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Discover the Power of Subharmonics Techniques and Benefits

Subharmonics, also known as vocal fry or creaky voice, is a vocal technique that has been used for centuries in various cultures around the world. It involves producing a low, rumbling sound by vibrating the vocal cords at a slower rate than usual. While subharmonics may seem like a simple technique, it requires a great deal of control and practice to master. In recent years, subharmonics have gained popularity in the music industry, with artists such as Björk, Thom Yorke, and Ariana Grande incorporating them into their performances. In this blog post, we will explore the power of subharmonics techniques and the benefits they offer.

What is a Subharmonic?

What is a Subharmonic?
What is a Subharmonic?

A subharmonic is a vocal technique where the vocal cords are vibrated at a lower frequency than the fundamental tone. This results in a deep, growling sound that is often described as “creaky” or “fry-like.” Subharmonics can be produced by both male and female voices, but it is more commonly associated with male singers due to the lower pitch range of their voices.

There are three distinct techniques of subharmonic: compressed vocal fry, supported vocal fry, and open vocal fry. Each technique produces a different quality of sound and requires a different level of skill and control.

Compressed Vocal Fry

Compressed vocal fry is the most common form of subharmonic and is often used in popular music genres such as rock, pop, and metal. It involves compressing the vocal cords while producing a fry-like sound, resulting in a more intense and aggressive tone. This technique requires a lot of control and can be challenging for beginners to master.

To produce compressed vocal fry, you can follow the following instructions:

  • Start by taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly.
  • As you exhale, make a “huh” sound with your voice.
  • Gradually decrease the amount of air you are using while maintaining the “huh” sound.
  • As you decrease the airflow, you will feel your vocal cords vibrating at a slower rate, producing a subharmonic sound.

Tips for mastering compressed vocal fry:

  • Practice regularly to build control and strength in your vocal cords.
  • Start with short bursts of subharmonic sounds and gradually increase the duration.
  • Experiment with different levels of compression to find the right balance for your voice.
  • Avoid straining your voice or pushing too hard, as this can cause damage to your vocal cords.

Supported Vocal Fry

Supported vocal fry is a more advanced form of subharmonic that requires a higher level of skill and control. It involves using the diaphragm to support the subharmonic sound, resulting in a fuller and more resonant tone. This technique is commonly used in classical music and opera.

To produce supported vocal fry, you can follow the following instructions:

  • Begin by taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly.
  • As you exhale, make a “huh” sound with your voice.
  • Engage your diaphragm muscles to support the sound and create a fuller tone.
  • Gradually decrease the amount of air you are using while maintaining the “huh” sound.
  • As you decrease the airflow, you will feel your vocal cords vibrating at a slower rate, producing a subharmonic sound.

Tips for mastering supported vocal fry:

  • Practice proper breathing techniques to strengthen your diaphragm muscles.
  • Focus on engaging your diaphragm while producing the subharmonic sound.
  • Start with short bursts of subharmonic sounds and gradually increase the duration.
  • Experiment with different levels of support to find the right balance for your voice.

Open Vocal Fry

Open vocal fry is the most challenging form of subharmonic and requires a high level of skill and control. It involves producing the subharmonic sound with an open throat, resulting in a more resonant and powerful tone. This technique is commonly used in throat singing and overtone singing.

To produce open vocal fry, you can follow the following instructions:

  • Begin by taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly.
  • As you exhale, make a “huh” sound with your voice.
  • Relax your throat and allow the sound to resonate freely.
  • Gradually decrease the amount of air you are using while maintaining the “huh” sound.
  • As you decrease the airflow, you will feel your vocal cords vibrating at a slower rate, producing a subharmonic sound.

Tips for mastering open vocal fry:

  • Practice proper breathing techniques to relax your throat muscles.
  • Focus on keeping your throat open and relaxed while producing the subharmonic sound.
  • Start with short bursts of subharmonic sounds and gradually increase the duration.
  • Experiment with different levels of relaxation to find the right balance for your voice.

Subharmonics are Harmonics Heard Below the Fundamental Tone

Subharmonics are Harmonics Heard Below the Fundamental Tone
Subharmonics are Harmonics Heard Below the Fundamental Tone

One of the most fascinating aspects of subharmonics is that they are harmonics heard below the fundamental tone. In other words, the subharmonic sound is produced by the vocal cords vibrating at a frequency that is half of the fundamental tone. This phenomenon is known as the missing fundamental, and it is what gives subharmonics their unique and powerful sound.

To better understand this concept, let’s look at an example. If a singer produces a fundamental tone at 100 Hz, the subharmonic sound will be heard at 50 Hz. This is because the vocal cords are vibrating at a slower rate, resulting in a lower pitch. However, our brain perceives the subharmonic sound as the fundamental tone due to the missing fundamental effect. This is what gives subharmonics their rich and full sound, making them a valuable tool for singers and musicians.

Now that we have explored the different techniques of subharmonic and how they work, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using this vocal technique.

  • Increased vocal range: Subharmonics allow singers to access lower notes that are not possible with traditional singing techniques. This expands their vocal range and adds depth and richness to their performances.
  • Improved vocal control: Mastering subharmonics requires a great deal of control and precision. As a result, singers who incorporate this technique into their practice can improve their overall vocal control and technique.
  • Unique sound: Subharmonics add a unique and distinctive quality to a singer’s voice, making it stand out from others. This can be especially beneficial for artists looking to create a signature sound.
  • Versatility: Subharmonics can be used in various music genres, from classical to rock to pop. This makes it a versatile tool for singers and musicians to add depth and texture to their performances.
  • Vocal health: When done correctly, subharmonics can be beneficial for vocal health. It allows singers to use their vocal cords differently, giving them a break from their usual singing techniques.

Conclusion

Subharmonic is a powerful vocal technique that has been used for centuries in various cultures around the world. With its three distinct techniques, compressed vocal fry supported vocal fry, and open vocal fry, subharmonics offer a wide range of possibilities for singers and musicians. By mastering this technique, singers can expand their vocal range, improve their vocal control, and add a unique and distinctive quality to their voice. So why not give subharmonics a try and discover the power and benefits it can bring to your singing?

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