Jump to content

Beyonce's Vocal Technique

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

What do you all think of Beyonce as a vocalist? She seems to have excellent control over her instrument. My only gripe is the clavicular breathing with the audible inhalation. 

Here are a few good videos of singing for you all to analyze: 

What do you all think?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 120
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Sad thing is there hasn't been a record played on the radio in 15 years that wasn't put through an auto tune software 

For the love of God... how do I stop getting these "Beyonce... " notifications?  

I haven't had time to read this whole thing, but I'll say this.   1). Most music is auto-tuned, period. To some degree or another and for anyon

I don't know her music very much, though I know I loved some of Destiny's Child... I like her in your third video, looks to me like a great singer. The first two are hard to hear. :D I am going to be listening to her a bit more. She is many people's idol!

Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Felipe Carvalho said:

I believe she is one of the most complete and well prepared artists in the mainstream scene, over a decade of lessons in classical training from what I could gather.

I did not care for her music listening to the produced stuff, but live... She is a beast.

Classical? Her breathing is anything but classical but I do feel everything else about her singing is quite well. Her transitions from and through different registers is always perfectly done. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, YouCanSingAnything said:

Eh. Breathing.

The lungs are in the chest. If you're dancing and on stage in front of thousands in a high stress situation you might breath a bit different too =p.

But also... I mean if your lungs are in your chest. Your chest has to move when you breathe no matter what anyone else says haha. If your chest isn't allowed to move when you breathe.. seems a bit stiff.

The third video I posted is anything but a high stress situation lol. Shes sitting down around maybe 40 people. The clavicular breathing is quite evident in that clip. 

Appearing stiff or producing a "stiff" tone because of improper breathing methods? lol I'll appear stiff anyday :P

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, KillerKu said:

She's never seemed anything but rock solid to me. Don't care much for her music stylistically but love the use of horns in this song. It's probably my favorite I've heard from her:

 

That's a common commentary made about Beyonce. Her music is her downfall. I have to say I agree. >_< 

1 minute ago, YouCanSingAnything said:

Well.. just think about it ha. It's like when sometimes I'll hear people say "but I can feel vibrations in my larynx as I sing.. is that bad?" Your larynx is producing vibrations! There's this weird disconnect between whats supposed to be "good singing technique" and reality in a lot of instances.

Likewise, our lungs are in our chest. If you are breathing properly your chest is moving in some way otherwise you're taking incredibly shallow breaths =p

Sure it moves but it shouldn't be moving to the extent where it hinders the optimization of the inhalation. Not to mention Beyonce's shoulders AND chest are moving in that clip. They're not casually moving. They're moving quite noticeably. Not to mention the very audible inhale, which ironically enough encourages shallow breathing, a closed throat etc. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, DrD said:

That's a common commentary made about Beyonce. Her music is her downfall. I have to say I agree. >_< 

Well she doesn't write most of her songs and isn't writing the arrangements either. She's a pop star and most of it is tailored to a certain demographic. So for me:

1. I'm not the part of the demographic being tailored to

2. I prefer on average for music to not be tailored to any demographic and be written for the music alone

But she's got a good voice and she's a good performer for people in the demographic who don't mind being tailored to by industry songwriters. It's an effective combination. Everyone involved is skilled at what they do.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, KillerKu said:

Well she doesn't write most of her songs and isn't writing the arrangements either. She's a pop star and most of it is tailored to a certain demographic. So for me:

1. I'm not the part of the demographic being tailored to

2. I prefer on average for music to not be tailored to any demographic and be written for the music alone

But she's got a good voice and she's a good performer for people in the demographic who don't mind being tailored to by industry songwriters. It's an effective combination. Everyone involved is skilled at what they do.

I understand and concur specifically to the comment made about music being written for the music alone. Leave gender,sex, and w/e else out of the equation.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, YouCanSingAnything said:

I don't really notice it honestly. I don't think there's anything wrong with inhaling audibly either ha. She's doing some pretty long and drastic phrases and she doesn't have a lot of time to be taking slow, quiet breaths.

In fact, one of my teachers in college was a professional oboe soloist and symphony orchestra oboist. In her solo career she said she made a point of not trying to disguise her breathing; that it wasn't musical to hide the breath.

Then you can step into the Estill method which encourages raised shoulder and head for belting. So... lol. It's something I would rather avoid but if it happens and someone is otherwise healthy and in beautiful voice I don't think it matters much at all. In order to really know whats going on with Beyonce, you would have to be Beyonce. She might say "Weird. I feel fine. My voice has never been healthier. I've tried to breathe deeper into my body but it just felt unnatural. I like breathing with my audience."

