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How to Sing Better: Voice Culture

“Human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play” – Richard Strauss.

What is voice culture?

Voice culture primarily refers to the methodology adopted to train or control the voice to sing effectively. Many musicologists and voice experts have accepted it as science. According to one of the voice experts Dr. T. Unnikrishnan, the technique of voice culture is a branch of knowledge, which deals with the techniques of right voice production.

Fundamentally, it is the coming together of an understanding of science with the physical feel of the voice. Culturing or nurturing the voice is essential for a singer of any level-be it is a beginner learning to sing or a seasoned artist. Voice culturing is a vocal training method of training the voice to project it effectively, using the whole body as a musical instrument with voice modulation, breath control techniques, effective pronunciation etc. The voice needs to be understood and taken care of as a child and has to be nourished to strengthen it by reducing shortcomings and enhancing impressive traits.

When a musician sings in the correct tone, the whole environment becomes spiritual and soothing. For the tone to touch the hearts of the listeners, the primary medium is the voice, which is the amalgam of sound and mechanics. Two important factors for a good musician are a good voice and sound musical knowledge. A vocal musician has to exercise his/her vocal cords to bring them under the command of musical impulses of the brain. The practice of such singing exercises to make the vocal cords music worthy is called saadhana or riyaz. A beginner would be more focused on singing in tune, understanding the concept of pitch, being able to sustain notes in adherence to shruti without wavering, ability to render gamakas with control and mastering the speed, ability to traverse various octaves, correct articulation of sahitya and so on. The voice-building exercise is similar to a bodybuilding exercise. The voice has to be nurtured carefully to maintain its dexterity until it becomes supple enough to reproduce what is intended to sing as the voice is the amalgamation of sound and mechanics.

What are the factors that affect singing?

Why are vocal exercises important?

It may be stated here that language, culture and civilization have a direct influence on the quality of the voice. Language and speech affect the way a vowel or consonant is pronounced. Some use more of the nasal tone when speaking, like in the Malayalam language, while others use rounded consonants and tone, like in the Bengali language.

What affects the sound of your voice?

Several factors affect voice quality when singing. One should be cautious of them and pay deliberate attention, especially during the time leading up to a performance.

How to maintain voice quality?

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