In comparing contemporary, pop artists like Taylor Swift and classical singers like Renee Fleming, it’s clear that the two have very different singing styles. While each person’s voice has its own unique tone and unmistakable sound, it would be unfair to characterize either as better or worse. One style of singing is not necessarily easier than the other. Both talented artists simply use their vocal instrument in an entirely different way.
Learning to sing is an incredibly rewarding experience. Finding your voice is a deeply spiritual and creative endeavor. Understanding and learning the unique nuances to such diametrically opposed singing styles takes significant time and effort to master. While making an effort to do both is possible, pop singing and classical singing utilize different training methods, vocal techniques, nuances, and focal concepts.
Key Differences Between Classical and Pop Singing
It’s easy to hear the differences between classical singing and pop singing, but how do singers adjust for those different sounds? There are several key technical differences that come into play.
How We Use Our Larynx When Singing
One of the biggest differences between these styles is the way a singer uses their larynx while singing, as this will vary based on their vocal style. Classical singers tend to use a low larynx technique, which creates a more open, rounded sound. Pop singers use a high larynx, which makes their vocals brighter.
Sound Pronunciation in Song
Singing isn’t just about manipulating the vocal cords, diaphragm, and other areas. It’s about the pronunciation of sounds, syllables, phonemes, and words, too.
Classical singers use headier, more rounded vowel sounds, like “ah.” Pop singers veer more toward sharper, chestier vowel sounds like “a” (as in “apple”).
Singers Use a Blend of Head Resonance and Chest Resonance
You may have heard resonance described as “head voice,” “chest voice,” and “mixed voice.” Both classical singers and pop singers use all three of these types of resonance.
However, the balance is different in each vocal style. Classical singers can often tend to sing much higher than in other styles, and for that reason will proportionately use their head voice more often. While in pop singing, the balance is skewed more toward mixed or chest voice.
Types of Vibrato in Singing
Classical singers are often known for their intense vibrato, so this is a difference that’s easy to spot because the vibrato isn’t as heavy in pop vocals. This is obviously a strong generalization. Pop singers do use some vibrato, but it tends to be more subtle and appear less often, such as at the end of a long-held note.
Similarities Between Classical Voice and Pop Singing
While classical voice and pop singing have plenty of distinct differences, they have similarities as well. Both singing styles require learning and mastering these techniques and skills. Consider these pieces of common ground.
Balancing Resonances and Techniques
As you probably noticed above, both singing styles require a balance between multiple resonances and techniques. The balance of those techniques and resonances might be different, but every singer needs to be able to apply the right ones in the right places.
Breath Support When Singing
Whether or not a singer is a “belter,” every singer needs strong breath support. They may use that breath in different ways depending on their vocal style but they still need the ability to control it.
All Vocal Artist Can Benefit From Direct Training
Neither pop singing nor classical singing are skills most people can simply pick up randomly and master on their own. Both types of singing require direct vocal training in controlling and enhancing their voice, and each singer specifically needs training in the type of singing they’ve chosen. Some people may wonder if certain styles like pop or rock singing can be bad for their voice. But like any skill that uses your body, with proper training vocalist can learn how to prevent damage to their vocal chords. It is not the style of singing that can damage your voice, but how it is sung.
Learning Your Chosen Singing Technique
Some singers choose to start in one style and transition to another, this has become a popular trend. It is possible to train in one style such as classic and transition to another such as pop, with the proper training. If you have dreams of classical singing or pop singing for either you or your child, now is the time to learn more about our available music lesson options.
Ready to Start Taking Music Lessons?
If you are ready to learn more about private music lessons available in your area then Forbes Music is ready to connect you with an in-home or online teacher to match your needs. Our teachers offer flexible scheduling plans for both in-home and online music lessons and are the perfect option for any busy student.