Have you ever found yourself struggling with harsh vocals in your singing? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned vocalist, finding ways to soften harsh vocals can greatly enhance your singing performances. In this article, you’ll discover some practical tips and techniques to help you achieve a smoother and more pleasant sound when hitting those higher or more intense notes. So, if you’re ready to take your vocal skills to the next level and captivate your audience with a more soothing and melodic tone, keep reading to learn how to soften those harsh vocals.
1. Warm Up Your Voice
1.1 Breathing Exercises
Before you begin singing or speaking, it’s important to warm up your voice with some breathing exercises. This helps to improve breath control and support, allowing you to project your voice more effectively. One exercise you can try is deep diaphragmatic breathing. Start by taking a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand. Then, exhale slowly through your mouth, imagining that you are blowing out candles. Repeat this exercise for a few minutes to relax and prepare your vocal cords for the upcoming activity.
1.2 Vocal Exercises
Once your breathing is warmed up, it’s time to move on to vocal exercises. These exercises help to loosen up your vocal cords and improve their flexibility. Lip trills are a popular vocal exercise that can help soften harsh vocals. To do this exercise, press your lips together and blow air through them, creating a buzzing sound. This buzzing sensation helps to relax and warm up your vocal cords. You can also try humming scales or singing gentle sirens to further warm up your voice and prepare it for the main performance.
2. Relax Your Body
Maintaining good posture is crucial for achieving a relaxed and balanced vocal production. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid slouching. Imagine a string pulling the crown of your head upward, elongating your spine. This alignment allows for proper breath support and prevents unnecessary tension in your neck, shoulders, and throat.
2.2 Tension Release Techniques
To soften harsh vocals, it’s vital to release any tension in your body and voice. One effective technique is progressive muscle relaxation. Start by focusing on different muscle groups, tensing them for a few seconds, and then releasing the tension. Move from your toes all the way up to your head, consciously letting go of any tightness or stress. Pay particular attention to your facial muscles and jaw, as tension in these areas can negatively impact your vocal tone.
This image is property of images.unsplash.com.
3. Hydrate Your Vocal Cords
3.1 Drink Plenty of Water
Proper hydration is key for maintaining vocal health and preventing vocal strain. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as dehydration can lead to a dry throat and strained vocal cords. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, and consider sipping water during rehearsals or performances to keep your vocal cords hydrated and supple.
3.2 Avoid Vocal Dehydrators
While staying hydrated is important, it’s equally crucial to avoid substances that dehydrate the vocal cords. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to vocal dryness. Additionally, excessive consumption of sugary or acidic beverages can irritate your throat and affect your vocal quality. Opt for water or herbal teas instead to keep your voice in optimal condition.
4. Use Proper Technique
4.1 Support from Diaphragm
To soften harsh vocals and achieve a smoother tone, it’s essential to learn how to support your voice from the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle located just below your lungs, and engaging it properly allows for better breath control and projection. Practice breathing deeply, allowing your diaphragm to expand as you inhale, and retract as you exhale. Engaging this fundamental muscle will help you produce a more controlled and effortless sound.
4.2 Control Breath Flow
In addition to diaphragmatic support, controlling the flow of your breath is crucial for softening harsh vocals. Avoid gasping for air or releasing too much air too quickly. Instead, aim for a steady and controlled airflow throughout your phrases. This will not only improve your vocal tone but also reduce strain on your vocal cords. Practice sustaining long notes, gradually increasing the duration, while maintaining a consistent, gentle airflow.
This image is property of images.unsplash.com.
5. Avoid Vocal Strain
5.1 Minimize Yelling and Screaming
If you tend to strain your voice by yelling or screaming, it’s essential to minimize these habits. Yelling excessively can cause vocal fatigue and potentially lead to vocal damage. Instead, find healthier ways to express your emotions or communicate loudly, such as using a microphone or learning proper projection techniques. By avoiding unnecessary strain, you’ll be able to maintain a softer and more controlled vocal tone.
5.2 Limit Vocal Fry and Glottal Stops
Vocal fry, characterized by a low and creaky sound, as well as glottal stops, which involve forcefully closing the vocal cords, can contribute to harsh vocals. These vocal habits often result from tension and improper vocal technique. Pay attention to your vocal fry usage, opting for a smoother and more connected vocal production. Similarly, minimize the use of glottal stops and focus on releasing tension in your voice to achieve a softer and more pleasant sound.
6. Improve Phonation
6.1 Focus on Resonance
Resonance plays a significant role in the quality and projection of your voice. To soften harsh vocals, focus on creating a resonant sound by directing your voice into your oral and nasal cavities. Imagine your voice bouncing gently around these areas, allowing for a fuller and warmer tone. Practice by vocalizing various vowels and consonants, paying attention to the sensations and vibrations in your head and face.
