What is vocal tone?
Where does vocal tone come from?
There are two major components for creating tone. It begins at your vocal cords. These are a value in your throat that vibrates air from the lungs to create sounds. The muscles in your larynx adjust the length and tension of those vocal cords to change pitch and tone.
Secondly there is the resonance in the spaces of your throat, mouth and head.
So in order to create a rich, pleasant range of tones you need to be able to create high quality tone right at the vocal cords as well as balancing your vocal resonance – the amount of sound that resonates in your throat, mouth and head. Resonance is the vibration of air through the cavities in your body – if you take a moment to sing and pay attention, you will feel these resonating sensations through your throat, mouth, nasal cavity and head.
Do This Exercise
There are two notches on your neck, place your hand gently on the top one. This is your larynx or ‘Adam’s Apple’. Now swallow and make a little noise, sing or hum!
Can you feel how your larynx moves upwards and vibrates as you make that noise?
Now that you know how these feels, this is what you want to avoid when you are singing! This is because the muscles you use to swallow also move your larynx. When you sing, these muscles should stay relaxed in order to produce a quality tone. If your larynx is being moved around by these muscles, the tone created by your vocal cord will lose quality.
To improve your tonal quality, practice some vocal tonality exercises that disengage those swallowing muscles.
Once you can do this, singing becomes much easier. The swallowing muscles are the main cause of tension, strain and pain. Learning to release these muscles equals no sore throats and a higher quality.
How to Balance the Tone
As the sound produced by your vocal cords resonates through the spaces in your throat, mouth and head, the tone quality will change depending on the proportion of each of those cavities.
As a singer, you can learn to sing in the full range of vocal tones, which gives you depth and range as an artist.
You can learn how to balance your vocal resonance from exercises like these. Once you have learnt these, your tone quality will improve through your entire range.
Basically you can learn to balance your voice by noting the sensations paired with each note. The perfect balance of resonance will change as you sing up and down your range. Lower notes will have much more of a sensation in your throat and mouth while higher notes have sensations in the head with very little in the mouth and almost none in the throat.