So, you’ve got to grips with your voice a bit, and you want to take your singing to the next level. Part of this is learning what kind of singing style you have, and how to refine it.
Every Voice Is Different
Unlike musical instruments, every single human voice is unique. Of course, you can get different types of musical instruments, and each can sound slightly different. But the bottom line is that if you play two different Ibanez S251s one after the other with the same tunings and amp settings, they will sound the same. Whereas no human voice can ever be replaced or replicated, and that means your voice is something truly special about you.
As your voice improves in technique and endurance, you will notice that you have a natural affinity to sing in a certain way that is both more pleasurable to you and easier in general. Just like an athlete can be more skilled in one sport than other, singers and other musicians develop one or two optimum styles of performing. You will also be more inclined to singing in a style that is more pleasurable to you, and these two aspects often go hand in hand.
What Is Your Singing Style?
Refining your style in singing lies to begin with what styles of singing you prefer, and the genres that they fall into; people exploring other types of art rarely keep going with something they hate!
Different styles of singing are defined by various characteristics which suit the genre. Here are some of these characteristics to listen out for:
- Classical: The singer has a very consistent style throughout their registers. Purity and blend are more sought after, rather than having the voice stick out.
- Rock/Metal: Energy and power is the key. Sometimes the singer’s voice has a more tender side which is utilised, but there is a time and a place for it.
- Folk: Lyrical, light and ballad-like are very important in the folk genre in order to get all the words and moods across.
- Musicals/Film: Expression is very important for singers, as every song conveys a different atmosphere and meaning. Singers have to convey what is being said and felt through song.
- Pop: The resonant chest voice is used a lot in pop music, as it is the closest to how we talk. The sound is also very similar to our natural speech tones, making it sound raw rather than going beyond the core of what our voices can do.
There are many more genres and styles of singing out there, but use these as a basis to work out which styles of singing you like, in an analytical way. Pick your favourite singers and assess their styles, thinking about what genre(s) of music they sing, their timbre and colour and where they are most versatile. Using active listening techniques will be key here.
Once you have an idea of the kind of styles you like, it’s time to assess your own voice using these same listening techniques. To help you, try and match up techniques and vocal colours you use to other singers. Obviously your voice won’t sound completely the same, but it may sound similar.
Explore What Your Voice Can Do
The disadvantage of improving your voice in a single style, is that you may find it harder to sing in other styles. There are many ways to learn how to sing better in other singing styles, and the more styles you are able to sing in, the far more versatile your voice will be.
For example, even though I was classically trained, I am able to sing to a degree in some other styles. First I learnt how to sing in a more metal style before turning to pop music.
Here I’ve provided some voice recordings of me singing in different styles.
The first is classical, which I am most confident in:
Next is a song my band wrote where I’m singing in a more metal style:
Finally, there is my attempt at singing the pop song Skyfall by Adele:
In my experience, I have learnt that with singing, you need to get really good before letting your voice free itself up to explore new styles. It has to be physically strong, and you need to improve your ear.
In order to improve my styles with metal and pop, I started by trying to imitate different singers. This is certainly true for my rendition of Skyfall, where I’m definitely trying to imitate the techniques used by Adele. However, in the metal song I am singing my own style, having put my knowledge of other singers’ styles into practice. The same can be said for my classical voice but far more so: over the years I have listened to many classical singing styles and moulded them accordingly to my voice whilst perfecting my own natural style.
Listen To Others – And To Yourself
Remember that at the core of improving your singing style lies listening to your own voice as well as other people’s. Like I said before, everyone’s voice is unique. Always analyse how your voice sounds and how it can produce certain timbres, vocal colourings and styles. Some will be harder than others, but as your voice becomes versatile you will notice that you can do more things with your voice.
Sing in the styles you like the most, and which come to you more easily. Also take heed of how your voice sounds compared to your favourite artists, and then use that knowledge to shape your own voice. Like I always say, voices can be shaped, grown and developed, and your singing style is no exception!
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