W.A. composer, pianist,
teacher, article writer
Specialist in solving singing problems
for a wide range of musical styles
The Singer's Formant
There are many little things to learn along the way which
contribute to a good sound and a solid technique, but, ultimately, the
quality of the soloistic voice comes down to this: the singer's formant
thought I was going to
say 'breathing', didn't you!) Most good singers, in ANY style, have
some of this quality, but opera singers absolutely live for it.
The singer's formant is a part of the tone quality (colour), and is
somewhere around 3,000 Hz (3 megahertz). Have you ever listened to a
jet aircraft taxiing on the runway? It's a bit like that, except that
it's also inside the singer's own head. The opera singer's voice
whole bunch of very high sounds (around the last few notes at the
top of a piano keyboard), all very loud. It's a tremendously DISSONANT,
ultra-crunchy, ear-splitting din. But we love it!
Close-up, the singer's formant can be very difficult to
Imagine doing a duet with Pavarotti, cheek-to-cheek,
ear-to-ear---absolutely deafening. But a few feet away it will sound
lovely (all other things being equal). This sound quality is essential
to singing unamplified in a large hall, such as an opera house.
listen to two singers in a studio, one with a lot of formant and the
other with very little, you might think they both sound pretty good, no
problem hearing them. But as soon as you ask them to sing in a bigger
room you will find that the sound of the second singer is lost. The
formant is needed to 'carry' the voice and to make it heard over other
read several theories about how the formant is produced, the most
likely one involves muscles just above the vocal folds called the
aryepiglotic sphincter, which manoeuvre the epiglottis when you
swallow. In any
case, by various techniques, students can learn to switch it on.
not to rush this--the formant can be forced, which is to be avoided.
See: Why is reading or hearing about it not the same
as having a
Since May 2011 I've been living in the Perth hills, in the
Shire of Mundaring, Western
Australia. Click on the links to learn
more or contact me by phone or email.
My mobile phone is 0414 374 701 (new in Sept 2010).