How to Sing Low Notes
Learn how to get better at singing the notes on the lower end of your range
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Last Updated: June 2023 | Article Details: 3963 words (20 – 22 minute read)
Learning how to sing low notes can be just as difficult and daunting as learning how to sing high notes.
Of course, that’s natural, seeing as how these are the notes at either extreme of your overall vocal range. These are often the least comfortable notes we’re able to (sort of) sing.
So how can we strengthen our voice when we’re in the lower end of our range?
In this guide we’ll talk about where low notes come from in our voice, how we can strengthen that area with different vocal exercises and the proper technique involved with singing lower notes.
So let’s dive into everything you need to know about singing lower…
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Why Work on Your Low Notes
Most beginners learning how to sing are more focused on learning how to belt out those high notes because that’s sexier.
But the truth is your low notes are almost foundational to your singing. They’re the base of your vocal range and often the most neglected.
— Related Content: How to Extend Your Singing Range —
And if you neglect strengthening your voice to sing low notes correctly, you’re not going to be as strong in your higher notes either.
That’s because all of the muscles and areas that produce your high notes, also produce your low notes. Everything is connected.
So build your house of singing on a solid foundation and the upper levels will be all the stronger for it.
Advantages to Having Strong Low Notes
It’s quite simple – low notes (since they come from your chest voice) allow you to showcase a lot more vocal color, tone and signature.
This is the area you can get deepness and an intimate vibe, plus a good type of breathy tone or more consistent vibrato.
Your lower range (and specifically your low notes) can often be the most pleasing to not only sing, but listen to.
So don’t sleep on strengthening your lower notes.
How Do Low Notes Work In Your Voice?
All sound you make from your voice relates to a few different areas in your body. Vocal sounds are produced mainly in the vocal cords or folds (with support from surrounding organs/muscles like your lungs, diaphragm, larynx, etc).
When air passes through these areas, it produces a “resonance” or vibration.
If you know about frequencies in sound/audio, you know that lower pitched sounds (like bass) vibrate at lower frequencies (ex/ 100 Hz and below) – i.e. slower – than higher pitched sounds (like violins) which vibrate at higher frequencies (ex/ 5000 Hz) – i.e. faster.
The same holds true for the sounds you create with your voice – depending on what note you want to vocalize, the air will vibrate either faster or slower.
Where Do Low Notes Come From?
Low notes in the voice are produced through a certain type of resonance.
This “low note resonance” is different than the resonance produced for other types of notes/sounds. That’s because it’s produced when the vocal folds are THICK and LOOSE.
The thicker the vocal cords become (and the less tight they become) the lower the resonance they’re able to produce when air passes through them.
Another way to understand this is with guitar strings – just like your vocal cords, the lower pitched notes are produced by thicker strings while high pitched notes are played on thinner strings.
So as your vocal cords (or guitar strings) become thicker and slacker, they allow the vibrations of air to occur slower, resulting in a deeper sound at a lower pitch.
Can Anyone Learn to Sing Low Notes?
Yes, of course. But there are limits, unfortunately.
With learning how to sing high notes, you can slowly ratchet your way up and up to be able to hit higher and higher notes.
That’s not really the case with low notes. There are physical limits to this, and it’s dependent on each individual person.
There’s only so much your cords can thicken and loosen before they’re just simply too loose to produce any substantial sound (you become “breathy” or end up using vocal fry – that croaky sound).
Featured Singing Video:
How to Sing Low Notes Easily, Louder and Better, Without Straining
In this section, we’ll cover the basic concepts behind getting better low notes from your voice. We’ll dig into where the sound comes from and how we can adjust it for more power, clarity and brightness.
Then we’ll get into the proper physical techniques for singing lower like a pro.
Finding Low Note Resonance
You may have heard that there are different vocal registers you can use to sing – the two main ones are the “chest voice” and the “head voice.”
Of course, your voice doesn’t come from your chest or your head, but these registers refer to where you should feel the resonance/vibration happening when you’re singing.
Your lower range is handled by your chest voice while your higher range is often handled by your head voice.
That means when you’re trying to sing a low note, you should be feeling the resonance/vibration in your chest or upper body area.
If you’re feeling most of the vibrations in your head, you’re not using your chest voice and haven’t found that low note resonance.
Finding Vocal Energy for Low Notes
Now that we know where we should feel it when we sing low notes, let’s talk about energy.
