Why can people hum certain high/low notes but can’t sing them?


Why can people hum certain high/low notes but can’t sing them?

In: Biology

It’s like certain vowels. You can sing them it just requires different amounts of breath and people who hum a note prolly aren’t putting enough into their chest or too much into their chest to correctly sing it.

surely if you can hum a note you just open your mouth and then you are singing it? or am I missing something

Certain vowel sounds stress or tighten the vocal cords more than others. For example, singing a high pitched “ee” sound is harder than a high pitched “oh” sound. When you hum, your vocal cords don’t need to differentiate vowel sounds and instead produce sound in a more relaxed state.

Humming makes it easier to achieve certain kinds of resonances in the throat and nasal cavity necessary to create these tones, especially higher tones. Doing this while singing requires much more training and practice with breath control and vocal placement.

I don’t know if in my 35 year lifespan I have ever noticed a disparity between humming and singing notes.

It’s also easier if you use your support muscles so if you do a long ‘sigh’, so to speak, whilst humming.

Each different ‘voice’ has a different vocal range. For example for males, it’s easy to hit very high notes in falsetto (think justin timberlake/Barry gibb) but it sounds a bit weak and it’s difficult to hit low pitches that way. They most likely couldn’t hit the same notes using their ‘head voice’ or ‘stomach voice’. Head voice is a level lower, stomach one is lower again.

Source – Studied music at degree level

I can sing all notes I can hum. And I got REALLY good falsetto. I’m really thinking about finding a proper teacher who knows more about it.
Because being a broad shouldered, strong, and a welder, being able to sing from really high register with a nice voice is a good party trick. No but really I also like it.

But I assume by hum you mean actual sustained tone, and not low gurgling or high nose noise.

Vowels and consonants stress your vocal cords and cause them to constrict or relax. When you’re humming, your vocal cords aren’t constricting whatsoever which allows them to relax, giving you a fair bit more range when humming.

Be honest: how many people just tried humming really high pitched as the first thing they did upon entering this thread?

When you hum, your throat isn’t contracted as much as it is to support open mouthed singing. You are able to pitch better humming than singing. This is because of your support muscles… diamond of support… starting from your central pelvic bone, along to your hip bones and up to your diaphragm. When you hum, you engage these muscles naturally, thats how you’ve learnt to support yourself. However, we speak all the time and become lazy, when we talk or sing you do not engage these muscles causing ourselves harm and also the inability to reach our full potential range. Now, by engaging these muscles (essentially pelvic flaw) the throat is supported and held in place causing the vowels or words you produce to be stronger and therefore more supported to extend your upper and lower range.

Source: singing teacher

If they can hum the notes they should be able to sing them too. What happens is that they start doing something differently when singing, like tightening their throat or changing the volume.

When you hum you’re engaging different resonators, specifically your nose (which is why you can’t hum while holding your nose closed). You can actually engage this resonator with your mouth open too, if people sound “nasally” while singing they might be resonating more from their nose than their chest/mouth/mask/etc.

Ideally when you sing in “bel canto”, you want to resonate from your “mask”, which, from my understanding, is kind of like your sinus cavity along your cheeks to your ears. Resonating in your nose might give you that ease of “bel canto” without the difficulty of placing the sound in your “mask”.

It also produces a quieter sound that’s basically impossible to force/push. Less tension=easier singing=wider range.

I, however, find it harder to hum the very very bottom of my range because that part of your voice wants to resonate lower (in your chest, hence “chest voice”).

I think the easiest way to sing high notes is actually to think about the sound resonating in the crown of your head (think about imitating a whimper or a puppy crying), although that’s more similar to a hum.

Humming generally is the best tool to unleash the middle part of your range, particularly when you’re dealing with tension. Use a nasalized sound like NG to lead into an open vowel.

If you can hum a note, you should be able to sing it with a little practice.

I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but hopefully it helps you understand some of the mechanics of singing vs. humming!

Source: I’m not an expert but have a BFA in music and have taken 8+ years of voice lessons.