Vocal performance tutorial 7 - Volume production by Tina & Ben Henderson

Just about any piece of printed music will have some Italian phrases or abbreviations on it, so as a singer it is important that you have an understanding of some of them. In terms of volume, or loudness, the following terms apply ...

Term What it means Abbreviation
CRESCENDO Getting louder gradually cresc. or <
DIMINUENDO Getting quieter gradually  Dim.
FORTE Loud f
FORTISSIMO Very Loud  f f
MESSA DI VOCE

Getting louder gradually then gradually quieter. 

< >
MEZZO FORTE Moderately loud  mf
MEZZO PIANO Moderately quiet mp
PIANISSIMO Very quiet  pp
PIANO Quiet p

So, in the MESSA DI VOCE exercise, (the ‘hairpins) we run the full range of volumes from ...

                                  pp   to   p   to   mp   to   mf   to   f   to   ff    

Practice the exercise regularly, concentrating on maintaining the pitch of the note, and supporting the lungs with the diaphragm pushing in and up, and keeping the ribcage held high.

It is important to realise that the volume you sing at will have a direct influence upon the tone, or ‘timbre’ of your voice. Try to keep your voice sounding resonant and full even during quiet passages - you don’t want the voice to ‘thin out’ or start sounding nasal or reedy.

This may be quite tricky to master at first, but practice singing very quietly, without letting the voice become nasal - if it does you’ll feel the resonance start to ‘ring’ in your sinus: bring the note back down to the chest.

The pitch of a note has no direct bearing on the volume of a note:

High notes can be sung at any volume, from  pp      ff    

Low notes can also be sung at any volume, from  pp      ff  

Practise your scales at varying volumes, whilst maintaining timbre.

© Tina & Ben Henderson 2007

Vocal performance tutorial index

Tutorial 1 - Breathing

Tutorial 2 - Pitching notes

Tutorial 3 - Lip twisters

Tutorial 4 - Rib cage control

Tutorial 5 - The break

Tutorial 6 - Your head

Tutorial 7 - Volume production

Tutorial 8 - Vowel production