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Vocal Dictionary


A cappellaA:form of singing without any instrumental accompaniment.

Additus: Upper margin of the larynx.

Ad lib: (ad libitum) at will, the speed and the form of execution of the work are left to the choice of the performer. In styles like RnB or gospel they are the improvised adornments that are incorporated into the melodies.

Alto: more serious female voice. It stands out for the rich sound and breadth of its low register. They are also called 'Altos'.

Aphonia: Inability to produce sound, unlike hoarseness or hoarseness.

Anchor: Fixed maintenance of a posture when making a melody in singing, particularly when attacking difficult notes. It can be specified to be abdominal, thoracic, shoulder and neck, or in vocalization, referring to a vowel (like the anchor of “I”)

Apnea: Interruption of the air flow in breathing.

Appoggio: Support in Spanish. Singing technique in which awareness and control of the work of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles is developed, and which optimizes the energy and quality of the voice.

Arpeggio (Sometimes abbreviated as harp.): A way of playing the chord by sounding the notes in succession instead of in unison.

Aspired Hache: Phoneme that we find in English in Hello,  in some variants of Spanish when pronouncing the J as in (generally in Latin America and southern Spain). It is useful in singing to avoid the glottis blow.


Bass: Lowest voice in the human register.

Baritone: Cantante whose tessitura is located between that of a bass and that of a tenor. It is one of the six standard vocal tessitures (bass, baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, soprano). Its treble differs from the tenor voice. for being darker and its


Bass differs from the bass voice by being lighter and brighter. It is sometimes considered the expressive male voice par excellence and can combine clarity and flexibility with strength and splendor.

Bel canto (Italian, "bel canto") is anterm operatic used to describe a vocal style that developed in Italy from the late 17th to the mid- 19th centuries. The Manuel García school is usually identified with this vocal style, which we can consider within the Lyrical Song.

Belting: Technique of singing with intensity in the middle voice, without disconnection in the passage from the fine to the thick fold. Although traditionally belting has been considered a bad technique - because originally the term refers to singing with force, tension, or screaming - today we know techniques to maintain coordination and connection in the passaggio between the middle voice and the voice. upside down, without any tension and in a totally healthy and risk-free way.


Cadenza: A cadenza (cadence in Italian) in musical language is an ornate section, passage, or melody (well previously written in the score, well improvised at the time) performed or sung by one or more soloists. The rhythmic style is usually free and flexible, and it is frequently used to make a display of technical virtuosity.

Classic: singingSee lyrical singing.

Chest voice, name with which the lower part of the modal voice is designated. It is the one we usually use for speech.

Chiaro-Oscuro: Term from Bel Canto, which means the ability to change the timbre of the voice, from a higher pitch (as with the witch's voice in exercise Me4) to a darker one (such as the yawn in exercise Me5) by displacement of the resonator apparatus, larynx, soft palate, tongue, etc. to modify the size and shape of the resonator cavities.

Coda: (from it. Cola); that is, an end section attached to a movement always located at the end of a part.

Compass: In the musical language, a compass is a portion of time in which a specific number of pulses,  beats, beats, or even better times of equal duration occur. Each of these times is represented by a musical figure (Commonly quarter note, eighth note or sixteenth note). In a score the limits of the measure are expressed with vertical lines.

Crescendo: (from it. Growing); that is, a sound of progressively louder volume; the opposite of diminuendo.

Cricoid (Cartilage)

It is found in the anterior and lower part of the larynx. It is shaped like a signet ring. On the sides it articulates with the thyroid. The lower circular part is connected with the first ring of the trachea. Participate in the tuning.


Coperto; (from it. covered) Classic singing technique in which the vocalization becomes more closed, damping the higher frequencies, but facilitating the transition in the passaggio, and protecting the voice.


Da Capo: (from it. from the head) From the beginning, an indication to go back to the beginning of a musical work. It also appears in a score as DC

Diaphragm: Flat muscle responsible for controlling the air flow of respiration, by expanding and contracting the lungs.


Diminuendo: (of it. decreasing) Decreasing; that is, with a gradually decreasing volume, the same as decreasing.


