E2 ~ Bb5 (3 Octaves and 3 notes)
A2 ~ G#4
- Strongest vocalist in Fly To The Sky
- Very consistent support in his mixed voice
- Resonance is produced consistently in his voice up to G#4
- One of the best mixed voices for baritones in K-pop
- Able to support his lower range down to A2
- Transitions into falsetto can be done with a degree of smoothness
- Runs can be well separated and can be done well
- Has shown good musicianship and good harmonizing skills
- Good breath support is employed
- Good pitch throughout range
- Nasality is almost non existent
- Uses a laggy larynx vibrato
- Mixed voice can lack consistency from F4 ~ G#4
- Often overly compresses his throat with air pressure and chest resonance
- Mixed voice above G#4 is strained and pushed
- Uses a falsetto, never able to produce a connected head voice
- Falsetto becomes tight above D5
- Runs are often pitchy and out of place
- Lower range becomes quiet below A2
- Tries to sing like a tenor
- Runs are often done with neck and jaw tension
- Bad posture present, often has tense shoulders
- Lower register: Somewhat developed range of his voice, however hardly ever truly explored. Extensive enough as a baritone that he can go down to E2 but generally lacks the true development of a baritone below A2.
- Mixed register: Mixed voice is by far the most well developed register in his voice. Able to carry chest resonance very high in range and keep consistent support up to G#4. Above G#4, compression and pushing take over and the voice becomes shouty.
- Upper register: Mostly uses a falsetto, below Eb5 the falsetto can be relaxed but above D5 the voice sounds tight and the jaw usually is tense. Notes above F5 are generally strained reinforced falsettos.
Mostly taking influence from R&B in his singing, runs are not something that Hwanhee under explores in his vocal performances, on the contrary he takes as much advantage of the fact that he can sing runs to an extent as possible. With that said, technically speaking Hwanhee’s runs can be quite well separated in pitch, controlled and often accurate when done with simplicity and a clear mindset on the musical idea he’s going for, such as in “Tomorrow“. Rhythmically he’s able to properly execute vocal runs at slower speeds when they’re short and simple, however that is the complete opposite of what he actually does. Hwanhee’s most treasured stylistic device seems to be adding runs to most of the songs he sings, as many runs as possible with as many notes as possible. The result often becomes a cluttered idea of notes sung as fast as he can without having a true musical direction, which makes his runs often sloppy, pitchy and completely out of place, such as in “구속“, “너를 너를 너를“, “갈대의순정” and “U Got It Bad“.
Having debuted in 1999 with the first generation of idols as part of the duo Fly To The Sky, Hwanhee has come a long way with his career as an entertainer, vocalist and artist, earning the respect of many by being a well accomplished vocalist in the K-pop industry with his years of experience. Possessing a voice that’s very characteristic to him, his sound is very instantly recognizable by the thick, low and large sound he possesses in his voice. His voice generally lies very low in range, both when he speaks and sings, but Hwanhee has developed his voice as such that he almost sings like a thicker type of tenor voice, although his true voice fach is that of a heavy weighted lyric baritone, judging by his passaggi and the tessitura where his voice shines the most in range.
The lowest part of his range is one that possesses a natural thick low sound, which as a baritone would allow him to explore the mid to low second octave with resonance and fulness. Unlike his natural fach, however, Hwanhee has trained his voice so much in the upper range that he’s neglected to develop the full potential of his lower range, causing him to at times struggle to keep good support below A2. Above A2, he’s shown that he’s able to keep a neutral larynx and a well chest placed sound in his voice, such as the A2’s in “남행열차“, “사랑하기에“, Bb2’s in “내 눈물 모아“, B2’s in “취중진담“, and the C3’s in “가슴 아파도“. Although he has a more speech like clarity in his lower range only starting on A2, his tone isn’t necessarily completely lost below A2, but instead the lack of support causes the voice to be almost blurred and retain a smokier quality, more airy and less projected, such as the F#2’s in “취중진담“. However many times, his vocal cords become disconnected below A2, causing his tone to become airy, such as the G2’s in “갈대의순정“. This also happens because due to the lack of development in his lower range, at times in order to project below A2, Hwanhee strains his voice by forcing his larynx down creating a tone even darker than his natural timbre.
