AskDefine | Define singing

Dictionary Definition



1 deliver by singing; "Sing Christmas carols"
2 produce tones with the voice; "She was singing while she was cooking"; "My brother sings very well"
3 to make melodious sounds; "The nightingale was singing"
4 make a whining, ringing, or whistling sound; "the kettle was singing"; "the bullet sang past his ear" [syn: whistle]
5 divulge confidential information or secrets; "Be careful--his secretary talks" [syn: spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, talk, tattle, blab, peach, babble, babble out, blab out] [ant: keep quiet] [also: sung, singing, sang]singing adj : smooth and flowing [syn: cantabile]


1 the act of singing vocal music [syn: vocalizing]
2 disclosing information or giving evidence about another [syn: tattle, telling]singing See sing

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. The act of using the voice to produce musical sounds; vocalizing.
  2. Disclosing information, or giving evidence about another.
  3. A gathering for the purpose of singing shape note songs.


the act of using the voice to produce musical sounds; vocalizing
informal: disclosing information, or giving evidence about another
USA: a gathering for the purpose of singing shape note songs


  1. Smooth and flowing.
  2. In the context of "of a kettle etc.": Producing a whistling sound due to the escape of steam.


of a kettle etc: producing a whistling sound due to the escape of steam
music: smooth and flowing


  1. present participle of sing

Extensive Definition

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice, which is often contrasted with speech. Contrary to common thought, air is not expelled with the diaphragm, but is inhaled using the diaphragm and exhaled or expelled, using the abdominal and lower pelvic muscles, as with ordinary breathing. The pitch is altered with the vocal cords. With the lips closed, this is called humming. A piece of music with a singing part, either a cappella (without accompaniment) or accompanied, is called a song; someone who sings is called a singer. Nearly anyone who can speak can sing, since in many respects singing is merely a form of sustained speech. It can be informal and just for pleasure, for example, singing in the shower; or it can be very formal, such as singing done professionally as a performance or in a recording studio. Singing at a high amateur or professional level usually requires a great deal of regular practice, and/or instruction. Top-quality singers will have instruction and training from coaches throughout their career.
According to Alfred Alexander (formally an ENT consultant to the Home Office), "a singer is a person of adequate musicality, who is gifted with a voice of such power and beauty that competent judges can recommend singing as a career". Alexander believes that 1 in 50,000 in the UK possess such gifts, which means in England (800,000 births a year average) 16 people are born with such a voice a year, making 500 "first class voices" active in any particular generation (taken as 30 years) at any one time.
Singing is often done in a group, such as a choir, and may be accompanied by musical instruments, a full orchestra, or a band. Singing with no instrumental accompaniment is called a cappella.
Classical and operatic solo singers are classified by the tessitura, vocal weight and timbre of their voices into voice types.
Choral Singers are classified by vocal range (see also musical range).
At the highest professional level it is imperative that singers continuously practice with drills, voice exercises and strengthening activities. Without constant practice, a singer's range can be significantly decreased, requiring extra rehearsal to regain the voice's previous capability, much in the same way as any professional level musician must practice constantly with their instrument. However, singing is a very natural activity and this kind of intensive practice is not usually necessary for most singers especially outside the field of classical music and where amplification is available, or for semi-professional singers.


See also Vocal technique.
A vocal warm-up is usually required before the vocal cords are expected to perform at their full potential. Numerous exercises have been devised to facilitate this warm-up, such as the popular "Bumblebee Don't Sting Me" exercise in diatonic thirds. Proper breathing technique is also a key factor in singing correctly.
Human voice is usually considered to have at least three voice registers; ranging from lowest to highest, they are the: abdominal register, head register, and falsetto. (The whistle register, comprising the highest notes that a human voice can reach, is also often considered a proper register, although individuals who are able to use it well are fairly rare.) Some singers choose to remain in a single range (usually the chest register) throughout a piece, but many will switch between these different ranges in order to produce a wide range of pitches, or even simply for effect. Yodeling is a technique that requires rapidly switching between at least two different registers many times in the same phrase, producing a distinct high-low-high-low sound.
Most singing involves shaping the voice to form words, but types of voice instrumental music which use open sounds or nonsense syllables ("vocalizes") also exist, for instance, scat singing and yodeling. Solfege assigns certain syllables to the notes of the scale.


Vibrato is a technique used by singers (and many instrumentalists; for instance, string instruments that are played with a bow can produce vibrato tones) in which a sustained note actually wavers very quickly and consistently between a higher and a lower pitch, giving the note a slight quaver. Vibrato is the pulse or wave in a sustained tone. Vibrato may be developed through extensive vocal exercises, demonstrated in vocal training programs.
Vibrato adds richness to the tone. Faster vibratos are possible without perceived "damage" to the note as the frequency of the note increases. Slow vibrato is necessary for low frequencies in order to allow the full waveform to propagate before altering its frequency.
Vibrato is the result of proper breath support. Some singers use vibrato as a means of expression. Many successful artists have built a career on deep, rich vibrato ability. Pop Diva, R&B and Folk musician Devendra Banhart often uses vibrato in his voice to imbue his songs with a haunting feeling.


A melisma occurs when a singer switches pitch while singing the same syllable. It is used heavily in baroque vocal music, as well as to a somewhat lesser extent in popular music. Singers especially noted for their use of this are Christina Aguilera, David Ruffin, Mariah Carey, Amy Lee, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Kelly Clarkson, Beyoncé Knowles and Patti Labelle..

Health effects

Singing is considered by some to have positive effects on peoples' health. A preliminary study based on self-reported data from a survey of students participating in choral singing found perceived physical benefits including increased lung capacity, improved mood, stress reduction, as well as perceived social and spiritual benefits. However, one much older study of lung capacity compared those with professional vocal training to those without, and failed to back up the claims of increased lung capacity.
Singing may positively influence the immune system through the reduction of stress. One study found that both singing and listening to choral music reduces the level of stress hormones and increases immune function.
singing in Arabic: غناء
singing in Breton: Kanañ
singing in Czech: Zpěv
singing in German: Gesang
singing in Spanish: Canto
singing in Esperanto: Kantado
singing in French: Chant
singing in Croatian: Pjevanje
singing in Icelandic: Söngur
singing in Italian: Canto (musica)
singing in Hebrew: זמרה
singing in Dutch: Zangkunst
singing in Polish: Śpiew
singing in Portuguese: Vocal
singing in Quechua: Taki
singing in Russian: Пение
singing in Slovak: Spev
singing in Finnish: Laulu
singing in Yiddish: נגינה
singing in Chinese: 歌唱

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alto, baritone, bass, beaming, beatific, beatified, bel canto, blessed, blissful, bravura, capering, cheerful, chirping, choral, choral service, choral singing, choric, coloratura, croon, crooning, dancing, dramatic, eisteddfod, falsetto, farewell performance, flushed with joy, folk singing, folk-music festival, folk-sing, gay, glad, glowing, happy, heroic, hootenanny, hum, humming, hymnal, intonation, jam session, joyful, joyous, laughing, leaping, liturgical, lyric, lyricism, music festival, musicale, opera festival, operatic, operatic singing, psalmic, psalmodial, psalmodic, purring, radiant, rock festival, sacred, scat, scat singing, service of song, sing, sing-in, singfest, smiling, smirking, sol-fa, sol-fa exercise, solfeggio, solmization, song, soprano, sparkling, starry-eyed, swan song, tenor, thrice happy, tonic sol-fa, treble, vocal, vocal music, vocalization, warbling, yodel, yodeling
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1