The Sound Palette

True expressiveness requires flexible use of the different vocal sounds.  Check out some of the many different sounds the voice can make with examples of artists who use the sounds a lot.  

‘Sigh’ (non-classical/very quiet/intimate/breathy onset)
Art Garfunkel, Janet Jackson, Prince, Marilyn Monroe, Sinead O’Connor, Sade, Dusty Springfield, Suzanne Vega, Barry white.

‘Cry/head/tilt’ (thin/quiet volume/smooth onset)
London Grammar, Neil Young, Kate Bush, Michael Jackson, Mary Poppins, Aaron Neville, Blondie, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Baez, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell.
‘Whinge’ (mid volume/thickness/restrained/smooth or glottal onset)
Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder, Eva Cassidy, Sheryl Crow, Kurt Cobain, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Jimi Hendrix, Sting, Mariah Carey, Elvis Costello, KD Lang, Michael Stipe, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, lots of RnB singers.

‘Speech’ (loud/Glottal onsets)
Adele, Johnny Cash, Whitney Houston, Cher, Etta James, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Liza Minelli, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Jennifer Holiday.

Beyonce, Chris Cornell, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Shirley Bassey, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Tramaine Hawkins, Jennifer Holiday, Cyndi Lauper, Freddie Mercury, Liza Minelli, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Anastacia, Sebastian Bach.

Singing lessons will quickly and easily show you how to find and use these sounds throughout your vocal range.  My Saturday VoiceGym is great for this.  Do come along!

Note: we don’t need to overthink.  This stuff should be applied playfully, there are not 5 sounds the voice can make there are millions!  It’s important to be able to use your voice easily and flexibly throughout your expressive range.


Jen, coach, teacher, free spirit, interested in art, philosophy, truth, freedom, helping people.

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