If you aren’t happy with your low notes, pay attention to them when you sing and you’ll notice they lack the same energy (acoustic energy) you have when you’re singing notes more central in your vocal range.
That’s because, again, those notes are vibrating slower and thus seem to lack energy, sounding dull or weak.
The vibrating air molecules produced by your vocal cords are enhanced and filtered through your throat and mouth resonators.
By adjusting these vocal resonators properly, we can shape the overall TONE we get from our voice. But if they’re not adjusted correctly, they can result in bad tones, croaky sounds, and more.
Adjusting Your Vowels for Better Low Notes
VOWELS are key to adjusting the tone of our sung notes.
That’s because we adjust our mouth and throat (and therefore our vocal resonators) to sing different vowel sounds. And naturally these adjustments also impact which parts of a sound wave are enhanced.
As an example, take the two different vowel sounds “OO” (like in the word root) and “AH” (like in the word cat). Put a couple fingers on your larynx (the middle of your throat) and say both vowel sounds.
The larynx lowers when you sing OO but is raised when you sing AH. And you may also notice when you sing AH, it almost sounds brighter than when you sing OO. It boosts the higher/brighter end of the sound wave.
So by adjusting your vowels to be sung brighter, you can gain substantial amounts of energy for your low notes.
We talk more about the larynx below.
Techniques for Singing Low Notes Better
There are certain techniques you should keep in mind when you’re singing, regardless of what notes you’re hitting. If you’re having trouble with producing a great tone, make sure you’re following these techniques.
Get Your Posture Right
If you’re slouching while you’re singing, you’re doing it wrong. You need to be standing up straight.
When you slouch, you’re constricting the air flow within your body. You want to straighten everything up:
- stand with your feet about shoulder width apart
- stand tall with the top of your head reaching for the sky
- keep your shoulders back
- Your stomach should protrude a bit
Tension is a big no-no when you’re singing.
You want to relax yourself, inside and out. This is as much about nerves as it is stiffness in your body. Try your best to relax your mouth, throat, tongue and your facial muscles.
Sometimes it can help to take a few really deep breaths and lightly jump in place while shaking out your extremities (arms, legs). You may also want to move your neck and head lightly while stretching out your mouth and jaw.
If you feel any tension while practicing, stop and relax yourself again.
Balance the Larynx
It can be easy to sing with a heightened larynx, especially if you’re pushing to sing louder or more forcefully. Your larynx can also be high if there’s too much tension in your throat.
And sometimes singers want to lower their larynx to hit lower notes. But that can be less than ideal, as well.
Think about the feeling when you yawn – that’s your larynx lowering. If you lower the larynx too much, however, you can start to sound really weird when singing. It may not be the tone/style you’re going for.
As mentioned above, the position of your larynx can directly impact how bright a note you sing is.
So the key, then, is to keep your larynx balanced as much as possible when you sing. Sometimes you’ll want to lower the larynx a bit, other times you may want to raise it a bit. But don’t go too much in either direction or you run the risk of negatively impacting your tone.
Properly Bring Vocal Cords Together
Proper “adduction” (closure of the vocal cords) is key to singing low notes well. If you cords aren’t closing properly, you won’t be sound as good as you can.
How well you bring your vocal cords together really depends on your overall technique – posture, breathing, tension, etc. Beyond that you should try to control your airflow as much as possible – don’t push a lot of excess air pressure when you’re singing. That can move your cords apart.
A great way to achieve this type of control is to do breath-work and breathing exercises regularly as part of your practice. Make sure you’re maintaining a consistent airflow for each breath – both in and out.
The better you get at controlling the air flow, the easier it will be to keep your vocal cords closed when you need them to stay closed.
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A quick note on breathing – you need to breathe deeply and consistently when you’re singing. It’s literally everything.
Your stomach should move outwards as you breathe in. If you’re feeling your shoulders or chest move up as you breathe in, you’re doing it wrong.
Practice breathing from your diaphragm when singing to get this right.
And again, don’t forcefully push too much airflow as you’re breathing and singing. Your breathing should be consistent – in and out. Forcing too much air can stop your vocal folds from staying closed the way you want.
Engage Your Muscles
This next technique is related to the above one. To properly support your vocal cord adduction, you need to engage the various support muscles involved in the process.
That means engaging your diaphragm, ribcage and, perhaps most importantly, your abdomen.
You want to sing with strong abdominal support. This means you’re pushing downwards with your abdomen. You’re not pushing your stomach out or pulling it in – instead you’re “bearing down” with it.
