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Is Singing Genetic? Understanding Vocal Range + Singing Ability

is singing genetic

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Many people can sing, and vocal abilities can range in different tones, styles, and timbres. If you desire to learn to sing, you may wonder if it’s actually possible when you feel you don’t have the talent for it.

Is singing genetic and just an innate talent that some people have, or can it be learned? The answer is more complex than you may think.

In this article, we will explore the connection between genetics and singing ability while also addressing common myths and misconceptions surrounding innate talent versus acquired skill. Studies are ongoing to determine whether good singers are born or if it can be learned over time.

Let’s take a look into the science behind singing, what factors come into play, and how your singing ability can improve or whether you can chalk it up to hereditary.

Is a Good Singing Voice Genetic?

Genetics do play a role in your singing ability, so it is in part attributed to your genes. The way that the vocal cords are shaped, how your face is structured, and the curve in your nasal cavity – all of these can influence the sound, timbre, and tone of your voice when you sing.

Gender is another factor in how it affects your voice. The size of your larynx determines whether your voice is deeper (men) or prone to singing higher tones (women). The natural timbre of your voice is also, in part, due to your genetic makeup.

While your DNA does have a say in the ability of your singing voice, it’s not the only factor. Many aspects of singing, like technique and practice, are learned and can significantly enhance the quality of your voice.

But what truly constitutes a good singer is, in actuality, up to the listener. Some people prefer certain types of vocal styles and music genres, so a voice that someone adores may not be the same for the next person who listens to that very same voice.

Is Singing Genetic

Is Vocal Range Genetic?

The size of your vocal folds plays a vital role in your range as a singer. Larger vocal folds in the voice box produce lower tones, and smaller folds produce higher tones.

The vocal folds are what directly apply to the broadness of your range. Some singers only have a two to three-octave range, while others can have as much as four or five, which is massive!

Vocal range, however, is most undoubtedly a matter of genetics. It can change probably within a few notes throughout your life, such as as you grow (puberty) or become sick. But the size of your folds is what determines the sound you produce.

However, even though your comfortable vocal range is predetermined by your genetics, you can allow the influence of environmental factors to change it. Vocal training, techniques, and many hours of practice can certainly help expand your range.

What is the “Singer’s Gene?”

A 2023 study by Daniel Yeom, a PhD candidate at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, was focused on whether there was a “Singer’s Gene,” meaning that genes were the only contributing factor for natural talent. While it did find that genes play a large role in singing ability, the study showcased that only around 40% of singing is heritable.

Other factors then come into play to contribute to a singer’s ability. The environmental influence of childhood singing, sing-along songs, other family members who play instruments or sing, and otherwise being surrounded by music early in life plays a clear role.

Consider if you grow up in a culture that focuses on music daily versus one that only allows you to listen to or play music twice a month. Would the culture that’s more rich in music produce a more musically geared person?

The answer is that it’s very likely compared to the one only being exposed sporadically. It is different than learning to hold a guitar pick or playing the violin, but singing can be taught through effective repetition, work, and practice.

The Role of Genetics in Rythym and Pitch Recognition

Scientifically, a good singer will have great intonation, or pitch accuracy. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “You can’t carry a tune,” this refers to how well someone can sing on key – or, in this particular sentence, off-key.

Genetics can play a part in how well you pick up pitch. Those who struggle to match pitch have a deficit in how their brain is able to utilize the vocal cord muscles and air to make the proper sound that they hear.

Rhythm and pitch are generally developed early in life stages, so there are some environmental factors at play, along with genetics. For instance, if your family is always singing, playing instruments, or musical in any way, you’re more likely to learn how to accurately hear and mimic pitch as well as rhythm.

Perfect pitch isn’t about being able to sing all of the high notes but rather the ability to identify music notes without needing to see a keyboard or look at a piece of music. It’s a rare talent, with only between one to five out of every 10,000 people having it.

An example of this is when someone hears someone playing a chord on the piano, and has the ability to know the key of that very chord. The person doesn’t need to see music or look at the keys; just by using an ear, they can determine the pitch – and singers who have this talent have an exceptional advantage in their craft.

There may be a genetic element involved. But growing up in a very musical environment has also been known to contribute to this skill.

