SoHyang’s Vocal Profile : One of the most skillful Asia singers

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May 13, 2017
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May 13, 2017

Vocal Characteristics

Vocal type: Light lirico soprano

Vocal range: 3 octaves 3 note (E3 – A6)

Supported range: G#3 – E6 (head voice) và G#3 – C#6 (Chest – mixed)

Tessitura: D5 – Bb5

Longest note: 16s (head voice)

Vocal Positives

  •  So Hyang is an extraordinary soprano, rarely seen in Asia. Differs from most light lirico sopranos, So Hyang’s voice gets trenchant, thick and well-supported with large volume at high notes (above E5) to create somewhat a dramatic color (but not pure dramatic).
  •  A typical light lirico soprano will always show their lyricalness at high notes no matter how well their supported dynamic and techniques are, but So Hyang is managed to overcome that. Even a full lirico soprano would find it hard to do this.
  •  Let’s compare So Hyang’s high range with other light lirico sopranos’ like Thu Minh, Hồ Quỳnh Hương, Thùy Chi, Cyndi Lauper, Jessica Simpson, Lee Haeri…etc., even the full lirico sopranos like Siu Black, Lara Fabian, Celine Dion, Ock Joo Hyun… to notice this.
  •  Lots of people mistook So Hyang for a full lirico soprano or a spinto soprano because her voice gets more trenchant and thick when she sings the high notes. However, So Hyang doesn’t have the most important specifics of the 2 voice types, as her middle and middle-high range is hollow and thin. 
  •  On the other hand, she is special for her bright, flowy, soft and thin vocal of a true light lirico soprano. This is what made an extraordinary So Hyang who sings as a light lirico soprano at soft parts and almost as a tough, powerful spinto soprano at high range.
  •  So Hyang has a special tessitura. In other femal vocals, the singing voice’s tessitura often lies between Bb4 - Eb5, but So Hyang’s is high from E5 to Bb5. This helps So Hyang to sing high hanging range (including performing her pronounciation and techniques) with comfort, just like she can reach F5, G5, A5 easily without any efforts. Meanwhile, to other sopranos, this is considered as a huge challenge. Here are some examples:

Frequently singing the high hanging notes like B5, G#5

Easily pronounced, resonated with comfort and sharpness even at Bb5

Successively hit C6, C#6

  • So Hyang has the splendid ability to balance her larynx. No matter how high or low she goes, she larynx never rises or lowers - something can happen to any diva or female artist. Even at low notes below E3 when So Hyang’s voice become blurry as it is not in her tessitura, she never tried to lower her larynx to make her voice thicker. Another one, even at mixed C#6 and headed A6, her larynx is still well controlled even when she often had to sing very high hanging notes while having illness.
  •  One of So Hyang’s strong point is to sing mezza voce at light mixed voice. So Hyang’s light mixed voice is very soft, flowy, flexible yet resonant and bright. It is the resonance at her soft singing parts is what showed her well-trained techniques the most. 
  • Moreover, it is also used flexibly, switching passagios into head voice and then mixed voice with frequence that is hard to notice without paying attention.This is what makes So Hyang’s voice sounds prettier than how it should be. Although she is considered to be bad at using full mixed voice, her voice is actually complimented as astonishingly pretty when using light mixed.

 For instance, at the first part of Arirang Alone, she used her light mixed voice along with her legato to give an appealing feeling of her half-voice, then gently switched to her subtle head voice.

 So Hyang’s light mixed voice in comparison with her full mixed voice will somewhat show a very special aspect of her. Normally, the singers with a tough, powerful and dramatically sharp color in their full mixed voice will find it difficult to sing with their soft and flowy light mixed voice, or the opposite. However, So Hyang is managed to develop both of those strong points fluently.

