Vocal Style: Channelling Your Emotions Into Your Vocal Performance

We all know the importance of proper vocal technique and its role in the safety and protection of a singer's voice. But how important is it to attach a singer's style and emotion to that technique? And where should those feelings come from? The answer, obviously, is: They have to come from within.
I have a favourite saying, "Be it, Feel it, Love it, Live it". What I mean by that is that a performer has to identify not just with the style of the music, but also with the lyrics and message he or she wants to convey. This is easier for singers who write their own songs, but many mainstream top-40 artists do not, especially in Pop. Recently, I recorded a young artist who was covering Miley Cyrus's "Can't be Tamed" for a demo and that song requires a lot of staccato punch. The title of the song itself suggests strength, rebellion, power, self-esteem and self-worth. If that song is sung with softness instead of intensity, or without strong enough inflection, the message would be lost on an emotional level and infringe on the style of the accompanying music. It took a lot of mentoring and vocal consulting in the studio to help the artist identify herself with the intensity of the song and channel that energy into her performance, as in reality the artist is a very soft and gentle person ... not that intense at all. This reflects the notion that, in a manner of speaking, real performing artists have to walk into a different role with every song. Much like an actor learns their characters and acts their roles on stage and in film, the singer/performer is ultimately a story teller through music.
Let's take Lady Gaga for example. I went to one of her concerts this summer and watched her very intently. I tried to see who she was through her performance and came to the conclusion that she is none of the things she portrays on stage, but she is a great actress who plays her role with absolute excellence. Obviously she and her team created the image she bears and the spectacular show that looked, to me, almost like a Halloween play with monsters and angels; full of liberty, sex, dance and what have you. It was very cleverly set out, covering absolutely every aspect of entertainment and catering to an audience of wide ranging ages and interests. To pull off a performance like Gaga's, the performer does not necessarily have to be the character he or she is singing about, but they definitely have to channel the song's character, being, and emotions through their own intrinsic paths of artistic expression and overall performance. 
Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science (TM) method and Talent Scout & Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc.
If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863)


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