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Should I Sing Through my Nose

to be Loud

I get this question a lot: Should I sing through my nose to be loud? This is one of those really confusing vocal topics because of where you feel like you’re aiming sound. Let’s start by pulling apart 2 different mechanisms that may feel similar to you: twang and nasality.

I get this question a lot: Should I sing through my nose to be loud? This is one of those really confusing vocal topics because of where you feel like you’re aiming sound. Let’s start by pulling apart 2 different mechanisms that may feel similar to you: twang and nasality.

 

Twang (or Frontal Resonance)

 

What Does It Feel Like?

Twang feels narrow and laser-focused, and like you’re aiming the sound for your hard palate (that area in the roof of your mouth just behind your upper front teeth).

What Does It Sound Like?

It sounds brighter, louder, and more focused. Here’s an example of a sound without twang, followed by a twangy sound.

How to Achieve It

Say “nya nya nya!” like you’re a bratty kid.

Do you feel that narrow sharpness? That’s called twang, or sometimes frontal resonance, squillo, or ping.

What’s Happening Anatomically

A few things are happening to create that frontal resonance. The #1 thing though is that your aryepiglottic sphincter (or AES), this set of muscles with a funny name located above your vocal folds, is narrowing. When the AES narrows, it produces a formant (or pocket of energy) between 2000 and 4000 HZ, a range that resonates sympathetically with the human eardrum. In other words, it’ll sound louder to you.

Secondarily, frontal resonance is also produced by keeping the tip of your tongue forward and the sides of your tongue high up by your molars–roughly in an “EE” position.

Nasality

 

What Does It Feel Like

Nasality, when done independently of twang (although they can be done together) doesn’t have that pointed, focused feel. It mainly feels like the roof of your mouth is low and that there’s air going through your nose.

 

What Does it Sound Like

Nasality actually mutes your sound and comes off like you have a stuffy nose. Your nose is filled with structures called turbinates that function like acoustic baffles (the foam things you see on the walls in recording studios). In other words, they suck up your sound. Here’s an example of a sound without nasality, followed by one with nasality.

How to Achieve It

Most people aren’t looking to “achieve” nasality, unless it’s for a character role or a voiceover, but the way to do it is to drop your soft palate–the cushy part at the back of the roof of your mouth. You can feel what it’s like to drop it by saying “ng.”

What’s Happening Anatomically?

Think of your soft palate as the gateway between your mouth and your nose. When your soft palate is low, that gateway (called the velopharyngeal port) is open, allowing the sound to travel into your nose. When your soft palate is high, the gateway closes, and all that sound resonates from your mouth.

CAN YOU DO BOTH?

Yep! People like Kristen Chenoweth in “My New Philosophy” and “Popular” use a high degree of both nasality and twang. It’s a very popular recipe for a character role.

Conclusion

While twang is something singers want to use most of the time, nasality is usually less desirable except under certain circumstances. So the answer is no, you shouldn’t sing through your nose to be loud. But it might feel like you are if you’re using twang!

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