In-Car Acoustics

In-Car Acoustics

In-Car Acoustics

Desperate to be the next Will Young or Kate Nash? Vauxhall Motors has conducted a series of scientific studies to reveal that the best place to hone your vocal chords and improve your singing voice is in the car.

Vauxhall Motors teamed up with Dr Stuart Colam of Arup Acoustics, designers of The Bridgewater Hall and Wales Millennium Centre and discovered that the interior of a car is acoustically one of the best places for budding singers. Stuart assessed the acoustics in a range of Vauxhall cars to find out how certain variables such as size could affect the sound of a voice.

Croon While You Cruise

It’s not just the musically minded who croon while they cruise along. A survey conducted by Vauxhall Motors to support the acoustics research found that a mighty 87% of Brits admit to warbling behind the wheel. However, it’s not always a harmonious process - over half of us (58%) admit we can’t carry a tune!

Despite nearly two-thirds of the nation enjoying a good singalong, the research also revealed we are suffering a confidence crisis, with 41% of us refusing to burst into song when others are in earshot.

Together with Stuart Colam and vocal coach Clive Brown, Vauxhall Motors has created top tips for car singing success.

How to get the best acoustics from your car from acoustician, Stuart Colam:

  • Close all the windows so that the low frequency resonance due to the width of the car adds ‘warmth’ to your voice
  • Direct your voice forwards toward the dashboard and windscreen. The strong early sound reflections make your voice sound powerful (known as ‘support’), which will increase your confidence
  • If you have a convertible, keep it closed otherwise your voice will sound overly ‘bright’
  • Cloth covered seats absorb more of the voice than leather seats, meaning that you will be able to hear yourself more clearly and correct any voice imperfections
  • To enhance a male voice, select a larger vehicle that has a longer low frequency sound decay, which will emphasise the vowel sounds of a male voice

On singing in your car, Stuart Colam concludes, "The combination of sound absorbing surfaces (for clarity) and sound reflecting surfaces (for support), together with good sound insulation from the windows enables songsters to sing with confidence whilst also truly hearing intonation imperfections often masked in other favourite singing haunts such as the shower."

Singing advice to turn your voice from terrible to tuneful by vocalist Clive Brown:

  1. Breathing is the key to all good singing - be sure to do regular breathing exercises such as taking deep breaths and holding in for 10 seconds
  2. Sit upright in your car with your back straight and your chin up to keep your airways clear for your voice to project
  3. Do vocal warm up exercises before bursting into song, especially sets of scales - this sends the message to the vocal chords that they are about to start singing
  4. Keep heating and air conditioning to a minimum in the car as these can dry the throat and vocal muscles
  5. Keep away from spicy food and too much alcohol - these can irritate the vocal chords
  6. In winter be sure to wrap up warmly, always keeping a scarf around your throat
  7. Be confident and enjoy your singing - this way even if you sing a wrong note you will recover quickly and learn faster
  8. ALWAYS have water - at ROOM TEMPERATURE - to hand
  9. To warm up your voice and improve your enunciation and breathing, practice some ‘me me me me me’s’ going up and down the scale
  10. Regularly practice tongue twisters throughout the day - "she sells seashells on the sea shore" is a good one!

Simon Ewart of Vauxhall says, "When it comes to enjoying a good singing session in your car, confidence is key. The fact that the research shows 29% less people sing when others are in earshot is what prompted us to join up with Stuart Colam and Clive Brown to tackle this confidence crisis and get more Vauxhall motorists singing!"

Published 26 November 2007 Melanie Carter

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