Singing For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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Tone is what’s known as the color or timbre of your singing voice. Every voice has a specific color, which can be described as warm, dark, or strident. Two singers singing the same song in the same key may sound different — the reason is tone.

If you turned on the radio, would you recognize your favorite singer? Elvis, Toby Keith, Ethel Merman, Maxwell, Luciano Pavarotti, or Lady Gaga? You probably would. How? If you answered, “By their voices,” you’re partly right. More specifically, you recognized your favorite singer by the tone of voice.

A lot of people just open their mouth to sing and produce wonderful-sounding tone. Others have to work to create beautiful tone. The tone of your voice is unique to you, but if it’s tight and pressed, you may need to work on the singing exercises to help you create great tone.

You also want to make sure that the tone of your voice matches the style of music you’re singing. If you’ve ever heard opera singers try to sing pop music, you know that they sound funny — their tone is too full and rich when it needs to be more casual.

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Pamelia S. Phillips, DMA, is the professional program director and chair of voice and music at Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) in New York. A seasoned performer, her appearances range from contemporary American Opera premieres to guest performances with major symphonies. Pam has taught extensively at such institutions as Arizona State University and Wagner College. She holds degrees in music education and vocal performance.

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