So, what REALLY projects your voice? Singing projection is, in a nutshell, the ability to be heard in a room without a mic. What is it and how do those Opera singers project over an orchestra?
There’s a lot that can be discussed on the area of singing projection. Not everyone wants to sing like an Opera singer, but every singer wants projection; the ability to cut through and be heard. It’s not about dynamics (sing louder), but about the singer’s format. Let me explain.
When a singer does everything right from the standpoint of technique, there is a frequency range where ultimate projection happens, the singer’s format. From the standpoint of an orchestra, the singer is able to resonate above the frequency range of the instruments of the orchestra. The images below show what I’m talking about including an example of a Tenor’s projection area.
Images taken from Sundberg’s Singing Formant
“Sundberg’s Singing Formant”. Hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu. N. p., 2016. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
As singers, we can utilize this to our advantage. When we use the proper technique, that is, not to sing a style to incorporate the singer’s format, but to use proper technique, our work is greatly reduced. Sure, we can, and should use mics to do the heavy lifting, but utilizing proper technique will help us with our projection with less effort, which means that we can sing longer without getting as tired.
Listed below are selections from “The Messiah” that I performed as the principal Tenor. Notice how my voice was “above” the orchestra’s area of frequency. I was not miced and the recording devices were quite a distance from me.
Below are spectrographic snapshots taken of my voice singing the main vowels “ee”, “ay (or eh)”, “ah”, “oh”, & “oo”. You will notice three areas that are more colored than the rest. The first area is me singing breathy, the second is me singing too tight, or too much compression, and the third is me singing with the proper technique. Notice how the third area is more “lit up”. This is me singing within the singer’s format, thus having better singing projection. Click on the images below to see a more detailed example.
When proper technique is incorporated, singing projection occurs naturally. If you want to have that projection, find a qualified voice teacher to guide you on your journey.