If you’re seeking to polish your act, you may be wondering, how do I improve my singing dynamics?
Using vocal dynamics in singing can greatly enhance your performance. It’s a toolbox that all artists can draw upon to bring a song to life, convey emotion, add drama and avoid becoming static on stage – from both a physical and musical perspective.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what it is and how you can incorporate dynamics into your vocals.
Vocal dynamics in singing
Firstly, let’s start with what this term actually means. Dynamics derives from the Greek word “dynamo”. This translates as “power”. In musical terms, we often define and identify vocal dynamics in singing as being the volume of the voice, namely the variation between notes. But this ‘power’ in your vocals can extend much further and bring light and shade to your singing.
Vocal dynamics in singing
For professional singers, how well they use dynamics to improve their voice and performance is a matter of control. A microphone will only get you so far, as the most skilled singers in the world are able to project their voice across a room without the need for amplification.
Vocal or singing dynamics is the practice of controlling vocal volume, impact and effect. It goes beyond simply singing loudly and quietly. Dynamics also includes phrasing, pronunciation, silences and rests. It is perhaps most noticeable when singers are performing with no backing track and the voice is laid bare.
What is voice dynamics?
Dynamics are often misunderstood. In the context of vocals, it equates to the quality of your changes to the sound, such as switching from soft to loud singing. A dynamic singer is able to create a performance that will set them apart from the amateurs. If you can master dynamics in your singing, it will help you project intensity, feeling, and an extra layer to your vocal performance. There are many ways to incorporate vocal dynamics into your performance, from simple things such as increasing volume and varied harmonies to changing phrases and delivery.
How do I improve my singing dynamics?
Messa di Voce is a common method that dynamic singers use to improve their vocals. Messa di Voce is an Italian saying that translates as “placing of voice”. It relates to how a performer can sing in a gradual crescendo and decrescendo on a long and sustained tone.
In practice, a dynamic singer will start singing quietly, gradually increasing the volume whilst retaining a smooth vocal, then bringing the vocals back down again. You can learn more about the technique by watching this tutorial.
Dynamic singers can use volume to bring out the emotion from the song in their performance. Many singers choose to increase the volume in their vocals when they hit the most emotional part of the song. But you should also consider decreasing noticeably at certain points. This allows for a greater effect when you turn it back up. You can also speed up and slow down certain phrases, within the confines of the music. As long as it scans and fits, you’re all good.
How do you add dynamics to a song?
Articulate through speed and tone as well as volume. If you’re singing a happy part of the song, try to reflect that by adding brightness to your sound. Sometimes this can be as simple as thinking upbeat thoughts while singing. Although it may not necessarily fit with the song as a whole, it will give an extra dynamic to your performance.
It can often be difficult to find ways to make your song stand out. Changing vowel shape can be a subtle way to do this. A good example is pronouncing ‘me’ as ‘may’ in an appropriate song; this can subtly add something unique to the performance and make your vocal dynamics distinctive.
Bes sure to include silence and rests in your performance too. It can be tempting to just focus on the sound and activity, but occasionally adding silences or rests it’s hugely effective. As a result, the vocals sound more impressive and add drama to your vocal dynamics and performance.
Equally, extending a phrase rather than keeping it short and taking a breath can often provide a new dynamic to the performance. This can help to show off your vocals.
If you’re a solo singer, why not find some backup singers for your act. This way you can incorporate some harmonies and layers to your sound. You could even record yourself singing the other parts and add them onto your backing track. It’ll make you even more impressive and diverse as a vocalist (and it’ll save you the hassle of hiring others to do it for you).
Voice dynamics and dynamics in music
Bear in mind that song dynamics don’t just come from you. Music is written with dynamics in mind. If you read music, you’ll understand that some phrases are noted as ‘pianissimo’ or ‘fortissimo’ (‘p’ or ‘f’ on the score). These mean – very softly and very loudly, respectively. So you don’t always need to invent dynamics.
They’re already written right there in the music in some cases. Similarly, if you’re using backing music, you may find it gets louder or softer, becomes more animates, speeds up, slows down, or pauses. Use this as a guide to your own dynamics.
Singing in exactly the same way throughout the song risks it becoming repetitive. Now many pop songs play on their repetition and are designed to be so in order to be easily singable and catchy for the listener. But by including dynamics in the right places, you stop the performance being just a loop of the first verse and chorus, which can become quite dull and boring.
You don’t have to use all of these techniques in one song. In fact, doing so could sound a bit chaotic and not all of them will be appropriate for every song. Instead of packing them in, consider how each of these dynamics might enhance your performance. Similarly, not all of these vocal dynamics will be suitable for every singer’s style of vocal. It’s wise to know which ones suit your vocals and which ones don’t work for your vocal.
- What is ‘crescendo’ in singing?
This is where the song/your voice gradually builds in volume to reach its loudest point. In Italian, the word means ‘growing up’. A crescendo is often used to create a sense of drama, excitement or emotion.
- How do you polish your voice?
Develop good technique through singing lessons, or YouTube instructional videos. Refining your tone, crisping up your diction, increasing your range and control and working on sustaining notes will all help, along with improving your vocal dynamics.
- What are the different singing techniques?
Your technique can encompass everything from the basics to more advanced and nuanced ways of singing. Broadly speaking this includes breath control, range, enunciation, dynamics, falsetto, whistle register, belt, head voice and vocal fry.
Do you use vocal dynamics in singing? How have you improved your singing dynamics? Let us know and post links with examples in the comments below.