In this post, we will help you with identifying your (modal) voice register and consequently your sruti. For those of you who are not aware of these concepts, let me clarify what they actually mean.
The word Sruti is mainly used in the context of tuning, whether it is an instrument or voice. For voice, it is the frequency at which the person is most comfortable talking or singing in. For a singer, Sruti corresponds to their Shadja or ‘Sa’.
Each of our voices are different. They differ in many characteristics, one of which is the range of frequencies/pitches they produce. The differences between physical characteristics of vocal chords in men and women result in women in general producing high-pitched sounds than men. The total range of such frequencies one can produce – ranging from the deepest or lowest frequency to the shrillest or highest one – is called as voice register.
How are they related?
So, what is the link between your voice register and your sruti then?
Choosing a right sruti goes a long way in helping you sing in the broadest possible voice register in the most comfortable way. Let me break this sentence down for you, one phrase at a time.
‘.. sing in the broadest possible voice register ..’: Voice register of a singer must span at least 2 octaves. You can start identifying your range by singing the lowest and highest svaras/notes you can. It is completely ok to have a vocal range of 1 octave when you begin. You will eventually expand this range by practicing different svara patterns.
‘Choosing a right sruti ..’: A svara that is half octave above the deepest/lowest note that you can sing corresponds to your sruti. This becomes Shadja or ‘Sa’ of the middle octave for your voice register. This helps you to comfortably sing the melodic patterns that span your voice register. You should also be able to sing at least one octave above your sruti.
Now that we know what your voice register is and how to choose your sruti based on it, let’s also know how to increase the span of our voice register. In Carnatic music, you can do this by practising Sthayi varishais/varusalu. These are svara patterns in different octaves that gradually help you in singing lower and higher svaras/notes. In Hindustani music, Kharaj ka Riyaz is serves the same purpose. Mornings are usually the best time to practise these exercises as your voice can go deeper compared to rest of the day. Practising lower registers in the mornings will also significantly help in your ability to practise higher registers later.
How can I find my vocal range?
Riyaz comes with “My vocal range” feature (can be found in the side menu), which will help you find your vocal range which also suggests an ideal sruti for your voice. Here is a video explaining how it works.
That’s all there is to it folks. Keep practising day-in and day-out!
Also published on Medium.