Seriously, let it flow.
Meaning...no flipping?!?!? Super heavy hard mix from the bottom to the top and back down, right? Like I do in all my scales!!! Yes! Got it!!! You're awesome Chris!!!
That's not what I mean. Connect the words in the same fashion, one would speak it. And not speaking like it's the first thing in the morning. I'm referring to speaking. Big, proud, lively, energetic, powerful, speaking. Speaking like you've had a great cup of coffee, you're confident in what you're saying, the room is listening to you, and everyone is interested.
It's actually a great feeling. Whenever you're having trouble with any song you're singing, at any time, stop, take a deep breath, exhale, and speak through thr phrase you're having trouble singing. Pitches are irrelevent at this point. Focus on every aspect of the word, and most importantly, the flow within the word, and to the next word.
Think of water. It flows. One of my favorite movie stars, Bruce Lee, once said
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
I absolutely love this quote. and one can take it numerous ways when it comes to the voice. But I like to think of it relating to the flow. Let your voice be like water. It's amazing how it can do so much and create so many different sounds on so many different pitches. We create the obsticals for water to go around. Sometimes, we build a dam (tension) and it stops our flow.
To let our water-voice flow quick and easy as possible, one needs to recognize when we do it best without thinking about it. And that's when we speak. And as I said earlier, speaking in a great and confident mindset. We all do it more than we realize. And it's also something that doesn't hurt to practice and to be aware when we do it well.
When going from speaking to singing, using the same words, there's a very similar rhythmic pattern that is involved with both. This isn't just coincidence, it's how commercial singing is. A good song is written to tell a story and say something meaningful or playful. Ironically, the pitch is irrelevent to most listeners. While high notes sound impressive, they don't make or break the quality of a song. That's because the words and how they are spoken/sung are what the majority of people hear first. When these phrases and the rhythmic patterns of the words are abruptly stopped, and then started again, people notice. And I'm not referring to something creative percussively. I'm referring to cutting the air in the middle of a vowel in the middle of a word.
Think Britney Spears on her worst day:
"I'm a sla (CUT ALL SOUND) ave fo (CUT ALL SOUND) r y (CUT ALL SOUND) ou."
Yep. Reading that is difficult. Try to speak it how it's written. Sucks.
That's an extreme example. Now, try this, take a deep breath, start exhaling and continue to do so from the beginning to the end of the phrase:
(Start exhaling) "I'm a slave for you" (continue exhaling)
Good. Easier? Try again, this time, don't get louder, but focus on the energy put into the consonants and vowels
(Start exhaling) "Ah-eem a sleh-eeve fuh-or yeh-ooo" (continue exhaling)
Weird? But easier right? Make sure there is absolutely no gap of air flow at any point in speaking the phrase. Not even between words.
Do it again and again. Built up a bit of speed. (Obviously, I chose a strange set of Britney Spears lyrics, not sure why. First Britney song that came to mind. Of course you can use something simple and or your own, but keep it SIMPLE for this exercise. No crazy 80's hair metal.)
This is an example of letting your phrase flow.
Take a better song for example, Merry Go 'Round by Kacey Musgraves:
"Mary, Mary quite contrary. We get bored, so, we get married. Just like dust, we settle in this town. On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go, where it stops nobody knows. And it ain't slowin' down. This merry go 'round."
Beautiful, simple, well written song. One wouldn't speak or write it like this:
"Ma (CUT SOUND)ary Ma(CUT SOUND)ary qu(CUT SOUND)ite contr(CUT SOUND)ary. We get b(CUT SOUND)ored s(CUT SOUND)o w(CUT SOUND)e get (CUT SOUND) ma(CUT SOUND)rried... ect."
It's not only tough to read, but it's tough to sing. The sudden absense of sound is referring to the flow of air being cut out. This can happen between words and even worse, in the middle of them. It's just not pleasant to listen to. And it makes it really really hard to sing sometimes. Refer to High Notes? It's All About The Approach.
The more you get comfortable flowing on easy phrases, the easier it is to start working on the more difficult phrases and singing into the higher notes. Start with the basics again, and work back up. The best pros of all pros I know constantly go back to the "easy" basics. You can do the same.
Of course, there are a few artists that cut up the flow often and arguably tastefully. However, they are usually the artists I hear students wanting to sound like for their big high notes and vocal ability. I would say those artists also have a good amount of control over their voice and know when or when not to add those sudden starts and stops while still maintaining their flow. It is an art form. (Bono, Matthew Bellamy, ect) A good vocalist should be able to flow first, then add the stylistic starts and stops first.
Basically, don't start learning how to sing by imitating someone's style.
Learn to flow. Let it flow. Let your voice flow. Create your own style.
- Chris Keller (the vocal coach)