C#3 ~ B5 (2 Octaves and 5 notes)
A3/Bb3 ~ A4/Bb4
- Support is present within her voice
- Transitions into falsetto are generally successful in pitch
- Lower range remains projected despite a lack of support
- Support happens in her mixed voice up to A4/Bb4
- Her lower range maintains support down to Bb3
- Falsetto is generally somewhat relaxed
- Pitch is mostly quite clean
- Musically sensitive to interpretation of songs and dynamics
- Placement improved slightly throughout the years
- Tends to favor style over technique, lacks control of her voice
- Aspirates through her vocal cords at the end of her musical phrases
- Vowel shapes and diction is often very tight
- Style of singing is very old school, often places her sound too low in her throat
- Uses a laryngeal vibrato, often forced and shaky
- Can often go flat due to improper placement of the voice and pushing
- Often unable to maintain her breath control and airflow steady throughout phrases
- Unable to produce resonance
- Lower register: Generally able to maintain tone quality despite lacking support below A3. Support is consistent with clarity and a neutral larynx down to Bb3/A3, but below that she may at times push her larynx down.
- Mixed register: Often sings in this register. Mixing technique is fairly bright and balance above C5, but can be quite shouty and low placed within the fourth octave with too much tension. Support is present up to A4/Bb4.
- Upper register: Has never shown the ability to sing in a head voice consistently. Most available examples of her singing seem to indicate she can only use a falsetto, which is well switched into when it comes to pitch but lacks support altogether.
As a vocalist, Baek Jiyoung is more traditional when it comes to her musical influences. She takes very little western influence in her singing, which means embellishments such as runs are rare in her vocal performances. Outside of occasional trot, ballads, uptempo pop tunes and some dance tunes, she rarely explores genres such as rock or R&B, if at all. As such, examples of her singing complex melismatic lines are almost impossible to find. Most of her more melismatic lines seem to be done within the melody of a song, staying within the context of the original written melody of the song. As such, these runs are often slow, simple and follow a natural descending or ascending line without dividing too deep into complex rhythmic lines, consisting of mostly whole notes, half notes or quarter notes. Nonetheless her control for these slow runs is usually clean and she is able to sing through them without faltering in pitch, as heard in “새벽 가로수 길,” “잊지말아요” and “너를 사랑해.”
Originally debuting in 1999, Baek Jiyoung has changed drastically in style and image over the years. When she debuted, she went for a sexy pop dance diva look but as the years progressed and she matured both musically and as a woman, she began releasing more ballads. Quickly rising to fame through her single “사랑 안해” or “I Won’t Love,” she became an icon as one of the ballad legends in Korea. Now owning the title of one of the OST Queens in Korea, she is respected as both an artist and as an OST ballad singer for her interpretation skills and her husky voice, as it is often described by her fans and the public alike.
Starting from the bottom of her range, like many ballad singers, she often sings verses in a fairly low portion of her range before allowing the song to grow both dynamically and emotionally as she ascends into a more mid-rangey part of her voice during the choruses of her songs. Stylistically speaking ballad singers often whisper their low notes for an “emotional effect.” Though the effect may successfully be achieved, the result is that often these vocalists neglect actually developing their lower ranges. Baek Jiyoung is no exception, as she maintains a clean and connected approach in her lower range only as low as A3/Bb3, as heard in “도시의 삐에로” and “그 여자.”
As soon as she descends below A3, she tends to become more muffled and her voice becomes unclear. The reason for that would be that when she sings lower, she tends to not allow her vocal cords to remain connected enough, where air passes through and she becomes breathy. The lower she goes, the quieter and breathier her sound becomes, as her vocal cords never became fully developed to maintain proper support anywhere below A3. Examples of this include her G#3’s in “사랑 하나면 돼,” G3’s in “사랑 안 해” and “사랑에 미치면,” F#3’s in “잊지말아요,” F3’s in “총 맞은 것 처럼“, as well as Eb3’s and C#3’s in “보통” and in “그 여자.” She may also at times push her larynx down in an unhealthy attempt to project her sound lower by straining her vocal cords, as heard in “선택.”
Her mixed voice is where she finds herself most of the time throughout songs. She doesn’t often go above E5 in her mixed voice, generally staying within the G4 ~ D5 range when singing. One of the most interesting aspects of her singing style is her diction that is particularly closed and tight. Although this may give her a more unique sound, the higher she goes the thinner and more squeezed the quality of her voice becomes. It is possible to choose certain sounds for stylistic purposes, however when the sound becomes a habit and can’t be turned on and off at will it can become damaging to the vocal cords by causing the vocalist to strain their voices. The same is true for Baek Jiyoung, where she is able to maintain consistent support up to A4, as heard in “새벽 가로수 길,” as well as Bb4 in “여기가 아파” and “시간이 지나면.”
