Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice (Differences + Tips) | Dynamic Music Room (2024)

Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice (Differences + Tips) | Dynamic Music Room (1)

As a music teacher and musician for well over a decade (*cough, cough* or two…), I hear people bashing on their own singing voices all the time.

Whenever I get the chance to listen to someone, though, their voice isn’t the problem. They just don’t use the right one.

The first step to good singing is understanding thesinging voice vs. speaking voice.

Singing voice is a lengthened and more intense use of your vocal cords than your speaking voice. The speaking voice typically uses a limited vocal range of pitch and dynamics, whereas the singing voice uses more extremes of high and low and loud and soft. Speaking is usually lower in range.

Let’s look ahead for some more details and tips for singing better in the rest of the article.

Table of Contents

Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice In A Nutshell

In directly comparing singing and talking, let’s look at different elements directly compared with one another.

After the chart, I’ll go into each element in a little more detail:

Speaking VoiceSinging Voice
Pitch RangeNarrow and low in pitchWider range, uses both high and low frequency
Dynamic RangeTend toward the soft and medium dynamic or volumeWide range of both loud and soft
Effect on Vocal CordsGentle on the vocal foldsMore intense but not truly harsh (unless you have bad technique or are pushing)
GoalCommunicate the speaker’s thoughtsCommunicate the expression of the composer
Air UseLimited air capacity usageUses close to 100% of the lung’s capacity
Vowel UsageVowels are used equally or slightly more than the consonants in a wordVowels are elongated to provide more time for pitch and tone to shine through (up to 100x more than speaking)
Oral CavityYour mouth shape isn’t thought of; you just speakThe singer intends to open their mouth and throat wider and aim their air with morespinto provide a richer tone

Pitch Range

With speaking, you don’t alter your frequency or pitch very much.

With small variations, you’re able to communicate nuance in your statements.

For example, at the end of a question, we raise our pitch slightly. This upturn indicates a question.

On commas in a sentence, we unconsciously keep our pitch level or give it a smaller raise.

At the end of a thought, we turn our pitch slightly down to indicate that this thought is complete.

As we get excited, we tend to speak with a higher pitch (to help indicate excitement).

If we’re irritated, we may keep our pitch even lower than normal and restrained in the vocal range.

All of this is to say that we use pitch change minimally and to effectively communicate extra thoughts.

When speaking, people typically talk at the lower end of their vocal range.

Note:This is all stated with English in mind. Other languages use pitch more, and in some languages, the pitch is tied to the actual words used.

In singing, one of the main aspects of singing is pitch.

Pitch is a tool used by composers to communicate meaning and expression.

They use high and low to make a melody as a vehicle for their performance.

Pitch is very specific and not general in singing.

The wider range (especially the high part) is what is more stressful for the voice.

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range or volume is another key difference between singing and talking voices.

In speaking, we just want to be heard, so we only talk as loud as we need to.

We can speak louder when we’re upset or speaking to a big group.

We can also speak softer in a quieter environment.

Overall, speaking is quieter than singing.

In singing, the goal is also to be heard, and often singers need to perform in larger spaces with larger groups.

As such, singing is generally louder than speaking.

But, the dynamics are also a tool used by composers to accentuate a melody.

So in practice, singing is also quieter, at times, than talking.

Effect on Vocal Cords

Speaking rarely results in tired vocal cords.

The exception is if you talk louder than normal for a while or you speak a lot more than normal for a long period.

Our voices are used to speaking; therefore, the muscles are used to work.

In singing, we put our vocal folds to a lot more use.

Singing lengthens our words resulting in more constant use of the muscles.

On top of this, we also stress them more as we sing louder and higher.

It’s not abnormal for those inexperienced with a lot of singing to feel tired or even a little sore after a lot of singing.

Like any muscle, though, the more we use it, the stronger it gets.

Also, like any muscle, the more consistently you warm-up and cool down, the less chance there is of injury.

When I was singing a lot in my undergrad, I was able to practice and rehearse for hours.

Since I don’t sing as much (elementary songs are easier), I’ve lost some of that endurance.

Still, with good technique and regular practice, you shouldn’t feel too exhausted or sore all the time.


The goals of singing and talking are quite different if you stop to think about it.

When you speak, your goal is to convey a message from you, the originator of the message.

When you sing, the goal is to express yourself through music.

You are not the originator or creator of the message. In this case, it’s the composer (most of the time).

As such, everything else is informed by this goal.

For speaking, you need to be understood. Therefore your consonants need to be clear.

In singing, you still want to be understood, but it needs to pair with the pitch, dynamic, and style of the rest of the music.

Air Use

Speaking only uses as much air as needed.

We only take residual breaths unless we need to talk louder.

But even then, we only take in a fraction of the air we need.

With singing, we need a lot of air to support the higher notes and longer phrases.

As such, a good singer will take deeper breaths and practice the mechanics of breathing to maximize their potential.

Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice (Differences + Tips) | Dynamic Music Room (2)

Get all the experience of singing lessons at a fraction of the price (and at your own speed) with 30 Day Singer.

Vowel Usage

This is one of those elements that non-singers won’t even think about, but singers will hear and think, “Of course!”

When you speak, your vowels are used in equal or slightly higher amounts than your consonants.

You just say the words.

In singing, consonants don’t convey pitch very well (some of them not at all).

If a huge portion of our focus on singing is to use pitch, we need to elongate the vowels.

In vocal training, we’re taught to get consonants out of the way (as clearly as possible) and spend most of our time on the vowels.

If a note is held for a long time, this means the vowel is lengthened even more!

Some vocal coaches and choir teachers even say that you want a 500:1 vowel to consonant ratio!

Oral Cavity

Be honest: when you speak, how often do you worry about how large your mouth and throat are?

Do you focus on making your voice as resonant as possible?

Not likely. You just focus on talking.

In singing, we want our voices to sound rich and open.

A huge part of how we achieve this is through our oral cavity.

The more space we have in our mouth and throat, the better our sound will be.

As such, vowels are adapted to be more open.

As a midwesterner, I’m used to closed vowels. It’s part of our regional accent.

When singing, I sound like a different person because the vowels need to be opened up.

This is called Vowel Modification, and it’s got its own following.

Here’s a quick chart of vowel sounds and what they should be like:

VowelVowel SoundAs in…Feels like…Shorthand
Ieemeetoo spaceee
Eehmetah spaceeh
Aahsawah spaceah
Oohhomeoh spaceo
Uooblueoo spaceoo

Is Your Singing Voice Your Speaking Voice?

Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice (Differences + Tips) | Dynamic Music Room (3)

In a purely technical and mechanical sense, your singing voice is your speaking voice, but it’s elongated and varies in pitch. Watching the vocal folds move while singing, they don’t look anything alike, though.

But this is due to the lengthening of the vowels, so you’ll see the vibrato and vibration more as well as the more extreme stretching of the pitches.

I love the scene in the musical, The Music Man.

As a joke, the con-man, Harold Hill, teaches these four men to sing by describing singing as “sustained talking.”

Lo and behold, all of a sudden, those four men break into a barbershop quartet.

The thing is: Harold Hill isn’t completely wrong.

Singingissustained talking…with pitch, elongated vowels, larger mouth cavity, etc.

Here’s the clip:

Why Is Your Singing Voice Different From Your Speaking Voice?

The difference between a singing voice and a speaking voice essentially comes down to the goal of each. In singing, we express feeling through music, so we need an emphasis on pitch variety, which in turn means we lengthen vowels and produce a richer sound through air support and open space in the mouth and throat. Talking is to communicate, so clarity is key.

Does Singing Feel Different Than Talking?

Singing feels like lengthened talking, and for some, it tires out your vocal folds faster. Still, with good technique, it won’t get too tiring. Many singers describe the feeling of singing asspinningthe air through their singing space compared to speaking, which just sends the sound on its way.

Your talking is your natural voice, but over time, the differences in voice use from speaking to singing may even start to feel similar to you.

4 Tips For Using Your Singing Voice More Effectively

Here are some quick tips on how to get your singing voice going and how to use it more effectively over time.

I could write a list of tips a mile long, but these four are the most important and will serve you well over many years.

Warmup Better

Don’t neglect the warm-up!

Warming up is an absolute must!

At best, you limit your potential pitch, tone, and power when you skip a warm-up.

At worst, you increase the chance of physically injuring your vocal cords!

Here’s a quick warm-up for you to try:

  1. Start on C in your middle/high range and make general descending sounds on the “Loo” sound. Move up and down your voice with this vowel for all of it.
  2. Now, start in the middle of your range (around A or Bb for most people) and sing down the scale 5 notes with the syllable “Bah” for each note. Then, start a half step lower and do the same thing.
  3. Start on a comfortable low pitch (Bb or C works well for most) and sing the notes up one major scale and back down. Use the syllable “oh” for the bottom half and “oo” for the top half. Start a half step higher and repeat and repeat.

This is a very basic warm-up, but it’ll get your voice stretched and ready to go.

Join A Choir / Get A Teacher

There are a lot of ways to learn how to sing better without a teacher or being in a group.

One of my favorites to recommend is 30 Day Singer.

It does a great job of giving you everything you need for a great singing foundation (at an affordable price).

But to be honest, one on one is still the fastest and most effective way to learn.

Look for a local choir to audition for or simply sing with.

You’ll get better by singing with others who have more experience and getting tips from the director.

The vocal performance does a lot to help you stay motivated too!

If you’re serious about improving your singing, then a one-on-one weekly voice teacher is the best option by far.

Treat Your Voice Like An Athlete

One of the aspects of singing that turns so many people away so quickly is how limited their voices are right away.

Some of you want to sing like a pro with little effort (don’t we all? I know I do!).

