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Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice, and augments regular speech by the use of tonality, rhythm, the use of sustained tones and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music (arias, recitatives, songs, etc.) that can be sung without accompaniment or with accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in a group of other musicians, such as in a choir of singers with different voice ranges, or in an ensemble with instrumentalists, such as a rock group or baroque ensemble. Singers may also perform as soloist with accompaniment from a piano (as in art song and in some jazz styles) or with a symphony orchestra or big band. There are a range of different singing styles, including art music styles such as opera and Chinese opera, religious music styles such as Gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues and popular music styles such as pop and rock.
Singing can be formal or informal, arranged or improvised. It may be done for religious devotion, as a hobby, as a source of pleasure, comfort, or ritual, as part of music education, or as a profession. Excellence in singing requires time, dedication, instruction, and regular practice. If practice is done on a regular basis then the sounds can become more clear and strong. Professional singers usually build their careers around one specific musical genre, such as classical or rock, although there are singers with crossover success (singing in more than one genre). They typically take voice training provided by voice teachers or vocal coaches throughout their careers.
In its physical aspect, singing has a well-defined technique that depends on the use of the lungs, which act as an air supply, or bellows; on the larynx, which acts as a reed or vibrator; on the chest and head cavities, which have the function of an amplifier, as the tube in a wind instrument; and on the tongue, which together with the palate, teeth, and lips articulate and impose consonants and vowels on the amplified sound. Though these four mechanisms function independently, they are nevertheless coordinated in the establishment of a vocal technique and are made to interact upon one another. During passive breathing, air is inhaled with the diaphragm while exhalation occurs without any effort. Exhalation may be aided by the abdominal, internal intercostal and lower pelvis/pelvic muscles. Inhalation is aided by use of external intercostals, scalenes and sternocleidomastoid muscles. The pitch is altered with the vocal cords. With the lips closed, this is called humming.
The sound of each individual's singing voice is entirely unique not only because of the actual shape and size of an individual's vocal cords but also due to the size and shape of the rest of that person's body. Humans have vocal folds which can loosen, tighten, or change their thickness, and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of the chest and neck, the position of the tongue, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in pitch, volume (loudness), timbre, or tone of the sound produced. Sound also resonates within different parts of the body and an individual's size and bone structure can affect the sound produced by an individual.
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