Vibrato is necessary in order to sustain a tone at a comfortable speech-level with a balance of cord tension and air flow. We must remember that there are two types of compression which occur in the vocal folds during phonation. One pressure comes from the closure (adduction) of the vocal folds themselves as they are drawn together. The other compression is the air pressure which comes from the diaphragm and presses against the adducted vocal folds. In order to sing in a healthy manner, there must be a constant balance which exists between the two pressures: one pressure blows the cords apart and the other pressure brings them back together, then the first pressure blows the cords apart again, and then the other pressure brings the cords back together again. This process happens over and over again, and thus a sound wave is emitted from the cords and into the resonating chambers of the voice. As a result of the balancing of these two pressures, a “spinning” type sound occurs called vibrato.

The types of sounds which can occur when balance during phonation is not maintained are breathy (whisper), yelled (or pulled), falsetto (disconnected), wobble (wide and slow vibrato), or tremolo (quick vibrato like a machine gun or a goat bleating). An occasional use of one of these unbalanced sounds can be used as stylistic devices, but the majority of singing should be done in a balanced manner at a comfortable speech level in order to maintain optimal vocal health. There are styles of singing where a full-bodied vibrato may not appropriate, but that does not mean that vibrato should be removed from the voice. The only way to sing without vibrato is to sing without balance. A good vibrato not does need to call undue attention to itself, but some vibrato is absolutely necessary for healthy singing. The balance described here is a primary focus of all good vocal technique, and is a major factor in giving singers who use the Speech-Level-Singing technique the feeling that they are singing with the same release and freedom as when they are speaking.

Guy Babusek

Voice Lessons

This blog is not owned or operated by Speech-Level-Singing International, it is owned and operated privately by Guy Babusek. The views expressed herein are strictly his own.

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