Dynamics: Variations in the intensity of sound. For example, a song in which you go from whispering (pianissimo) to singing to the fullest (tutta forza) we will say that it has a lot of dynamics.


Dysphonia: It is the name given to every voice disorder when its quality is altered in any degree except the total. Colloquially it is called Hoarseness.

Chest Voice: The lowest register of the voice in singing or speaking. It resonates in the chest.


Euphony: In Greek, 'good sound' term that defines the balance of the voice or ideal state of sound emission.


Falsetto: (or falsetto) Voice produced by the use of the fine fold closure on notes that are too low, which can be produced with the modal voice. 

Being an effect produced by the fine fold closure, like the head voice, it is frequently confused with it, since it uses the same phonation technique. Therefore, the least confusing is to consider the falsetto as the part of the head voice produced on a too low note. Falsetto is very difficult to mix (connect) with the modal voice, which is why it is considered a type of disjointed tonal production. 

This, and the fact that it is impossible to increase the intensity of the sound past a certain point, makes falsetto a device that has traditionally been considered impractical, except for occasional vocal special effects.

However, in modern singing, given the possibility of being able to amplify the voice, the volume is no longer so important, and is used very frequently


False vocal folds: Also called vestibular or ventricular folds are two folds of mucous membrane, located a little by above the glottis. Its mission is to protect the respiratory tract from the entry of liquid. In phonation, they intervene to produce ragged voice techniques, such as growl, hypercompression, or a particular type of deep voice in Tibetan singing.

Fine fold: As above, but in this case only the ligament and the mucosa will vibrate, even only the latter. It is the technique used in the head voice or falsetto.


Forte: strong; that is, to be sung loud and energetic.

Function interference: The human voice is an organ that borrows anatomical elements from two other systems, the digestive and respiratory systems, to produce sounds. This use of these elements for a purpose other than the one for which they evolved, can produce contradictory, opposite tensions, and postural and muscular blockages. This phenomenon is known as function interference.



Gallo: See Rupture


Glissando: Glide that joins two different notes ascending or descending gradually. a continuous glide from one pitch to another (true glissando or portamneto), or an incidental scale performed by moving from one melodic note to another (effective glissando).


Glottis: It is the space between the vocal folds. Also called glottidis rhyme.


Glottis strike: Sudden attack of a vocal sound. The vocal folds start phonation suddenly, just as they would when vocalizing a whistle like "PA". It is a controversial concept, because abuse of it, with a lot of volume or energy, is difficult to control, and can even be harmful. The term was coined by Manuel García in his Complete Treatise on the Art of Singing, in French (coup de la glotte).

Glottic resistance: Work of the cricothyroid muscles for the adduction of the vocal folds, opposing the subglottic pressure and producing air compression.

Growl: Ragged voice technique that uses the vibration of the ariepliglottic folds, as Louis Armstrong did for example.


Hoarseness: Refers to having an abnormal voice. It is also known as Dysphonia


Impostation: Voice technique in which the larynx is lowered and the soft palate is raised to widen the space of the laryngeal, pharyngeal and oral resonators. In this way the characteristic timbre of lyrical song, used in opera, is acquired.

Interval: Distance between two notes. They get their names by the order they occupy on the scale and their class. They can be major, minor, fair, increased, and decreased: 3rd major, 5th augmented, 4th Fair, are some examples.


Legato: Linked in Italian, succession of two or more uninterrupted notes.

Lyrical singing is the set of techniques vocal used to sing the repertoire in cult music, such as opera, or classical music. The term derives from the lyre, a string instrument of ancient times, which was used to accompany the singer in competitions in ancient Greece. Lyrical singing is distinguished from modern singing by the crucial relevance that the tessitura and the vocal range of the singer have in the former.  

This is because in lyrical singing it is the singer who adapts to the repertoire, and not the other way around. The tessitura of a voice in this technique is defined by the good timbre, the considerable volume, an vibrato even, the possibility of a mezza di voce and the possibility of agility and coloratura, and is usually about two octaves.


Melisma: technique of changing the note (height) of a text syllable while it is being sung.


