Breath-control is a very profound subject that encompasses everything about singing starting from the production of speech sound. In other words, singing cannot be made possible in the absence of breath. It is the most essential part of singing, and its management determines one’s level of vocal delivery. Singing would be made easy if you are aware of how to manage breath properly.
The airstream facilitate the production of speech sounds; and it is rooted in breath. The airstream acts upon other vocal organs to bring about speech production. For instance, if you place your finger on your larynx (i.e. Adam’s apple) and just exhale air through your mouth without uttering any speech sound, you will notice that there is no vibration on your larynx because the airstream did not have any contact with the vocal cords inside the larynx. If you refer back to our study on ‘The Nature of the Human Voice (part 1)’, we defined the voice as a sound uttered when breath vibrates the vocal cords, producing a resonance absent in breath alone. This can be seen that voice production is tied to breath.
8.1 DEFINITION OF BREATH-CONTROL
Breath-control is the ability to inhale and exhale air in and out of your system, in the right proportion to avoid straining while singing.
Every normal human being’s breath is regulated; the breath process flows naturally and uncontrollably. But to achieve good singing, your breath must be regulated properly. And since controlled breathing is alien to the body system, it must be trained to adjust and get accustomed to it.
There is a difference when breathing while talking and when breathing for singing. Breath for talking is not regulated; but breath for singing must be regulated in terms of when to breathe and the volume of air to exhale at a time. For instance, if you hold your finger across your lips while talking, you will notice that the breath hitting your finger is warm and moist. This is the accurate volume of air that should be released when singing normally. You do not need to push or force air through the vocal cords to produce a good strong sound; doing so creates too much pressure on the cords, preventing them from operating properly and can lead to vocal damage.
Proper breathing for singing begins by carefully observing the rest notes or breaks in a song, and taking in or exhaling air at those points. Breathing starts when we inhale air, and at the same time other activities also take place in the internal system: the diaphragm expands in the front, back and sides to hold incoming air. And the pelvic muscles also lift to support the expanding diaphragm.
Here are some signs of inadequate breath support and control.
- You would always experience vocal strain when trying to hit a high note and an inability to sustain for a long period.
- Limited pitch range
- Lack of vocal strength.
On the other hand, here are some signs of good breath support and control.
- You would have vocal stamina to be able to sing or sustain for a long period.
- You would have a razor-sharp pitch range.
- You would have vocal strength to produce powerful room-filling sound.
Look out for a continuation of this subject in our next publication.
I look forward to entertaining your questions and feedbacks on how this e-voice tutorial has been of help to you.
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