G2 – C6 (3 octaves, 2 notes and 1 semitone)
C#3/D3 – C5
C#3/D3 – G5 (With head voice)
- Impeccable agility through every register
- Large improvement has been made over the years in regards to his lower and mixed registers
- Able to produce very full resonance from as low as E4 up to C5
- Able to control the balance of his mix
- Supported head voice up to G5
- Able to support lower register until C#3/D3
- Can mix in the fifth octave for extensive periods without fatigue
- Good control of dynamics
- Lower register lacks projection as a whole and loses support around C#3/D3
- Mix voice becomes strained above C5
- Despite being supported, head voice is placed in the mask instead of the head
- Constant singing outside of his supported range
- Stylistic whininess can inhibit his resonance at times
- Lower voice: Weakest register. Support is brought down to C#3/D3. Below this, there is a note able lack of support, quality, and tone.
- Mixed voice/Middle: Possibly strongest register. A large, full resonance is produced as early as E4 all the way up to C5. Above this, Naul’s larynx begins to rise.
- Upper register: A well supported, though mask placed, head voice up to G5. Above this, notes become tense and yelled without support.
Immensely agile voice. Able to do complex runs and scales in every part of his range without any loss of power, speed, or precision both in his supported range (as shown by his runs in You, He Is Real, 비켜줄깨 (Live), 똑같다면 (Live), and Rapture) and out (Love Ballad, Ring My Bell, Sad Cafe, and 한번만더.) He is also able to scale large gaps in range as seen from his run from G5 to C3 and back up to C4 in 호랑나비 and his scale down to G2 in the Intro To The Second Album.
A legendary vocalist from the 90’s if you have listened to any male Korean vocalist, it is extremely likely you have heard someone inspired by Naul. A testament to the saying “finer with time” Naul has improved immensely from when he first stepped, or shall I say, “ran” on the scene. With a voice that’s light as a feather and a singing approach that allows for him to have ease not only in a higher singing range many Sopranos struggle with, but also a bright singing style that allows for him to sing all over his range with connection and speed hardly ever seen in K-pop. Some may refer to his ability to sing throughout his range with such control and agility to be characteristic of a classical voice type often referred to as a “Leggier Tenor.” But for the purposes of this analysis, such fachs shall be avoided in a contemporary music context.
When Naul was younger, he actually had an issue with lacking projection and supporting his lower register below F#3 as shown by his D3 in Sad Cafe and his E3s in 떠나지마 and For You. Over time, while the lack of projection remained, he was able to develop support down to C#3/D3 (This Song, Love Ballad, and He Is Real). This lack of development is possibly caused by the fact that he never vocalizes below E3 for long periods of time or outside of his runs. Naul’s focus has always been singing in a higher range and he to this day doesn’t really phrase songs that go below D3 often. Instead he writes music specifically for the best range in his voice where he knows he shines and is able to vocalize with full power, which would explain why below C#3 he tends to have a more muffled sound in his lower range and become airy, resorting to lowering his larynx to sing down to G2. This is the single least developed register Naul has, which still isn’t a badly developed register at all.
Even from debut, Naul has always had a rather large sound output and full resonance starting as low as E4. However, this register has also seen large improvement. About 15 years ago, Naul’s resonance ended directly on A4 while notes above would be tight and strained (the Bb4 in 그녀가 나를 보내 and the B4 in Pass Me By). Over time, Naul began to develop his resonance higher as shown by the Bb4 in Blue Day, the B4s in Anything (Through The Rain) and Rapture, and the C5s in Love Ballad(Live), MY Everything, and 똑같다면. However, as shown in My Story, once he goes above this though, his larynx begins to raise. Despite singing with a high larynx, Naul is able to vocalize in the fifth octave for extended periods of time without too much fatigue (Memory Of The Wind, Sad Cafe, 호랑나비, and 한번만더). Due to the light muscle coordination to vocalize with a brighter mix, with head dominance, he is able to show good stamina and often vocalizes above C5. Despite the strain, Naul is mostly in complete control of his placement and his pitch, being able to run and up from the top of his range down to the bottom without struggling with his control.
Possibly the only register that hasn’t changed over time is Naul’s upper register. Naul’s upper register is a fairly developed head voice. Despite this, he unfortunately places the sound on the mask instead of his head to achieve the twangy R&B sound. Even with the mask placement, Naul is able to support his head voice well up to G5. Notes above this though become pushed, shrill, and somewhat yelled. He doesn’t often sing notes above G5 but occasionally sustains big mask placed head voice notes in that range, such as the G#5 in “가지마 가지마”. It could be helpful for Naul to develop and explore more of a head placed head voice but for the purpose of style, his singing approach and placement in his head voice suit the kind of music he sings and enable him to properly blend his higher mixed voice range with his head voice, allowing for seamless transitions throughout his range, showing a very well connected instrument from bottom to top.
The few setbacks Naul has are due to stylistic approaches he uses. He often opts for a brighter mix and often chooses to sing with a more closed sound even within his supported range. Despite that, he is able to vocalize with control in his mix and choose when to stylistically sing with more rasp or control the ratio of head and chest voice in his mixed. Another issue is his placement. He often places his voice in his nose to have more ease when singing up above Bb4 and in order to sing with more agility in a high range. This can at times be overbearing stylistically and takes away resonance from notes well within a range he could potentially produce with a much more opened sound. Despite these minor setbacks, the fact that Naul is completely in control of when or where to add nasality or close his throat for stylistic purposes adds much more to his overall vocal ability to be the one in command of his own instrument.
One can easily hear the influence American R&B singers such as Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder had not only on Naul’s style, but his musical ideas and his overall sound. This influence carried over from Naul to influence multiple idols in the K-pop industry today, from 2PM’s Jun.K, to MBLAQ’s G.O. and SHINee’s Jonghyun, and will still carry over for many years to come with his huge fame and legacy. At some point improvement is a possibility but not a necessity. It is true that Naul could potentially work to further improve his mixed voice to avoid straining above C5 where he often phrases his songs, or to properly develop his lower range below C#3 but for the music that Naul sings, he’s at a place in his career and vocal development that these details in his voice doesn’t necessarily affect him too negatively and could only be worked on if he were to be more of a perfectionist in his singing technique.
In his very extensive career, Naul has shown a vast understanding of music. Whether playing with dynamics and his phrasing to evoke a magnitude of emotions or using runs and high belting to enforce the message of each song. He is a vocalist who knows exactly how to perform and control his voice to truly enhance the musical messages of songs in various genres but finds his niche in the R&B, Soul, Ballad, Funk and Gospel music where he excels in terms of musical ideas, compositions and harmonic knowledge.
Vocal Range Video(s)
Video by: Ahmin (Kitsunemale)
Video by: 흐스웰
Analyzed by Haruko & Ahmin
(Originally analyzed by Josias)