Messa di voce: In song, a crescendo and then diminuendo, in a long sustained note, maintaining the timbre, quality and frequency of the vibrato, used especially in baroque music and in the bel canto period. 

Mezzo-soprano: One of the six standard vocal ranges (bass, baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, soprano).voice Femalewith a range normally extending from A below middle C to F, one eleventh above Central C. Mezzo-sopranos tend to have a darker timbre than sopranos and their vocal range is somewhere between that of a soprano and that of a alto.


Mix: In modern singing the term La Mezcla (The Mix) is used to describe the vocal technique that allows us to cross the passaggio without interrupting the connection and homogeneity of the voice. This term is used for the sensation in the resonance that creates the use of the mask, the paranasal resonators, mixed with the resonances of the larynx, pharynx and oral. However, the key is not only in resonance, but also In phonation: Mixing is the coordinated step from using the thick fold closure, to the fine fold closure in the vocal folds.


Modal voice: The modal voice is the usual register for speaking and singing, and the vast majority of both are done in this register. As pitch rises in this register, the vocal folds are lengthened, tension increases, and their edges become thinner. A well-trained singer or speaker can phonate two octaves or more in the modal register with consistent production, beauty of tone, dynamic variety, and vocal freedom. This is possible only if the singer or speaker avoids static laryngeal adjustments and allows the progression from the bottom to the top of the register to be a carefully graduated continuum of readjustments. It is characterized by the use of the thick fold, and by obtaining sounds that are richer in low harmonics, or more subjectively, with more body.

Modern Singing: Set of vocal techniques that are applied in much of contemporary popular music since the 20th century (jazz, blues, rock, pop, etc). It is characterized by the naturalness of the vocalization, and its similarity to speech, although it is something so broad that it is difficult to clearly define its limits.

The medical advances and anatomical exploration of the SXX, as well as the invention of the microphone and the amplification of the voice, completely revolutionized the vocal technique from the 50s of the last century. Singing schools such as Estil training, Speech level singing and many others fall into this category. The Vocalstudio method could also be considered modern singing. 


Modulate the voice: Modify the timbre of the voice by moving the mobile resonators and articulators (lips, jaw, soft palate, larynx height). In musical language, and in harmony, modular refers to changing the harmonic key, so you have to be careful not to create confusion when using the term.


Nasal Twang: Voice resonance technique in which the soft palate approaches the tongue, to achieve a more nasal tone. Although it is closely related to each other, do not confuse nasal twang  with nasality.


Octave: interval between one musical pitch and another with half or twice its frequency.

Oral Twang: Resonance technique of the voice in which the size of the laryngo-pharyngeal resonator is reduced, thereby modifying the timbre, making it similar to the 'quack' of a duck, the meow of a cat, etc.


Passaggio: (in Italian, passage) Term used to describe the transition area between two vocal registers, such as between the chest voice and the head voice. There are several passaggi (primo passaggio, secondo passaggio) and although there is no consensus among different masters and singing methods on the exact place where they are located, it is a universally used term, also in modern singing.

Phonation: Process by which the vocal folds vibrate and emit waves of compressed air, which we perceive as sound.


Phonetics: Science that studies the physical sounds of human language.

Projecting the voice: Using the resonator and articulator apparatus to amplify and transform the timbre of the voice, being able to launch it in a specific direction.

Portamento: A type of glissando between two notes, which goes through all the sounds in between (like a siren), without marking the sounds of a scale. Although there is no consensus on the meaning of the term, in this method we use the definition of Manuel García in his Complete Treatise on the Art of Singing. There is a very interesting (and difficult) effect that is produced by combining portamento with vibrato, very characteristic of bel canto.


Medium register: Also called middle voice, mix (the mix), mask ... Register of the modal voice (the normal voice) in which we can mix the chest voice andvoice the head, thanks to the gradual and combined passage from the fine fold to the thick fold, and with a frontal feel from the use of facial resonators, mask, and nasality.

Head register: Or head voice. Term traditionally assigned to the highest part of your vocal register.

Rubato: Stolen; that is, in flexible tempo, it is applied to the notes within a musical phrase in order to achieve an expressive effect.

