Vocal Fry: Vocal Exercises Revealed

February 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Singing Tips

In today’s quick singing tip I am going to reveal how to practice vocal fry.

How to use vocal fry to eliminate breathiness from your tone.

Please leave your comments and questions about vocal fry below.

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How To Sing: Vocal Fry

August 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Premium Videos

In this quick singing lesson you will learn what vocal

fry is and how you can use it to shed weight from your


*Warning*  This is one crazy exercise!  But very effective!


Learn how to apply vocal fry to a song in my “X Factor Video Series”

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Learn How Sound Is Produced

July 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Singing Articles

How is Sound Produced

How Is Sound Produced?

To view this article as a video click here.

Sound is produced by the vocal folds which are two matched folds of tissue positioned on the right and left sides of your larynx.  Your larynx is the “Bump” you can see and feel in the lower part of your neck.  When the vocal chords are at rest they form a “V” shape.

Vocal Chords Open

When inhaling they expand to allow air in.  They remain open when exhaling.

When making sound, the chords are drawn together.  Pressurized air flows up from your lungs creating a ripple effect on the chords that travels through your vocal tract (throat) and out through your mouth.

Vocal Chords Closed

In my article on breathing I discussed the use of the silent breath. The way you breathe has an impact on your vocal chords.  If you take a loud audible breath, the sound that you are hearing is the air rushing past your vocal chords creating unnecessary tension.  If your vocal chords are tense during the inhalation process, they will be in a tense position when you vocalize.  The use of a silent breath eliminates this unnecessary tension.  The vocal chords remain in a relaxed state during inhalation and therefore are in a relaxed state to vocalize.

Think of the relationship between your breathing technique and vocal chords as a garden hose!  Let me explain:

  • Pressurized water is pumped through a garden hose to an adjustable nozzle.  The nozzle can determine how much water to let through.  It controls the pressure.
  • Pressurized air is pumped (by the diaphragm) through our windpipe to our vocal chords.  The vocal chords determine how much air to let through.  They control the pressure.

Now that you know the role of the vocal chords in producing sound, let’s discuss the onset of sound.

A good beginning to the tone is vital to the rest of the phrase that you sing.

There are 3 ways we can position our vocal chords to make sound:

  1. The Hard Onset
  2. The Soft Onset
  3. The Balanced Onset

The Hard Onset

During the hard onset, the vocal chords close fully after the inhalation of air.  This creates a large build up of pressure. When the chords are open, the air rushes though causing an exploding sound.  This sound is quite harsh and not very pleasant on the ears or the vocal chords!

Try it….

AH                  AH                  AH                  AH                  AH

The Soft Onset

During the soft onset, the vocal chords remain partially open after the inhalation of air.  There is a lack of pressure because the air is flowing before the chords come together.  This will result in a “breathy” sound.  Some artists use this sound for stylized purposes, but generally it is not an efficient way to produce a decent tone.  During the exercise add a “H” before you vocalize the “AH”

Try it….

HAH               HAH               HAH               HAH               HAH

The hard onset and soft onset should not be used for skilled singing.  They are demonstrated here to give you an understanding of how sounds are created.  There is a more efficient way to make sound.

The Balanced Onset

The problem with the hard onset is too much pressure, and the problem with the soft onset is not enough pressure.  The balanced onset is somewhere between the two.  The vocal chords remain relaxed in a partially closed position.  There is still enough pressure to project the sound, but unlike the hard onset the sound will not explode.  It is a more gradual release of the pressure.

Try it….

AH                  AH                  AH                  AH                  AH

It is useful to practice this exercise with the use of vocal fry at the start of each “AH”.  Vocal fry is the vibration of the vocal chords at their slowest vibrating rate.  It is very easy on the voice.  If you are having trouble with the sound try and imitate the “creepy sound” in the movie “The Grudge”, or the sound cartoon character “Elmer Fudd” makes when talking.

The balanced onset is vital to the development of your tone.  It is important that you take the time to get comfortable with vocal fry.  You can download an exercise to develop vocal fry in my article How To Develop Your Tone.

To view this article as a video click here.

I hope you have learned something about your voice from this article.

Ian Castle

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How To Sing: What are Vocal Chords?

July 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Premium Videos

How is sound produced?

In this video you will learn how sound is produced, what your vocal chords are, and the most efficient way to coordinate your vocal chords to produce a great sound.  You will also learn about the improper ways that singers create sound.

Ian Castle

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How To Develop Your Tone

July 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Singing Articles

How To Deveop Your Tone“I want to sound better!” How many times have you heard someone say this about their singing?  How many times have you said this to yourself?  During this Interactive Article you will learn the different “areas” of your voice, how they affect your tone, and how to adjust your sound so that it sounds better and is easier to sing.  Think of your voice as an engine in a car.  In order for a car to go faster the engine needs to change gears.  Your voice acts in a very similar way.  Your voice has 3 distinct “gears”:

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

These “gears” are commonly referred to as vocal registers.