But like athletes, you can’t expect to run a marathon right off the bat.

You need to train and work for it.

Your singing voice needs the training and endurance to sing for longer and at a wider range.

How do you train your voice?

Practice, practice, practice.

Pro-tip:Keep a journal of voice practice sessions to help remember what works for you.

Use Your Imagination

There will be times when you’re singing, and you hate how you sound.

There will be times you sing and think you sound awesome.

When this happens, you’ll feel the difference.

This is a missed opportunity by most people.

Whenever this happens, you need to latch on to what it sounds and feels like and remember that.

Over time, you’ll land in this awesome singing space more often because you’ll remember it better.

I always teach my students (preschool to 80 years old) to remember this feeling in whatever way works best for them.

For me, it’s an imaginative picture in my head.

I always picture a smoldering volcano in my core sending out spinning air through the spot between my eyes.

For me, this works.

For others, they use their hands to mirror the motion of spinning and stretching.

Whatever works for you, find that imagination and a mental image of the singing voice and practice it.

Over time, your singing voice will grow more consistent and stronger.

Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice (Differences + Tips) | Dynamic Music Room (4)

Get all the experience of singing lessons at a fraction of the price (and at your own speed) with 30 Day Singer.

Singing Voice Vs. Speaking Voice (Differences + Tips) | Dynamic Music Room (2024)


What are the main differences between speaking voice and singing voice? ›

To put it simply, when you speak there is not a huge level of differentiation. Your vocal cords work by reacting to certain circ*mstances. But when you sing, you learn to allow your vocal cords to lead the process instead. This process takes years to master, but it is necessary to have control over your sound.

How do you teach the difference between speaking and singing? ›

Play games that help students learn the difference between asinging voice and a speaking voice. For example, play Simon Sings,a game similar to Simon Says, except that the students may only dowhat you sing, not what you say. The words "Simon says" are notused.

What are the 4 types of voices in music? ›

In choral music arrangements each of these voices is represented by a letter—S for soprano, A for alto, T for tenor, and B for bass. Most choral music is arranged SATB, using a voice part from each of the four major classifications.

How do people sing different than they talk? ›

Singing requires the use of a full vocal range and techniques such as vibrato, breath control, and dynamic changes which amplify the vocal sound and make it more powerful. So when a lead singer is talking, don't expect the same level of intensity that you hear when they're singing.

Does speaking voice correlate with singing voice? ›

Yes and no. Firstly, people don't really have a separate singing voice and speaking voice. The larynx you speak with is the same one you sing with. However, you may use your voice differently for singing than for speaking, and that can make someone's singing sound completely different to their speech.

What is the difference between talking and speaking voice? ›

Speak usually only focuses on the person who is producing the words: He spoke about the importance of taking exercise and having a good diet. Talk focuses on a speaker and at least one listener, and can mean 'have a conversation': I hope I can meet you to talk about my plans for the company.

Does singing and talking use different part of the brain? ›

But when we sing, it is the right hemisphere that we rely upon, to produce the rhythm and melody of music. So someone might have a speech impediment but it won't be there when they sing - because it's a different part of the brain. Even heavy regional accents are less apparent.

Why do singers talk different? ›

Most likely it's a combination of two main factors, one linguistic, one social. Linguistically, the very process of singing has an accent-neutralising effect. Accent differences are largely created through intonation, vowel quality and vowel length – all of which are affected when we sing.

What is the rarest voice type female? ›

Check these ladies out. Contraltos are arguably the rarest of female voice types and they possess a tone so dark they often give the men a run for their money.

What are the six voice types? ›

There are six main vocal ranges: soprano , mezzo-soprano , contralto , tenor , baritone , and bass .

What voice type is Adele? ›

What is Adele's vocal type or fach? Adele is a lyric mezzo-soprano. While some assert that she is a contralto, she lacks the truly androgynous character and weight of one.

What is it called when you speak instead of sing? ›

Sprechstimme, (German: “speech-voice”), in music, a cross between speaking and singing in which the tone quality of speech is heightened and lowered in pitch along melodic contours indicated in the musical notation. Sprechstimme is frequently used in 20th-century music. Related Topics: singing.

How can someone sing but not talk? ›

Depending on the severity of the stroke, aphasia may completely impair the ability to speak at all. Luckily, even if you can't speak after stroke, you might still be able to sing your words. That's because singing uses the more creative right side of the brain, while speaking is a left-brain function.

What makes your singing voice unique? ›

A person's timbre is what makes their voice unique and recognizable. An clear example would be that timbre is what makes a trumpet sound different from a piano.

Is there a difference between speech and voice? ›

Speech is the sound produced by the lips, tongue, palate and throat, while voice refers to sounds produced in the voice box.

How would you describe a speaking voice? ›

The main ways to describe voices are by using physical qualities like pitch, volume, and timbre and emotional qualities like tone and inflection. Other describing factors are accent, articulation, pace, and resonance.

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