Extra special thanks to our contributing editor, Daniel Huh.
Analysis of Minnie (민니) (G)I-DLE’s
Performance in Above Video
Proper support for the singing voice is enabled when the inhaled breath is taken LOW. Shallow, high breathing causes pressure and strain upon the voice. And this in turn causes vocal fatigue, which can lead to serious and sometimes permanent damage (with continued abuse).
Being brutally honest, a pop singer with good vocal technique is too rare. American music icon Tony Bennett is that phenomenal exception. He has often attributed his marvelous vocal technique to having studied the art of bel canto singing at a young age. Tony Bennett is a monumentally great artist, who we should all be grateful to learn from.
Having said this, however, in the above-referenced video, Minnie’s vocal potential is beginning to flourish in some promising ways. Her voice is developing with a golden, burnished color, kind of a cross between Alanis Morrisette and Alicia Keys (who Minnie has said is one of the artists she most admires).
Most interesting to note is the fact that singing with the new deeper color in the voice actually requires that the lower muscles become more engaged. So she is definitely now on the right track, toward breathing low and developing her voice in a healthy manner, which will allow for the greatest realization of her remarkable vocal gift.
I believe Minnie’s voice timbre is so unique that everyone will instantly recognize it, even when she wears a mask covering her face. Likewise, the great Tony Bennett has a voice of finest distinction, instantly recognizable — once heard, never forgotten.
Minnie (G)I-DLE does tend to utilize a breathy sound as an expressive device. Often this can be alluring and communicative. Occasionally, however, it can border on being a liability for vocal technique and health.
For example, at :49 and again at :55, breathy tone is so pervasive that the two lowest notes in those successive phrases are simply lost. Indeed, those two lowest notees become so breathy and thin that they evaporate into near silence.
My opinion is that the lowest notes in those phrases are crucial for the shape and beauty of the whole melodic line, of this lovely song. Musical expressivity is lost if we omit notes from the melody of a song.
I so much wish that I could personally work with this great young vocal artist! She is clearly an exceptionally bright young woman, and I’m sure that with careful vocal instruction, her supreme natural singing instrument would respond immediately. With more personal attention to her needs as a developing singer, and with an eye on her fabulous singing potential, there is no question that Minnie can begin producing a richer and more resonant sound. She can begin to feel the incredible physical power of real support within the singing technique, once and for all eliminating risk of vocal strain. Progress must not only be sustainable, but also it must ensure her continued best vocal health, so we can enjoy and admire her best singing for many years.
Indeed, there is a danger in singing with too much breathiness. When the vocal folds are bombarded with excessive breath, they become tired and swollen. This in turn can swiftly evolve into a series of vocal troubles, not unlike a domino effect, in which the entire vocal technique actually falls apart, piece by piece. Of course there is no evidence this is happening right now to Minnie, thankfully. However, when we hear a lot of breathiness in the tone, we can only hope this habit will in fact not become an essential part of her style.
To explain this pitfall in terms of vocal well-being, when the vocal folds (cords) are subjected to a constant overload of air, this frequently leads to a fatigued state of puffiness or slight swelling, to begin setting in. At that point the voice will feel stiff, will sound slightly husky, and high notes will be difficult to access. Unfortunately too many singers fail to heed these specific symptoms as a warning, and they insist on “powering through.” In other words, they sing when they absolutely should be resting the voice.
Singers, you are wise to become highly observant of how the voice feels and responds, even from one hour to the next. If and when you experience any of the above symptoms, note it is the beginning of vocal fatigue.
If this begins to happen in your singing, you must stop and rest the voice. Drink even more water than usual and get a lot of sleep. The voice loves sleep and needs good sleep in order to recover properly.
When we are in this state of early vocal fatigue and we fail to rest the voice, we might as well be trying to navigate through quicksand! Singing through vocal fatigue will always cause the condition to worsen quickly, and the more you insist upon singing, the worse the voice will sound, including a lot of rough hoarse tone, until you finally have no voice left at all. And the worse the voice loss is, the longer it takes to heal.
But you have to know what you’re doing, and as always it is extremely helpful to have the guidance of a quality voice teacher, someone who can know your instrument and really care about your long-term health and success as a vocalist.
Minnie (G)I-DLE has an exceptional talent and deserves the finest team of experts around her to coach, guide, and truly to care about her best well-being as an artist and as the exceptionally fine young person that she clearly is. Her career is gaining momentum, because of her marvelous artistic imagination and communication. Her voice sounds in top healthy condition as of this recording, and for the most part she is already singing so very well, as her voice continues to develop in the most exciting ways!
NUMBER RATING 85 / GRADE: A-
Two Short Pieces
Performed by NingNing (닝닝)
Second short excerpt is found here: https://twitter.com/aestnv/status/1519278554584076288
The above-referenced two videos are used for this analysis, which we hope you will enjoy!
