Now that we’ve discussed tidal volume (the low volume of air in the lungs required to support most non-stressful activities) and minute volume (the volume of air exhaled each minute) I would like for us to consider to human body as a musical instrument that makes beautiful sounds that we call singing. Singers must fill their lungs with enough air to produce the force and sustain the length of a musical phrase before they reach the next strategic place where they can refill their spent lungs. Their lungs must fill way beyond tidal, or conversational, volume and then expel the air through a sustained and controlled minute volume required by the song.

The musical sounds of the human instrument are created during the exhalation, which is no different than a trombone or saxophone. Air passes through tubes that create and modify sound which is shaped by the instrument. And we know that the those shaping mechanisms area the mouth cavity, the lips, teeth and tongue.

Lip syncing efforts must now become more focused on the mouth as a whole and it’s coordination with the character’s breathing with the lungs. The amount of air expressed through the human instrument will have a great deal of variety, even before it reaches the tongue or lips, given the intensity and type of song, whether the notes are in their vocal range, higher or lower. Singers will move their “voice” around.  They may place their resonance in their chest cavity, their throat, or their head cavity. Each produces different qualities to the sound. And each will require variation on how that sound is shaped by the mouth cavity.

So, by the time the sound gets to the mouth cavity for it’s final shape, it has already been given some larger shape by the body cavity where it has resonated, and each one, and the mouth shapes will have different colors depending upon how that particular singer shapes the different registers. Now, I realize this is far more technical than we need to be as animators. You won’t be animating “head voice” or “chest voice.” But we should be aware of it because as we watch singers we will begin to see the difference.

We have differences in dialog.  Happy character use different mouth shapes than angry characters. We treat screaming different than whispering. The point that must be stressed is that singing is not just another type of “emotion.” The singing voice has just as much mouth shape color as dialog. It is expressive, and can carry emotion.

So, as you animate your characters singing, think of them as a human instrument cycling huge amounts of air, shaping the resonating air to create words and emotions. Think about their breathing, when to they refill their lungs, and how much air will they draw in, and how quickly do they have to draw it in? Think about how how differently you would shape the lips between a high note and a low note. Consider the color of the performance and look for a few simple ways to get that color into the human instrument that you are animating.