The physical vocal mode “Twang”
Though it is important and useful for any singer to familiarize themselves with all the vocal modes. If we were hard pressed to mention one vocal mode that is the most crucial when improving the singing voice as a whole, that vocal mode would have to be vocal twang. No matter what genre of music you sing, twang is a vocal mode that every singer needs to understand and train to sing in a healthy manner. The reason for this is that, although twang is not the only vocal mode that every singer sings and trains in, vocal twang is arguably the most important vocal mode because of the fundamental benefits that singers get from mastering and singing regularly in this vocal mode.
What are the benefits of vocal twang?
To start, vocal twang amplifies the voice and makes the singer easier to hear to the audience over loud instruments. More specifically, twang compression can amplify the voice to frequencies above 2,000 Hz, where the human ear is more sensitive and the voice doesn’t have as much competition with other instruments.
Vocal twang also helps improve vocal adduction. This helps the singer stabilize the voice and sing in head voice. As a result, the singer experiences an improved control of vocal compression, the removal of unwanted windiness in the voice, and an easier time maneuvering around their vocal break. Consequently, the singer sounds better in live settings and has an easier time in the recording studio.
What exactly is vocal twang?
Scientifically, Vocal twang is characterized by a tilting of the thyroid cartilage (as seen in the graphic below). This tilting creates a chain reaction where the epiglottis comes down and the epiglottic funnel narrows. This narrowing is what gives us the amplification, the added compression, and all the other benefits that come with twang.
How do I develop vocal Twang?
Twang is a coordination technique that can be built over time through specific training. Although explained in far more detail within the program, the simplified methodology for developing twang skills within The Four Pillars of Singing is through the use of buzzing and nasal consonants. Particularly, the use of (m), (n), and (ng) buzzing. By doing this, the singer starts to develop a light, twang-like compression that helps to start the development of twang strength and coordination.
Another way The Four Pillars of Singing helps singers develop twang is through the use of the TVS specialized onsets. This is important because in singing, onsets (meaning the beginning of a singing phrase) set the tone for how the following singing will go. In other words, if the onsets are good, the singing following the onset will be easier and good. But if the onsets are done poorly, this is an indication that there’s something not quite right with the singing technique and the singing following the onsets will suffer as a result.
Finally, another technique that can be used for the development of vocal twang is the use of edging vowels. These are vowels such as “a”, “ah”, “ee” and all vowels that resonate forward in the hard palate. When a singer trains the vocal content of The Four Pillars of Singing into edging vowels, the singer is engaging the twanger and thus, engaging good twang compression.