Everything You Need to Know About Vocal Modes

Voice is the most beautiful instrument as mankind was endowed with a voice even before the invention of the practical instruments. Though voice is used for both speaking and singing, the singing voice is more complex than that of the speaking voice. To develop the singing voice, one has to get the complete knowledge about the vocal technique.

Vocal technique starts with breathingAccording to the complete vocal technique, the vocal modes can be categorized into four important parts-neutral, curbing, overdrive, and edge. These four modes are equally important for both the singing voice and the speaking voice. Singing is not that difficult for anyone, and anyone can learn to sing if they follow the proper singing technique. The following are the four main points on which a singer has to work to produce flawless singing.

  • To choose the right gear for singing.
  • To ensure that the sound produced is lighter and darker.
  • To go for a specific sound effect.
  • To produce a healthy sound.

Initially, the vocal modes are classified as Physical vocal mode and the Acoustic vocal mode. It is very important for a singer to have a clear knowledge of these two initial vocal modes.

Physical Vocal Modes

Physical modes are the different unique configurations where the larynx in your throat can stay at a position to create a specific sound color. It is said that the shape of the vocal track greatly impacts the sound color of the voice.

There are eight special physiological configurations in which larynx and the muscles in and around the voice can be put together to produce a specific sound. These vocal modes not only help the singers to sound better but they also help them to understand the vocal mechanism.

The following are the eight major physical vocal modes which have a different configuration and characteristics, and which help the singers to distinguish between the different vocal modes separately.

  • Speech mode
  • Sob
  • Opera
  • Falsetto
  • Quack
  • Belting
  • Distortion
  • Twang

Acoustic Vocal Modes

Another important type of voice mode is the acoustic vocal mode. They are also equally important as the physical vocal mode. Unlike the physical vocal modes, they are more familiar with the use of vowels. So, they too have the same characteristics of sound. Hence, both these forms of vocal modes are equally important for the singers to understand the use of vowels in singing.

Some of the singing vowels are so simple that they come by own just by using one’s intuition, while others are a little tricky or exotic in nature. So, a good singer must always remember that singing is based on acoustics, and the singer must emphasize on the proper singing vowels.

Singing Vowel Families

Vocal technique starts with breathingIn order to sing and play smoothly one has to pronounce the vowels clearly and differently. To match one vowel to another, there must be no tension in the face or tone, lips, jaw, and tongue. In fact, vowels are more important than the consonants while you are singing. Each vowel has a distinct sound and color. So, the person with a good singing knowledge must also work seriously on the singing vowels which are discussed below. The singing vowels are divided into the following groups for a better understanding.

  • Curving Vowels- As the word ‘curb’ signifies to hold, and to control, this sound quality is somewhat plaintive and restrained in nature. It can be classified as a ‘half-metallic’ sound. The vowel of this category seems to sound low behind the head. So, a kind of jazzy sound is produced through the curving vowels. No air can be added to the curbing vowels even if it is tried it may lead to strain the voice.
  • Edging Vowels- This type of sound is more aggressive with produces a screamy effect.  And so, it is categorized as ‘full-metallic’. The vowels of this group produce a sound which has a forward resonance, and so sound becomes heavier and bold. To make this point clear, you do twang when you sing curbing vowels, but your twang becomes harder when you sing edging vowels.
  • Neutral Vowels- It can be defined as a sound quality which is soft in nature having a breathy quality. It can also be classified as a ‘non-metallic’ sound. As the word neutral suggest, the vowels in this category fall in the middle path. These vowels neither sound from behind nor forward the head. All parts of the voice, all vowels, and all sound texture can be neutrally used by both the men and the women.
  • Overdrive Vowels- It can also be classified as ‘full-metallic’. Its character is generally loud, direct, and shouted. For example, when you call someone in the street what type of sound do you produce? It seems to be loud, direct and non-breathy sound like “hey”.

Similarly, in terms of pitch also overdrive is the only limited mode, especially limited for the women. There is no upper or lower limit. To learn the intricacies of the vocal modes and master them, join good private singing classes and practice with the professionals.

The main part of the Complete Vocal Technique or CVT is to categorize a voice into one of the four vocal modes. Though these vocal modes have a different characteristic of sound every voice quality fits into any one of these vocal modes.

The vocal modes also differ in terms of density so; one can develop a more advanced understanding of the vocal modes by looking at the densities of the different vocal modes.

It is important for a singer to know both the advantages and disadvantages of each of the vocal modes in order to produce brilliant music. When a singer has a good knowledge of these four vocal modes, they can move technically and freely in and out in every stream of music. At the same time, they can also avoid any kind of vocal problems. These vocal modes are the main pillars for every singer as all of them have to use these vocal modes in all musical styles all over the world.