I think all of these rules are good for beginner/intermediate level... but once you get to the advanced level nothing really gets in your way. Singers can be suspended 4 stories in the air by high wires and put into the most uncomfortable contorted postures imaginable and still deliver a world class performance. I don't think they care that much about if you can hear their inhale or not ;)

A full, quiet, healthy inhale can be done in a second or two. A semi-full, quiet, healthy inhale can be done in a split second. She has more than enough time.   It just takes time and training to master these things. And these are two things Beyonce hasn't implemented in regards to efficient breathing. This type of audible inhale matters because it doesn't provide the best possible result, so it is simply inefficient. It may night be bad, but why settle for good when you can have great? lol And I doubt Beyonce knows enough about the body and it's physiology for singing to speak on the proper and improper methods of breathing in any setting. She isn't "breathing with her audience" because she wants to. She's doing so because she has no other choice but to. It isn't done for stylistic reasons. It's her only option and she thinks it's the best, thus the problem. Why not introduce another method for ballads where chest displacement can be easily avoided? Sure she sounds great but I think she's worked harder than she needed because of the incorrect foundation that was laid. Imagine having to learn to maintain an open throat if your method of breathing is working against you. Why not work with your body instead of against it? Even if this worked out in the end and she has a great onset, nice, even registers, and etc. What kind of vocal instructors are we to give her a thumbs up because the final result is good even when the process to get there is known to not be good?

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, YouCanSingAnything said:

I dno man. This reminds me of the videos out there of singing teachers who criticize Idina Menzel... as if they know better than her haha. Singers can make their own decisions at a certain point in their career. And, considering there is no one better than them and no one who understand their bodies better than them, our opinions don't mean much.

Plus there's the obvious issue of... hmm... evidence to support the claims being made. I don't want to make you fish out evidence to support these ideas, it's a bit silly and I'm sure it doesn't even exist. But we're not experts in anatomy and the respiratory system man. We're musicians. There are a lot of things singers and musicians believe to be true that don't line up reality even a little bit. We can't really extend our reach very far, especially when telling someone far superior than any of us what's best for her.

Artists come to vocal instructors because vocal instructors do indeed know better about the art of singing. If that wasn't the case, vocal instructors wouldn't exist. We might not know the bodies as well as the individual, but we do know the sounds it produces when under stress and when in a state of comfort. I'd understand if I were stating opinions but I'm actually not. These statements made about the breathing methods being a hinderance are well known to be factual and evidence to support them are more than existent. It's just a matter of spending some time on youtube to hear them while watching her perform live.

We're not experts of the anatomy and respiratory systems, but we should be experts about the specific parts of these systems that effect the voice at hand. The best musicians understand this and seek this knowledge from vocal instructors. Thats how this business works. It's not really about extending any reach. It's about understanding the voice and your role in professing this understanding to those who seek said understanding.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, DrD said:

I understand and concur specifically to the comment made about music being written for the music alone. Leave gender,sex, and w/e else out of the equation.

That's just the mainstream music industry. Whenever I turn on the radio all I can hear is focus group testing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_group

Back in the day, it's not that they didn't try, but the music industry kind of sucked at this skill. Crazy things would slip through the cracks and shock listeners. You'd have spectacular failures, artists in development for a decade before producing a hit, bizarre transgressions. Now it sounds like they've got it down to a science.

A lot of modern singers have pleasant voices and could be models, etc, but I can't really buy into any of it. At least I like one of her songs. That's a good batting average for me. :4:

Link to post
Share on other sites

 Some people are really deep into Appoggio and others focus on resonance and put little thought into breathing. Hearing the breath can be a relaxation of the false folds instead of retracting them, nothing really to do with Clavical or diaphramatic breathing.

   The girl has killer tone and control. Why use her to promote appoggio over clavical breathing? Use someone whose tone and control truely is effected by the lack of proper breath usage. There has to be someone whose tone sucks because of this.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, MDEW said:

 Some people are really deep into Appoggio and others focus on resonance and put little thought into breathing. Hearing the breath can be a relaxation of the false folds instead of retracting them, nothing really to do with Clavical or diaphramatic breathing.

   The girl has killer tone and control. Why use her to promote appoggio over clavical breathing? Use someone whose tone and control truely is effected by the lack of proper breath usage. There has to be someone whose tone sucks because of this.

