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Singing Voice Lesson

Voice Training - Belting or Upper Chest Mix

Belting refers to a specific vocal technique by which a singer uses his or her chest voice in order to produce high and powerful pitches. The vocal chords are thick and are a little shorter than normal because they have to withstand quite a lot of sub-glottic air pressure. Belting takes practice and you'll need a good singing teacher to help you so that you don't damage your voice. The voice tone of a belt is often twangy as it is easier to make a belt note with twang. Singers who use belt a lot are Christina Aguillera and Kelly Clarkson. People often get frustrated that they are unable to reach thoes pitches with as much clarity, strength as style as thoes artist, however, we have to accept our own limitations and simply keep practising.

In order to increase the amount of high notes one can belt, one must practice. This can be done by repeatedly attempting to hit the note in a melody line, or by using vocalise programs utilizing scales. A good example of an artist repeatedly attempting to hit a note required in a melody line can be seen in the DVD on the "With The Lights Out" boxset from Nirvana, in which Cobain is shown trying to hit a required music note in early unfinished versions of Smells Like Teen Spirit live in concert, again and again over many months before finally achieving the note. Many commercial "voice lesson " packages have a set of scales to sing along to as their main offering, which the purchaser must practice with often to see improvement, much like Singing Freedom.

Possible Dangers of Belting as a Vocal Technique

There are many explanations as to how the belting voice tone quality is produced. When approaching the matter from the Bel Canto point of view, it is said that the chest voice is applied to the higher registers. Because of research, more is known about the anatomy and the physical process of singing than before. One current vocal researcher and tutor is Jo Estill. Estill has conducted research on the belting voice. Estill describes the belt as an extremely muscular and physical way of singing. When observing the vocal tract and torso of singers, while belting, Estill observed:

Minimal airflow (70% closure)
Maximum torso anchoring (activating the large muscles in the back to control airflow)
Head anchoring (activating the neck and head muscles for stabilizing the larynx)
Tilting of the cricoid (We know that the space between the thyroid and the cricoid widens. It seems that the cricoid is tilting downwards, although there might be thyroid activity as well).
Highest position of the larynx
Maximum muscular effort of the external muscles. When produced healthily, there is no forced tension in the vocal folds themselves.
Constriction of the aryepiglottic sphincter (the "twanger")
Use of overly strong chest voice in the higher registers in an attempt to hit higher notes in the chest can lead to forcing. Forcing can lead consequently to vocal deterioration. Moderate use of the vocal technique and, most importantly, retraction of the false vocal chords while singing is vital to safe belting. Without proper training in retraction from a good singing teacher, belting can indeed be unhealthy.

 



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