I received a request not long ago on how to develop the low voice. This is basically aimed at the male voice but could be adapted to the female voice with a few tweaks.
How to develop the low voice
Let us state at the outset that we are not creating a “low voice”. Each of us is given a certain mechanism which is called our voice. Certain parameters of its structure will determine what kind of voice it will be. Female voices are usually of a higher pitch and range than a male voice. Our genetics will control most of that.
However, in every person, there is a given limit that the muscles of the mechanism will work. We usually refer to this as the range of the voice. Some like to emphasize the upper range while others focus on the lower range.
Head voice or chest voice
Two typical titles given to define these vocal ranges are those of head voice and chest voice. If those terms are employed we find that both male and female have these. There are some that think that only males have the two “registers”. But both male and female have the same muscles in the vocal mechanism. It is usually more noticeable in the male.
In males, the chest voice is usually associated with the man’s natural singing range. That range is usually determined as the young male begins to mature and genetics grow larger muscles in general. This causes the voice pitch to lower because of an increase in size. The female’s muscle growth is less and thus the vocal range is not lowered as is the male’s.
The head voice is facilitated by a set of muscles. In men, the voice produced is called “falsetto”. It is not a “false” voice at all. For men, it harkens to the young boy’s soprano voice. The muscles used to produce the “falsetto” voice will remain viable if used regularly. Sometimes the muscles grow weak or atrophy because of lack of use.
The head voice is usually a mixture of the chest voice and the “falsetto” voice. The best singing voice is usually a well-balanced use of both sets of muscles.
Can you extend your lower range?
I have met several men who wished to extend their lower singing range. They wanted to know if this was possible. The answer varies, depending on the person.
The biggest determining factor is one’s genetics. If you inherit the genes that grant you a relatively large larynx and likewise muscles, you may be able to. Seldom do people endeavor to lower their voice range. Some may be blessed with nice rich low voices and they work within their range.
Most of us would like to expand our range a little if not a lot. Once again we harken to the size of the instrument and the muscularity thereof. Very few people even consider that you could develop the muscles to sing lower pitches. However, muscles can be trained.
It is possible, through proper training, to develop the muscles to sing lower pitches. One can also improve the quality of the production of the lower pitches. Whether there is a great increase in the volume, there will definitely be an improvement in the quality. We often think that low-singing basses in a quartet have big full voices. Such is usually not the case. It sounds that way because the sound or recording system magnifies the sound exponentially
Develop your singing voice
The overall goal should be to develop your singing voice in general. If you sing in a choir or a quartet where you sing lower than usual notes, work the lower range. But, we work to produce a sound that is not so much louder but produces presence.
What is “presence”?, you may ask. “Presence” is not so much that you stand out in the sound of the choir or quartet. But rather, you would be evidently missed if you were not there. It does not take nearly as much volume to evoke presence if the voice is well produced. The goal in developing a lower range is not so much volume as it is quality.
If you are thinking of developing the lower range for solo you will probably lean toward the sound production equipment. That is not necessarily bad because when singing in small groups microphones are the norm.
Strengthen your singing voice
It is always good to strengthen your singing voice. Whether it be low or high or just in general. By strengthening one range of the voice you will be strengthening all areas.
For this particular training, I am giving some exercises that will help to build the lower range of a male voice. Building the right kind of strength in any range of the voice does not happen quickly. The training needs to be steady and methodical. Sometimes it may take a year or more to begin to get the results you desire.
I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger the bodybuilder/actor. When he began, he was not an exceptionally muscular man. But, he worked out regularly and consistently for several years before winning his first competition. He went on to be the top bodybuilder of his time.
So, when you begin to build your voice, be patient and be consistent. The strength will come and the voice will develop.
Some exercises to strengthen your lower voice
All three of these exercises are simple but will be effective in building strength in your lower range. Let me note that you should use good posture as you do these exercises. Good posture is the foundation of all good singing.
The first exercise is just a stepwise exercise beginning on the 5th of the scale. It descends stepwise down a 5th and then returns up and then descends again. Then it modulates down a half-step and repeats the process. Begin with the “Ah” vowel for a complete run-through. Then repeat the exercise using the “Oh”, “Oo”, “a” and “Ee” vowels.
This is the notation of the first rendition. All others follow the same pattern.
This is the MP3 for your use as an accompaniment.
Exercise 2 is even simpler. You begin with a sustained note on the 5th of the scale and descend by quarter notes to the tonic. Hold the final note for 3 beats. Do the entire exercise using the same vowels as above. The tone should be relaxed and not pushed.
The third exercise is a little different. The first two were working to maintain flexibility as we build our lower range. This exercise has the goal of tying our “falsetto” to our lowest bass notes.
The exercise begins by sounding the note which is “A” above middle “C”. Then it sounds the “a” in the second octave below middle “C”. The goal is to use the “Ooh” vowel and slide from the top note to the bottom note. This is a falsetto exercise. You are to maintain the falsetto all the way to and including the lowest pitch. It may not be very loud, but that is OK.
As the exercise moves downward it may be harder still to do the falsetto. Just do your best and go all the way through the exercise. Even if you do not get any sound, go through the motions. It may take you a week or two before some of the lower notes begin to sound.
For now, just use the “Ooh” vowel.
A little information
If you were like I was you may not have much of a falsetto. That came about because I wanted to sound like a man. I had to build the muscles which produced the falsetto part of the voice.
If you have that problem you might try the trick I used to begin redeveloping my falsetto. Though I could not sing in falsetto I could call my cat. The way I call my cat was the typical, “Kitty, kitty, kitty.” In other words, I unconsciously used falsetto to call my cats. It took me about three months to get my falsetto to where I could control it. Any trick that will help you “Peep” out that falsetto will do. But don’t do anything that causes pain in your voice.
Incorporate these exercises into a daily or regular warmup and you will be surprised at your vocal development.
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions below. If you wish to email me, you do that at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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