Music helps us to unite and connect with each other. No matter our background, every culture has been enriched by music throughout human history. In fact, singing is one of the easiest and most accessible ways for us to participate in making music. We are the instrument, so we already have everything we need to get started. To appreciate this unique and universal art form, here are our top 10 most interesting facts about singing.
1. Singing May Have Preceded Speech
For humans to be so attuned to singing that it feels innate and natural to us, we would’ve had to be singing for quite some time. In fact, some researchers suggest that singing may have preceded speech. Tonal vocalisations could’ve been a very instinctive and primal way for us to communicate our emotions – we all have a deep connection to melodies and are able to decipher the feeling someone is trying to convey. Another theory is that early humans used singing to soothe their children and let them know they are close by, as human babies are born much less independent than other primates. If you’d like to find out more, we have written an entire article exploring the origins of singing. (https://www.londonsinginginstitute.co.uk/why-do-we-sing/ )
2. Our Voices Connect Us to Our Loved Ones
Speaking of singing as a way to connect, our brain can identify the voices of loved ones and forms a special bond with them. We find voices of loved ones soothing and reassuring. For example, when a child hears the voice of their mother, it has been shown to decrease stress and promote positivity through release of oxytocin. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that singing to babies can have a calming effect and why it can be so helpful to pick up the phone and call a loved one when we are stressed and overwhelmed.
3. Male and Female Vocal Anatomy Affects Our Register
Male voices tend to be lower in pitch, while female voices are higher in pitch. This is due to an anatomical difference in the size of our vocal folds. Adult male vocal folds tend to be between 17 and 25 millimetres in length, while adult female vocal folds span between 12.5 and 17.5 millimetres in length – almost half the size!
4. Your Voice Is As Unique As a Fingerprint
The unique qualities of our singing voices extend beyond the differences between male and female gender! As shown by voice recognition technologies, our voices are as unique as our fingerprints. There are so many elements involved in producing a sound. It doesn’t stop at the size and shape of our vocal cords! Our bodies, particularly, our vocal tract, oral cavities, and the manner in which we speak have a huge impact on the timbre of our voice, which also translates in the sound we make when we sing. While some voices may have similarities, no two voices are identical. Therefore, we encourage our adult singing lessons students to get to know their own unique qualities and focus on honing those, instead of trying to sound like someone else. You already have all the tools you need to stand out as an artist in your own right!
5. About Tone Deafness
How many times have you heard people referring to themselves as tone deaf? Or perhaps you have said so about yourself? Amusia, otherwise known as tone deafness, is a medical condition. Sadly, it doesn’t have a cure, however, it affects only around 4% of the human population. A person with this condition is unable to correctly identify pitch and tonal changes in music and, therefore, they are unable to sing in tune. If you’ve ever wondered if you are tone deaf, there are tests designed to determine that. It can be disheartening for those who have always dreamt of singing, however, individuals with amusia can still enjoy the mental and physical stimulation of music and reap the positive benefits it can have on our overall health and wellbeing.
6. The First Single to Use Auto-Tune
Auto-Tune has become a somewhat controversial tool in modern music production. Some see it as ‘cheating’, while others use it as a creative tool for its distinct, computerised sound. It was invented by Dr Andy Hildebrand and later patented by Antares in 1996. It’s a pitch-correction software that automatically corrects notes and matches them with the closest pitch, which can be programmed to a specific scale or tonality. The first commercial use of Auto-Tune was on Cher’s hit song ‘Believe’. If you listen closely, you’ll notice that the word ‘believe’ in the chorus has that distinct, digital sound to it and it’s used very tastefully as a production effect. We can all agree that Cher is a capable vocalist and there can be many uses for this technology from minor corrections to pitch-shifting an entire song or vocal passage.
7. Highest and Lowest Sung Notes
We all aspire to have vast vocal ranges. Many professional singer’s voices span up to three and more octaves, with some reaching an impressive four octave vocal range. While this can be developed over time, don’t fret if your vocal range is more limited. There are other qualities that make you a great singer like your tone, vocal power, pitching, flexibility and so much more.
But how high and low can human voices actually go? Well, Tim Storms holds an impressive world record for the lowest note every sung. He can reach a G-7, which is eight octaves below the lowest G on piano. You can have a listen to one of his performances here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtAltg0ZIrY ) As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also has the widest vocal range of a whopping 10 octaves.
What about the highest note ever sung? While Mariah Carey often springs to mind thanks to her impressive whistle range, it’s, actually, Georgia Brown, who holds the record for the highest note ever song – it’s a G10! It’s so high that it’s not even classed as a note, but rather a frequency. Take a listen here but be mindful of the volume if you have sensitive hearing. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia57VfDaESw )
8. Microtonal Singing?
While we talk about pitch, vocal range and more, what is microtonal singing? Well, in western culture, we base our music on a twelve-note scale. Microtones are the musical tones in between the notes on our standard twelve-note scale. For example, if you were to slide between E and F, that sound in between the two notes would be a microtone. Jacob Collier is well-known for his use and understanding of microtonal music, however, it is, in fact, nothing new in world music that doesn’t follow the traditional Western music theory. You can find out more about how to sing microtones here. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMv520Lu-b0 ) This may not be standard practice for most vocalists, but it could be useful to understand microtonalities, so you can become more aware when your pitch is too flat or too sharp.
9. Singing and Wellbeing
One of the most interesting facts about singing is how closely it is linked with our mental health as well as physical wellbeing! It’s been long renowned for its positive impact on our social lives, improved cognition, and mental health benefits. Taking adult singing lessons can increase your confidence, form new connections with others, increase creativity and unveil new ways of expressing yourself. When we sing, we engage over one hundred muscles throughout our abdomen, chest, tongue, lips and jaw. Vocalists also breathe much deeper, increasing oxygen intake which can promote physical health, while having a positive and calming effect on your mood. Check out this blog to find out more! (https://www.londonsinginginstitute.co.uk/5-reasons-to-take-adult-singing-lessons/ )
10. Anyone Can Learn to Sing!
Last but by no means least, anyone can learn to sing! Sure, some may have more musical talent than others, but with hard work and dedication, you too can have the singing voice you’ve always wanted. One of the most interesting facts about singing and our perception of it is that we often believe it’s a skill that has an age limit or that is reserved for a select few individuals. But you’d never tell someone it’s too late to hit the gym or learn to cook!
Just like all other activities, if adult singing lessons is something you’ve always wanted to try, simply take a chance on yourself and go for it – you might just surprise yourself. At London Singing Institute, our vocal coaches have decades of experience and specialise in providing an encouraging, non-judgmental environment for all singing enthusiasts. Whether your dream is to be a professional vocalist or simply sing for your own pleasure, get in touch with us to find out more about our adult singing courses!
Find out more about our adult singing courses, taught in London and remotely.
Tags: Singing Tips
, Singing advice