Chest Voice

This part of your voice is the most easily developed and recognized because it is used in everyday speech.  It is termed chest voice because of the sound resonating and vibrating in the chest cavity.  Take a moment to put your hand on your chest and speak as if you are in a conversation.

Being the most natural and common register there is a tendency for novice singers (and some not so novice!) to take their chest voice too high.  This will result in a yelling sound and will cause vocal fatigue.  A “changing of gears” is required to allow the voice to freely ascend into higher singing.

Here is a simple exercise to develop the chest register:

  1. Ascending and Descending 5 note scale on “AH”

Head Voice

In order for the voice ascend into higher singing a “gear change” needs to occur.  Your chest voice will eventually “redline” as you take the chest voice up.  There will be a point where you cannot sing any higher.  This point is where you need to switch to your “head voice”.  It is termed head voice because the vibrating sensation moves from your chest cavity to the cavities in the face and nose.  It is a much thinner sound and feels lighter.

Here is a simple exercise to develop the head register:

  1. Arpeggio using a lip roll

When doing these exercises, make sure you are not pushing the voice.  Let the sound “transfer” into your head naturally.  It is helpful to practice in front of a mirror.  Focus on the muscles in the middle of your neck and make sure they do not tense up.  The lip roll is used to keep your larynx low.

Before we continue I want you to make a sliding sound on “AH” starting in chest voice.  Ascend into head voice, then back down to chest.  Did you notice a change or a break from chest to head?  This is called a bridge in your voice.  It occurs for 2 or 3 notes and can be a troublesome area for singers.  This area can be improved and “ironed out” by developing….

The Mixed Voice.

To smooth the transition between chest and head voice, the resonance needs to be split between the two.

Here is a simple exercise to develop the mixed register:

  1. Ascending and Descending 5 note scale on “MUH”.  Make sure you keep a low larynx position and maintain a “dopey” sound.

Bonus Exercise.

There is another vocal technique that can be used to help smooth out the registers and shed weight from the voice, Vocal Fry.  I know the name of it sounds quite strange but it is a sound you should be familiar with from the lesson on the onset of sound, the balanced onset.  It is also a sound you may make every day when waking.  You may have seen the movie “The Grudge” or remember the cartoon character “Elmer Fudd”.  These are great examples of vocal fry.

Here is a simple exercise to develop vocal fry:

  1. Ascending and Descending 5 note scale.

When doing these exercises there should be no tension in the throat.  Monitor yourself by using a mirror.

The second area of Tone Development is vowel placement and modification.

The way you shape different vowels, the position of the three “articulators”, can drastically change the sound of your voice.

The three articulators of your voice are:

  1. The Jaw
  2. The Tongue
  3. The Lips

Often singers will tense these articulators in speaking and singing.  The result will be “muddy” diction and tone.  Are you sensing a common theme here?  Tension and singing cannot co-exist.

We will now look at the five major vowels, the neutral position and the positioning of your articulators.

The Neutral Position

When at rest the tongue is relaxed, sitting on the lower teeth.  The jaw is slightly dropped and the lips relaxed and slightly parted.  I am going to refer to this position as Neutral.

Exercise 1.

I want you to say “I  E  A  O  U”

Notice the different jaw, tongue and lip positions for each vowel.

Say it again, but this time with tense and tight articulators.  Do you notice the difference?

The Five Vowels.

The combination of vowels flows from the most open to most closed vowels.

Neutral to “I”

Slightly wider lip position and slightly lower jaw position. The tongue rises at the back of the throat.

The next vowel is “E”.  The tongue should have increased contact with the lower teeth.  The jaw should drop slightly.  The lips should remain in a similar position to the “I” vowel.

Try it…

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”

Notice the slight tongue and jaw movement.

The next vowel is “A”.  The tongue should remain in the same position as the “E’ vowel.  The jaw should drop slightly.  The lips should also remain in a similar position.

Try it….

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”                  “A”

Notice how the jaw drops as you move between the vowels.

The next vowel in the sequence is “O” as in “hot”.  The jaw should remain dropped as in the previous vowel.  The lips become more rounded and the tongue will be slightly elevated to create space in the back of the throat.

Try it….

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”                  “A”                 “O”

The last vowel in the sequence is “U” as in “book”.  The jaw remains in the dropped position.  The lips are rounded, almost to a pouting position.  The tip of the tongue is elevated to create maximum space in the back of the throat.

Try it….

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”                  “A”                 “O”                 “U”

Here is a simple exercise for vowel shaping and placement:

  1. IEAOU in an Ascending and Descending 5 note scale.

  2. I hope you enjoyed this Interactive Article on Tone Development.  I will be adding more exercises so please revisit this article soon.  Feel free to share this article with your friends and family.

    To download the exercises as an MP3 simply go to the MP3 Downloads page.

    To access even more information and videos about Improving your Tone enrol in my Free Course.

    Thanks for reading,

    Ian Castle

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