Singing

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Singing is the act of producing music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

al sounds with the voice
Human voice
The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

, and augments regular speech
Speech
Speech is the human faculty of speaking.It may also refer to:* Public speaking, the process of speaking to a group of people* Manner of articulation, how the body parts involved in making speech are manipulated...

 by the use of both tonality
Tonality
Tonality is a system of music in which specific hierarchical pitch relationships are based on a key "center", or tonic. The term tonalité originated with Alexandre-Étienne Choron and was borrowed by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840...

 and rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

. One who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 known as songs that can be sung either with or without accompaniment
Accompaniment
In music, accompaniment is the art of playing along with an instrumental or vocal soloist or ensemble, often known as the lead, in a supporting manner...

 by musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s. Singing is often done in a group of other musicians, such as in a choir
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 of singers with different voice ranges, or in an ensemble with instrumentalists, such as a rock group or baroque ensemble
Baroque orchestra
The Baroque orchestra is the type of orchestra that existed during the Baroque period, commonly identified as 1600-1750. Its origins were in France where Jean-Baptiste Lully added the newly re-designed hautboy and transverse flutes to his vingt-quatre violons du Roy...

. As in many respects human song is a form of sustained speech
Speech
Speech is the human faculty of speaking.It may also refer to:* Public speaking, the process of speaking to a group of people* Manner of articulation, how the body parts involved in making speech are manipulated...

, nearly anyone able to speak can also sing. Singing can be formal or informal, arranged or improvised. It may be done for pleasure, comfort, ritual, education, or profit. Excellence in singing requires time, dedication, instruction, and regular practice
Practice (learning method)
Practice is the act of rehearsing a behavior over and over, or engaging in an activity again and again, for the purpose of improving or mastering it, as in the phrase "practice makes perfect". Sports teams practice to prepare for actual games. Playing a musical instrument well takes a lot of...

. Professional singers usually build their careers around one specific musical genre, such as classical or rock. They typically take voice training
Vocal pedagogy
Vocal pedagogy is the study of the art and science of voice instruction. It is used in the teaching of singing and assists in defining what singing is, how singing works, and how proper singing technique is accomplished....

 provided by voice teachers or vocal coach
Vocal coach
A vocal coach is a music teacher who instructs singers on how to improve their singing technique, take care of and develop their voice, and prepare for the performance of a song or other work. Vocal coaches may give private music lessons to singers, or they may coach singers who are rehearsing on...

es throughout their career.

The human voice




In its physical aspect, singing has a well-defined technique that depends on the use of the lungs
Human lung
The human lungs are the organs of respiration in humans. Humans have two lungs, with the left being divided into two lobes and the right into three lobes. Together, the lungs contain approximately of airways and 300 to 500 million alveoli, having a total surface area of about in...

, which act as an air supply, or bellows; on the larynx
Larynx
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

, which acts as a reed or vibrator; on the chest
Chest
The chest is a part of the anatomy of humans and various other animals. It is sometimes referred to as the thorax or the bosom.-Chest anatomy - Humans and other hominids:...

 and head
Human head
In human anatomy, the head is the upper portion of the human body. It supports the face and is maintained by the skull, which itself encloses the brain.-Cultural importance:...

 cavities, which have the function of an amplifier, as the tube in a wind instrument
Wind instrument
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator , in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of...

; and on the tongue
Tongue
The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. It is the primary organ of taste , as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly...

, which together with the palate
Palate
The palate is the roof of the mouth in humans and other mammals. It separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. A similar structure is found in crocodilians, but, in most other tetrapods, the oral and nasal cavities are not truly separate. The palate is divided into two parts, the anterior...

, teeth, and lip
Lip
Lips are a visible body part at the mouth of humans and many animals. Lips are soft, movable, and serve as the opening for food intake and in the articulation of sound and speech...

s articulate and impose consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s and vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

s on the amplified sound. Though these four mechanisms function independently, they are nevertheless coordinated in the establishment of a vocal technique and are made to interact upon one another. During passive breathing, air is inhaled with the diaphragm while exhalation occurs without any effort. Exhalation may be aided by the abdominal, internal intercostal and lower pelvic muscles. Inhalation is aided by use of external intercostals, scalenes and sternocleidomastoid muscles. The pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

 is altered with the vocal cords. With the lips closed, this is called humming.

The sound of each individual's singing voice is entirely unique not only because of the actual shape and size of an individual's vocal cords but also due to the size and shape of the rest of that person's body. Humans have vocal folds which can loosen, tighten, or change their thickness, and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of the chest
Chest
The chest is a part of the anatomy of humans and various other animals. It is sometimes referred to as the thorax or the bosom.-Chest anatomy - Humans and other hominids:...

 and neck
Neck
The neck is the part of the body, on many terrestrial or secondarily aquatic vertebrates, that distinguishes the head from the torso or trunk. The adjective signifying "of the neck" is cervical .-Boner anatomy: The cervical spine:The cervical portion of the human spine comprises seven boney...

, the position of the tongue
Tongue
The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. It is the primary organ of taste , as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly...

, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

, volume (loudness
Loudness
Loudness is the quality of a sound that is primarily a psychological correlate of physical strength . More formally, it is defined as "that attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which sounds can be ordered on a scale extending from quiet to loud."Loudness, a subjective measure, is often...

), timbre
Timbre
In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...

, or tone of the sound produced. Sound also resonates within different parts of the body, and an individual's size and bone structure can affect the sound produced by an individual.

Singers can also learn to project sound in certain ways so that it resonates better within their vocal tract. This is known as vocal resonation
Vocal resonation
Vocal resonation is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air...