Those people are silly. Putting little thought into breathing is silly if you think about the requirements the voice needs in order to even speak of resonance. Richard Miller speaks on the audible inhale being the throat's result to resisted air. I spoke on clavicular breathing because it usually has an audible sigh to go along with it.

I agree. She has a very good understanding of her voice and the history of music as well and thats exactly why I use her to support optimal breathing. Plenty of people say they would like to sound like Beyonce, but if Beyonce isn't doing all of what should be done people will assume they as well don't need to take into considerations the breathing apparatus.  Not to mention speaking on anything other than 100% love for Beyonce is always met with criticism. She makes for great intellectual debates. :-]

Link to post
Share on other sites

     The debate goes on and on about "Normal" support vs Appoggio vs Fold closure/resonance vs open throat. Does appoggio cause open throat/ fold closure or does open throat/ fold closure cause good support/appoggio. They go hand in hand and there are different support strategies for different sound characteristics. The tone, pitch control, volume dynamics....... whatever end result you wish to achieve is the main focus.

    Some teachers focus on the end result and let the  breath do what it needs to do to produce the sound intended.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, Welcome to the forum. I am in no way knocking appoggio. It is another tool and needed for certain sounds. It is just that clavicular breathing is also needed for certain sounds. Too much air can cause problems just like too little air can.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MDEW said:

     The debate goes on and on about "Normal" support vs Appoggio vs Fold closure/resonance vs open throat. Does appoggio cause open throat/ fold closure or does open throat/ fold closure cause good support/appoggio. They go hand in hand and there are different support strategies for different sound characteristics. The tone, pitch control, volume dynamics....... whatever end result you wish to achieve is the main focus.

    Some teachers focus on the end result and let the  breath do what it needs to do to produce the sound intended.

 

 

43 minutes ago, MDEW said:

By the way, Welcome to the forum. I am in no way knocking appoggio. It is another tool and needed for certain sounds. It is just that clavicular breathing is also needed for certain sounds. Too much air can cause problems just like too little air can.

Thanks! And I love this discussion we're having. I've always been told and have read that clavicular breathing is bad and appoggio is good lol. I'm not saying what you're saying isn't true but I like to have these things one click away if possible so do you have any references for this?

16 minutes ago, YouCanSingAnything said:

An interesting point I learned while studying support research...

Opera and contemporary breath support can be radically, radically different. When researchers study the lung volumes needed for opera its upwards of 75% and rarely do opera singers empty out their tanks completely. Opera singers don't need to "gasp" for air like, for example, Beyonce might (or at least how one might interpret it.)

Contemporary country singers, on the other hand, stop at around 25% of their maximum lung capacity. They will often bottom out on the amount of air in their tank; hence why you'll often see fantastic contemporary singers take a sharp inhale of air after a particularly long phrase.

The easy observation to make is that, well, obviously contemporary country singers are less skilled than opera singers. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think that we try too hard to impose classical technique ideals on contemporary singing... and the basis for this is really not evident aside from "this is what my teacher said to do, my teacher learned from their teacher, who learned from theirs" and this goes way back even before "belting" was a common term. It just doesn't make sense to be trying to force old technique ideals to apply to singers who have intentionally musically rebelled so far from classical standards in every possible way. "Speech-like" vowels used to be "bad" and now they are expected!

 Anyway back to the research findings. So if we compare the country singers lung volumes to that of the average person during speech, what do we find? The same value of 25%. This is interesting to me. If we go beyond "contemporary singers are bad" and think, well, what if speech-like lung volumes and breathing habits produce speech-like singing? That's an interesting conversation to me.

There is no one teaching "contemporary belting" who can also perform it at an elite level, that I'm aware of. Singers like Beyonce ARE the elite pop singers. They got to where they are because they didn't follow conventional wisdom and they pushed the envelope of vocal technique. They might sound "generic" to us now, but these sounds are completely novel; not even 10 years old.

So I think there is a big difference between discussing a singer who is doing something very obviously damaging and who doesn't know better; I think there is a fair critique to be had there. But I think Beyonce is just a singer in a league of her own. I don't think there is a teacher out there that could do much for her; she's the first of her kind. It's not like opera where there are centuries worth of pedagogy behind them to reference. Beyonce is a product of the last 10 years in the development of contemporary music. If anyone is going to be giving anyone lessons... it's Beyonce giving us lessons ;p.

