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Vocal Fringe Techniques: Nasality

It took me a little while before I decided to include nasality in my fringe techniques collection. It can be such an annoying sound, and many people cringe when they hear it—“It sounds like he needs to blow his nose!” But it can also be an extremely useful technique in some musical genres that require the unique sound that nasality provides. For example, certain Broadway characters wouldn’t be themselves if they lost their nasality. Think of Glinda in “Wicked” and Sally in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” (check out the clips below to hear for yourself). While some singers naturally have nasally voices, others have to use nasality as a technique for these roles. We’ll show you how to achieve this tone with a few easy steps so you don’t have to stuff your nose full of tissues!

Glinda Sings “Popular”

Sally Sings “My New Philosophy”

How to Get Nasality

Nasality happens when the soft palate, that area in the back of the roof of your mouth, drops. Visualize your soft palate dropping and the area between your tongue and the roof of your mouth diminishing. If successful, this should cause your larynx to lift as the palate drops. You should visualize the sound coming up through your nostrils to help create that perfectly nasally sound. That, or you can just wait until you have a cold and you’ll sound naturally nasally!


Exercises for Nasality

Nasality is a similar phenomenon to reinforced falsetto because of the slightly raised larynx and the bright, thin sound with sympathetic resonance in the nasal area. In fact, use the same exercise you would use for reinforced falsetto: sing “ME ME ME ME ME” (pronounced like the word me). You could do this on a 5-note descending scale and then go up by half steps, but it doesn’t really matter what notes you use for this. To modify this exercise for nasality, consciously imagine your soft palate dropping and the sound being focused through your nostrils. The “m” consonant is nasally, and the “E” sound is narrow and easy to focus through your nose.

So there you have it! Just don’t go too crazy nasal, otherwise you’ll go around sounding like you always have a cold!

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