Dynamic Breath Support & Blending = Flowing Vocals

The third edition of our blog series on vocal technique focuses on how to make your vocals flow. By maintaining dynamic breath support, your melodies and lyrics can sound flowing and open. Another important factor of this technique is ‘blending’, which has a lot to do with enunciation. Master blending and harness your breath support, and your vocals will flow like never before.


It is strongly recommended to combine the techniques explained in this blog with the guidance of singing lessons. Even just a couple of lessons is better than nothing and will help stop you from A) getting stuck and B) damaging your vocal cords.

Take a Step Back

Before we get into it, we’ll take a quick step back to the previous edition. To sing well and without any issues, it’s important to learn to breathe properly, so we introduced you to the breathing cycle and breath support. The breath cycle is made up of four phases: the inhale, anchoring breath support, exhaling with breath support and letting go of breath support. Every phase has an influence over the phase that follows, so if one phase doesn’t go well, the next phase will suffer. Basically, the very best way to sing is always to sing with breath support.

We already went into a lot of detail about breath support in the previous issue, but will briefly repeat the basics here. Breath support begins with abdominal breathing, or breathing from the diaphragm. You can do this by consciously pushing out the sides of your belly – your flanks. This naturally flattens your diaphragm so that the lower portion of your lungs are better able to expand with air. This is the most efficient way to breathe. When singing, keep the sides of your belly wide so that your diaphragm remains flat. This gives you the most control over the amount of air being released but while using up the least amount of energy. By keeping your flanks wide, you support your breath. Singing with breath support is the best way to sing and brings a range of benefits – all of which we covered the last time.

Now, we’re going to take a deeper look at what you can do with breath support while singing. How do you apply the best breath support to a vocal line? The answer is to maintain dynamic breath support rather than static breath support. By maintaining dynamic breath support, your vocals will sound more flowing. To achieve a more flowing quality of vocal, there’s one more important factor – blending. But before we get into that, we’ll explain the ins and outs of dynamic breath support.

Dynamic Breath Support & Blending = Flowing Vocals
Dynamic Breath Support & Blending = Flowing Vocals

Dynamic Breath Support

You don’t always maintain breath support for the same length of time. The least breath support is needed to achieve an average volume level and average pitch for your voice. If you raise the pitch really high, or push it down really low, sing really loudly or really softly, then you need more breath support. In other words: your breath support must be dynamic and active.

Breath support isn’t about tightening your abdominal muscles, but this can be one of the pitfalls of singing with breath support. If you push your diaphragm down and simply hold it there, static, then your singing is going to sound very stiff and unnatural. The sound will be far less open and you won’t be able to create any vibrato. It’s a bit like trying to steer a car that’s standing still. In a car that’s actually moving, the steering is far smoother and easier. The same applies to breath support. If your diaphragm, and therefore your breath support, is moving in response to your singing everything is more dynamic and your singing will flow naturally.

Start with the Speaking Voice

How do you prevent your breath support from freezing up? It starts with learning how to correctly ‘switch on’ your breath support, and there are a few methods for this that you can try out. A really good and quick-to-learn method is to start with your speaking voice. Before starting a sentence, try pressing your vocal chords together, then holding the tension. All going well, as soon as you bring your vocal chords together, your diaphragm will stretch and your breath support will automatically switch on. This is a natural physical response, meaning that breath support is actually something that your body already does. By practising switching on your breath support with your vocal chords, you’ll get a feeling for what’s happening in your body and where the support actually sits. And, by practising this enough, you’ll be able to switch it on without having to think about it. A good exercise that can help you feel your vocal chords coming together is to simply breathe in while making a short ‘huh’ sound, but in a special way.

The Glottal Stop

Pressing the vocal cords together and then releasing them is called a glottal stop. The idea here isn’t to bundle up all of your energy and release all of it at the beginning of the sentence – at the glottal stop – since this will strain your voice and result in a less than pretty sound. Instead, the glottal stop, or energy released by the glottal stop needs to last for the whole sentence. Because the energy of the glottal stop needs to be spread in this way, your vocal cords retain a certain level of tension. This is what vocal coaches mean when they say ‘compression’. You can also use breath support without compression, but it’s harder to achieve so better attempted by more experienced singers. We’ll look at this approach in more detail in a later edition of this blog series. Here, we’ll focus on singing with compression.

