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Bright, Loud Singing vs Throaty, Strained Singing

Dear KTVA,

Some people around me seem to confuse between bright, loud singing and throaty, strained singing. To them, strained means 'loud', and 'soft' means relaxed. We all know that it is not true because if so, the likes of Tom Jones and Celine Dion would have run out of their own voices by now, so what is the best explanation of how to differentiate the two?

Regards sincerely,


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,321
    Singing generally should not be all that "loud" because you can oversing. That tends to dry the cords out and can get you into strained situations.

    So the big difference is being able to sing in a more relaxed way, even when putting emphasis on your voice. That is done mostly with strong support and sometimes with glottal compression.

    So we do want to reduce the stress that we put on the vocal cords. We manage that stress through singing techniques, such as support, Open Throat, vowel modifications, and other strategies that help to keep us from overdriving our vocal cords. We WILL encounter some stress, but how we manage that stress makes a big difference.

    I know that Tom and Celine both have used vocal coaches for most of their careers, and the techniques they practice have helped to give them longevity in their voices.

    We avoid throaty strain by singing from the diaphragm, and using lots of support.
  • streeterstreeter Pro Posts: 679
    edited October 2016
    Tom Jones is one of the scariest technicians going imo. He can fill a room with even a whisper. I don't know if it's just a local thing here in Melbourne, Australia but 99 percent of teachers are so scared of 'Real' singing and will criticise anything that doesn't fit in their little (tiny,) range box. They Criticise even gospel, old soul even Motown singers having to much tension and strain. I'm talking about singers like Sam Cooke... Sam Cooke!!! Imagine if they knew who Dio was. Of course, they have never done a gig in their life, won't sing for anyone but they'll be damned if they describe diaphragmatic support as... Diaphragmatic support. It's actually the perpendicular thorax, divided by .5 litres of airX.3 h20X.4cO2 with a tilt and hold. Oh but make sure you're asleep while doing it because if you're not...Tension! I literally had this conversation yesterday with a singing teacher at a school I work at. I showed her a guy called Russel White(check him out). Most amazing Gospel singer I've ever heard. Just a guy who sings hymns on YouTube brilliantly. But the rant I received after showing this vid... Unbelievable. That's why I think KTVA is so, so good. It teaches a fearlessness through technique and training.

    Well, anyway. Sorry. Haha. To answer your question. I guess it depends who you talk to.
  • timliu92timliu92 Member Posts: 65
    edited October 2016
    I think the problem here is that a number of vocal teachers do not want to end up hurting their students or causing them to lose their voices by singing loudly. This is definitely untrue - I have sung loudly quite often (although with no grit or distortion, but I am not a heavy rock singer so it works for me) in weddings and other events, and I have never hurt or lost my voice because of that. Besides, singing softly can also hurt your cords if done wrongly.
  • streeterstreeter Pro Posts: 679
    edited October 2016
    It's when teachers can't differentiate between loudness and proper resonance it becomes a problem. In my experience, this is a pretty common problem among vocal teachers, at least, locally. They cannot hear the difference. Yes, the guy is filling a room with his voice but he is in no way shouting. Then there's the opposite, guys that teach belting and even call register as pure shouting. They are just as dangerous.
  • timliu92timliu92 Member Posts: 65
    Yes, and that is why some people are afraid to go loud because they think it will not sound nice, sadly. If anything, singing needs tension, just not an unhealthy one.
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