There are many terms commonly used when people embark in their vocal coaching. The more you experience vocal lessons, the more familiar you will become. To help get a jump start on becoming more familiar with commonly used terms, we at Arizona Studio-Online Performing Arts would like to share a list of common terminology.
What are the Terms Used in Vocal Music?
Register: By the vibrations of the vocal folds a range of tones produced in the human voice.
Chest Voice: Particularly in the mouth or in a speaking voice, the lower part of the vocal register resonates.
Head Voice: From the nasal cavities and front of face, the higher part of the vocal register, resonates.
Mix Voice: To allow for belting and other more intense, higher gear singing, a mix between head and chest voice.
Soprano – Highest female singing voice, from C4 to a A5
Mezzo Soprano – Mezzo soprano literally meaning half soprano, it’s the range between a soprano and a contralto, from A3-A5
Contralto – Lowest female singing voice, from the F below middle C to the second F above middle C, F3-F5
Castrato – From a male that has been castrated to achieve a higher voice, this classical male singing voice ranges from cover Soprano, Mezzo Soprano and Contralto
Countertenor – Vocal range is equivalent to the female contralto or mezzo soprano for a classical male singing voice.
Tenor – The highest male singing voices from C3- A4/C5
Baritone – Common male voice from F2-F4/ A2-A4
Bass – Lowest male singing voice from E2-E4
Belting: Your chest register is brought above a moderate volume, typically accomplished with done with a mix voice.
Diphthong: Also referenced as gliding vowels, it is 2 vowel sounds occurring in the same syllable.
Falsetto: A vocal technique used to sing notes higher than your natural range. It lies at the top of your vocal range and is often confused with head voice.
Melisma: Whilst moving to several different notes in succession you sing a single syllable of text.
Octave Slurs: Usually the slurring of vowels from one octave to the same note of the next octave above.
Overtone Singing: The singer manipulates the resonances created as air travels from the lungs through the vocal cords and out of the lips to produce a melody to establish harmonic singing from the throat.
Scatting: With wordless vocables, vocal improvisation is a difficult technique that requires singers to sing with the ability of improvised melodies and rhythms, more so using the voice as an instrument.
Sirens: A vocal technique used to smooth out breaks, flips and cracks within the voice in order to create one voice within the registers.
Twang: To achieve a powerful, crisp breathless head voice and to help create one voice, a nasally vocal technique is used.
Vibrato: In order to accent expression in a piece, regular pulsating change which the voice is alternating subtly and very quickly between two different pitches that are very close together.
Vocal Coloring: Including bright and dark tone, painting the tones of your voice with emotion.
Vocal Fry: Informally known as the ‘Husky Voice’, it is a low creaky vibration caused by fluttering vocal cords.
Yodeling: Repeated and rapid changes of pitch and alternation between the normal voice and falsetto involved in this form of singing.
Additional Musical Terms Used in Singing
A Capella: Without a musical accompaniment there is singing
Accent: On a certain word it is emphasized on
Aria: Accompanying a solo voice with a long song
Articulation: Clear and distinct formation sounds in speech
Dynamics: Various volumes of pitch
Enunciation: Pronouncing words clearly
Flat: Pitch is too low
Intervals: Distance between two notes
Intonation: When speaking, it’s the rise and fall of the voice
Pitch: The sound of singing the right note.
Projection: It commands respect and attention, the strength of singing whereby the voice is used loudly and clearly.
Pronunciation: Producing sounds of speech and the accepted standard of the sound and syllable
Scales: Ascending, descending, chromatic
Sharp: Pitch is too high
Vowels: Speech sound made by the vocal cords.