  • So Hyang is a master in using her mixed voice, exspecially her full mixed one. One of So Hyang’s special ability is to balance her mixed voice even at extremely high notes (from F5 to C#6). So Hyang’s mixed vocal range not only reaches the notes, but also maintains a standard that very rare people can follow: the balance of her larynx, the strong and supported breath, a correct placement, the balance between her chest and head voice, her maximum resonance, the flexible control, the florid additions.
  • So Hyang owns the best belting G5 and Bb5 notes, which can be considered as the best in Asia until now.

Sing A5 with closed vowel /i/ (3:30)

Sustaining A5 for 7s with steadiness with metallization

F#5 at the vowel /e/

Continuous B5, A5 and G#5

Mixed C#6 full resonance

Sustain F#5

E5 with large volume of resonance, and incessant vibrato

Astounding vocal switch from light mixed mezza voce to full mixed F5 in a breath.

Continuous note running at high mixed range with comfort and vocal switches, shows a striking agility of a virtuoso artist.

Even So Hyang’s D5 is extremely gorgeous, successive, bright and very relaxing, comfortable and constant.

5:36

Recently, So Hyang’s belting E5 notes are getting wider, brighter and full, much more charming than in the past and no longer too flabby.

  •  Vibrato is not a hard technique, but in So Hyang, it is a standard in controling and using vibrato that not any one can follow. In her supported range, So Hyang have never loosen or lack for her vibrato control, even at her head or mixed voice. Her vibrato is always full, incessant and firm. 
  •  It can be said that if vibratos are long series of chains that other singers can bent a few links, then So Hyang’s chain is a perfect and completed one.

For instance, in this live video, So Hyang held a constant head voiced vibrato for 16 secs.

 On her mixed voice, at every high notes, dynamics and vowels, So Hyang always control her vibrato incredibly.

 One of So Hyang’s subtility is that she have learnt from Mariah Carey the way to avoid vibrato at the first part of the belting chain, and then slowly using it later on, which sounded very charming.

4:38

  •  So Hyang is a rare pop singer that can master both her mixed and head voice. In Asia, to be strong at head voice, we would normally think of semi-classical or opera, auditoriums’ singers, who are often not as good at using their chest-mixed voice. In the opposite, singers who are strong at using their chest - mixed voice normally won’t have a good head voice.

 Talking about So Hyang’s head voice, it is a pinnacle in the Asian Pop industry. Only a very little number of pop vocalists can be as flexible and correctly supported in using head voice as So Hyang.

 So Hyang has a wide head-voice range from A#4 to A6 (nearly 2 octaves), supported range to E6 and she can sing beautifully to D6.

 With her mastering skills, So Hyang have upgraded her head voice into very aesthetic, much prettier than her normal singing voice. She has a full, resonant, bright and flowy head voice. She can change her shades of head voice from full to light, dynamic to soft with agility with various flexible skills and color with good control on many different speeds and pitches.

  •  So Hyang’s head voice is pure, shrill, girly and crystal-like. She can sometimes even use her airy voice at her head voice.
  •  She can use her legato head voice fluently with good volume and breath control, firm vibrato and a stable load of breath that cannot be weakened until the very last line.

3:28

 Her head voiced mezza voce is legato, light, soft, sweet, emotional just like a lullaby.

0:08

Constantly held her head voiced vibrato for 16 secs.

Head voiced dynamic with resonance at high notes fully and large volumed, created a tough successive and extreme peak that is not only powerful but also excellent at her skills, balanced larynx, placement, sounded very full, comfortable and didn’t get sharp

Continuously changed the head voice’s speed and used riff following her music sense (6:30)

Constantly used run/riff/melisma randomly and showed good control while performing head voice with flexible speed.(3:23)

2:37

Showed soft head voice while phrasing, and as light as a breath.

Like many divas, So Hyang has the ability to pronounce well while using head voice. In a song, she can pronounce various words softly and spongy while performing head voice.

  •  So Hyang can even use her head voice to resonate constantly with full inner-force while singing semi-classical songs.

2:56

All of So Hyang’s head voice skills can be summarized in this clip.