Maybe in 100 years a slight "clavicular breathing" method will exist as a staple in contemporary singing. It sounds absurd but I don't think anyone can pretend to know what Beyonce should or shouldn't be doing when she is literally inventing contemporary technique. She's the one we should look to, not the other way around ;p

The only part that I don't necessarily agree with is Beyonce inventing contemporary technique. What exactly is she doing thats inventive? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, YouCanSingAnything said:

"Inventing" might be a bit of a strong word... but she's at the forefront of creating new types of sounds. This is a good example of the progression. I would say that the sounds she's doing are much "brighter," use a higher larynx, and are more speech-like than previous types of singing.

The exact details of what is different will change from person to person; but she's one of the best of the best and she has to stay on top of a genre that just keeps evolving. Perhaps faster than music has ever progressed in all of human history! Likewise, the demands of contemporary singers are higher than they've been before in a lot of ways.
 


 

 

 

Ok then i definitely agree with that. I don't want you to think I'm knocking Beyonce because I'm really not. 

Whats the name of the article or study discussing the lung volume of different styles of singing? That sounds like a good read. Also, all of my books about singing are from a classical standpoint. I have a belting book but it lacks the science that I'm interested in. Any suggestions?

Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the best around.

9 hours ago, DrD said:

What do you all think of Beyonce as a vocalist? She seems to have excellent control over her instrument. My only gripe is the clavicular breathing with the audible inhalation. 

Here are a few good videos of singing for you all to analyze: 

What do you all think?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

   I cannot reference any articles or peer reviewed papers but, I have read different things concerning "Belting" from Estill, CVT and Ken Tamplin(relevent to this discussion) where the mention of Clavicular breathing being preferred because you want a higher larynx, quick burst of air and a higher air pressure. If there is too much air in the lungs you run further risks of blowing the folds open, locking the mechanism, or a lack of control to keep the air from escaping too quickly.

   It is kind of opposite to what you would want in Classical singing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You can't really condense the history of music into 5 second clips of one artist per couple of years. You also can't really condense vowels into 'speech vowels' because each culture has its own dialect. There are a fair number of soul/blues/folk/country/rock singers who were singing pretty close to 'their' speech vowels.

Beyonce may be singing closer to a generic average of globalized vowels these days but most of the world did not speak like that throughout history. That said she seems to modify towards 'ih' to my ears pretty frequently. It's not particularly common in most dialects or language I've heard. More of a singing convenience as far as I know. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I agree modern pop is more speech like than opera. But pop still makes huge concessions for convenience.

It's a situation like this where someone is singing with speech vowels:

Notice the lack of C5s, E5s, G5s, etc. Speech vowels often don't get people there at all. Most of these pop singers long ago left most of their speech vowels to get those notes (for example modifying to ih/moan) etc.

Certain accents were more convenient for higher notes back in the day. Black southern gospel for example was often rangier. :D But singers all make a different compromise for the sake of singing convenience in their vowels and Christina/Beyonce are not what I'd call the talkiest singers in the history of music. Intelligible, yes. And the curbing thing is more intelligible on average than say opera. But it's still very 'convenient' compared to someone's actual speech vowels.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, KillerKu said:

Black southern gospel for example was often rangier. :D

I don't know how, southern accent's dipthongs seem to be horrible for high range haha.  Kinda hard to center your vowel when your accent slips through fifteen different vowel sounds for one word. Like... "Aaah-ehh-ihhh-eeeeee" just to say the word "I" hahaha.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Jeremy Mohler said:

I don't know how, southern accent's dipthongs seem to be horrible for high range haha.  Kinda hard to center your vowel when your accent slips through fifteen different vowel sounds for one word. Like... "Aaah-ehh-ihhh-eeeeee" just to say the word "I" hahaha.

If you do not think that Black Southern Gospel singers  modified vowels you are not listening too closely. When you are in one of those states of mind when you are shouting "In the Spirit" so to speak you do not worry about proper diction and things come out the way they need to. Do it long enough and you can "Go into the zone", Your vowels modify to what they need to.

   If you can keep the presence of mind to map it......... more the better.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Jeremy Mohler said:

I don't know how, southern accent's dipthongs seem to be horrible for high range haha.  Kinda hard to center your vowel when your accent slips through fifteen different vowel sounds for one word. Like... "Aaah-ehh-ihhh-eeeeee" just to say the word "I" hahaha.

You had the unfortunate experience of 'white southern accent.' ;) The kind I'm talking about is quackier and edgier.

This a great example of a historical singer 'meeting in the middle' by taking an accent, adding some convenience and making it soar into the pop world. Born in Tennessee.

Whyhrle Ahrm cohrmin meh hair naowr! And wondering what dress to wear now. 

Stick the invisible 'r' in there and the dipthongs work. Quack it, believe it.  :bang:

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×
×
  • Create New...