There is much debate over what is “belting” in pop music and Broadway, let alone how to actually do it. I am a self-taught belter, and in fact never had any singing lessons until I was in my late 20’s, at which time I had already been singing with a band professionally for a number of years.
If you are classically trained, then belting may not be easy. You may need to undo some of the things you have been taught. If you have no training, then hopefully I can take away some of the mystery as to why you don’t sound as good as your favourite “belter”.
I would describe belting as singing above your first bridge (break, passagio) with thinning cords that are slightly stiffened with very little breath passing through, and a stable, tilted larynx to provide adequate twang. This gives the illusion of a strong chest voice `in the mix“. The belt I’m describing is the sound of Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson, Freddie Mercury or Adam Lambert. You know, the “big note” sounds in popular music. This is not the musical theatre belt sound.
The bridge is the area in your voice that differentiates your chest register from your head register. For women this is around A flat (above middle C) to B flat or even B, and for men it is around E flat above middle C to F or even G flat.
These are important areas of the voice. These are also very difficult areas of the voice for most singers. The way a singer handles this area will determine if (s)he can learn to belt safely or not. A singer must be able to maintain cord closure while ascending from the chest register into the head register. In order to main closure, the larynx must tilt and allow the cords to stretch and thin. This is called your mixed voice. Belting requires extreme control of your mixed voice.
As you ascend in pitch keep that connection but allow the transition to mixed voicing. You will almost start to sound like a cartoon character. (This is the ability to add a cry to your voice to keep the cords thinning and touching on the edges). You do not carry the `heaviness`of the low notes with you as you ascend through the first bridge. You do not need to get louder. It may sound like your favourite singer is singing `heavy“ as (s)he goes higher, but in fact, belters are naturally zipping up their vocal cords as they ascend in pitch. It`s the ability to sing with very little air that makes these belters sound so good to our ears. It may appear they are “loud” but they are actually not singing any louder than their medium speaking voice.
If you are untrained, and you find you are shouting and cannot decrease or increase the volume of a note above your first bridge, then you are not in a controllable good mix. This can mean a number of things, but in my experience it is commonly a problem with lack of ability to thin out the vocal cords, while tilting the larynx. If you are a trained singer, and you are shouting as you go over your first bridge and cannot control the volume, then your larynx is possibly not tilting enough to get the cords to stretch and thin. There is a good chance you are sending too much air through the cords to try and get the sound you want.
Belting is not something you should learn on your own without a proper specialized teacher. However, hopefully I have shed some light on some possible habits or obstacles that might be in the way to accomplishing this difficult sound.