. Another major influence on vocal sound and production is the function of the larynx which people can manipulate in different ways to produce different sounds. These different kinds of laryngeal function are described as different kinds of vocal registers. The primary method for singers to accomplish this is through the use of the Singer's Formant
Formant
Formants are defined by Gunnar Fant as 'the spectral peaks of the sound spectrum |P|' of the voice. In speech science and phonetics, formant is also used to mean an acoustic resonance of the human vocal tract...

; which has been shown to match particularly well to the most sensitive part of the ear's
Ear
The ear is the organ that detects sound. It not only receives sound, but also aids in balance and body position. The ear is part of the auditory system....

 frequency range.

Vocal registration


Vocal registration refers to the system of vocal registers within the human voice. A register in the human voice is a particular series of tones, produced in the same vibratory pattern of the vocal folds, and possessing the same quality. Registers originate in laryngeal
Larynx
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

 function. They occur because the vocal folds are capable of producing several different vibratory patterns. Each of these vibratory patterns appears within a particular range
Vocal range
Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

 of pitches
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

 and produces certain characteristic sounds. The term "register" can be somewhat confusing as it encompasses several aspects of the human voice. The term register can be used to refer to any of the following:
  • A particular part of the vocal range
    Vocal range
    Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

     such as the upper, middle, or lower registers.
  • A resonance
    Resonance
    In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at a greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. These are known as the system's resonant frequencies...

     area such as chest voice
    Chest voice
    Chest voice is a term used within vocal music. The use of this term varies widely within vocal pedagogical circles and there is currently no one consistent opinion among vocal music professionals in regards to this term...

     or head voice
    Head voice
    Head voice is a term used within vocal music. The use of this term varies widely within vocal pedagogical circles and there is currently no one consistent opinion among vocal music professionals regarding this term...

    .
  • A phonatory
    Phonation
    Phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, phonation is the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through quasi-periodic vibration. This is the definition used among those who study laryngeal anatomy and physiology...

     process (phonation is the process of producing vocal sound by the vibration of the vocal folds that is in turn modified by the resonance of the vocal tract)
  • A certain vocal timbre
    Timbre
    In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...

     or vocal "colour"
  • A region of the voice which is defined or delimited by vocal breaks.


In linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, a register language is a language which combines tone
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

 and vowel phonation
Phonation
Phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, phonation is the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through quasi-periodic vibration. This is the definition used among those who study laryngeal anatomy and physiology...

 into a single phonological
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 system. Within speech pathology the term vocal register has three constituent elements: a certain vibratory pattern of the vocal folds, a certain series of pitches, and a certain type of sound. Speech pathologists identify four vocal registers based on the physiology of laryngeal function: the vocal fry register
Vocal fry register
The vocal fry register , is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency...

, the modal register, the falsetto register, and the whistle register
Whistle register
The whistle register is the highest register of the human voice, lying above the modal register and falsetto register...

. This view is also adopted by many vocal pedagogists.

Vocal resonation




Vocal resonation is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air. Various terms related to the resonation process include amplification, enrichment, enlargement, improvement, intensification, and prolongation, although in strictly scientific usage acoustic authorities would question most of them. The main point to be drawn from these terms by a singer or speaker is that the end result of resonation is, or should be, to make a better sound. There are seven areas that may be listed as possible vocal resonators. In sequence from the lowest within the body to the highest, these areas are the chest
Chest
The chest is a part of the anatomy of humans and various other animals. It is sometimes referred to as the thorax or the bosom.-Chest anatomy - Humans and other hominids:...

, the tracheal tree
Vertebrate trachea
In tetrapod anatomy the trachea, or windpipe, is a tube that connects the pharynx or larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air. It is lined with pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium cells with goblet cells that produce mucus...

, the larynx
Larynx
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

 itself, the pharynx
Pharynx
The human pharynx is the part of the throat situated immediately posterior to the mouth and nasal cavity, and anterior to the esophagus and larynx. The human pharynx is conventionally divided into three sections: the nasopharynx , the oropharynx , and the laryngopharynx...

, the oral cavity, the nasal cavity
Nasal cavity
The nasal cavity is a large air filled space above and behind the nose in the middle of the face.- Function :The nasal cavity conditions the air to be received by the other areas of the respiratory tract...

, and the sinuses.

Chest voice and head voice



Chest voice and head voice are terms used within vocal music
Vocal music
Vocal music is a genre of music performed by one or more singers, with or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece. Music which employs singing but does not feature it prominently is generally considered instrumental music Vocal music is a genre of...

. The use of these terms varies widely within vocal pedagogical circles and there is currently no one consistent opinion among vocal music professionals in regards to these terms. Chest voice can be used in relation to a particular part of the vocal range
Vocal range
Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

 or type of vocal register; a vocal resonance area; or a specific vocal timbre. Head voice can be used in relation to a particular part of the vocal range
Vocal range
Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

 or type of vocal register or a vocal resonance area.

History and development


The first recorded mention of the terms chest voice and head voice was around the 13th century, when it was distinguished from the "throat voice" (pectoris, guttoris, capitis — at this time it is likely that head voice referred to the falsetto register) by the writers Johannes de Garlandia
Johannes de Garlandia (music theorist)
Johannes de Garlandia was a French music theorist of the late ars antiqua period of medieval music...

 and Jerome of Moravia
Jerome of Moravia
Jerome of Moravia was a medieval music theorist. He was a Dominican friar. His origin is unknown, but he is believed to have worked in Paris at the Dominican convent on the Rue Saint-Jacques...

. The terms were later adopted within bel canto
Bel canto
Bel canto , along with a number of similar constructions , is an Italian opera term...