The key is to imagine you’re singing from your body’s core area, rather than from your chest, throat or mouth.
Using proper abdominal support will allow you to control your breath better, taking the pressure off of other areas and aiding vocal cord closure.
Use Good Vocal Placement
We mentioned earlier that you should be feeling the resonance in your chest when singing low notes. But there’s another vibration that you’re able to feel while singing.
That second vibration is known as “vocal placement” – i.e. where the buzzing is coming from as you sing. Using good vocal placement can help you sing better.
You should feel a slight buzzing in the roof of your mouth. If you feel it in your throat, you’re doing it wrong. Adjust your vocal placement and try to feel for a slight buzz in the roof of your mouth (potentially even in your nasal area).
You will also feel the resonance and vibration in your chest, so don’t let that confuse you.
Vocal Exercises for Better Low Note Singing
Now that we’ve understood what makes low notes work and the proper technique for singing in your lower range, let’s get to some vocal exercises you can use to strengthen your low notes.
Practice these exercises daily if you can – you don’t need to put in a ton of time each day, but the more you do the more you’ll improve.
Talk, Don’t “Sing”
Put away your “singing voice” for a moment and just try to speak the words and notes with your natural speaking voice.
The key is to sing each pitch/note properly, but without actually trying to “sing it” beautifully.
So you’re matching the pitch of the low notes, but while only using your normal talking/speaking voice.
The reason you want to try this is because by speaking normally (without all the beautification you do when you actually try to sing something) you’re able to hit pitches much lower in your range with more tone and strength.
Get used to the feeling in your vocal muscles and supporting muscles when you’re doing this. Then try to aim for that same feeling when you bring back the proper singing voice you use.
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This exercise is something you’ll want to add to your daily practice and warm up routines.
You’re going to be singing a scale downwards for 5 notes using two different vowel sounds – EE (as in “meet”) and OO (as in “true”)
Here’s a quick run-down of the exercise:
- Start on the FIFTH (5th) tone of any scale, close to the lower end of your vocal range
- Using an EE vowel sound, sing the note in your speaking voice while matching the pitch correctly
- Move down step-by-step to the FIRST (1st) tone of that scale
Keep an eye on your larynx and make sure you’re trying to keep it balanced. And moreover, don’t try to force too much air out to try and gain more power. Keep everything balanced and steady.
After you’ve done the EE vowel sound a few times, do the OO vowel sound a few times.
It’s a tiring exercise, so take breaks when you need.
Low Range Arpeggio, Vibrato and Runs
This exercise uses 3 different advanced vocal techniques, so if you’re not familiar with these yet, you can skip this exercise.
An arpeggio is simply playing each individual note in a chord, one after the other, as opposed to at the same time. Vibrato is the ability to add a bit of an “oscillation” (back and forth movement) to the end of a note you’re singing. A run is just a series of step-wise notes that are sung rapidly either using vowels alone, or in the middle/end of a word being sung.
These can be a difficult things to master in regular conditions, making it even harder in your lower range of your singing voice.
But if you can get better at doing arpeggios, runs and vibrato using low notes, you’ll be that much better when doing them with higher notes in your range.
Here’s what to do for arpeggios:
- Pick a chord in your lower range – we’ll use C Major as an example (C, E and G)
- Open up a metronome app (or start a real one) at a very slow speed – try 40 – 60 bpm
- Sing up and down the chord notes – two notes per click (C->E->G->E->C->E->G->E->C)
- Repeat until you’re comfortable, and then raise the bpm by 5 (so move to 45-65 bpm)
- Repeat the exercise
Here’s what to do for runs:
- Pick 3 adjacent scale notes near the lower end of your range – for example in C Major you could use E, D and C.
- Open up a metronome app (or start a real one) at a very slow speed – try 40 – 60 bpm
- Hit each note one after the other to the click, being as accurate and with as good a tone as possible
- Once you’re comfortable doing that slow run, raise the bpm by 5 and do it again
- Repeat the above, gradually becoming faster and faster
Here’s what to do for vibrato:
- Use the same 3 notes from the run exercise above
- Start your metronome at a slow speed (stick to 40bpm to start with)
- Start singing a sustained sound using the middle of the 3 low notes (ex/ sing D, between E and C)
- Hold the D note for 1 click, then try to bounce back and forth from E to C four (4) times between clicks 2 and 3.
- Don’t sing for click 4
- Repeat this in reverse – bouncing from C to E this time.
