"Belt" Is A Four Letter Word!
You hear a lot of talk these days about your “belt” range.
The dictionary defines “belt” as:
-beat or strike (someone) as a punishment
-hit something hard
In musical theatre and pop (to a lesser extent) “belt” usually involves singing in the chest voice range, pushing from the throat to get a loud, gritty or seemingly emotional sound. The result is a big, but strident and forced sound. The singer loses control, flexibility, agility and tone. It’s almost like shouting. It doesn’t sound very musical (or interesting) to me. Often singers will take that pushed sound up into the head voice range. The resultant sound sounds thinner, less controlled and can be physically painful causing real damage to the vocal chords.
It’s usually the amateurs who use the “belt” technique the most, thinking. it makes them sound strong. In the end, they are only shouting.
If you really listen to the real pros who have big voices, you’ll hear that the power comes from a balanced, projection, finding the point. Using the acoustics of the voice to get a sound that is big and strong and carries without strain or push. In the Bel Canto technique, you learn to establish the point of the sound in front of you, allowing your throat to relax. This gives you ultimate control to sound however you want; loud/soft, high/low, gutsy/tender, tears/rage without strain or push. While the shouter can only shout.
I said earlier that you hear less "belting in pop music than musical theatre.Understand that the majority of recording artists you hear on the radio are seriously studying voice. It’s usually part of the investment the talent, managers, producers and record labels make to assure the quality and longevity of the talent. The artists who make big, glorious singing sound so easy and effortless constantly work with teachers rooted in the tradition of Bel Canto and good singing. I know, I regularly get students from record labels, management and producers myself. if you listen to the big successful “belters” in musical theatre, and break down their vocal technique, you can hear that they’re using the point and are relaxed enough to fill out the sound into whatever they want. The biggest stars are well trained and really smart singers. They enjoy long careers, delivering the excitement, power and energy night after night without strain, push or fatigue.
So, my advice is, don’t go down the dark side path to “belt”. You can sound powerful and amazing. Find your point and sing your best.