Understanding Resonance: A Practical Guide
Posted Saturday, October 21st 2023 by Bryan Chan
In singing, the ability to control one’s resonance is one of the most important fundamental building blocks to a healthy singing voice. Let's find out why!
In singing, the ability to control one’s resonance is one of the most important fundamental building blocks to a healthy singing voice. In this article, we will explore exactly what resonance is to singers like you and how we can cultivate resonance awareness and control through a simple exercise.
What is Resonance?
In sound physics, resonance deals with the natural vibration frequency of containers. When a sound source frequency matches the natural vibration frequency of a container, the sound source is amplified and boosted in volume. In essence, resonance harnesses the natural power of space for sound-making.
Specifically in singing, resonance is controlled by the space within the mouth and throat. Depending on the vowel, pitch, laryngeal position etc., resonance can either amplify or dampen the sound source created by your vocal folds. Simply put, the space in your mouth and throat can affect how amplified a voice is.
Why is this important in singing?
Singers can probably relate to experiences where they keep pushing their voices to be louder but end up straining their voices and producing muted or dull sounds. These experiences occur usually because these singers weren’t relying on resonance to do the work for them. When a singer creates a specific shape in their mouth and throat that amplifies the sound they are making, the singer uses less vocal effort for a desired sound. The more a singer relies on this concept, the less strained and more clear the singer’s singing voice will become.
Feel the Resonance: Lessac y-buzz
One of the most effective ways to experience resonance in singing, from my experience, is through exploring the Lessac y-buzz. This technique is created by Arthur Lessac, a famous vocal coach who created the Lessac Kinesensic Training for Voice and Body for singers and actors. Here’s a simplified practical guide to find that by yourself:
- Start by creating a prolonged “yee” sound on any pitch as if you are sighing. Do it a few times and notice the sensations and vibrations you might feel on your face, mouth, teeth, etc.. For many people, there is a distinct buzzing sensation around the front teeth/hard palate region that is conducted through the skull.
- Once you start to build awareness of the buzzing sensation, play with different versions of the “yee” by varying the tone quality. For instance, you can experiment with a brighter or darker “yee”, a “yee” with spread lips vs. goldfish lips. The goal is to find a version that yields the most amount of buzzing sensation with the least amount of vocal effort.
- Once you find a version of the “yee” you like, do a simple siren slide on the “yee” from the bottom to the top of your range and see if you can carry the buzzing sensation throughout your entire range. If you do it correctly, resonance should come easily throughout your range without you “pushing” your sound.
- Apply this y-buzz to your songs! Sing through your songs with the “yee” you have discovered and see how it affects your resonance.
There are many more ways of exploring how resonance affects the voice, so keep playing with the following core principle:
Effective resonance in singing is using the least amount of effort to generate the desired sound of the singer.
Voice Teacher Associate
Bryan Chan is a voice teacher for all and a trilingual (English/Cantonese/Mandarin) cross-genre performer who strives to provide support for singers wanting to sing any and all genres of their liking. Experienced in performing and teaching musical theatre, classical, and pop/r&b/soul singing, Bryan constantly finds ways for students to connect to their authentic expression beyond the confines of genre and style. Bryan’s students have found success in college auditions, professional gigs, or just their weekend karaoke sessions with friends.
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