- As you get comfortable, raise the bpm by 5 and try to do it again
- Repeat the above, gradually becoming faster and faster
Strengthening your runs and vibrato in your lower range will really help boost your control of the low notes you’re trying to sing. And it will also make everything you do in your higher range easier.
Low Glottal Attack
A glottal stop is when your vocal cords squeeze together so much in the middle of singing/speaking that they stop air from escaping. Practicing the glottal stop can help develop the all-important vocal cord adduction we described in this guide.
But be careful, doing this too often can actually cause vocal strain. So don’t over-train yourself. Even better, try getting a professional that offers singing lessons to help you master this exercise while not over-doing it.
Here’s what you should do:
- Pick a single note in the lower end of your range – one that you can sing fairly comfortable, even if there’s not a lot of power behind it.
- Prepare yourself to sing the words “uh-oh” with a brief stop between the uh and the oh.
- Start singing the UH sound on that note in a sustained way.
- Do a deliberate and brief stop (complete closure of vocal cords) in sound
- Resume singing quickly using the OH sound.
- Repeat using various notes you’d like to practice
You want to focus on achieving a clean and precise sound each time you start singing the note. Make sure you’re using a SUDDEN and CONTROLLED stop and also a sudden/controlled release of the stop (when you start singing again on “OH”).
This will help you gain more control over your cord closure and thus, your ability to sing low notes well.
Doing vocal exercises are great, but you also want to focus on song work. Pick a song that’s sung in a low range and practice it.
You don’t have to get the whole song right away – take it one section at a time. Focus particularly on sections with low notes you’re having trouble with.
And since most of the exercises above were done with your “speaking voice,” this is a great opportunity to use your actual (and beautified) singing voice.
IMPORTANT: Watch your technique. It’s easier to have proper technique when you’re doing random exercises, but then slip back to your bad habits when singing a song. So pay attention to your technique and make sure you’re implementing the tips in this guide while singing real songs.
If you’re having trouble with certain notes/words in the song, you can try replacing the more “open” vowel sound used by the original singer with a more “narrow” vowel.
For example, if the word being sung on a particular hard low note has an “IH” vowel sound (like in “snitch”) you could try replacing it with the EE vowel sound (turn “snitch” into “sneetch”). The narrower vowel sound may make it easier to hit that low note.
Remember, EE and OO are great vowels to practice low notes with.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you’ve just woken up, your vocal cords (the muscles that generate sound) have had a good amount of absolute rest. Because of this, you may find that you’re able to sing notes easier or better. That’s because there hasn’t been a day’s worth of strain (by talking, yelling, or even singing) on the vocal cords. So, yes, sometimes you are able to sing lower notes easier first thing in the morning.
The lowest note sung by a women ever was a C1 (33.57Hz) – a record held by Joy Chapman. That’s pretty low! How low you can sing has a lot to do with the physical limitations of your body. As such, there will always be a very individual answer to this question. Men can often sing much lower than women because of a number of biological/physical reasons. Women, however, can develop an ability to hit low notes better by training their vocal cords.
The lowest note ever sung was done by a man named Tim Storms. He was able to sing a G-7 (0.189Hz) – not a G7, a G MINUS 7. For reference, that’s a G note 7 OCTAVES BELOW the lowest G note on a piano. That’s absolutely insane and is a near impossible feat for most people.
The most likely reasons for not being able to sing low notes is that your voice isn’t trained enough or you’re using improper singing technique. Having said that, it’s important to remember that there is a physical limit to how low your voice can actually go. So even with good training, you may not be able to keep getting lower and lower with a good tone.
If you’re only able to sing lower notes in your range, then you are likely either using improper technique for singing high notes, or you haven’t trained your vocal cords enough to reach those notes. Low notes mostly come from the chest voice, which is easier to control. High notes are often sung in your head voice, and you may not have trained your voice enough in that vocal register.
And that’s that! Our complete guide on how to get better at singing low notes.
It can be something tricky, especially if your natural voice is a higher pitched one.
But doing the exercises here and paying attention to your singing technique can work wonders for you.
Just remember, there are physical limits to how low you’ll actually be able to sing – and that limit is different for everyone. It’s just the way it is. Don’t worry too much about it.
You should be practicing daily and working on your voice like a “workout” routine. Your vocal cords are a muscle, and they need to be exercised regularly in order to get a stronger voice.
Even 10 minutes a day can help you improve a LOT.
Thanks again for reading How to Sing Low Notes! I hope it was helpful.
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