Extra special thanks to our contributing blog writer,
Julienne Pal Loreto.
Real Name: 宁艺卓 (Ning Yi Zhuo)
Age (at the time this post was written): 19
Group: aespa (에스파)
Position: Main Vocalist
Gretchen says, “For any young singer, it is simply too early to judge vocal classification. The voice is changing and growing every day, including both vocal range and sound quality.” However, she suspects that NingNing “could actually be a light lyric mezzo-soprano vocal type.” There is much power and beauty in the middle range, without any sign of the voice becoming tired. These are some of the main factors considered, when determining voice type.
GOOD PITCH AND INTONATION
GG: One of the greatest attributes of her impressive natural talent is her highly accurate musical ear. She sings very naturally and almost perfectly in tune. (And I’m extra critical of this one, because singing with great intonation is so vital to communication with your audience.)
VIBRATO AND GOOD VOCAL HEALTH
GG: Her use of vibrato shows that she understands the voice must not be held too long in a straight-toned fashion. NingNing’s voice is in a very healthy condition. My impression is she knows how to take care of it properly, and this is rare today! One concern: When belting in the middle of the range, NingNing has a tendency to sing with too much nasality, which causes the sound to become thin and not as beautiful as she is capable of producing, in a natural way. Hopefully, as the voice matures and with continued good healthy development, NingNing will begin to enjoy a rounder, richer sound throughout her range.
GG: The voice is displayed as round and rich in this particular range of NingNing’s fine voice. In just these few seconds of her singing, there is so much color and great character in the actual timbre of her vocal sound.
When hearing how comfortable NingNing’s voice is in this exact range, it strikes me this is the real core or “home base” of her whole great instrument. She uses her voice here in an especially clean way, with a lovely crystalline sound.
LACK OF PROPER SUPPORT
GG: Unfortunately at this time, NingNing is not utilizing proper support in her singing. She is a marvelously talented young singing artist. In order to preserve her great voice, so she will be singing well for years to come, it is necessary for her to begin breathing low and using proper breath support.
When we watch closely, we see that she is unfortunately breathing very high, in her throat. And frequently she is lifting her chest and shoulders to breathe. This is what happens when we breathe too high and ultimately there will be strain upon the singing voice, unless we breathe very LOW. This means we breathe by allowing muscles in the abdomen to expand. We cannot merely breathe into our throats, as this is a sure recipe for tremendous strain upon the delicate vocal anatomy.
It is crucial to preserve each of their great talents by ensuring that they have proper training. At this time, unfortunately, it’s clear she lacks the information she needs to fully utilize great singing technique, which is the only way to preserve the talent and to protect the voice from tremendous strain.
Vocally expressive young singer with great pitch, solid intonation, and heaps of potential. Lower register might be the core of her voice. At this time, however, she lacks proper support. (EXPLANATION ABOUT SUPPORT BELOW)
GG: The parts of our bodies that make sound (the larynx, the vocal folds, etc.) are very delicate and fragile. The larynx and vocal cords especially are subject to much strain and even permanent damage, if the voice is not properly cared for. At the heart of proper vocal care is the need for the singing technique to include breathing low and using the lower body muscles for proper breath support.
Even the most talented singers in the world are at risk of failing to preserve their great talent, if they do not receive the proper training and then carefully practice using good breath support. This is the entire foundation for singing technique, to prevent straining and damaging the delicate vocal anatomy.
The first step is optimal body alignment. The spine should be slightly elongated and stretched up so that the head is comfortably positioned atop the neck. The correct posture for singing is not like a military officer standing at attention. Instead it is about freedom and flexibility in the entire body, and this all starts with the spine being tall and slightly stretched upward. In fact as we sing, we need to constantly have a feeling that our spine and had our gradually gently being stretched and lifted upward. This is why yoga is so wonderful for singing technique. There is also a fantastic area of body work called the Alexander Technique. And it is all about freedom in the movement of the whole body, based upon the slight stretching up of the spine and the head being comfortably positioned on top of the neck, always gradually lengthening up.
The way we learn this body alignment is detailed in some of the blog posts on this website. It is not difficult. It’s just something for which we all need this specialized information, so we can understand how good singing technique works and what it relies upon.
The miraculous thing is that when we use good body alignment, automatically the breath will be taken flow, and we absolutely must breathe LOW for singing!
When we take our low breath in, we preserve the health of our vocal cords and larynx. And breath support is all about using the muscles in the lower torso to hold back the breath pressure. There are lots of exercises to achieve this fundamental goal in singing technique. If we do not hold back the breath pressure with the muscles in the rib cage and the abdominal muscles, then we risk our vocal health to a great extent. At this time, NingNing’s voice is in wonderful condition, which we hope and trust will continue, so we can all enjoy her great singing for many years!
NUMBER RATING: 85 / GRADE: A-
Following is a list of links to videos, which I have analyzed. These are solo performances by NingNing and by Minnie, respectively.