, the Italian opera singing method, where chest voice was identified as the lowest and head voice the highest of three vocal registers: the chest, passagio and head registers. This approach is still taught by some vocal pedagogists today. Another current popular approach that is based on the bel canto model is to divide both men and women's voices into three registers. Men's voices are divided into "chest register", "head register", and "falsetto register" and woman's voices into "chest register", "middle register", and "head register". Such pedagogists teach that the head register is a vocal technique used in singing to describe the resonance felt in the singer's head.

However as knowledge of human physiology has increased over the past two hundred years, so has the understanding of the physical process of singing and vocal production. As a result, many vocal pedagogists, such as Ralph Appelman at Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

 and William Vennard
William Vennard
William Vennard was a famous American vocal pedagogist who devoted his life to researching the human voice and its use in singing. He was one of the driving forces behind a major shift within the field of vocal pedagogy during the middle of the 20th century...

 at the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

, have redefined or even abandoned the use of the terms chest voice and head voice. In particular, the use of the terms chest register and head register have become controversial since vocal registration
Vocal registration
A vocal register is a particular series of tones in the human voice that are produced by one particular vibratory pattern of the vocal folds and therefore possess a common quality....

 is more commonly seen today as a product of laryngeal
Larynx
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

 function that is unrelated to the physiology of the chest, lungs, and head. For this reason, many vocal pedagogists argue that it is meaningless to speak of registers being produced in the chest or head. They argue that the vibratory sensations which are felt in these areas are resonance phenomena and should be described in terms related to vocal resonance, not to registers. These vocal pedagogists prefer the terms chest voice and head voice over the term register. This view believes that the problems which people identify as register problems are really problems of resonance adjustment. This view is also in alignment with the views of other academic fields that study vocal registration including: speech pathology, phonetics
Phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

, and linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

. Although both methods are still in use, current vocal pedagogical practice tends to adopt the newer more scientific view. Also, some vocal pedagogists take ideas from both viewpoints.

The contemporary use of the term chest voice often refers to a specific kind of vocal coloration or vocal timbre. In classical singing, its use is limited entirely to the lower part of the modal register or normal voice. Within other forms of singing, chest voice is often applied throughout the modal register. Chest timbre can add a wonderful array of sounds to a singer's vocal interpretive palette.
However, the use of overly strong chest voice in the higher registers in an attempt to hit higher notes in the chest can lead to forcing. Forcing can lead consequently to vocal deterioration.

Classifying singing voices


In European classical music and opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

, voices are treated like musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s. Composers who write vocal music must have an understanding of the skills, talents, and vocal properties of singers. Voice classification is the process by which human singing voices are evaluated and are thereby designated into voice types. These qualities include but are not limited to: vocal range
Vocal range
Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

, vocal weight
Vocal weight
Vocal weight refers to the perceived "lightness" or "heaviness" of a singing voice. This quality of the voice is one of the major determining factors in voice classification within classical music...

, vocal tessitura, vocal timbre
Timbre
In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...

, and vocal transition points such as breaks and lifts within the voice. Other considerations are physical characteristics, speech level, scientific testing, and vocal registration
Vocal registration
A vocal register is a particular series of tones in the human voice that are produced by one particular vibratory pattern of the vocal folds and therefore possess a common quality....

. The science behind voice classification developed within European classical music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 has been slow in adapting to more modern forms of singing. Voice classification is often used within opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 to associate possible roles with potential voices. There are currently several different systems in use within classical music including: the German Fach
Fach
The German Fach system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices...

system and the choral music system among many others. No system is universally applied or accepted.

However, most classical music systems acknowledge seven different major voice categories. Women are typically divided into three groups: soprano
Soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano
A mezzo-soprano is a type of classical female singing voice whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto singing voices, usually extending from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above...

, and contralto
Contralto
Contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, with the lowest tessitura, falling between tenor and mezzo-soprano. It typically ranges between the F below middle C to the second G above middle C , although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C or the second B above...

. Men are usually divided into four groups: countertenor
Countertenor
A countertenor is a male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of a contralto, mezzo-soprano, or a soprano, usually through use of falsetto, or far more rarely than normal, modal voice. A pre-pubescent male who has this ability is called a treble...

, tenor
Tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

, baritone
Baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

, and bass. When considering voices of pre-pubescent children an eighth term, treble
Boy soprano
A boy soprano is a young male singer with an unchanged voice in the soprano range. Although a treble, or choirboy, may also be considered to be a boy soprano, the more colloquial term boy soprano is generally only used for boys who sing, perform, or record as soloists, and who may not necessarily...

, can be applied. Within each of these major categories there are several sub-categories that identify specific vocal qualities like coloratura
Coloratura
Coloratura has several meanings. The word is originally from Italian, literally meaning "coloring", and derives from the Latin word colorare . When used in English, the term specifically refers to elaborate melody, particularly in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and...

 facility and vocal weight
Vocal weight
Vocal weight refers to the perceived "lightness" or "heaviness" of a singing voice. This quality of the voice is one of the major determining factors in voice classification within classical music...

 to differentiate between voices.

It should be noted that within choral music, singers' voices are divided solely on the basis of vocal range
Vocal range
Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

. Choral music most commonly divides vocal parts into high and low voices within each sex (SATB, or soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). As a result, the typical choral situation affords many opportunities for misclassification to occur. Since most people have medium voices, they must be assigned to a part that is either too high or too low for them; the mezzo-soprano must sing soprano or alto and the baritone must sing tenor or bass. Either option can present problems for the singer, but for most singers there are fewer dangers in singing too low than in singing too high.