The mixed voice is by far the most explored, developed and used part of Hwanhee’s voice. Hwanhee has made it a point to be able to sing high enough to compete with the general population of tenors existent in the pop music industry. This has however caused him often sing and strain way outside not only his comfort zone, but also his natural voice type’s tessitura. He has developed a way to carry through the chest resonance he possesses in the lower part of his mix as high as he can, even up to D5, without losing the ability to control his voice in the process. It is such that singing E4’s and F4’s prove to be a fairly easy task for him, being able to produce resonance without any issues in that range, such as the E4’s in “사랑하기에” and “너를 너를 너를“. Although being able to sing through his first and second passaggi without a problem, the overly added pressure of caring so much chest voice up in range can be highly damaging to Hwanhee’s voice, considering how much compression exists in his mixed voice to allow him to stay in such a heavy-chest dominant mix around the highest parts of a baritone range and beyond. He often has shown that he’s able to carry resonance up in his mixed voice up to G4’s and F#4’s, such as the phrased G4’s “가슴 아파도“, and the sustained F#4’s in “너를 너를 너를“, and G4’s in “너를 위해“, “봄날은 간다“, “죽을 것만 같아” and “사랑했지만“. This resonance remains consistent even as he ascends up to G#4’s, being able to use the breath support he possesses, alongside the strong chest muscles and compressed sound in his throat to sustains numerous G#4’s, such as in “Missing You” and “너를 너를 너를“.
Even though he seems to have good control of his mixed voice up to G#4, often enough it sounds as though the compression he uses to be able to stay in such a high range becomes overly tight causing his sound to become pushed and strained, such as the G#4’s in “갈대의순정” and G4’s in “Tomorrow“, where his voice becomes throatier and coarser. This issue often seems to be caused by either a more closed muscle memory of vowels such as “Aye (애)” and “Ee (이)”, but also at times Hwanhee shows the tendency to carry down tension from notes outside his supported back down to his supported range. Strain in his voice becomes very apparent whenever he sings anywhere outside his supported range, which is something that he does quite often, exposing his weaknesses. He often sings above G#4 in order to emulate the range in which Korean pop tenors sing in, which causes him to often sound tight, choked up and pushed, such as the A4’s in “사랑했지만“, B4’s in “너를 너를 너를” and “사랑하기에“, C5’s in “내 사람“, C#5 in “미워해야 한다면“. Nonetheless, a baritone who’s able to keep resonance as high as G#4 should be praised for his exceptional breath support.
His falsetto register is mostly used as an easy way to transition into a soft run, often very thin and small in size, he’s able to keep a nice relaxed sound up to D5, such as “가슴 아파도“, “너를 위해“, “내 사람” and “이밤의 끝을 잡고“, where he shows the ability to easily transition into his falsetto without losing the control of his voice or his key center. Above D5, his voice becomes tighter and his jaw position hinders the projection in his falsetto when singing softly, often singing with a high larynx above D5, such as in “A Woman’s Work“. Whenever he tries to add more volume and project above D5 in his falsetto, he resorts to a mask placed reinforced throaty falsetto, where he pushes his voice out through excessive air pressure, such as the F5 in “남자답게” and the A5 in “봄날은 간다“. He has yet to actually show the ability to produce a connected head voice, something that hinders his true ability to connect his voice from the bottom to the top of his range with an even column of sound, since without a head voice, he resorts to a disconnected airy falsetto or an overly pushed reinforced falsetto. Nevertheless he’s able to control his pitch and transition into his falsetto well and is able to sing through large intervals without losing his sense of key.
Perhaps one should commend Hwanhee on his ability to develop his mixed voice so much throughout the years that many times he’s able to drown out tenors he sings with, with his resonance. However the development of his voice came with a few setbacks, one major issue being his inability to produce a natural vibrato, while resorting to an inferior artificial vibrato technique called a laryngeal vibrato. A laryngeal vibrato is one that’s produced by quickly moving the larynx up and down to create a vibrato, which in Hwanhee’s case is often laggy and slow in speed. A laryngeal vibrato adds to a list of compressions and tension a vocalist could eliminate in their voice by instead using a more natural vocal approach. Examples of times when a laryngeal vibrato is obvious in Hwanhee’s singing include “다행이다” and “남자답게“. Although that is true, Hwanhee is to be praised for his ability to properly convey messages in his songs through the proper use of dynamics and vocal effects, such as stylistic airiness and throatiness.
For the future, Hwanhee is already a well established and respected vocalist in Korea. In order to improve his singing, very drastic changes would need to be made in his singing habits. Developing his head voice and lower range more and exploring a lighter vocal approach to his mixed voice, as well as accepting himself as a baritone and singing as such could show a much more truthful vocal delivery for future performances, as well as more simple musical ideas in his runs until he’s able to fully grasp the proper muscle memory to execute runs as complicated and fast as the ones he has in his mind when he sets off to sing.
A very well accomplished vocalist and in complete control of his instrument when it comes to vocal creativity, Hwanhee has shown more than enough times that he’s a risky vocalist and does not like to perform Karaoke-like covers of songs, instead always adding as much to his vocal performances as possible. At times his musical ideas can be well established and well produced, such as in “So Sick“, but at other times they can come off as out of place, often seeming like he sings more in order to show off as opposed to truly add anything musical and substantial to the overall delivery of his vocal performances, such as in “U Got It Bad“. Also able to harmonize well with others, as seen in his cover of “Endless Love” with Hwayobi.
Good to Great Vocalist
Vocal Range Video(s)
Video by: Edgar Cárdenas
Video by: 1zhxzhx
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)