My other most frequently requested topic.
My main priority in introducing the belt, is to encourage you to establish some solid basic vocal techniques before approaching the belt. You run the risk of vocal damage if you don’t have proper vocal technique.
Researcher, Jo Estill, describes the belting voice as an “extremely muscular and physical way of singing.”
"When observing the vocal tract and torso of singers, while belting, Estill observed:
Minimal airflow (longer closed phase - 70% or greater - than in any other type of phonation)
Maximum muscular engagement of the torso (ANCHORING with the diaphragm/core)
Engagement of muscles in the head and neck in order to stabilize the larynx
High positioning of the larynx
Maximum muscular effort of the extrinsic laryngeal muscles, minimum effort at the level of the true vocal folds.
There are many explanations as to how the belting voice quality is produced. Under a scope, the vocal folds visibly shorten and thicken, and they undulate along more of their vertical surface area than in head register when a smaller segment of their edge must undulate to produce sound."
"Chest" in diagram = belting voice.
Belting and Classic Voice Quality: Some Physiological Differences. Medical Problems of Performing Artists.
The Contribution of Aryepiglottic Constriction to "Ringing" Voice Quality. Journal of Voice.
PHOTO SOURCE - The Rock-n-roll Singer's Survival Manual.
NOW, let’s myth bust some common belting misconceptions.
Belting vs. Mixing
“Belting is sometimes confused with mixing. Belting means to carry your chest voice above your break, while mixing means to mix your chest voice with your head voice.”
“They are two different concepts but their subjects overlap. A belt voice can be mixed or not and a mix voice can be belted or not. One is able to belt purely and is able to belt with a head voice, which is also called mixing while one is able to mix their voices below their break and is able to mix above their break, which is also called belting.”
SOURCE - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belting_(music)
There are some who don’t believe mixing is possible, but mixing to me is the simple act of mixing your registers together as seamlessly as possible so the listener cannot tell the difference. Some notes are not meant to be belted. This is not WEAKENESS. This is knowledge. GET TO KNOW YOUR VOICE SO YOU CAN SING HEALTHILY.
Is Belting dangerous?
"Produced properly, Belt poses no risks. It's a high energy method of singing, though, so if the perfect conditions are not maintained, it could be harmful for the voice. But the same could be said for Opera quality, so Belt is no more dangerous than Classical singing.
Whatever style you want to sing in, it's vitally important that you know exactly how to use the voice to its best effect, without causing undue tension and strain."
Source - https://www.vocalskills.co.uk/What-is-Belt-Belting.html
It’s important to note here, yet again, that you need proper technique and alignment to belt. If you don’t identify the natural breaks in your own voice, then you won’t know where to change gears and/or what to improve. Vocal development is a marathon not a sprint.
We all have natural breaks. Some keys make those breaks more pronounced which is why we sometimes struggle singing particular songs in certain keys. This by no means shows your lack of capability. What it does is identify the particulars of YOUR VOICE.
PLEASE - do not shy away from your breaks or cracks. Work through them by doing simple scales while implementing the best possible technique you can. This will build the transitions and smooth the breaks until you can confidently sing through them. ONLY THEN, can you really start to understand belting and/or mixing.
“The one difference between your voice and a wind instrument is flexibility. Both the throat and larynx are multi-changeable, an instrument is rigid. This means the register changes in a singer DO NOT HAVE TO CAUSE A BREAK. There should be enough flexibility between the larynx and the throat to allow constant repositioning for both. When either is held tight, you over extend the range of a register and by the time you’re forced to switch, there’s an awkward flip.”
Have you noticed every problem leads to the same remedy? Accuracy with pitch, volume, and smooth register changes all require the larynx to tell everything else what to do. When you consciously control the muscles of the throat and abdomen you over-ride the reflex ability built into the larynx. It knows when to switch registers, how to get louder and stay on pitch. All that’s required is freedom, YOU DON’T NEED TO THINK FOR A REFLEX.”
Most breaks are caused by avoiding going to the next register.
SOURCE - The Rock-n-roll Singer's Survival Manual.
5 Practical Tips:
Develop proper breathing techniques. Check out some of my previous blogs to see how!
Develop strength and flexibility in your voice by focusing on vowel work. Create consistency between the vowels (AH, A, E, I, OH, OO) by using simple scales. Release your throat so all the vowels/pitches feel like they come from the same place, no matter what they sound like. Tone will come, don’t worry!
Practice relaxing the face, neck and shoulders while working on techniques. NEVER CONTORT TO HIT A NOTE.
DROP THE JAW TO RELEASE TENSION. As sited above, you need freedom to move freely through your registers! You also need a dropped jaw to belt!
Practice! If you avoid your breaks, you never gain flexibility to sing through them. The voice should be trained to be one seamless voice. From top to bottom.
This is a lot of information so please feel free to contact me with any questions.
I would love to personally work with you to reach your vocal goals. The voice is a magnificent instrument and we only get one! With “How to Sang” online vocal coaching I can help you via convenience and consistency to gain vocal confidence.
See you soon + stay warm! Cx