Within contemporary forms of music (sometimes referred to as Contemporary Commercial Music
Contemporary Commercial Music
Contemporary Commercial Music or CCM is a term used by some vocal pedagogists in the United States of America to refer to non-classical music. This term encompasses jazz, pop, blues, soul, country, folk, and rock styles....

), singers are classified by the style of music they sing, such as jazz, pop, blues, soul, country, folk, and rock styles. There is currently no authoritative voice classification system within non-classical music. Attempts have been made to adopt classical voice type terms to other forms of singing but such attempts have been met with controversy. The development of voice categorizations were made with the understanding that the singer would be using classical vocal technique within a specified range using unamplified (no microphones) vocal production. Since contemporary musicians use different vocal techniques, microphones, and are not forced to fit into a specific vocal role, applying such terms as soprano, tenor, baritone, etc. can be misleading or even inaccurate.

Vocal pedagogy




Vocal pedagogy is the study of the teaching of singing. The art and science of vocal pedagogy has a long history that began in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

and continues to develop and change today. Professions that practice the art and science of vocal pedagogy include vocal coaches, choral directors, vocal music educators
Music education
Music education is a field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music. It touches on all domains of learning, including the psychomotor domain , the cognitive domain , and, in particular and significant ways,the affective domain, including music appreciation and sensitivity...

, opera directors, and other teachers of singing.

Vocal pedagogy concepts are a part of developing proper vocal technique. Typical areas of study include the following:
  • Human anatomy
    Human anatomy
    Human anatomy is primarily the scientific study of the morphology of the human body. Anatomy is subdivided into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy is the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by the naked eye...

     and physiology
    Human physiology
    Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. Physiology focuses principally at the level of organs and systems...

     as it relates to the physical process of singing
    • Vocal health and voice disorders related to singing
    • Breathing and air support for singing
    • Phonation
      Phonation
      Phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, phonation is the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through quasi-periodic vibration. This is the definition used among those who study laryngeal anatomy and physiology...

    • Vocal resonation
      Vocal resonation
      Vocal resonation is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air...

       or Voice projection
      Voice projection
      Voice projection is the strength of speaking or singing whereby the voice is used loudly and clearly. It is a technique which can be employed to demand respect and attention, such as when a teacher is talking to the class, or simply to be heard clearly, as an actor in a theatre.Breath technique is...

    • Vocal registration
      Vocal registration
      A vocal register is a particular series of tones in the human voice that are produced by one particular vibratory pattern of the vocal folds and therefore possess a common quality....

      : a particular series of tones, produced in the same vibratory pattern of the vocal folds, and possessing the same quality, which originate in laryngeal function, because each of these vibratory patterns appears within a particular range of pitches and produces certain characteristic sounds.
    • Voice classification

  • Vocal styles: for Classical singers, this includes styles ranging from Lieder to opera
    Opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

    ; for pop singers, styles can include "belted out"
    Belt (music)
    Belting refers to a specific technique of singing by which a singer produces a loud sound in the upper middle of the pitch range. It is often described as a vocal register although some dispute this since technically the larynx is not oscillating in a unique way...

     a blues ballads; for jazz singers, styles can include Swing ballads and scatting.
    • Techniques used in styles such as sostenuto
      Sostenuto
      In music, sostenuto is a term from Italian which means "sustained." It occasionally implies a slowing of tempo, though more often it refers to a very legato style in which the notes are performed in a sustained manner beyond their normal values....

       and legato
      Legato
      In musical notation the Italian word legato indicates that musical notes are played or sung smoothly and connected. That is, in transitioning from note to note, there should be no intervening silence...

      , range extension, tone quality, vibrato
      Vibrato
      Vibrato is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation and the speed with which the pitch is varied .-Vibrato and...

      , and coloratura
      Coloratura
      Coloratura has several meanings. The word is originally from Italian, literally meaning "coloring", and derives from the Latin word colorare . When used in English, the term specifically refers to elaborate melody, particularly in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and...


Vocal technique


Singing when done with proper vocal technique is an integrated and coordinated act that effectively coordinates the physical processes of singing. There are four physical processes involved in producing vocal sound: respiration
Breathing
Breathing is the process that moves air in and out of the lungs. Aerobic organisms require oxygen to release energy via respiration, in the form of the metabolism of energy-rich molecules such as glucose. Breathing is only one process that delivers oxygen to where it is needed in the body and...

, phonation
Phonation
Phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, phonation is the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through quasi-periodic vibration. This is the definition used among those who study laryngeal anatomy and physiology...

, resonation
Vocal resonation
Vocal resonation is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air...

, and articulation
Place of articulation
In articulatory phonetics, the place of articulation of a consonant is the point of contact where an obstruction occurs in the vocal tract between an articulatory gesture, an active articulator , and a passive location...

. These processes occur in the following sequence:
  1. Breath is taken
  2. Sound is initiated in the larynx
    Larynx
    The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...

  3. The vocal resonators receive the sound and influence it
  4. The articulators shape the sound into recognizable units

Although these four processes are often considered separately when studied, in actual practice they merge into one coordinated function. With an effective singer or speaker, one should rarely be reminded of the process involved as their mind and body are so coordinated that one only perceives the resulting unified function. Many vocal problems result from a lack of coordination within this process.

Since singing is a coordinated act, it is difficult to discuss any of the individual technical areas and processes without relating them to the others. For example, phonation only comes into perspective when it is connected with respiration; the articulators affect resonance; the resonators affect the vocal folds; the vocal folds affect breath control; and so forth. Vocal problems are often a result of a breakdown in one part of this coordinated process which causes voice teachers to frequently focus in intensively on one area of the process with their student until that issue is resolved. However, some areas of the art of singing are so much the result of coordinated functions that it is hard to discuss them under a traditional heading like phonation, resonation, articulation, or respiration.