Rupture: Also called disconnection, or vulgarly "rooster", it is a sudden change in pitch caused by an excessive flow of air reaching the vocal folds. This causes the connection in the tone produced to be lost.

It is avoided if the vocal folds are allowed to thin and then shorten with a gradual decrease in air flow, so that excess pressure or muscle tension has no opportunity to occur. Learning this process and applying it typically takes months, or even more than a year.


Scale: Set of consecutive and ordered musical notes according to a harmonic pattern. They can be presented ascending or descending, thus reminiscent of the rungs of a staircase.

Scat: Vocal jazz technique in which meaningless syllables are used. We could translate it into Spanish as humming. Although not without controversy, it allows singers to improvise melodically without the rigidity of the text, exactly like a trumpet or a sax, etc. It reaches its peak in the be-bop era.

Semitone: The musical interval smallest that can occur between notes in most Western music, for example between F and F sharp.

Scope: Interval of notes in which the voice does not need to make any effort or phoniatric change. It will normally be in the chest and middle voice register.

Slowing down.: Expanding the tempo, progressively slower (usually indistinguishable from ritardando). It is sometimes indicated in the score with the abbreviation rall.


Soprano: The highest of the six standard vocal ranges (bass, baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, soprano).


Stacatto: Musical phrase in which the notes are not connected to each other, but there is a silence between them. It is playing or singing each short, prominent note. The opposite of legato.


Subglottic pressure: Air pressure regulated by the action of the diaphragm from the lungs tothe vocal folds. Their adduction (closing) work is called glottal resistance.


Tempo: Time; that is, the total speed of a piece of music.

Tenor: The second lowest of the six standard vocal ranges (bass, baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, soprano).


Tessitura pitch: The “best” or most comfortable range, typically used to identify the most prominent or common vocal range within a piece of music.


Timbre: The quality of a musical sound that distinguishes voices and instruments. In other words, except for the volume and the height of the note, the timbre is the rest of the characteristics of a sound. In the words of Ailín Agostini: “To a great extent, in singing in the vocal sphere, the timbre is determined by the anatomical configuration of the resonators, so that each voice has a special peculiarity that differentiates it from others. It could be said that it is "the trademark" of each voice. "


Thick fold: Term with which we refer to the phonation technique in which the vocal folds vibrate in all its extension, muscle, ligament and mucosa. It is the technique we use in the modal voice, the normal voice with which we speak or shout, that is, in the chest register and in the middle register.

Thyroid (cartilage): Cartilage located in the larynx, of which is the front face. We can see this cartilage on the neck, and we commonly call it a walnut. Together with the cricoid cartilage it is whereare inserted the vocal folds, and therefore it has a maximum importance in the process of the singing voice.


Treble: Within the range of the human ear, higher or higher frequency sounds. Female voices are usually higher than male voices. The opposite term is Graves.

Tremolo: Term that refers to a similar variation in the volume of a note; or fast single-note repetition.


Unison: Musical interval of two tones at the same pitch. In other words, two instruments emitting the same note.


Vibrato: Slight oscillation of the pitch of the note, repeated, stable and with the tone of the voice uniform.


Vocal Fry: A way of speaking in which the voice is very low-pitched and has a characteristic rough or creaking sound.A register in which the vocal folds remain relaxed, shrunken, and closed, with great glottic resistance, producing a bubbling of air, similar to a ratchet or a low screech. It is the lowest vocal register of the human voice. It is also part of the ragged voice techniques, so knowing how to execute it will provide a great expressive capacity.

Vocal Range: Interval between the extreme notes that delimit above and below the sounds that a voice can produce. It is also called an extension. It differs from tessitura, because the latter refers only to the notes that can be produced with quality and ease.

Voice: The sound produced in a person's larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song.



Whistle register: Also called the flageolet in classical singing and more commonly today, the whistle voice. It is the highest voice register of the human voice and the most unknown. Of the five, it is the one that has the most appropriate name, since it works similar to the whistle that a balloon emits if we let it deflate while we stretch the opening, to achieve a continuous and high tone. 

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