How To Sing Impressive Low Notes

July 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Singing Articles

In this article I am going to share with you some techniques, tips and exercises on how to sing low notes.  Developing the lower part of your voice is an often overlooked way to increase the range of your voice.  Let’s firstly discuss some reasons why you may be struggling in this area.

What’s Holding You Back?

  • Wrong Compression
  • Tension
  • Resonance
  • Beliefs

So what is vocal compression? It is simply the relationship between your vocal cords and your air.  When you are singing or speaking in the lower part of your voice your vocal cords should remain quite “slack”.  This allows air to pass through your vocal cords easily.  As you sing and speak higher the cords lengthen and the space for the air to pass through decreases.  This creates a build up of pressure behind the vocal cords causing a “compressed” sound.  I encounter a lot of singers who try and use this compression in the lower part of their voice to get more projection and volume into their low notes.  When I ask them how it feels, the usual response is “it feels like it’s getting stuck in my throat”.  The compression isn’t allowing the sound to vibrate and resonate in their chest.  More about that in a minute!

Singing low notes requires relaxation. Your body needs to be relaxed, your vocal cords need to be relaxed, the muscles that control your cords need to be relaxed.  Sensing a theme here?  Tension in your throat is going to result in the same problems as compression.  I’m going to share with you some exercises on how to release throat tension shortly.

Where your sound resonates (vibrates) when you sing or speak can have an impact on your ability to sing low.  There are three major areas where your sound can resonate:

  • Your Chest
  • Your Throat
  • Your Head and Nose

Singers who have a naturally nasal or “heady” speaking voice can have a hard time singing in their lower range.  The head and nasal cavities are great for singing high notes, but not so great when it comes to the low notes. To test whether you have a nasal or “heady” speaking voice do this experiment:

Have a conversation with yourself and place your fingers on the bridge of your nose.  Feeling any vibration?  Now place your hand on your chest and speak.  Any vibration there?

If you felt vibration only in your nose you have a nasal dominant voice and may have issues singing low.  If your only felt vibration in your chest you have a chest dominant voice (which can lead to some high note problems).  Did you feel vibration in both areas?  Great!  You have a balanced voice which is perfect for developing an even tone and range.

Your beliefs about your voice can often be the cause of vocal problems. If you tell yourself that you can’t sing low then you are probably right.  Singers sometimes use the excuse “I’m a high singer, so I can’t sing low notes”.  The same applies with singers who say they can’t sing high.  It’s not a matter of “can’t” it’s just that they haven’t been shown the right way.  Change your beliefs into something positive and see what happens!

I can.  I will.  I must.  I’m working on…

These are possibility beliefs and not a dead end CAN’T.

Sorry to get all “new age” on you… let’s get back to the reason for this article!

How To Sing Low Notes.

When you sing low notes the majority of the resonance needs to occur in your chest.  You may have heard of a term called “chest voice”.  Chest voice is a vocal register.  You have 3:

  1. Chest Voice
  2. Mixed Voice
  3. Head Voice

These are the areas of your voice where sound can resonate and are responsible for allowing you to sing throughout your range.  Your chest voice handles the low notes.  I’m not going to discuss the other two.  I’ll save that for another article.

To develop your chest voice there are 2 aspects you need to focus on:

  1. Airflow
  2. Relaxation

As I have already discussed, you don’t want a “compressed” sound when you sing low.  You need to get air flowing consistently through your vocal cords without any pressure or tension.  Try speaking in an “over the top” breathy sound and aim to get some vibration in your chest while doing so.  If you are struggling, try exhaling on a long “HHHHH” and gradually add an “AHH” to the breath.  Once you have felt some vibration try doing the same exercise using “PAHHHHH”.  This will remove the excess breath.  I need to stress that the use of breathiness in your tone is only to help you discover your chest voice. To take that sound higher will lead to problems with your upper range.

Relaxation is one of the most important aspects of singing, whether you are singing high or low.  I’ve already told you why it’s important, now I’m going to share with you some tips on how to release tension in your voice and body.

  • Imagine you’ve had a hard day at work.  You get home and release a big “SIGH”.  Let the sigh slide right down as far as you can vocalise.  Sighing is a natural release of tension and is great for relaxing the muscles that control your voice.
  • Roll your shoulders and move your neck gently from side to side.  This will release any tension in those muscles.  You can also do the sighing exercise for great results.
  • Don’t try and control your sound.  Let it drop naturally.  If you try and force the sound lower it will get stuck in your throat.

Vocal Exercises To Develop Chest Voice

There are certain vocal exercises that are designed to develop and strengthen your chest voice.  Here are my Top 3:

  1. Humming on a 5 note ascending and descending scale.
  2. Ascending Hum to a descending MA on a 5 note scale.
  3. Descending 5 note scale on MUM

Discover and Develop your Chest Voice in my FREE  10 DAY MINI COURSE

Learning to sing low notes without tension and compression is a great way to extend your vocal range and allow great freedom in your voice.

Ian Castle

To download this article as a pdf click here.

Click here to learn about Mixed Voice

Click here to learn about Head Voice

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2 Responses to “How To Sing Impressive Low Notes”
  1. Adam says:

    Hi Ian, from taking your advice I’ve been working on my lower register. However, it doesn’t have that “slide” from chest register, if you get me. I can sing comfortably from G5 – C5 in head voice, then from C5 to around C3/B2 in chest voice, but then there’s like a “break” in my voice and it becomes a vocal fry. I can go to around F2 in this, but I can’t really use this part of my range in a song, more just as exclamations or if I sing in a descending scale. Would you have any tips on how to get that even blend with a fuller sound? Thanks

  2. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Adam. I am about to record an in depth video lesson on how to sing low notes with more freedom and a fuller tone. I plan to record it tomorrow and have it uploaded to both youtube and my website by the weekend. Ian

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