The most obvious benefit of singing with compression is that you’re using a physical system that’s automatically available to you anyway. Press the vocal cords together and then produce sound. Via the glottis stop, you can actually feel the energy of the sentence you’re singing. The more you practise this technique, the better the muscle memory will be retained, providing you with a solid foundation for singing with breath support. Then, there comes the timing of your breath support, which is incredibly important. You need to be able to switch on your breath support before singing a line – so your breath support is proactive. If you achieve this, the melody will sound more tight and your vocals will sound more open. So, when it comes to breath support, you need to be good at anticipating. Which won’t work out if you haven’t already automated your breath support. In fact: you also need to automate the anticipation.


After activating breath support, the art lies in applying compression while holding that support to the very end of the line you’re singing. If you don’t, then you’ll find yourself short of breath halfway through. This is because, when not supported, too much air is being released which, in turn, leads to too much pressure. When too much pressure is applied, the air wants to escape, making the breath support far more difficult to maintain and forcing you to quickly let go. Before you know it, you’re trapped in a vicious cycle and this creates tension in and around the larynx, preventing your vocal cords from freely functioning.

However, maintaining your breath support is not all that easy since, on the way to the end of a vocal line, there are a lot of obstacles in your way – namely consonants. Every consonant can cause your vocal cords to temporarily release and part, meaning loss of compression and therefore breath support as well. Every time this happens, you would need to reactivate your breath support after every consonant which, of course, just isn’t possible. By the way, it’s worth mentioning that ‘H’ is the biggest culprit of all the consonants when it comes to loss of compression. The ‘H’ sound is basically a release of air, so it’s achieved by relaxing your vocal cords and releasing breath support which, as I’ve already stated, is hard to recover from when you’re in the middle of singing a line.


But there is a solution: blending. When blending, you’re simply pronouncing every word of the lyric in such a way that the sounds connect and flow together. When blending, the vowels are naturally given more emphasis than the consonants. It’s an easy thing to do, especially when singing in English, but by learning to blend you can avoid losing compression and breath support when bumping into consonants.

Split it Up

But how do you place more emphasis on the vowels rather than the consonants? The principle of blending lies in splitting the sounds up and placing them (or producing) them in different parts of the mouth and throat. The vowels are shaped by your vocal cords, so are felt in the throat, while the constants sit at the front of the mouth, near your lips, tongue and soft palate. By separating the vowels and consonants, blending happens naturally and you avoid loss of compression and breath support when singing the consonant sounds of words. If you’re practising blending, don’t freak out if your tuning suffers, this is normal and will quickly work itself out.

The Melody & Lyrics

The first part of this blog looked at dynamic breath support and, in the second part we looked at blending, but these two things are deeply related since they both help singers to achieve a flowing vocal sound. By keeping your breath support dynamic and blending at the same time, the performance of the melody and the lyrics will be more fluid. Here, we also looked at breath support and the breathing cycle in regards to phrasing (the singing of lyrics). Next time, we’ll look at breath support in regards to the vocal cords and discuss the positioning of your vocal cords, maintaining the position of your vocal cords when inhaling and singing with and without compression.

Good to Know

Adding Accents

If you master dynamic breath support (so avoid static breath support), then it’s much easier to add accents to your singing. Adding an accent means emphasising a certain sound, or ‘twanging’. We’ll talk more about this next time as well. If you’re a songwriter, then it’s worth learning to place the important words on the melodic and rhythmic accents and, by making those accents more prominent’ as you sing, everything around them becomes less prominent, giving the vocal line a far more rhythmic and musically interesting edge.

See also…

» Auto-Tune, Melodyne… Is Using Pitch-Correction Cheating?
» How to Record a Full Choir
» Mixing Flawless Vocals in 5 Steps
» Recording and amplifying vocals for beginners

» Microphones & Accessories
» Vocal Books
» Vocal Effects
» Speakers

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