Since we are featuring the BLEND PACKAGE I wanted to talk about what good vocal blend is and how to achieve it.
A: Helping a group of singers achieve a good blend is one of the most fun and rewarding things I do.
Blending is the result of the “coming together” of different vocal sounds and styles. The word blend is a verb. You can blend foods and spices, athletic abilities, other life skills, instrumentals etc. In singing, it means combining different and unique vocal sounds into one sound—the one you want …just with many voices creating that sound.
When I think about blending singers I think of mixing, merging and integrating individual sounds; tone qualities and even accents into one sound—and that takes some doing. It all begins with recognizing that no matter how good a singers is as a soloist they will have to yield some individuality in favor of a blended sound. That takes willingness and a bit of education. It’s not necessarily a natural gift, and in many cases singers have never had to do it and don’t have the skill, but they can with some work.
What aspects of singing may to be yielded or adjusted to achieve one voice, from many parts?
- It starts with Posture. Why? Because your posture can either free you us or bind you up. Balanced, upright, athletic posture allows for good breathing, resonant tone and a physical appearance that doesn’t distract from the singing and the message. As odd as it may sound, posture is so critical to vocal sound that it is the necessary starting place.
- Breathing. Breath is the power source for the voice. Pushing too much air, or not having enough air will limit your flexibility, stamina and vocal health. (Complete Breathing is our biggest seller of all time, and a guaranteed way to learn good breath management.)
- Tone quality. If you can only sing with one quality you will have difficulty blending. If you are too bright and edgy, or too dark or breathy all the time, you need to add some other options. (Complete Tone is a revealing and exciting look into your vocal sound.)
- Diction. You must all agree on the vowel and consonant sounds you will use. If everyone holds on to their regional speech patters blend will be difficult. (The Complete DictionCD is a really fun and powerful tool for evaluating what you’re doing and giving you the skills to be more flexible.)
- Vibrato. If you hear that your vibrato is sticking out because it is too fast, or too wide head towards more of a straight tone. It will help the blend.
- Phrasing. Everyone has to agree on where to build the volume or intensity and where to come back down. Someone needs to be in charge of making those decisions.
Develop listening skills
There’s one more critical skill you will need in order to blend well with others, and that’s the ability to listen, listen, and listen some more. Then yield and adjust until you are one equal part of the sound. If you are sticking out or hanging too far back in the sound, you’re not doing your part. So, listen, and balance your volume and sound quality. Look at the other singers to see how they are pronouncing their words.
Get in a circle
Getting in a circle so you and see and hear the others singers is powerful. It helps replace that individuality with a unified, blended sound. If you have a large group get into several circles based on parts.
The Vocal Coach Blend Series is a powerful and effective tool in helping singers and their leaders master the art of blend. It could make all the difference in your group’s vocal sound.