Singing with Expression and Emotion

While singing, there are various ways that you can communicate your inward emotions to your audience. While nerves can make you stiff and and your expressions wooden, the following tips and concepts will help to reduce your nerves, intensify your performances and better connect with the crowd.

Facial expressions

Facial expressions and body language help to intensify the mood of the song and help the audience connect with you as you perform.

Vocal compression

Another way to express your emotions is to use vocal compression. Vocal compression is when a singer uses the arytenoids (the cartilage in the larynx to which the vocal chords are attached) to compress the vocal chords, giving your vocal tone “texture” and “flavour”.

This method adds a sense of urgency and emotion to your voice, so it’s well worth investing the time to get this technique into your repertoire!

Pick a song you can relate to

One of the most important things is to think about whether you’re connecting with the song. Trying to sing a song that you do not feel an emotional connection to will be plainly obvious to your audience, so a top tip whilst learning how to sing with emotion is to pick songs you understand and connect with.

Test your skills

Now it’s time to apply your newly practiced vocal techniques to a well-known song. A repetitive song (such as Aloe Blacc’s I Need a Dollar) works well to do this, so you can test each phrase using a different larynx movement. Record yourself so you can see and hear how each position adds various emotion and edge to the delivery of your lyrics.

  • Facial expressions are a great way to help communicate inward emotions. Communicating emotion with your facial expressions is to enhance the particular mood of the song without distracting the listener.
  • Don’t be afraid to play around with songs. Try changing the tempo and style that you sing it in to help you establish your own vocal capabilities, and find your own unique style.
  • Change notes, keys and rhythm. Add catches in your voice, growl, laugh, trill notes, harmonize and play with the song.
  • Spend some time recording yourself and listening for emotion in your singing. Pick up on the areas where your emotion is strong and pick out the areas where you’re struggling and practice!

*A small warning – overuse of different larynx techniques can damage your vocal health and affect your voice permanently, so use sparingly.

One way to ensure you’re not over-doing it is to examine song lyrics carefully. Read them through, and think about how they could be interpreted. Which words or sections evoke the overall mood of the song? Which passages require a particular emotive delivery? Once this has been established, you’ll know exactly where to work in your different vocal techniques to help to you achieve a more emotional performance.

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