Using various vocal dynamics whilst singing can greatly enhance your performance. Singing dynamics are a tool that all artists can use to bring a performance alive, convey emotion and prevent their performance from being static.
Vocal or singing dynamics is the practice of controlling vocal volume. It goes beyond simply singing loud and quiet. It also includes singing vowels and phrases at the appropriate volume. Dynamics also include silences and rests, which singers shouldn’t forget about.
There are many ways to incorporate vocal dynamics into your performance, from simple things such as increasing volume and varied harmonies to changing phrases and delivery.
Vocal dynamics in singing
Messa di Voce is a common method that dynamic singers use to improve their vocals. Messa di Voce is an Italian saying that translates as “placing of voice”. It relates to how a performer can sing in a gradual crescendo and decrescendo on a long and sustained tone.
In practice, a dynamic singer will start singing quietly, gradually increasing the volume whilst retaining a smooth vocal, then bringing the vocals back down again.
Vocal dynamics definition
Firstly, let’s start with what it means; the definition of vocal dynamics derives from the Greek word “dynamo”. This translates as “power”. In musical terms, we use define vocal dynamics in singing as being the volume of the voice. This can relate to the variation between notes.
For professional singers, how well they use dynamics to improve their voice and performance is a matter of control. A microphone will only get you so far, as the most skilled singers in the world are able to project their voice across a room without the need for amplification.
How to improve vocal dynamics when singing
Singing dynamics is a phrase often misunderstood. In the context of vocals, it equates to how the quality at which you can switch from soft to loud singing. A dynamic singer is able to create a performance that will set them apart from the amateurs.
If you can master dynamics in your singing, it will help you project intensity, feeling, and an extra layer to your vocal performance.
5 key tools of vocal dynamics
#1 Increase or decrease vocal volume
This is when dynamic singers can use to help the emotion from the song come across during their performance. Many singers choose to increase the volume in their vocals when they hit the most emotional part of the song, but also consider decreasing the volume at certain points as it emphasises the parts where you increase the volume.
The key here is to vary your volume throughout the song and change up your vocal dynamics.
#2 Articulate through characterisation
If you’re singing a happy part of the song, try to reflect that in your vocal dynamics. Although it may not necessarily fit with the song as a whole, it will give an extra dynamic to your performance.
#3 Change vowel shape
It can often be difficult to find ways to make your song stand out. Changing vowel shape can be a subtle way to do this. A good example is pronouncing ‘me’ as ‘may’ in an appropriate song; this can subtly add something unique to the performance and make your vocal dynamics distinctive.
Vocal Dynamics for Singers
#4 Add silence/rests
Of course, during your performance, you want to be singing for most of it, but sometimes adding silences or rests makes the following vocals sound more impressive and adds more drama to your vocal dynamics and performance.
Extending a phrase rather than keeping it short and taking a breath can often provide a new dynamic to the performance and can help to show off your vocals.
It’s not necessary to try to use all of these vocal dynamics in one performance; if you try to use all of them you risk the performance sounding too messy.
However, it’s important to develop the use of dynamics throughout your performance. Singing the verse and the chorus in the same way throughout the song is just going to become repetitive, so you must look to add some dynamics to avoid the performance being just a loop of the first verse and chorus, which can become quite dull and boring.
It’s important to remember that not all of these vocal dynamics will be suitable for every singer’s style of vocal. It’s wise to know which ones suit your vocals and which ones don’t work for your vocal.
One of the best examples of vocal dynamics and a creative cover is Hannah Reid from the band London Grammar:
Do you know any dynamic singers? Share your favourites in the comments below.