Voice Skills

by Judy Apps

Resonance

Resonance is all-important for the quality of the sound of your voice. Your voice can resonate in many different parts of your body at the same time, and your impact will depend on how well you use the different areas of resonance. Each resonator creates particular effects and all are useful in different ways. Let’s look at some of them individually.

Head resonance – carrying power, excitement

The head voice carries well and projects passion.

The high carrying voice of the head is an important component in your ability to project, when used together with other resonances. It also conveys enthusiasm, excitement and passion. Associated with the voice of the child, it can be used to show gentleness and caring. People who speak with impact make good use of the head voice, but don’t go there all the time.

Producing the head voice

  • Start by making a ‘whoop’ sound, that starts low and quickly whizzes up high, getting louder and ending suddenly. The end of the sound will be your head voice. Try to repeat the high, end part of the sound on its own.

  • Listen to the cartoon characters of children’s TV and have some fun imitating them – you’ll find a great variety of head voices there.
  • Imagine your voice coming from the middle of your head. Experiment with speaking in your nose or your cheeks, or sensing the voice issuing from your ears.
  • Imagine you are calling a dog across a wide field in a high, carrying, singsong voice:

  • And then hear the passion in your voice when you allow parts of a word to hit that high head voice: for instance, the second A sound in the word fantastic –

How high can you make it go? Choose your own word for expressing excitement and pleasure. What is it?

  • Awesome!
  • Amazing!
  • Terrific!
  • Brilliant!
  • Tremendous!
  • Wonderful!
  • Excellent!
  • Marvellous!
  • Great!

Try them all.

Downside of the head voice

If you speak just using head resonance, and nothing else, you can sound strident, or childish, or just a bit of a nerd. You can also sound utterly devoid of feeling, like a particular kind of academic or logical intellectual. The answer is to use head resonance together with the body resonators, in varying amounts.

Throat – permission to speak

When you talk fairly quietly to someone quite close to you, the sound can resonate appropriately from the throat area.

But tension in the throat is one of the first symptoms of anxiety. This causes the voice to become higher and tighter, especially when the shoulders tighten up and flexibility is reduced.

If you have any difficulty in projecting your voice, the throat is usually the place where you sense the inhibition. This can be the effect of tension of the moment, but also of a habit acquired over the years. If you have built into your psyche certain imperatives – for example, ‘I never cry’, ‘I don’t sing’, ‘stop showing off’ – it is likely that there is a tension in your throat, preventing you from being spontaneous. If then, as an adult, you wish to voice sorrow, joy, laughter or anger in a spontaneous way, you may find that the full expression of these feelings is no longer accessible to you, until you retrain yourself.

Giving yourself permission to express yourself from your throat literally means ‘to find your voice’ in more than one sense of the term. Releasing your throat feels like giving way to more self expression and will certainly increase your range of expression.

Exercise

Drop your head back easily, so that your mouth is facing up to the sky, and breathe in and out with your mouth in the aaah position. Feel how there is a direct connection between the sky and your breathing place in your belly (diaphragm), without the throat getting in the way. Now say ‘haaaa’ as you breathe out, and feel how the sound comes right up from your body.

Move your head back to its normal position and repeat the ‘haaa’, maintaining the same feeling.

Your voice will sound much more energetic and alive when it is not constricted by the throat.

Chest resonance – authority, maturity, trust

The chest voice is convincing, trustworthy and emphatic.

When the voice resonates against the breastbone, it sounds clear, confident and adult. This resonance carries well and has the ring of authority. The voice sounds convinced and people tend to trust it. If you want to speak in public, this is the resonance that you need more than any other.

Producing the chest voice

Imagine that, with hands at breast level, you are trying to unscrew a jar that is very stiff, and make a sound of effort in your chest. Then say words from the same place.

Talk about a matter on which you have a strong opinion or convictions, speaking with strong emphasis.

Heart resonance – feeling, caring

The voice of the heart is about winning hearts as well as minds.

This is the voice of heart and soul, of passion and emotion – the voice of feeling. It can be warm and caring, loud and desperate, joyous or excited. The tone is quite low and has a soft edge and natural vibration to it. This voice is highly motivational, as it connects directly with the emotions of others. It is difficult to produce this resonance unless you have access to the emotion yourself as you speak.

Once you have created rapport with another person or a group of people, this tone of voice, more than any other, will exert influence. It is quite difficult to fake, though you can hear politicians, in particular, using a version of it. Their voice acquires a passionate tremor as they proclaim belief in ‘this great nation’ or ‘trust in the future’. The discerning listener can usually tell the difference between this ‘public’ emotion and the real thing.

Producing the voice of the heart

Focus on your heart, and then speak warmly about something about which you truly care or feel emotional. Allow yourself to connect with the feeling. If you exert a tight hold on your emotions, this will involve some letting go. If you allow yourself to feel as you speak, the voice of the heart will emerge – it is as simple as that.

Gut resonance – fundamentals, sex

Its deep instinct cuts through.

This voice uses the deepest resonators and feels as if it comes from the whole person, with every fibre of their being. People tend to pay attention to its deep tones, even when they are spoken quietly. It is the voice of fundamental truth, and has the ring of authority about it. You will find that using your deep body resonance will slow down your speech, adding to the weightiness of your communication. Listen out for it when someone who is highly respected comes out with a fundamental truth in a low voice that everyone listens to:

So go for it...

But it’s not true...

That’s what I believe...

The gut voice, being associated with the whole body, can also sound sexy.

Producing the gut voice

Stand upright and relaxed. Settle into yourself. Hum gently from your whole being in a low tone. Be aware of the vibration through your body. You may feel a tingling in your arms and hands, or other parts of your body. Then quietly introduce your spoken voice, coming from the same vibration.

Whole body, whole being

Tip

Personality = per + sono, meaning ‘through sound’. Your personality is revealed more in your voice than in any other part of you. Your authentic personality shines out when you allow the free flow of the sound in your body, and produce the full range of richness.

As your body gets more relaxed, you will be able to speak expressively without thinking about particular resonators. When there is free flow in your body, physiological tremors in the muscles cause natural vibrations in different parts of your body, vibrations that make your voice expressive and your own. The intention on its own achieves this, without you having to worry about resonance. But first you have to ensure that you have access to all the available resonators.

When under stress, we tend to hold onto the voice, with a loss of vibration and resultant flatness of affect. Incidentally, a lie detector (or Psychological Stress Evaluator) functions by detecting flatness in the voice!