How to Sing With a Beautiful Vibrato
American Idol Contestant
Vibrato: What is it?
Vibrato is the beautification of the tone which every human voice is capable of producing. While some believe they can't, the fact remains that with education, the use of proper vocal technique, and professional feedback, they can. Understanding what vibrato is can help as you work on developing it.
So, what exactly is vibrato?
- Vibrato has been described as a slight fluctuation in both pitch and volume that occurs in a wavelike pattern in healthy voices.
- It's also described as the variation of a sustained pitch.
- Van Christy, the author of Expressive Singing, tells us "Vibrato is an even tonal oscillation around pitch center and is a normal and necessary phenomenon of free and beautiful vocal production."
It is an even, steady tonal oscillation of the pitch center—a slight variation in pitch—and is a natural function of a well-produced vocal tone.
- When a singer holds a note for a long time you hear a "wiggle" in their voice that adds richness and warmth to the tone. That wiggle is called vibrato.
- Natural vibrato is the result of healthy, coordinated singing, without being manipulated. When optimal support, airflow, tone (resonance) and relaxation are in balance, the vibrato will take care of itself. Singing with proper technique requires patience and discipline, but this will bring you the results you want
If these descriptions are confusing, allow me to simplify the meaning. Vibrato is vibrating or pulsating of the sound. It's a slight variation of pitch, a wavelike up and down sound referred to as oscillation. A true, natural vibrato should not feel like much. You may sense a gentle pulsating feeling near the soft palate, or you may hear a slight waver in the pitch.
A good vibrato is a pulsation of pitch which gives a pleasing flexibility, tenderness, and richness to the tone.
You can't imitate; all our faces are constructed differently... and the vocal cords; otherwise, we'd all sound alike. I don't think anybody should ever teach by imitating.— Beverly Sills
Do I Really Need to Use Vibrato When I Sing?
If you want to sound like a world-class singer or simply develop a better sounding karaoke voice, there's one technique you absolutely need: vibrato! Maybe you already sing with vibrato without realizing it. If so, you're among the lucky, and if don't, it's okay because I'm going to show you how.
Vibrato. The big “V”. That special vibration in a singer’s voice that separates the amateur from the seasoned. What is it, why do you need it, and how do you make it happen? I’d be a wealthy woman today if I had a five-spot for every time I was asked these three questions during my lifetime of teaching voice. I happen to love these three questions and I'm ready to give you some answers, so sit back, relax and get ready to learn about this mysterious but beautiful technique.
Skilled Vocalists Sing With Vibrato
Can Anyone Learn to Sing With Vibrato?
Some are born with it and some are not. Some have it and others need to work on it, but everyone can develop these wave-like sounds. But I want you to know, before I continue, that vibrato is a natural result of a relaxed and technically correct voice. This means that when you apply proper vocal technique to your singing, vibrato occurs naturally.
Using vibrato when you sing is going to add a rich, beautiful sound to your present singing. It is so desirable that many instrumentalists such as horn players, strings, brass, and others, copy the vocal vibrato to obtain the same effect and beautification. Vibrato adds depth and beauty to the singing voice as well as other instruments.
Most anyone can learn to sing with vibrato. The best way to unleash your natural vibrato is to make sure you're using correct technique and to accomplish this you need some quality instruction and feedback. Yes, you can learn about technique by watching a video or reading a book, but you'll still be missing an important component....feedback!
Why You Need Vibrato When You Sing
Wow - what a great voice! You've said it, I say it, and so have others. We may not realize exactly why we like a certain vocal sound; it could be that we like the tone, the style, or even maybe we just like the song itself. Most of the time we like a voice that uses a nice, rich, controlled vibrato. And, of course, we also enjoy a voice that is empowered with consistent vocal technique.
One important reason we use vibrato is when we sing, the muscles used to vocalize must have motion, or they become tense. Tension in these muscles produce tension in the tone.
A sound without vibrato is called a "straight tone", which is also necessary for expressive singing as well as certain styles such as folk singing. A straight tone has no "give" and "take" fluctuation of the vocal cords.
Vibrato adds depth and beauty to the singing voice as well as other instruments.Vibrato manifests itself when the voice is functioning in a consistent manner relative to breath pressure/flow. Diaphragmatic breathing, along with distribution of air is used for this purpose as well as good overall singing and control over the voice.
I can't say it enough - when a singer achieves good vocal habits, the vibrato is simply revealed.
How to Learn and Develop Your Vibrato
Keep in mind that when you focus on building solid vocal techniques you'll automatically have the ability to use vibrato whenever you like. This is the first order of business. The fundamental area to perfect would be your breath control....breathing diaphragmatically.
Your power source is the breath that supports your sound. This is the driving force, and anything that affects your breath (or your lungs) can completely eliminate your ability to produce sound. The bottom line is this: If you fail to sing with proper support you cannot control the vibrato rate.
If you're looking for some help on breathing the right way for singing, check out the link I just provided for you.
The following tips are necessary to develop vibrato:
- Get rid of tension. Too much tension in your tone, neck area, the lips, tongue, and jaw can interfere with producing vibrato. Make it a habit to release tension in these areas. A natural vibrato absolutely demands complete relaxation.
