Vocal Tips

COMPLETE VOCAL TECHNIQUE

Complete Vocal Technique (CVT)a singing technique method developed by Cathrine Sadolin. CVT has revolutionized singing technique and is being used worldwide by professional singers within all styles of music. Cathrine Sadolin is one of the leading voice researchers in the world. Her research crosses all vocal styles, combined with her own experience as a professional singer, and has inspired innovative thinking within the field. Cathrine Sadolin regularly participates in voice conferences around the world, contributing to ongoing voice and vocal technique research. Cathrine Sadolin's ongoing and always updated research continues to inspire singers, singing teachers, actors, speech therapists, and doctors alike.

Singing is not that difficult and everybody can learn to sing. Cathrine has divided the singing techniques into four main subjects as listed below. By combining elements of these four subjects you can produce precisely the sounds you want. You will also be able to pinpoint your specific problems and mistakes, and you can focus on which techniques you wish to work on.

The four main subjects are:

  • The three overall principles
  • to ensure healthy sound production
  • The four vocal modes
  • to choose the ‘gear' you want to sing in
  • Sound colours
  • to make the sound lighter or darker
  • Effects
  • to achieve specific sound effects

THE THREE OVERALL PRINCIPLES

The three overall principles are the most fundamental and important to perfect. They make it possible to reach all the high and low notes within the range of the individual singer, to sing long phrases, to have a clear and powerful voice and to avoid hoarseness.

The three overall principles must be obeyed regardless of mode, sound colour, and effect. They are:

1. Support

This means working against the natural urge of the diaphragm to release the air that has been inhaled. This is achieved by resisting its movement. During singing, the waist muscles and solar plexus are pushed outwards whilst the abdomen around the navel is gradually pulled in in a constant and sustained manner and the back muscles are tightened. The muscles in the loin try to pull the pelvis backwards, while the muscles in the abdomen try to pull the pelvis up under your body. This battle created between the abdominal muscles and the muscles in the loin is a valuable and important part of support. However, the support must happen in a sustained and continuous manner as though working against a resistance for as long as a sound is being produced.

When the muscle contractions stop being sustained and continuous, for instance if you cannot pull the abdomen around the navel inwards any further or push the muscles of the waist or solar plexus outwards any further, then there is usually no more support. It is important to conserve your support energy so you do not waste it or use it at the wrong point in time. Do not use support before it is necessary. Save it for when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase. Support is hard physical work so you should be in good physical condition.

2. Necessary Twang

Hoarseness, not having the ability to sing loud, not having a “carrying” voice…. It is probably due to a lack of necessary twang.

You always need to use necessary twang in order to have correct technique and achieve easy and unhindered use of the voice regardless of the mode, sound colour and effect used. Necessary twang makes it easier to sing in all ways. For many this necessary twang does not sound twanged at all.

NecessaryTwang(audio example1,2 and 3)

You can produce this sound by imitating: crying of a baby, croaking of a duck, speaking of a witch, sound of a toy car, meowing of a cat.

The area above the vocal folds forms a funnel, this is called the “epiglottic funnel”. When twanging, the opening of the epiglottic funnel is made smaller by bringing the arytenoid cartilages closer to the lower part of the epiglottis (the petiole). As a result the sound gets clearer and non-breathy and you can increase your volume.

When the opening of the funnel is made even smaller the sound gets sharper, penetrating. This is known as “distinct twang”.

3. Avoid protruding the jaw and tightening of the lips

Avoid protruding the jaw and tightening the lips as it often produces constriction around the vocal folds. Achieve a loose jaw by bending your head back and placing a finger between the upper and lower jaw. Keep this position of the jaw as you sing. The lower jaw should be pulled backwards relative to the upper jaw. Be sure to open the mouth wider on high and low notes than on notes in the middle part of the voice.

Whilst avoiding tightening the lips, it is also important to form vowels with the tongue without altering the shape of the mouth too much. Consonants on the other hand are usually produced by narrowing the vocal tract and by tension in the lips, but as you do not stay on them for very long in singing they do not impair singing. It is important to be able to release the tension immediately going from consonants to vowels.