6.2 Work on Vocal Placement
Vocal placement refers to directing your vocal tone to specific resonating areas in your body. This technique can help soften harsh vocals by creating a more balanced and effortless sound. Experiment with different vocal placements, such as forward placement (feeling the sound in the mask of your face) or backward placement (feeling the sound resonate in the back of your throat). Find a placement that feels comfortable and produces a softer and more pleasant tone.
This image is property of images.unsplash.com.
7. Modify Articulation
7.1 Relax Jaw and Tongue
A tense jaw and tight tongue can contribute to harsh vocal production. To soften your vocals, focus on relaxing these articulatory muscles. Perform jaw and tongue stretches before singing or speaking to release any tension. Roll your shoulders back and gently massage your jaw and tongue with your fingertips. With a relaxed jaw and tongue, you’ll have more control over your articulation and produce a smoother vocal tone.
7.2 Practice Diction Exercises
Clear and precise diction can significantly impact how your vocals are perceived. Practice diction exercises to improve your articulation and achieve a softer delivery. Tongue twisters, consonant drills, and vowel modifications can be beneficial in enhancing your overall vocal clarity. By paying attention to your diction, you can soften harsh vocals and ensure that your words are understood easily by your audience.
8. Experiment with Vocal Effects
8.1 Breathiness and Whispers
Experimenting with different vocal effects can add variety and depth to your singing or speaking. Breathiness and whispers, when used appropriately, can soften harsh vocals and create a delicate and intimate sound. Practice singing or speaking softly while maintaining control over your voice. Experiment with allowing a slight breathiness in your voice, adding a touch of vulnerability to your delivery. However, be careful not to strain your vocal cords while attempting these effects.
8.2 Falsetto or Head Voice
Another vocal effect that can soften harsh vocals is falsetto or head voice. Falsetto is a lighter, more airy vocal register usually utilized in higher ranges. By exploring your upper vocal range and incorporating falsetto into your singing or speaking, you can achieve a more ethereal and gentle quality to your voice. Experiment with transitioning smoothly between your chest and head voice to achieve a seamless and soft vocal performance.
9. Seek Professional Guidance
9.1 Voice Lessons
If you’re serious about softening your vocals and improving your overall technique, consider seeking professional guidance through voice lessons. Working with an experienced vocal coach can provide personalized instruction tailored to your specific needs and goals. They can help identify areas where you may be straining or creating harshness in your voice, and provide exercises and techniques to help you soften and refine your vocal delivery.
9.2 Speech-language Therapy
In some cases, harsh vocals may be a result of underlying vocal or speech disorders. If you’ve tried various techniques but still struggle to soften your vocals, it may be beneficial to consult a speech-language therapist. They can evaluate your vocal production and provide targeted therapy to address any underlying issues. Through therapy sessions, you can learn specific exercises and techniques to soften your vocals and enhance your overall communication skills.
10. Take Care of Your Overall Health
10.1 Get Enough Sleep
To maintain optimal vocal health and ensure the softness of your vocals, it’s crucial to prioritize sleep. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Sufficient rest allows your body and vocal cords to recover from daily activities and reduces the risk of vocal fatigue. Adequate sleep also supports your immune system, protecting you from potential infections that can affect your vocal health.
10.2 Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can harm your vocal cords and negatively impact your vocal quality. Smoking irritates the vocal folds, leading to inflammation and a raspy or harsh vocal tone. Alcohol, on the other hand, dehydrates your vocal cords and can cause vocal strain. To maintain soft vocals, it’s essential to avoid smoking altogether and limit alcohol consumption. Opt for healthier lifestyle choices that support your overall vocal health.
In conclusion, softening harsh vocals requires a combination of physical and vocal techniques, proper hydration, and overall health maintenance. By incorporating warm-up exercises, relaxing your body, hydrating your vocal cords, using proper technique, avoiding strain, working on phonation and articulation, experimenting with vocal effects, seeking professional guidance if needed, and taking care of your overall health, you can achieve softer and more pleasing vocal tones. Remember that consistency, practice, and patience are key in developing a softer vocal style and enhancing your vocal abilities.
About the Author
Michael-B is a Music Producer, Musician, and Formally Trained (and was Certified by the Recording Institute of Detroit in 1986) Recording Engineer. As of 2022, He's built 3 home recording studios go back to 1987, where he wrote, played all the instruments, and recorded his music. Michael B is also a Writer, Chief Editor and SEO of TrackinSolo.com