What is Twang?

The simplest way to explain twang, is to say that the cords do a remarkable thing when they are aligned correctly. They will stretch and thin because the larynx is tilting. There is a “funnel” created which is like having an extra resonating chamber in your throat. Your voice will “pop”! You can achieve volume without pushing or straining.

The easiest way to achieve this coordination is by imitating sounds. However, too much imitation causes all kinds of problems….so always pay attention to the smallest details.

If you listen to a baby cry, you can hear freedom and release. They are not “pushing” (or they would go hoarse!) They have twang in their voice. Go ahead…no singing, just cry like a baby and take note of what it feels like in the back of your throat!

Now, of course, we don’t want to have to “cry” every time we sing, or do we? Believe it or not, there is an element of “cry” sensation in every great singer’s voice. Try this: I have my students say “mmm, mmm” like something is really yummy. It is just a noise. No singing. There is no sound coming out your mouth. It feels like a buzzy hum. We do this sound in our low voice and carry it up and down our range. Note what it feels like in your throat and on the roof of your mouth at the back where the tongue is touching the soft palate. Be sure to keep it light, at least at first. You need to exercise this sound on the edges of the cords. It may become breathy as you go up in your range. Some singers don’t have the coordination yet to stretch those cords enough so the edges can meet. This is the exercise! Find the spot where you know you are making this sound with good cord closure, and then move one note higher. Do this every day paying attention to this small detail. The cords are small little muscles. If no sound comes out, that’s OK. Take it down one note, and do it again. You are on the right track. DO NOT PUSH. That is only counter-productive.
There are other sounds you can try such as quacking like a duck. Again, please take note that too much quacking will result in constriction! Instead, consider what that feels like in the back of your throat as you do this sound in your low, middle and high range. Keep it light. Constriction is most likely to happen in your high range, so take it easy and pay attention to the “thinner” edges of the sound. Again, it may be breathy…but this means you are on the right track!
I hope this information is helpful! Remember, learning to sing better doesn’t happen overnight so enjoy the journey!

Working from the bottom up

The chest voice is very powerful. I recommend all singers learn how to carry their “low voice” up into their higher register by learning how to mix from the bottom up. If you want to earn a living at singing, it is crucial to learn how to belt and sing safely in your chest voice.

First and foremost, you need to train regularly. Singers who belt regularly, are at most risk for vocal damage. Become a vocal athelete first. The ability to siren, lip roll and tongue trill through your entire range is a must. This teaches your body to pay attention to balance and amount of effort and breath you are using.

There are certain sounds that are precursors to being able to sing high in your chest voice.

1. Put a sob or a cry in your voice.

2. Practise a “witchy” sound or neighing of a horse.

3. “Meow” like a kitty.

Every voice is different. You may find one of the sounds above easier to do. Don’t force the sounds…..just think the sounds. Do it every day, many times a time. Pay attention to the volume at which you can continually accomplish the sound through your passagio. It may be breathy as you move higher, but with practise you will get less breathy. Try to be the same volume on all the pitches.

Ladies …. work from middle C to high C (make sure you are in your chest voice).

Men … work A below middle C to A above middle C.

Remember, these are sounds. They are not meant to be pretty. You are not singing these sounds….it may appear you are speaking these sounds. You need very little breath.

Good luck! Let me know it goes. Do you have any questions?