Understanding Vocal Range

Do Twins Always Share the Same Singing Ability?

Identical twins generally share the same genetic factors so it should be no surprise that their natural ability for things will also be similar. These twins often have very similar vocal characteristics and skills, so their voices when singing may often sound similar.

Studies with researchers have also demonstrated that identical twins’ voices differ due to their unique personalities, even though their genetics are the same. So even though they look and are created alike, they still are not exactly alike.

Non-identical twins may have some similarities in singing, but not to the same degree as identical twins. Similar voice characteristics can also be attributed to being together in the same environment and influenced by the same factors, such as a parent’s voice.

Other Factors That Affect Singing Ability

Musical ability when it comes to singing can be influenced largely by your genetics. But there are many other factors and learned skills that come into play with your singing ability, including environmental influences and training.

Practice and Dedication

Those who desperately want to learn to sing can become better through practice and dedication. Great singing can be a learned skill if you continue to put in the effort and work hard to make adjustments.

Many great singers out there know that without determination and a lot of practice every day, they would not sing as well. Even natural talent can only take singers so far if they don’t understand the science behind practicing with their instrument.

Consider if a singer had to perform a concert that consisted of hours of singing. If that singer has not taken the time to practice and prepare, they likely will struggle to get through all of the singing.

Your voice box is just like an instrument, and in order for it to improve, you must use it. Those with innate talent still need the dedication and practice it takes to advance in their performance.

Vocal Coaching and Training

One of the best ways to improve your vocal ability is to work with a vocal coach and train your voice. In fact, if you’re considering singing, one of the first things you should do is look into taking vocal lessons.

The good news is that there are many options for taking singing lessons. You can find an instructor who can help you reach your goals when it comes to learning to sing and provide help through warm-ups and exercises.

There are things you may not think about as a singer, such as how to practice vocal health. A voice coach can help you learn the fundamentals of singing and provide tools and resources to give you expert training that will help you skyrocket your vocal ability.

Coaches also know how to obtain the necessary skill of using one’s ear for music. You will likely train in other areas of music, such as music theory and ear training, to help you recognize pitches and improve your singing.

If you don’t have a voice coach in your local area, you can look into taking online voice lessons. There are plenty of opportunities to take singing classes in a one-on-one or even a group setting if you’re interested in learning about your vocal ability.

Breath Control, Posture, and Alignment

A teacher can provide you with important components that assist in your vocal development, such as how to utilize your singing voice properly. Factors such as how you align your body, good posture, and good breath control all contribute to how sound waves are produced and brought out when you sing.

Standing tall and expanding the chest when you draw in a breath helps you to bring in more air through the lungs, providing good support for the tone to come out clean and steady. Aligning yourself properly also provides a good foundation for your voice to stay strong while singing.

Age and Voice Development

Age is another factor in how your voice can change over time. Older adulthood can contribute to loss in muscle mass in the voice box, providing a rough or less polished sound to the singing voice.

Hormonal changes during puberty can cause different pitches in both men’s and women’s voices and cause them to deepen as they mature. Men’s voices usually deepen up to almost a full octave, while women’s only lower just slightly.

While we may not like it, our bodies do change as we age, and this can affect how our singing sounds. To keep your voice in good shape, it’s necessary to continue with singing lessons, practice, and make an effort to minimize those changes.

Can Anyone Learn to Sing?

You may want to learn to sing, but you don’t know how or where to begin. It’s true – anyone can learn to sing if they have the desire and will put in the work to improve.

If you’re able to speak, you’re able to sing. Singing doesn’t have to be perfect; everyone has their own unique sound and voice.

Singing is also subjective. Where one person may not like the sound of another person’s voice, someone else may truly love it. If you want to learn more about singing, your best bet is to take singing lessons to help you learn about the voice and what it takes to be a good singer.

Singing With Confidence

If you take singing lessons with an expert teacher in NYC, you’ll provide yourself with the best opportunity to learn. Their insight and resources can equip you with all you need to succeed whether you have genetic talents to your voice or not.

A good voice coach or instructor knows how to provide you with the proper tools and fundamentals of singing. You may not become the next American Idol, but you will learn skills to help you progress and perform at the next karaoke night!

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