Once the voice student has become aware of the physical processes that make up the act of singing and of how those processes function, the student begins the task of trying to coordinate them. Inevitably, students and teachers will become more concerned with one area of the technique than another. The various processes may progress at different rates, with a resulting imbalance or lack of coordination. The areas of vocal technique which seem to depend most strongly on the student's ability to coordinate various functions are:
  1. Extending the vocal range
    Vocal range
    Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study...

     to its maximum potential
  2. Developing consistent vocal production with a consistent tone quality
  3. Developing flexibility and agility
  4. Achieving a balanced vibrato
    Vibrato
    Vibrato is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation and the speed with which the pitch is varied .-Vibrato and...


Developing the singing voice


Singing is a skill that requires highly developed muscle reflexes. Singing does not require much muscle strength but it does require a high degree of muscle coordination. Individuals can develop their voices further through the careful and systematic practice of both songs and vocal exercises. Vocal pedagogists instruct their students to exercise their voices in an intelligent manner. Singers should be thinking constantly about the kind of sound they are making and the kind of sensations they are feeling while they are singing. Vocal exercises have several purposes, including warming up the voice; extending the vocal range; "lining up" the voice horizontally and vertically; and acquiring vocal techniques such as legato, staccato, control of dynamics, rapid figurations, learning to sing wide intervals comfortably, singing trills, singing melismas and correcting vocal faults.
Extending vocal range

An important goal of vocal development is to learn to sing to the natural limits of one's vocal range without any obvious or distracting changes of quality or technique. Vocal pedagogists teach that a singer can only achieve this goal when all of the physical processes involved in singing (such as laryngeal action, breath support, resonance adjustment, and articulatory movement) are effectively working together. Most vocal pedagogists believe in coordinating these processes by (1) establishing good vocal habits in the most comfortable tessitura of the voice, and then (2) slowly expanding the range.

There are three factors that significantly affect the ability to sing higher or lower:
  1. The energy factor — "energy" has several connotations. It refers to the total response of the body to the making of sound; to a dynamic relationship between the breathing-in muscles and the breathing-out muscles known as the breath support mechanism; to the amount of breath pressure delivered to the vocal folds and their resistance to that pressure; and to the dynamic level of the sound.
  2. The space factor — "space" refers to the size of the inside of the mouth and the position of the palate and larynx. Generally speaking, a singer's mouth should be opened wider the higher he or she sings. The internal space or position of the soft palate and larynx can be widened by relaxing the throat. Vocal pedagogists describe this as feeling like the "beginning of a yawn".
  3. The depth factor — "depth" has two connotations. It refers to the actual physical sensations of depth in the body and vocal mechanism, and to mental concepts of depth that are related to tone quality.


McKinney says, "These three factors can be expressed in three basic rules: (1) As you sing higher, you must use more energy; as you sing lower, you must use less. (2) As you sing higher, you must use more space; as you sing lower, you must use less. (3) As you sing higher, you must use more depth; as you sing lower, you must use less."
Posture

The singing process functions best when certain physical conditions of the body exist. The ability to move air in and out of the body freely and to obtain the needed quantity of air can be seriously affected by the posture of the various parts of the breathing mechanism. A sunken chest position will limit the capacity of the lungs, and a tense abdominal wall will inhibit the downward travel of the diaphragm. Good posture allows the breathing mechanism to fulfill its basic function efficiently without any undue expenditure of energy. Good posture also makes it easier to initiate phonation and to tune the resonators as proper alignment prevents unnecessary tension in the body. Vocal pedagogists have also noted that when singers assume good posture it often provides them with a greater sense of self assurance and poise while performing. Audiences also tend to respond better to singers with good posture. Habitual good posture also ultimately improves the overall health of the body by enabling better blood circulation and preventing fatigue and stress on the body.

There are eight components of the ideal singing posture:
  1. Feet slightly apart
  2. Legs straight but knees unlocked
  3. Hips facing straight forward
  4. Spine aligned
  5. Abdomen flat
  6. Chest comfortably forward
  7. Shoulders down and back
  8. Head facing straight forward

Breathing and breath support

Natural breathing has three stages: a breathing-in period, a breathing out period, and a resting or recovery period; these stages are not usually consciously controlled. Within singing there are four stages of breathing: a breathing-in period (inhalation); a setting up controls period (suspension);a controlled exhalation period (phonation); and a recovery period.

These stages must be under conscious control by the singer until they become conditioned reflexes. Many singers abandon conscious controls before their reflexes are fully conditioned which ultimately leads to chronic vocal problems.
Vibrato

Vibrato
Vibrato
Vibrato is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation and the speed with which the pitch is varied .-Vibrato and...

 is used by singers in which a sustained note wavers very quickly and consistently between a higher and a lower pitch, giving the note a slight quaver. Vibrato is the pulse or wave in a sustained tone. Vibrato occurs naturally, and is the result of proper breath support and a relaxed vocal apparatus. Some singers use vibrato as a means of expression. Many successful artists have built a career on deep, rich vibrato.

Vocal music



Vocal music is music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 performed by one or more singers, with or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece. Vocal music is probably the oldest form of music, since it does not require any instrument besides the human voice
Human voice
The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

. All musical culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s have some form of vocal music and there are many long standing singing traditions throughout the world's cultures.

Music which employs singing but does not feature it prominently is generally considered as instrumental music. For example, some blues rock songs may have a simple call-and-response chorus, but the emphasis in the song is on the instrumental melodies and improvisation. Vocal music typically features sung words called lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

, although there are notable examples of vocal music that are performed using non-linguistic syllables or noises, sometimes as musical onomatopoeia. A short piece of vocal music with lyrics is broadly termed a song
Song
In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

.