However because her sound is so locked inside of her throat when she sings higher in her mixed voice, she may at times place the sound too low in her chest and keep it trapped in her throat. The result is a quality that’s pushed, throaty and can often cause her to become flat in pitch as well as tiring out her vocal cords. Examples include the B4’s in performances of “Dash” and “사랑 하나면 돼.” As she ascends into the fifth octave, her sound becomes brighter but also tends to become quite thin and pushed. Even when singing lightly, her throat muscles almost always close around her larynx causing her to sound tight and unable to open up her voice. This keeps her from producing a sound that’s full, opened, resonant and relaxed. Examples of this include her B4’s in “약속,” her C5’s in “입술을 주고,” and “사랑 안 해,” her C#5’s in “내귀에 캔디,” “잊지말아요” and “총 맞은 것 처럼,” her D5’s in “그 여자” and “새벽 가로수 길,” her Eb5’s in “잊지 말아요,” “Cheer Up!” and “도시의 삐에로,” her E5’s in “내 사랑 내 곁에,” as well as her F#5’s in “싫다.”
The least explored part of her range is her upper register. For a vocalist to be able to use a head voice, they must first be able to connect their vocal cords while allowing a sound that’s mostly produced by the effort of their cricothyroid muscles, with some thyroarytenoid muscle use. Unfortunately Baek Jiyoung has never shown the ability to use a head voice and mostly sings in a more limited version of it called falsetto. The falsetto register is produced with the vocal cords not fully touching, where air passes through. This keeps the vocalist from being able to produce a sound that’s properly supported, as well as greatly limiting their dynamics and power in their upper register. Nonetheless Baek Jiyoung seems to favor using her falsetto register only for dynamic purposes, so as to create a lighter and thinner sound on softer choruses of songs to allow her songs to grow as she reaches the climax. Nevertheless her transitions into falsetto are fairly pitch accurate and done without many issues, as heard in “무시로,” “보통,” “전화 한번 없네요,” “잊지말아요” and “사랑 안 해.” Her highest peak in falsetto is her B5 in “목소리.”
Musically Baek Jiyoung knows how to use her sound to effectively deliver her vocal performances with enough interpretation skill to get the message of the lyrics across. Her use of breathiness and falsetto allows her space for her songs to grow dynamically, as she mixes through the rest of the more climatic parts of songs. Nonetheless because her placement is so limited, she tends to only be able to place her sound in one way and sing with only breathiness and brightness, without creating much of a change the higher she goes. Since she can’t support her voice above Bb4, whenever she sings higher she sounds tight and thin. Also because she often allows too much air through her vocal cords, she has this slight rasp that escapes her voice at the end of musical phrases. This on top of not having proper airflow control causes her to need to take more breaths than necessary, as she often sounds out of breath when singing in uncomfortable parts of her range, as heard in “그 여자.” The lack of proper airflow also causes her to not be able to use a natural vibrato, which makes her resort to using an unnatural forced vibrato where her larynx moves up and down to emulate the sound of a vibrato.
As an artist, Baek Jiyoung seems to know her limitations well. She never attempts to do anything that’s outside of her comfort range. She doesn’t try to belt out soulful powerful songs most of the time and generally sings within the same exact range for a good amount of her repertoire. She has a specific style that works for her music and sticks to it, as it has become who she is both vocally and musically. If she were to ever explore newer styles and a wider range in her voice, she’d need to relearn some parts of vocal technique to allow her to produce resonance, open up her voice, explore her head voice as well as expand the extent of her supported range. For the time being, the way she sings seems to meet the requirement for most of the range she sings in for her songs, except for climaxes and slightly more challenging parts.
As a more traditional vocalist, Baek Jiyoung focuses most of her singing on interpretation and musicality. Rarely does she ever try to recreate a song and make it completely different from the original. Even with her own songs, she tends to perform them more or less the same melodically and rhythmically. Her only changes to songs tend to be more on the dynamics as she grows with the song, but not so much on making drastic changes to the originally written melody of said songs. Nonetheless she is decently capable of singing duets and matching her tone with other vocalists to be able to stay within smoother harmonies in her vocal performances, as heard in “그 여자” with Sung Shikyung, “새벽 가로수 길” with Song Yubin and “내 사랑 내곁에.”
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)