Neutral is the non-metallic mode. It is a very extensive mode that contains many different sounds and sound colours. The sounds are softer and milder than the metallic modes. When starting out, Neutral can be found by establishing a loose jaw.
The Neutral mode has through time also been called classical, but this is misleading as classical singing just as often uses the metallic modes. Neutral is also used when singing popular music. Therefore I have chosen the name Neutral to describe the mode because I felt the mode needed a more unbiased, ‘neutral’ term.
The Neutral mode extends from notes that are soft and breathy to notes without air added. The two extremes within Neutral are called:
Neutral with air
Neutral without air
For clarity, the two extremes of Neutral are sometimes shown separately as they have different demands and possibilities.
All parts of the voice, all vowels, and all sound colours can be used in Neutral by both men and women.
Neutral is limited by volume. In general it is a quiet mode, but there are exceptions. It is possible to obtain greater volumes in Neutral without air than in Neutral with air. Very loud volumes (‘ff’ or ‘fortissimo’), however, can only be obtained in Neutral without air and only in the high part of the voice (from C5 upwards for women and C4 upwards for men). Other than this, the volume is generally quieter.
In the western world, Neutral is normally the mode you start getting tuition in for women. This is because many people have been brought up believing that the character of Neutral is the best suited to school choirs and church choirs etc.
Singers who often sing or sang in Neutral with air
Harry Belafonte, Máire (Moya) Brennan (Clannad), Bing Crosby, Enya, Cesaria Evora, Brian Ferry, Art Garfunkel, Astrud Gilberto (“The Girl From Ipanema”), Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Sinead O’Connor, Sade, Dusty Springfield, Sarah Vaughan, and Suzanne Vega.
Singers who often sing or sang in Neutral without air
Julie Andrews, Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire), Beach Boys, Boy George, Blondie, Kate Bush, Nat King Cole, Richard Davies (Supertramp), Ella Fitzgerald, Gilberto Gil, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Godley & Creme (10CC), Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), Milton Nascimento, Aaron Neville, the Pet Shop Boys, Carly Simon, Swingle Singers, and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd).
Neutral without air is also used by classical singers when they sing quietly (both men and women), and classical female singers use Neutral without air when singing in the high part of their voice.
Particularly in the high part of the voice, Neutral without air is also used by Joan Armatrading, Joan Baez, Chrissie Hynde, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young.
Neutral with air
Neutral without air
Condition for Neutral
Pitch in Neutral
Neutral may be used by both men and women in all pitches.
Vowels in Neutral
In Neutral ‘EE’ (as in ‘see’), OO’ (as in ‘you’) and ‘AH’ (as in ‘far’) is usually the easiest vowel, but all vowel sounds can be used. However, notice the merged sound of the vowels in the high part of the voice.
Volumes in Neutral
The volumes in Neutral are generally in the quiet region, from very quiet (‘pp’ or ‘pianissimo’) to medium loud (‘mf’ or ‘mezzo forte’) and loud in the high part of the voice.
In Neutral without air the volume can be more powerful than in Neutral with air. When you use Neutral without air, the volume can extend from very quiet (pp) to very loud (ff). The very powerful volume is only obtainable by singing in the high part of the voice (from C5 upwards for women and C4 upwards for men). The volume in Neutral without air is usually not as powerful as in the metallic modes.There are no limitations when it comes to singing quietly in Neutral. Just how powerfully and quietly a singer can sing in Neutral depends, among other things, on the size of the voice and the technique. In general, the better the technique, the quieter or louder you can sing.
Sound Colours in Neutral
In Neutral there are infinite possibilities in adjusting the vocal tract and therefore infinite possible sound colours.
Neutral in classical singing
In classical singing men and women use Neutral when the volume is medium quiet (‘mp’ or ‘mezzo piano’) or quieter, for example, in connection with thinning and singing in pianissimo. Women also use Neutral in the high and the very high part of the voice in all volumes in Neutral.