Genres of vocal music




Vocal music is written in many different forms and styles which are often labeled within a particular genre of music. These genres include: Art music
Art music
Art music is an umbrella term used to refer to musical traditions implying advanced structural and theoretical considerations and a written musical tradition...

, Popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

, Traditional music
Traditional music
Traditional music is the term increasingly used for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article...

, regional and national music, and fusions of those genres. Within these larger genres are many sub-genres. For example, popular music would encompass blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

, jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

, easy listening
Easy listening
Easy listening is a broad style of popular music and radio format that emerged in the 1950s, evolving out of big band music, and related to MOR music as played on many AM radio stations. It encompasses the exotica, beautiful music, light music, lounge music, ambient music, and space age pop genres...

, hip hop
Hip hop
Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing...

, rock music
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

, and several other genres. There may also be a sub-genre within a sub-genre such as vocalese
Vocalese
Vocalese is a style or genre of jazz singing wherein lyrics are written for melodies that were originally part of an all-instrumental composition or improvisation. Whereas scat singing uses improvised nonsense syllables, such as "bap ba dee dot bwee dee" in solos, vocalese uses lyrics, either...

 and scat singing
Scat singing
In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. Scat singing gives singers the ability to sing improvised melodies and rhythms, to create the equivalent of an instrumental solo using their voice.- Structure and syllable choice...

 in jazz.

Popular and traditional music


In many modern pop musical groups, a lead singer performs the primary vocals or melody
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 of a song
Song
In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

, as opposed to a backing singer
Backing vocalist
A backing vocalist or backing singer is a singer who provides vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists...

 who sings backup vocals or the harmony
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 of a song. Backing vocalists sing some, but usually not all, parts of the song often singing only in a song's refrain or humming in the background. An exception is five-part gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

 a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

 music, where the lead is the highest of the five voices and sings a descant
Descant
Descant or discant can refer to several different things in music, depending on the period in question; etymologically, the word means a voice above or removed from others....

, and not the melody
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

. Some artists may sing both the lead and backing vocals on audio recordings by overlapping recorded vocal tracks.

Popular music includes a range of vocal styles. Hip-hop uses rapping
Rapping
Rapping refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics". The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” , and “delivery”...

, the rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

ic delivery of rhyme
Rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

s in a rhythmic speech over a beat or without accompaniment. Some types of rapping consist mostly or entirely of speech and chanting, like the Jamaican "toasting". In some types of rapping, the performers may interpolate short sung or half-sung passages. Blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 singing is based on the use of the blue note
Blue note
In jazz and blues, a blue note is a note sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes. Typically the alteration is a semitone or less, but this varies among performers and genres. Country blues, in particular, features wide variations from the...

s–notes sung at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes. In heavy metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 and hardcore punk
Hardcore punk
Hardcore punk is an underground music genre that originated in the late 1970s, following the mainstream success of punk rock. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A...

 subgenres, vocal styles can include techniques such as screams, shouts, and unusual sounds such as the "death growl
Death growl
A death growl, also known as death metal vocals, guttural vocals, death grunts, and harsh vocals among other names, is a vocalisation style usually employed by vocalists of the death metal and black metal music genre, but also used in a variety of heavy metal and hardcore punk subgenres.Death...

".

One difference between live performances in the popular and Classical genres is that whereas Classical performers often sing without amplification in small- to mid-size halls, in popular music, a microphone
Microphone
A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. In 1877, Emile Berliner invented the first microphone used as a telephone voice transmitter...

 and PA system (amplifier and speakers) are used in almost all performance venues, even a small coffee house. The use of the microphone has had several impacts on popular music. For one, it facilitated the development of intimate, expressive singing styles such as "crooning" which would not have enough projection and volume if done without a microphone. As well, pop singers who use microphones can do a range of other vocal styles that would not project without amplification, such as making whispering sounds, humming, and mixing half-sung and sung tones. As well, some performers use the microphone's response patterns to create effects, such as bringing the mic very close to the mouth to get an enhanced bass response, or, in the case of hip-hop beatboxers, doing plosive "p" and "b" sounds into the mic to create percussive effects.

While some bands use backup singers who only sing when they are onstage, it is common for backup singers in popular music to have other roles. In many rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 and metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 bands, the musicians doing backup vocals also play instruments, such as rhythm guitar
Rhythm guitar
Rhythm guitar is a technique and rôle that performs a combination of two functions: to provide all or part of the rhythmic pulse in conjunction with singers or other instruments; and to provide all or part of the harmony, ie. the chords, where a chord is a group of notes played together...

, electric bass, or drums. In Latin or Afro-Cuban groups, backup singers may play percussion instruments or shakers while singing. In some pop and hip-hop groups and in musical theater, the backup singers may be required to perform elaborately choreographed dance routines while they sing through headset microphones.

Careers in singing


The salaries and working conditions for vocalists vary a great deal. While jobs in other music fields such as music education tend to be based on full-time, salaried positions, singing jobs tend to be based on contracts for individual shows or performances, or for a sequence of shows (e.g., a two-week series of performances of an opera or musical theater show). Since income from singing jobs can be unsteady, singers often supplement their performing income with other singing-related jobs, such as vocal coaching, voice lessons, or as working as a choral director in a church. Due to the large number of aspiring vocalists, it can be very competitive to get jobs in singing.