 So Hyang is not the singer with the best head voice skill, but she has passion and inspiration for it. Most of So Hyang’s songs are head voice included yet they never bore the listeners. In the opposite, the audience always find them emotional and passionate.

 She always try to include head voice into her songs with subtle, emotional, soulful variation, shows her excellent mastering, flexible and creative skills. There are many academical vocalists who used head voice fluently, but there are rarely someone can use it in pop creatively and inspirative like So Hyang. Therefore, she is a true rarity in the Asian music industry.

Vocal Negatives

  •  So Hyang’s biggest negative is her natural unattractive, thin timbre, lack of warmth, sharp, sometimes looses words and sour.
  •  So Hyang have trained a lot in order to improve her natural voice, but the skills she have learnt are what keeps her from expand the pop songs in more natural, emotional ways like how Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey… always does. She always have to pronounce in one way to keep her voice in the main stream. This is what keeps So Hyang from the true soulfulness and flexibility in a performance of a pop singer, but sounded more like a hymnal singer singing pop.
  •  So Hyang’s special tessitura has its own negativity. It helps her sing extremely high notes with her singing voice naturally and impressive, but it makes her middle range and middle-high range lack of strength, power and emphasis. The difference between So Hyang’s middle and high range was shown in this clip.
  •  So Hyang doesn’t really pronounce all the words. The way she pronounce will sometimes make her miss the lyrics, the words aren’t fully pronounced and the phrases aren’t well stressed. She’s more suitable for a softer and more legato way of phrasing. We can see the differences between So Hyang’s and Whitney Houston’s way of pronounce in the below clip.
  •  So Hyang is very tough while performing high belting notes, but for the notes below D5, the way she handle and phrase it sometimes are very cheesy, although the techniques are still accurate. This makes her way of processing the song sounds lack of effort.
  •  A bad health, pronounciation and placement is the main reasons for the nasal voice of So Hyang. Her nasal voice is the sign when she is lack of support.

 Normally, So Hyang can rely on her ability to balance the mixed voice to prevent nasal beltings, but she is nasal in almost all of the phrases. For example in this live performance, So Hyang belted Eb5 at the last word “love” excellently, but she was using her nasal voice in almost all of her phrases and beltings from G#4 to C5

 Or in this clip, when So Hyang had her nasal voice at the second C5 (0:08) and the third (0:16), the D5 (1:26) that showed the sign of the lack of support.

 Sometimes, due to the health condition, So Hyang had her nasal right at her fortes, such as in this live performance, when So Hyang used her nasal voice even at Bb5, G#5 and all the middle notes later on.

  •  So Hyang’s chest voice is not powerful nor firm. Acknowledging this, she tends to protect her voice by moving all the placements on to the top of her forehead and head. 

 At high range, this placement is excellent to ballance the mixed voice and charm the voice. But at middle and middle-high range, it makes So Hyang sound heady, create narrow sounds and doesn’t give the listeners the comfortable feeling.

 Take a look at So Hyang’s “don’t” and Whitney Houston’s in the 2 clips below to see this.

So Hyang (3:22)

Whitney (4:52)

  •  We also believe that So Hyang’s vertical way of pronouncing is also what makes her heady. So Hyang rarely expands all of her pronounciation like other singers; she tend to keep her mouth in the shape of vocal music’s academic oval. This helps her with a good placement, but makes her feel difficult to pronounce English fully, sometimes heady and lack of soulfulness.
  •  Like many other sopranos, So Hyang is weak and blurry at low range. She can be supported down to G#3 but not too impressive, and the notes bellow G#3 are really challenges to her.
Phuong
Phuong
Mình là Thảo Phương, một cô gái với âm nhạc là nguồn sống ^^. Mình đã từng được vào vòng đối đầu của The Voice và hiện giờ vẫn đang trên con đường làm ca sĩ :).

1 Comment

  1. Lee says:

    Amazing analysis of Sohyang. Great job!

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