Looking for sourced answers, i.e. "Pavarotti says X in interview Y":

When practicing specifically for tone, do great singers listen to themselves

– more through sound traveling though the air to their ears, or - more to sound they hear directly through bone conduction, or - a mixture of the two?

Have singers gone on record saying whether they favor one source of feedback to find/refine their sound?

  • 2
    I can't source it and my search engine can't find anything yours can't. But I know that you can't completely isolate the blend between hearing your voice from the outside and hearing it from inside your head. You can change the mix to favor the outside with monitors or headphones. You can come very close to isolating the sound of your own voice to internal conduction by plugging your ears with your fingers. Some singers will plug one ear when they are harmonizing so they can isolate their voice in the plugged ear while listening to the lead voice in their unplugged ear. Apr 25 '16 at 3:22
  • Would be nice if people commented before downvoting… Apr 25 '16 at 17:02
  • They probably think it is a bit unclear. I myself am not sure what bone conduction is.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 25 '16 at 18:14
  • Well, that's exceptionally strange. I can't imagine someone on Stack Overflow downvoting a Java question because they only know Python… Apr 25 '16 at 18:14
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    Just btw I have not voted this down. I think at the core it is a interesting question that just needs some refinement.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 25 '16 at 18:18

Both, of course. How would a singer prevent himself from hearing his voice by all available methods? Nowadays they will also listen to recordings.

  • Edited to make it clearer that I'm not under the impression that you can completely eliminate one or the other, but that you can focus on one or another in order to get different feedback while practicing. Apr 25 '16 at 20:03

What is a "great singer"? Opera? Then they consciously maximise projecting their voice which means that the ratio of "bone conductance" to aural feedback will be higher than for other singers. Even then, their larynx should be in a relaxed low suspension (they aren't screeching) meaning that even the bone conductance will be low in relation to the volume reaching the listeners when compared with some other singing styles.

For learning operatic singers it is often surprising just what makes them carry over an orchestra and to the audience since it doesn't feel like that to them. Basically the best projection feels like the sound is not even coming from you but sort of somewhere near the audience.

And what with great pop singers for which the ratio of in-ear monitors (live or else) or headphones (just studio) to "natural" pathways will be non-zero? You'll get yet a different balance for songmakers who match their volume to an accompanying instrument and aim for a more "natural" speech coloring than operatic singers.

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