Church choir soloists can make from $30 to $500 per performance (all figures in US dollars). Performers in a community choral group can earn from $200–$3,000 yearly; members of a professional concert choral group can make $80 and up per performance. Singers who perform on radio or TV shows can make $75 and up per show on a local station and $125 and up per national network show (e.g., CBS or NBC). Jazz or pop singers who perform with dance bands or nightclub show groups can make $225 and up per week. Professional opera chorus singers can make from $350–$750 per week. Opera soloists, for which the number of job openings is very limited, can make from $350 to $20,000 per performance for the most elite performers. Classical concert soloists, for which the number of job openings is very limited, have approximate earnings of $350 per performance and up.

Aspiring singers and vocalists must have musical talent and skill, an excellent voice, the ability to work with people, and a sense of showmanship and drama. Additionally, singers need to have the ambition and drive to continually study and improve, because the process of studying singing does not end after an initial diploma or degree is finished-even decades after finishing their initial training, professional singers continue to seek out vocal coach
Vocal coach
A vocal coach is a music teacher who instructs singers on how to improve their singing technique, take care of and develop their voice, and prepare for the performance of a song or other work. Vocal coaches may give private music lessons to singers, or they may coach singers who are rehearsing on...

ing to hone their skills, extend their range, and learn new styles. As well, aspiring singers need to gain specialized skills in the vocal techniques used to interpret songs, learn about the vocal literature from their chosen style of music, and gain skills in choral music techniques, sight singing and memorizing songs, and basic skills at the piano, to aid in learning new songs and in ear training or vocal exercises. In Classical singing and in some other genres, a knowledge of foreign languages such as French, Italian, German, or other languages, is needed. Prior to college or university training, aspiring singers should learn to read music, study basic piano, and gain experience with singing, both in choirs and in solo settings.

College or university degrees are "not always required but the equivalent training is usually necessary". Post-secondary training in singing is available for both Classical and non-Classical singers. In the Classical stream, singing can be studied at conservatories and university music programs; credentials that are available range from diplomas and Bachelor's degrees to Master's degrees and the Doctor of Musical Arts
Doctor of Musical Arts
The Doctor of Musical Arts degree is a doctoral academic degree in music. The D.M.A. combines advanced studies in an applied area of specialization with graduate-level academic study in subjects such as music history, music theory, or music pedagogy. The D.M.A...

. In popular and jazz styles, college and university degrees are also available, though there are fewer programs.

Once aspiring vocalists have completed their professional training, they must then take steps to market themselves to buyers of vocal talent, by doing audition
Audition
An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performing artist.Audition may also refer to:* The sense of hearing* Adobe Audition, audio editing software...

s in front of an opera director, choirmaster, or conductor. Depending on the style of vocal music that a person has trained in, the "talent buyers" that they seek out may be record company A&R representatives, opera or musical theater directors, choir directors, nightclub managers, or concert promoters. In addition preparing a resume or CV listing their training and performance experience, singers typically prepare a promotional kit that includes professionally taken photographs (head shot
Head shot
A head shot is a photographic technique where the focus of the photograph is a person's face. Headshot is essentially the same as portrait. However, headshot is an image that portrays people as they are and is more of a "mug shot", however simple or stylized it might be. Whereas, a portrait will...

s); a CD or DVD with excerpts of vocal performances; and copies of reviews from music critics or journalists. Some singers hire an agent or manager to help them to seek out engagements and other performance opportunities; the agent or manager is often paid by receiving a percentage of the fees that the singer gets from performing onstage.

Health benefits


Scientific studies suggest that singing can have positive effects on people's health. A preliminary study based on self-reported data from a survey of students participating in choral singing found perceived benefits including increased lung capacity, improved mood, stress reduction, as well as perceived social and spiritual benefits. However, one much older study of lung capacity compared those with professional vocal training to those without, and failed to back up the claims of increased lung capacity. Singing may positively influence the immune system
Immune system
An immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from the organism's own...

 through the reduction of stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

. One study found that both singing and listening to choral music reduces the level of stress hormones and increases immune function. A multinational collaboration to study the connection between singing and health was established in 2009, called Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS).

Singing in non-human species


Scholars agree that singing is strongly present in many non-human species. Wide dispersal of singing behavior among very different animal species (like bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, gibbon
Gibbon
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae . The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates , Hoolock , Nomascus , and Symphalangus . The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related...

s, whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s, and human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s) strongly suggests that singing appeared independently in different species. Currently there are about 5400 species of animals that can sing. At least some singing species demonstrate the ability to learn
LEARN
LEARN may refer to:* Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network, a website run by the Anti-Defamation League* LEARN diet, a brand name diet product...

 their songs, to improvise and even to compose
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 new melodies. In some animal species singing is a group activity (see, for example, singing in gibbon
Gibbon
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae . The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates , Hoolock , Nomascus , and Symphalangus . The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related...

 families.)

Singing in different natural environments


Joseph Jordania
Joseph Jordania
Joseph Jordania is an Australian-Georgian ethnomusicologist and evolutionary musicologist. In some early publications his name was spelled as Zhordania...

 suggested that singing behavior is very unevenly distributed among animal species, living in different environments (on the ground, in the water, in trees). Most of the singing species live on the trees (like many bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 species, or gibbons
Gibbons
Notable people named Gibbons include:* Alan Gibbons, a British author* Beth Gibbons , a British singer* Billy Gibbons, a guitarist for ZZ Top* Carroll Gibbons , an American-born British bandleader...

