One of Broadway’s recent most popular musicals, Wicked, dropped a challenge to multiple vocals:
The song, Defying Gravity.
It is that good that Jimmy Fallon had to get them on The Tonight Show.
Now, a quick question:
Would you like to run a cover of the same song, perform at karaoke, or for whatever reason? Yes? Then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I will give you all of the techniques, vocals, riffs, and runs, and all the musical theories of how to sing defying gravity from Wicked.
How to Sing Defying Gravity: Basic Theory
Guess what I did to put this tutorial together:
I had to listen to multiple versions of the song, right from the movie, Wicked, to the putout song. I even listened to the cover by Idina Menzel on The Tonight Show.
While utterly amazed by the dynamics of the vocals, I got scared at the complexities myself.
All in all:
I was able to narrow down the tutorial of the song to four basic singing techniques employed in the song and three vocal exercises to help you attain mastery.
Singing Techniques Employed in Defying Gravity
There are 4 techniques applied in singing Defying Gravity:
- Light Chest voice Mix
- Full chest voice mix
- Head voice
- Relatable story-telling
Light Chest Voice Mix
The song starts with Kerri singing.
And this is what you should learn from her:
You don’t just start baking by putting all of the ingredients in a bowl. There is a process and that process begins with the lightest of things.
The same idea goes with this song:
Kerri begins singing really lightly, it sounds like she is singing from her head voice. No, that song was coming right in from her chest.
She was able to make it sound so seamless because she controlled her breath excellently.
Full Chest Voice Mix
Then came the transition:
At the lines leading up to the chorus, Idina Menzel finally went up with her full chest voice. Though not belting completely at once, progressing at a steady pace.
The song has a plethora of belting in the full chest voice.
Prepare, this is where it gets tough:
If you do not have a proper understanding of your vocals, it may be really daunting to do this smoothly. You would find yourself screaming/shouting and going off-key or going flat at multiple times.
To fully leverage your full chest voice in the singing belt, you require the sub-employment of three major things:
- Breath control
There are sections where the vocals go really light. This is intentional to give the song a rather dynamic feel to it. In the beginning, right to the third chorus, the vocals are as thin as they could go without screeching.
And get this:
This is called the head voice. It isn’t fully belted out like the chest voice but it is there, subtle and sweet.
Here is exactly how to employ your head voice:
While the chest voice requires breath control for sustain, the head voice requires breath control to sound very mild. Just like a summer’s breeze.
To channel your head voice:
You need a whole lot of humming at first. Then as you transition into singing actual lyrics, all you have to do is to lift up the back of your throat like you are about to say a “nahhhh”.
Instead of saying “nahhhh”, the lyrics come out instead.
Relatable? Yes? Yes!
To write a song as good as Defying Gravity, an element your song must possess is that it tells relatable stories.
Defying Gravity is easily amazing because a whole lot of people can relate to the content.
A pro tip here:
To make yours relatable, do what a lot of great singers like Adele do. Relate with the song, feel the lyrics and you would have your listeners clinging on to your every word.
3 Vocal Exercises You Must Take To Sing Defying Gravity
In employing the vocal techniques that go into the song, Defying Gravity from Wicked, here are three vocal exercises to help you employ those techniques much better and easier.
- Breath Control
- Humming: as a result of the musical complexities, you may want to hum the song along with the melody on a musical instrument. This is especially needed if you would be employing the same riffs and runs.
Well, it helps you to hit the notes precisely, especially the vocal twitches, and transition from major chords to relative minors
- Breath Control: here is the thing, in this song, the breathing is controlled in two basic different ways. The first is to take in as much air as you can to be able to sustain in the chest belts.
On the other hand:
The other is to take in air and release them ever softly to breathe out the head voice effortlessly.
- Experiment: it is okay if you cannot hit all of the vocal pops or do the same runs in the song. It is not healthy for your voice and that is understandable. What do you do then? Employ your own riffs and run to the song.
And it’s a wrap:
A magician never reveals his secrets, but here, I have done the opposite. I have shown you how to sing Defying Gravity from the Broadway musical, Wicked.
And I promise you this:
If you employ these tips above, you’ll be singing like Idina Menzel in absolutely no time.
Wishing you the best. #Staysafe.