Chad Runyon is an award-winning vocal performer, conductor, and instructor.

Posted September 10th, 2018
Filed under Essays

Some advanced vocal skills including trills, messa di voce, and growing the upper range

A prospective student recently emailed the desire to develop some specific vocal skills. I replied with some general guidelines for addressing each one:

Trills: work slowly, making sure each pitch of the trill can be heard. Gradually speed up evenly. Over time, you will be able to go back and forth with greater ease and speed.

Messa di voce: considered one of the most challenging but beneficial to the voice. Challenging because it isn’t easy. Beneficial because the ability to create an even crescendo/decrescendo develops sophisticated vocal control. Also, it can also be quite expressive and beautiful. Generally, a shorter crescendo/decrescendo, over 4 beats for example, is easier than a longer crescendo/decrescendo over 8 beats. Start shorter and work longer as you develop greater control. The challenge is to achieve an even crescendo/decrescendo.

Squillo: a fancy term for resonance or an ability to “ping” the vocal tone so that it carries in a large room or over an instrumental accompaniment. This is generally something that is a result of an open throat and proper technique. If the goal is to develop squillo, there may be a tendency to over-sing. Work instead to open the throat and let resonance/squillo happen.

Developing the upper range: Ironically, this generally comes from backing off as you approach the top of the range. Singing high requires support, but less airflow through the vocal folds as you produce higher pitches. Acoustically, higher tones require less air escape, lower tones require more air escape.