), some live in the water (whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s, dolphin
Dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

s, seal
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

s, sea lion
Sea Lion
Sea lions are pinnipeds characterized by external ear-flaps, long fore-flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, and short thick hair. Together with the fur seal, they comprise the family Otariidae, or eared seals. There are six extant and one extinct species in five genera...

s), and there are no animal species who live on the ground and sing except for human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s. This uneven distribution of singing can be crucial for our understanding of the origins of the singing behavior in animals and humans. Jordania
Jordânia
Jordânia is a Brazilian municipality located in the northeast of the state of Minas Gerais. The city belongs to the mesoregion of Jequitinhonha and to the microregion of Almenara. As of 2007 the population was 10,751 in a total area of 549 km²....

 explains this fact as the result of the pressure from natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

. Singing is a very costly behavior, not only because of the energy to produce sounds, but primarily for the security
Security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

 reasons, as all the possible predators can easily learn the whereabouts of a singing animal. Singing species that live on the trees are in a much more favourable situation, as trees allow different species to live according to their body weight. So different animals with different body weight live on different "levels" of the tree branches. For example, a 50 kilo leopard can see and hear the sounds produced by a 15 kilo monkey, but as a lighter monkey can live much higher on the tree branches, it is out of reach of a heavier leopard. Therefore tree living (or arboreal) species feel quite secure to sing or to communicate with a wide range of vocal signals. On the other hand, all the ground living (or terrestrial
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...

) animal species, despite the huge weight differences between them (ranging from rabbit
Rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

s to lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

s and elephant
Elephant
Elephants are large land mammals in two extant genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta, with the third genus Mammuthus extinct...

s) live on the same "ground level", and maintaining silence is crucially important for them. Even most of the birds, the most ardent singers, stop singing and producing other sounds when they sit on the ground. Therefore, predator threat might be a primary reason why tree living species are generally much noisier than ground living species.

See also: art music



  • A cappella
    A cappella
    A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

  • Aria
    Aria
    An aria in music was originally any expressive melody, usually, but not always, performed by a singer. The term is now used almost exclusively to describe a self-contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment...

  • Bel canto
    Bel canto
    Bel canto , along with a number of similar constructions , is an Italian opera term...

  • Chanson
    Chanson
    A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

  • Chiaroscuro (music)
    Chiaroscuro (music)
    Chiaroscuro is part of bel canto classical singing technique, originating in Italy, in which a brilliant sound referred to as squillo is coupled with the dark timbre produced in the singer's natural hollows and cavities. Chiaroscuro is commonly used in Opera...

  • Choral music

  • Fach
    Fach
    The German Fach system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices...

  • Group singing
  • Human voice
    Human voice
    The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

  • Opera
    Opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

  • Overtone singing
    Overtone singing
    Overtone singing, also known as overtone chanting, or harmonic singing, is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody.The partials of a sound wave made by the human voice can be...

  • Recitative
    Recitative
    Recitative , also known by its Italian name "recitativo" , is a style of delivery in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech...

  • Singer–songwriter
    Singer–songwriter
    Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose and sing their own musical material including lyrics and melodies. As opposed to contemporary popular music singers who write their own songs, the term singer-songwriter describes a distinct form of artistry, closely associated with the...


  • Sprechgesang
    Sprechgesang
    Sprechgesang and Sprechstimme are musical terms used to refer to an expressionist vocal technique between singing and speaking. Though sometimes used interchangeably, sprechgesang is a term directly related to the operatic recitative manner of singing , whereas sprechstimme is...

  • Throat singing
  • Voice pedagogy
  • Voice projection
    Voice projection
    Voice projection is the strength of speaking or singing whereby the voice is used loudly and clearly. It is a technique which can be employed to demand respect and attention, such as when a teacher is talking to the class, or simply to be heard clearly, as an actor in a theatre.Breath technique is...

  • Voice type
    Voice type
    A voice type is a particular kind of human singing voice perceived as having certain identifying qualities or characteristics. Voice classification is the process by which human voices are evaluated and are thereby designated into voice types...

  • Yodeling
    Yodeling
    Yodeling is a form of singing that involves singing an extended note which rapidly and repeatedly changes in pitch from the vocal or chest register to the falsetto/head register; making a high-low-high-low sound.The English word yodel is derived from a German word jodeln meaning "to...

  • Winsingad
    Winsingad
    WinSingad is "Microsoft Windows" based software for singing training.- Description :WinSingad is software for singing training. It started life as SINGAD, which stands for "SINGing Assessment and Development", running on a "BBC micro" and it was designed for use in the "primary school" to develop...



See also: popular music

  • Beat boxing
  • Belt (music)
    Belt (music)
    Belting refers to a specific technique of singing by which a singer produces a loud sound in the upper middle of the pitch range. It is often described as a vocal register although some dispute this since technically the larynx is not oscillating in a unique way...

  • Death growl
    Death growl
    A death growl, also known as death metal vocals, guttural vocals, death grunts, and harsh vocals among other names, is a vocalisation style usually employed by vocalists of the death metal and black metal music genre, but also used in a variety of heavy metal and hardcore punk subgenres.Death...

  • Humming
  • Lead vocalist
    Lead vocalist
    The lead vocalist is the member of a band who sings the main vocal portions of a song. They may also play one or more instruments. Lead vocalists are sometimes referred to as the frontman or frontwoman, and as such, are usually considered to be the "leader" of the groups they perform in, often the...

  • Rapping
    Rapping
    Rapping refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics". The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” , and “delivery”...

  • Screaming (music)
    Screaming (music)
    Screaming is a vocal technique that is most popular in subgenres of heavy metal, punk and hard rock, including metalcore, deathcore, post-hardcore, groove metal, black metal, and grindcore...

  • Vocoder
    Vocoder
    A vocoder is an analysis/synthesis system, mostly used for speech. In the encoder, the input is passed through a multiband filter, each band is passed through an envelope follower, and the control signals from the envelope followers are communicated to the decoder...


External links