Learning Chronicles: Classical vs. Pop Singing

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. 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.

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.

Larynx Use

The way a singer uses their larynx while singing 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.

Pop Singing and Classical singing

Sound Pronunciation

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”).

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.

Vibrato

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. 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

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.

Need for 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.

Learning Your Chosen Singing Technique

If you have dreams of classical singing or pop singing for either you or your child, now is the time to start vocal training. Learn more about our in-home vocal training, available in certain areas, and sign up for your first lesson today.