What Does It Mean To Have Vocal Agility? Monday January 24 2022, 5:13 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Does It Mean To Have Vocal Agility?

What Is Vocal Agility?

Vocal agility is the ability to move through sung notes with fluidity and accuracy. Singers with a significant amount of vocal agility can hit a large number of notes in a short time.

Singing with an agile voice allows you to sound great while doing impressive vocal acrobatics at fast speeds in a sung performance. 


Singing a melisma involves taking one syllable in a lyric and hitting many pitches within that same syllable. A good example of melisma is Stevie Wonder's chorus to "Don't You Worry Bout A Thing".

The pitches in that syllable can go up, down, or both within the scale of the song. Melismas tend to be longer than riffs and runs. 

Related Post: What Is A Melisma In Singing?

Riffs And Runs

Riffs and runs are more modern terms to describe a melisma. They also involve several notes being sung on one syllable, but are often shorter than the classic idea of melisma and used more for freestyle singing rather than written into a melody. 


What Do You Need To Have Vocal Agility?

Vocal agility relies on three major talents that all singers should strive for. It's not just about knowing how to sing fast when it comes to vocal agility.

You need to have a few things in your arsenal as a singer before you begin to practice singing many notes accurately and in a sonically pleasing way. 

Pitch Accuracy 

The first thing that is a must for vocal agility is the ability to hear pitches well. If you don't have a good ear for music and have not trained your ear well enough to recognize correct notes on a scale, you will struggle with your ability to be agile.

You may be able to sing fast, but it will sound like a mess if you aren't hitting good notes and/or don't know what notes to aim for. 

Breath Support

Being able to hit many notes accurately in a short amount of time involves good breath support. This rings especially true for singers that are trying to perform long melisma phrases.

Without a good handle on optimal singing posture and breath support, you will not be able to make it through your melismas, runs, or riffs. 

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Tone And Range Control

To work on your vocal agility, you will need to be comfortable in your vocal register and know your range limits. Lighter tones often pair with higher voices, which can give them the ability to be agile pretty easily with practice.

Lower voices tend to be heavier and may need to put extra practice into vocal agility depending on the style of music you are trying to be agile in.

For example, the classification of "Coloratura soprano" is distinguished by agile melismas in the world of classical music. 


As you probably know, you will need to have knowledge of the variety of different rhythmic phrases that singers can perform riffs, runs, or melismas with.

Some melismas involve many notes that all have the same number of beats per measure, while more complex melismas will have a variety of different rhythms and different pitches at the same time. 

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.

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