Term Category: Techniques
Breathiness in singing refers to a vocal quality characterized by the audible passage of breath during phonation. It can be described as lacking resonance and is often accompanied by an audible emission of breath. This vocal quality is achieved when the vocal folds vibrate as in normal voicing but are adjusted to allow more air to escape, producing a sighing-like sound. Breathiness can be used as a stylistic choice in singing, adding a soft and airy texture to the voice.
When a singer produces a breathy tone, the vocal folds are not fully adducted, allowing excess air to escape during phonation. This results in a softer, less intense sound with a hushed quality. Breathiness is often used to convey vulnerability, intimacy, or a sense of longing in a song. It can also be employed for stylistic effect in various genres such as jazz, pop, and folk music.
In terms of vocal health, an intentional breathy quality is of no concern. A breathy quality can be a concern if the singer is unable to produce a clear fully adducted tone quality. It should also be noted that during puberty an inability to fully adduct the vocal folds is common for males and females and may be present in female singers for several years and is not a concern. If you or a student are experiencing continued unexpected breathiness consult with a doctor.
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