Expression – Light & Shade Tips For Singing

If you listen to a vocal line, you will see how rare it is to hear a “monotone” or one note singer. When you speak, your voice lifts and drops, increases and decreases in volume, this is referred to as ‘LIGHT & SHADE‘ or ‘EXPRESSION‘ and is the key to making an average song into a highly listenable one. So how do you achieve the same effect in your vocal performance?
This is the term used to explain ‘feeling’ in your voice. Putting expression into a song makes it ‘come alive’ for the listener.

When you read the lyrics of a song, do they come alive for you? Can you relate to the theme or story? Speak the lyrics aloud, imagine you are talking to a close friend, how would you say the words to them? If it is a love song or ballad, envisage the person you would like to express those emotions to.

Breathing in the right ‘gaps’ or ‘rests’ is important as it helps you to hit the right note and put expression into the performance.

A bright, confident sound in your voice can be achieved by smiling!

This can be applied to any song with a strong emotional theme, the key is to relate to what the songwriter is trying to express and using your natural emotions to enhance the way you perform the song. Sing it from the heart and you won’t go far wrong.
Singing from the heart and feeling the mood of the song will add natural emotion to your performance and any vocalist should always put their ‘life experiences’ – good and bad to constructive and positive use by choosing songs that you can relate to and express well through your singing.

Read the lyrics of the song carefully and think about how they make you feel. Is the song telling a story which you can relate to? How would you interpret the story? Which words or sections evoke the overall ‘mood’ of the song? Will it work in another melodic format i.e., changing the tempo or style.

The emotional aspect of a song can be enhanced by using sounds that are associated with the mood of the song. A sad song performed with a ‘catch’ in the voice at relevant points and smiling whilst performing a happy song will reflect in the voice and improve the overall feeling you are trying to portray.

When learning a new song, play or sing it several times to get the ‘feel’ that the lyrics and music are trying to convey. Perhaps you feel the song should be performed at a slower or faster tempo. Maybe your interpretation differs from that of the original artist. Whatever emotion you experience when practising the song should be explored and if appropriate, included in your performance of the song.

Don’t be afraid to play around with songs, even the ‘classics’ – muck around with the tempo & style that you sing it in. Change the notes, keys and rhythm, add catches in your voice, growl, laugh, trill notes, harmonise and play with the song in every way possible. This will help you to gain a better understanding of your vocal capabilities and should help you to perform the song with your own unique style.

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