internalized listening could be one of the reasons. When a singer relies heavily on the sound that he or she hears, which is largely depended on the vibrations in the chest and sinuses as well as bone conduction, there could be an incorrect understanding of the actual pitch that is being produced, that others hear.
We also said that a loss of acoustic energy, particularly in the upper range, is often another issue. And this is corrected by a proper breath support system, accompanied by steady airflow.
Then we said that most pitch problems lie with faulty vocal-tract shaping. That is to say that the way that vowels are shaped while singing directly effects pitch. The position of the tongue is key, since it is the major component of vocal-tract shaping.
I wanted to continue the discussion and give you a few more things to look out for that as frequent culprits when it comes to pitch problems.
The first one has to do with energy, which is another way of saying proper breath support. In the first post I talked about how acoustic energy is often lost when singing higher notes. This has to do with a lack of glottal (vocal fold/cord) closure and is essentially a result of running out of air too early. That’s why it’s important to have a good breath support system in place (see Breath Management series, particularly the four-part blog series called The Appoggio Breathing Technique). Also important, which takes far less time to establish, is mapping out the song you plan to sing and seeing where you breathing points in the song will be. This will assure that you have enough breath support to carry you through each phrase and particularly the longer and/or higher phrases.
Another common problem, one that is also corrected by a proper breath management system is instable or fluctuating airflow at the onset, of the beginning of a phrase (See Silent Breath Management blog series part 1 & 2). I laid out several different onset exercises to help you immediately turn airflow, after inhalation, into tone without fluctuating the breath pressure.
There are a few more causes of singing off-key. I hope you are finding this series helpful. In the next post, we’ll continue the conversation of intonation and talk about a few other causes and solutions of faulty pitch.