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Opera/Defining an odd vocal 'technique'


QUESTION: Hi Pamela! I'm asking this question more out of curiosity than a need for advice. I am a great fan of Glee, and definitely admirable of star Lea Michele's range, but she has an aspect to her performances that I (and many others) find annoying and am wondering if it has a name.

In nearly every song covered by Lea Michele for Glee, she has a way of emphasizing note changes, or the beginnings of words/phrases. She uses it commonly in songs utilizing the higher end of her range. It sounds a bit like a quick yodel, or some kind of extremely quick whine. You can hear it in the first :30 of both the Glee cover of Queen's "Somebody to Love", for example, or through the entire Glee cover of "Last Christmas" (which had nationwide airplay during the holidays).

I mostly just want to know - is there a name for this emphasis Lea Michelle uses?

ANSWER: Hi Jessica,

I went on YouTube to try to listen to what you are talking about but really could find a recording that showed what she was doing.
Can you send me a link?  I can't imagine that it's a good thing to do, though!  I would love to hear it.


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QUESTION: Hi Pamela,

Thanks for the response! I found a song with a lot of examples of what I'm referring to. It's the Glee cover of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", and you can find it on YouTube here:

You can hear it at the beginning of a lot of her phrases, and lots of words in between, with most occurrences starting after about :40, and most often occur during the chorus portions of the song.



Hi Jessica,

I am so sorry - somehow I didn't see your follow up question!  But it did play the clip you attached and I do see what you mean.

One thing I noticed at the very beginning (in the lower voice) she begins her attack of the note with a kind of growl… then the vowel comes in fine.  It is a bit odd and not very healthy because she is rubbing her cords together with that guttural "fry" sound.

As to the higher attacks - yes I do hear her - it's a kind of a yodel.  She attacks the note from above the note.  It's just a habit which she should correct.  I would encourage her to work on her vocal attacks to make sure she simply breathes and attacks the note right on pitch.

I don't think the yodel is as bad for the voice as the "fry" attack at the beginning.  But she's a good singer and hopefully she'll fix that so she will be singing for years to come.

Again - so sorry I missed the following question.

Hope you are well!




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Pamela Thomas


Questions on Opera performance, repertoire, vocal technique, acting for opera. I have some 20 years experience in opera in both leading roles and chorus. I have sung with New York City Opera since 1981. I have studied voice in NYC for over 20 years and have also taught technique and coached singers in acting.

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