Margareta Svensson Riggs
What is Speech Level Singing?
Speech Level Singing does NOT mean that you sing like you speak.
Speech Level Singing refers to where your larynx is when you sing. When you speak, the larynx is at - Speech Level. When you sing, your larynx still needs to be in the same general area as when you speak, hence - Speech Level Singing. It is one of the fundamentals of singing.
Why is this important?
To be able to access your full range when you sing, it is a must that your larynx stays in the general area as when you speak.
As long as the muscles in your throat outside your larynx are not involved in producing the sound, just as they are generally not involved in producing the sound when you speak in a comfortable manner, it allows for a free sound.
If, on the other hand, you do use outer muscular force when you sing, your sound gets strained - because you are straining - and if you reach for a high note with your outer muscles, your larynx goes up. If your larynx goes all the way up to where it goes when you swallow, your air is cut off and so is your range.
Another way to describe this futile way of singing, is that instead of keeping your larynx at speech level which allows a mix of chest voice and head voice to happen, you are trying to stay in chest voice past the point where the pitches are too high to be able to resonate in just chest voice. This is harmful for your vocal cords and will make you hoarse. In addition, your pitches will go flat, and you think that the pitches above are pitches you can’t reach. Correct, you can’t reach them in this manner. At that point your only option is to flip into falsetto, which is a weak disconnected head voice sound (instead of a head voice that is connected to chest voice in a mix.) Flipping into falsetto has become a style because of lack of proper vocal technique, but for the most part, this is not a choice that is desirable or workable.
What is desirable is to sing up and down your whole range in a connected, even manner that sounds like chest voice but is a mix of chest voice and head voice. This is accomplished with Speech Level Singing learned and applied in a correct way.