Registration in Popular Styles: Alternatives to Belting?
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
It’s obvious that the use of registers – their different colors and textures – differs between classical, music theater, and popular styles. (Popular styles = all styles sung into microphones. Band singers, singer/songwriters, and some contemporary music theater.)
While stage singing, like opera or music theater, has many prescribed norms for how it should sound, microphone singing does not. That’s not true if you’re in a Blondie tribute band, because then...yes. You have to know how to sound like young Debra Harry. But if you’re in a cover band, or you’re a singer-songwriter, or performing as yourself, then, overall, you make your own rules.
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Everything we refer to as style in microphone music originated as a musical or vocal response to a certain genre, or can also be a combined result of compensatory behavior. Take the vocal scoop. It’s part of every genre of microphone music as well as contemporary music theater. Did it come from the inabilities or insecurities of certain singers during a certain time? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a melding of musical styles from faraway shores. We’ll never know what made that particular vocal behavior ubiquitous in popular styles, but it is. And (except ever-so occasionally and very deliberately) it is decidedly not used in choral music or classical music.
Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about registers. Specifically, head register (or M2 register or CT dominant phonation). Shifting your perception of the head register or falsetto can help you negotiate register breaks and begin learning to blend higher in your range.