How different is your singing from your speaking voice?

One of the key principles that our technique is built on is using the natural calibration of your speaking voice (i.e. chest voice) as a roadmap to build our singing voice. The greater the deviation from our speaking voice co-ordination/calibration (evidenced by a different sound), the greater the level of issues singers tend to encounter.

Such issues can be physical, acoustic, and/or psychological. Let’s get into the first one now…

1) Physical issues

– The way you speak is a healthy way to phonate and make sound, for the majority of people at least. Therefore, the more you deviate from that healthy way of using your voice, the greater the likelihood you’ll contribute to some kind of vocal trauma. This could be as minor as swelling, moderate as a regularly sore throat or need to clear your throat, or far more severe, nodules, granuloma, haemorrhage, etc.

An artist like John Mayer would be a good example of someone whose singing voice deviates heavily from his speaking voice, and this has led to severe vocal issues (granuloma) that required surgery and vocal cord paralysis for a long period to enable recovery. It’s also a key reason he struggles with pitching now, as this is a side effect of granulomas.

2) Acoustic issues

– This is far more evident by way of a sound that makes people go ‘oh, that’s not what I was expecting’ because your singing voice sounds so dramatically deviant from your normal voice, all the way through to someone just sounding mangled, or struggling to hit notes on demand (whether low or high). An unusual sonic style can be a useful effect from time to time, but as a default state of singing, this can lead to undesirable musical and technical issues.

A good of example of such a big deviation would be a singer like Passenger. Here’s a clip of him both singing, being interviewed, AND the interviewer commenting on that discrepancy. I’ve marked the video to start from the short song clip:

They also discuss some positives to having a unique sound, which I 100% agree with, and we should absolutely seek that unique sound, but as a result of styling a completed safe and healthy voice, not arbitrarily styling it before we even start to build the voice (for reasons we are discussing in this very post).

3) Psychological issues

– In some ways, I feel this area is the least looked at and yet arguably the most powerful. Fundamentally, when you use your own voice – the one you are intimately familiar with because you’ve used it your whole life – you no longer feel a disconnect between you and your singing voice. It means when you sing, it already feels like you. This makes it like speaking on pitch. Whereas doing the opposite often leads to people feeling like they are bashing notes out on a keyboard rather than using their own voice. It leads to a psychological disconnect in how they sing, and this is a huge deal.

Now you can work through the latter, but in my experience it’s a very hard process (that also leads to some weird psychology where people don’t want to sing in their own voice), and also increases the risk of issues in the first two areas BECAUSE of how fully committed they are to a sound that is not their own.

Conclusion

We’ve GOT to get someone into their real voice, which starts with chest and proceeds from there. For health, tonal, and mental reasons, this makes a HUGE difference to the longevity, power and style of a voice.

Further reading: If you want to read more on establishing chest voice and why this is important, have a look at these articles here for further reading. Any questions, let me know.

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