- Listen to at least 4 or 5 different singers, focusing on their vibrato. Try to imitate their vibrato while recording your voice. You only need to record a few phrases and not the whole song. Repeat this exercise many times for several weeks or as long as it takes to hear your own vibrato.
- Some singers learn vibrato by activating either the jaw or abdominal muscles. While this can bring results I still prefer a more natural vibrato that comes with a well-developed voice.
- Feel the buzz. You should feel a buzzing in your throat, neck or vocal cords during vibrato.
- Avoid forcing the tone. A natural vibrato appears when the singer's throat is relaxed enough for the larynx to have gentle movement. Natural vibrato will have a consistent beat in the sound and will feel free and effortless in the throat.
- Some vocalists use their abdomen to produce a false vibrato known as diaphragmatic vibrato. This is achieved by pulsating the.diaphragm while sustaining the tone.
- The vocal trill is another way to awaken the vibrato function.
Don't be discouraged If vibrato doesn't appear in your voice right away, or within the time frame that you have deemed to be acceptable. Just know that as you build a solid foundation of vocal technique your vibrato will begin to bloom.
Some types of vibrato are rated as too fast or too slow. If your vibrato is too slow it becomes known as "the wobble" which can be the result of poor muscle tone, or fatigue. Using too much vibrato will also cause a wobble that comes in slow waves.
Here's what I want you to know: The most common distortions that draw attention to a singer's vibrato are a tremolo, or bleat, (vibrato from hell) and a wobble. These distorted vibrato sounds have to do with the perceived speed and pitch variation of the vibrato. Another common problem is an unintended straight tone - a seeming inability to produce vibrato at all.caused by tension in the larynx. Lack of breath support can also cause a wobbly sound.
When a muscle is tensed for too long and not allowed to relax, it will begin to quiver and eventually develop an uncontrolled tremor in the tongue, jaw, larynx, abdominal muscles, and rib and chest muscles. If the quiver is fast, the vibrato will be fast, nervous, and insecure.Forcing the chin down against the larynx will make the vibrato change both rate and extent erratically and irregularly.
Balanced breath support and releasing tension are major factors for alleviating your vibrato problems.
The average acceptable vibrato displays an extent of one quarter tone above and below the desired pitch.
Breath Support Is The Powerhouse for Singing
Connecting Your Voice To Sound
Your vocal cords are amazing with a unique way of vibrating. Vibrations amplify your initial sound. A breath of air travels through your body and as the air reaches your vocal cords causes these bands to vibrate producing sound. One of the main reasons people dislike their singing is due to tension in the body. Vibrations are murdered by tension Your first order of business then, is to release tension in the neck, shoulder, jaw, lips, tongue and even the knees. (Unlock the knees.) Make it a practice to go through the "Rag Doll" exercise before singing.
The easiest way to connect your voice to sound is by humming:
- Keeping your lips relaxed make a slow, steady and continuous sound like that of a bee. Feel for the buzzing sensation through the lips.
- Now open your lips still sustaining the sound. Maintain an easy, relaxed position and carry this throughout your sound.
- This is your natural vocal sound filled with vibration and breath.
- You have connected with the central point of sound.
- Finish with voicing the sound of "huh" sustaining the "uh" with plenty of air. The more air you inhale, using the belly breath, the longer you'll be able to hold the sound.
- Repeat the process on several pitches, going down, then up again to the easy mid-register pitch you started on.
Vibrations thrive on attention. Become a connoisseur of vibrations:
- Taste them.
- Spread them around your face.
- Luxuriate in them.
- Indulge them.
Note: Vibrations cannot exist freely unless the breath is free.
Friend, Justin Stony Demonstrates Vibrato
Leaving all the technical talk behind, vibrato is simply a result of the sound of your voice being released naturally and with ease from your vocal cords. People tend not to sing with vibrato because they’re too tense and tight, or they have an overload and can’t control it. Skilled singers use vibrato to emphasize expression.
We, humans, have a uniquely shaped pharynx and tongue that was divinely designed for speaking and singing. This means that anyone can sing, including you. Every tool needed to produce a beautiful singing voice is alive and well within your body. I know this. I've spent a lifetime transforming singing voices from what some folks believe to be impossible to outstanding. It's all there, right inside you. All you have to do is to discover these tools and learn how to use them. If I want to build a house I must have certain tools available. But simply having these tools, is not enough. I must know which tool to use and how to use it.
Developing your vibrato is pretty much the same thing. The better understanding you have for each singing tool, the better your results will be as you work toward constructing a better voice. I remind my students "Technique will set you free." Commit to learning all you can about techniques such as:
- Breath Control
- Proper Diction
- Tone Beautification
- The Resonating System
- Tonal Attack and Release
- Caring for your voice
- How to practice
- Forming vowels
- Ear Training
- Proper Warm-Ups
- Body Posture
Just remember that with time and practice, you can develop a stronger, clearer vibrato! Start today, begin now to free and celebrate the voice within.
"Singing brings out in me what I can't normally bring out in everyday life. It's an incredible feeling to be able to bare your soul to people you've never met in a way that can make them understand so clearly what you mean. That's what I love most about singing ... it becomes my truest form of communication."
Do You Use Vibrato When You Sing?
© 2020 Audrey Hunt