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Find Your Unique Sound

Claim your unique sound and stand out as an artist -says Daniel Borch

Creating your own personal sound is one of the main tasks facing rock, pop and soul singers.

Our sound stems from a combination of our physical characteristics and our musical ideals.

In other words, one facet of your sound comes from some factors you can’t change (physiological make-up); this is unique to you and should be celebrated.

Other aspects of your sound can be changed – and you can & should consider using different vocal qualities.

I will introduce you to both of these areas.

Your Body’s Own Sound

Your personal sound is primarily determined by your vocal tract (throat, oral and nasal cavities).

The way you perceive a note is coloured by the sound that travels directly from your mouth to your ear, vibrations in your body and how it resonates in the room. All these parameters affect it in different ways.

We are often deceived into believing that our voices are deeper than they really are.

To get a better idea of how your voice sounds to others you can hold up a large book close to head in front of both ears or cup your hands and hold them about 10 cm in front of your mouth and then speak.

The Smorgasbord of Voice Qualities

There are innumerable voice qualities.

The range of ideals and techniques is enormous and the terms used for them are usually fairly descriptive, for example growling, crooning, belting, twang, cry, sob, distortion, and so on.

When a voice quality appears it is sometimes analysed by singing teachers and vocal coaches who define and describe how they believe you should reproduce it.

However, as vocal pedagogy in the popular music genres is relatively new, there is much discussion as to which terms and methods should be used for these vocal ”presets”.

Personally I don’t think we need to label sounds that much – I’d rather view our vocal instrument as extremely versatile.

Once the vocal folds have started their vibrations they can create numerous patterns and in addition your sound is also greatly affected of your vocal tract in both a linear and non-linear way.

We often connect a certain vocal sound with a genre but I think that it is important that we know that it is a “vocal” sound ideal we are talking about and not a music genre, as you can sing with rock sound ideal in a soul song and vice versa.

A Final Note

Remember, it is extremely important that you find your unique personal sound if you want to stand out as an artist.

This means that you want to embrace your personal sound as well as your own inspiration to combine this with certain musical qualities.

That’s why I never get tired of saying Voice Centre’s slogan: “Be great don’t imitate!”

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Nicholas Patrick – Train Song (Cover)

Nicholas – you have a nice, husky vocal tone. I want you to consider adding more energy to your presentation; transposing the song up a whole note may be a part of the solution. Also, add more variation to your vocal work, not only at the start and the end of the song. Visually, I think you can also add some variation: other scenery or musicians. The song seems to vary in tempo – tighten up your timing.

Vox Arsana – Train Song (Cover)

Overall, this is a good choice of song and a good idea for your act. When it comes to your vocals, I would like to hear a more “chesty” sound from the girls and a less “twangy” sound from the guys. Maybe a solution could be to transpose the song down a whole note and let the boys be more airy in their sound. Or, if it gets too low for the boys, maybe they can sing lead on another song ;-). Your background harmonies should leave more room for the lead vocal – be softer and more “airy”. That also goes for the presentation: if you all have a hundred percent energy towards the camera ALL the time then the viewer won’t know where or who to focus on. Why do you have a piano in the background? I think it would nicer with all a cappella with a lot of dynamic variations.


See VoiceCouncil’s Feature Interview with Daniel Borch

Daniel Zangger Borch is one of Sweden’s most recognised vocal coaches. He has been a regular on adjudicating panels for popular TV shows such as ‘Idol’, ‘True Talent’ and ‘X-Factor’. He is also a professional singer, recording artist (with seven albums) and songwriter. Daniel holds a PhD in Music performance and is Head of the Voice Centre, Stockholm. His book “The Ultimate Vocal Voyage” has been released internationally. Hear more about Daniel’s career.
Daniel’s Ultimate Vocal Voyage on Amazon