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Does a small body frame (meaning small bones and possibly small organs) or low weight affect the "power" of a singing voice?? Does a higher weight creates some sort of "pressure" or something that makes the voice sound more powerful? Is a person with a small body able to take as much air as others?

This came to my mind after watching some (about 20) videos of some singers, most of them were opera singers, but there were others like Mariah Carey. I noticed lot of them are on the "thick" side, and well, I wanted to know if there was some sort of science behind that or just coincidence.

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The English is excellent, and the only thing we care about here is good questions! I'm going to edit out the extraneous parts of this, since they won't have any effect on how we answer the question. –  NReilingh Sep 27 '12 at 15:06
    
Pat Benatar is a counter example to your "thick" argument. :) She's a tiny little thing with a rich, powerful voice. –  JimR Oct 2 '13 at 10:56

4 Answers 4

Someone more knowledgeable about singing will no doubt be able to provide more detail, but in short, yes your body does very much affect the timbre of your voice - your weight, less so.

Think of your body as the body of a guitar or violin - your chest, throat and lungs are like the sound box that helps sound to resonate. So yes, you'll notice bass singers tend to have a larger frame (note: being obese doesn't really add much, they just tend to be larger than the average), as will anyone with a "big" voice.

Compare women and girls - their voice doesn't 'break' when they go through puberty like a man's does, but you can still tell the difference beteen a young girl and adult woman just by listening to the way they sound.

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Do you have any sources for this information because I've seen many examples contradicting the body size reference. –  Kristina Lopez Sep 27 '12 at 17:32
    
This thesis is interesting but you're right there isn't anything conclusive in existing data - i.e. not all Pavarotti look-a-likes are guaranteed to have deep voices. But intuitively, a larger body means a better chance of a larger vocal tract & lungs. A larger vocal tract with more air means a better chance to resonate those deeper notes when "singing from your belly". –  Widor Sep 28 '12 at 9:41
    
What's odd is that Pavorati was a tenor. Samuel Ramey is a very slender man and one of the best basses in opera. Go figure! –  Kristina Lopez Sep 28 '12 at 11:37

I cannot refer to any scientific research. However I've heard tiny (short and thin) women sing with a strong powerful loud voice with a full rich timbre that would amaze most people, and I'm sure there are large people with really weak voices. So if there is a correlation between body frame size or body weight and singing voice power the correlation coefficient is probably not too large. I'd guess that internal body construction and musculature is more important than actual external size. Not to mention training.
Regarding air supply there is certainly some correlation between body height and lung size. I don't know but I don't think it is a very important factor for your singing ability.

(Regarding voice range I'm fairly certain that the size or length of the vocal folds constitutes the main factor for what singing range a person has. Although there is likely some correlation between body length and vocal folds length it's not a one to one relation. For example the bass singer Anders Jalkéus of the á capella group The Real Group I believe is at most of average height but he can sing several notes in the contra octave below C2 and that's definately below average. Further I've sung with rather tall tenors.)

I'd really like to hear about scientific research regarding this though.

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On average, taller people have lower voices because of longer throat and vocal chords, just like taller people have larger hands on average.

When people get fatter or thinner, it often causes changes in their voice tone and may make a slight difference in range. The same thing is true of aerobic conditioning. Of course, vocal practice will likely make more difference than either of these.

(This is based on personal observation and not research.)

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My personal opinion: In my 35 years of experience in singing, what I have observed is that every individual is unique. Some quite small people sing with a huge voice, and some quite large people have small voices. On average, perhaps, there might be a correlation between the mass of the person and the size of the voice, but I think this is largely meaningless to any individual.

I suspect that the "size" of the singing voice is mostly something that one is born with and has to do with the physiology of that particular person's larynx. Beyond that it's possible to develop the character and "size" of the voice a great deal with the proper training and practice. But ultimately I believe you are either born with a big voice or you are not, and it's mostly independent of the size of your body frame or your mass.

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