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23 March 2021, 16:59
The acoustical science of why you sound like Pavarotti in the shower.
Even if the thought of singing to thousands at La Scala fills you with dread, for most of us there’s one sacred, ceramic-tiled sanctuary where the idea of belting out opera’s virtuosic arias and pop’s melismatic ballads won’t make your vocal cords want to seize up.
Yup, you guessed it – the shower.
There’s something about slipping behind that glass door and dousing your head with warm water that makes us want to unleash our inner songbird.
And what’s more, singing always, somehow, sounds better when it comes from within those four steamed-up walls. We’re here to explain why…
There’s a handful of key ingredients you need to create the perfect acoustic, and a shower basically has them all.
First up, the material of the walls. Bathroom tiles don’t absorb sound, so when you sing, your voice bounces around the cubicle and sounds more powerful.
Then, there’s the size of your concert hall. Unless your patron paid you extra well this month, the shower is usually a fairly small space, meaning your singing sounds louder and gains a little bass.
Plus, the proximity of the walls creates reverb, which muffles the sound slightly and evens out any unexpected intonation in your performance.
Reverb also means that when you sing, the walls throw back an echo of your vocals, making them sound richer and more ornamented.
The shower is the perfect, cosy place to flex your musical muscles. But why do we do it?
Turns out, there’s sort-of scientific proof that being in the shower, feeling that gush of warm water down our backs and being free from all life’s distractions, makes you feel relaxed and happy.
Your brain is even triggered to release the feel-good hormone dopamine, which soothes nerves and lifts the spirits.
And as for the singing part – it’s literally in the human condition to sing, when we want to release emotion. Opening our vocal cords helps lower stress, boost lung function and even enhance memory.
Even Pavarotti can’t resist...