G2 ~ G5 (3 Octaves)
C3 ~ Bb4
- Able to support his voice consistently
- Resonance is produced up to Bb4
- Support is present down to C3
- Mixed voice is relaxed and generally controlled with ease up to A4/Bb4
- Head voice can be produced with support up to D5
- Shows great control of placement and dynamics
- Generally clean control of pitch
- Tends to lack openness and show tension on the Aye (애/에) vowel
- Support becomes weaker above Bb4
- Tends to sing with a light and squeezed mixed voice from B4 and above
- Head voice lacks development overall
- Lower range can often be breathy and he lacks support below C3
- Vocal runs are often messy in terms of rhythm and pitch precision
- Can be somewhat nasal
- Head voice above D5 seems to need extra air pressure to come out
- Lower register: The lower portion of his voice remains solid and supported down to D3, with an even development of his chest voice muscles. Below that, he tends to become softer stylistically, but is still able to carry support down to C3. Notes in the second octave may carry tone, but lack development and support.
- Mixed register: Very well developed and even throughout his supported range. Tends to become slightly too bright and whiny above Bb4, with a gritty sort of quality and a lot of tightness. Resonance is present as high as Bb4.
- Upper register: Generally the least explored part of his voice. Kim Yeonwoo doesn’t often sing in his head voice and mostly uses a falsetto. A supported head voice can be produced at will with the “Oo” vowel, but its consistency is questionable. Above D5, he tends to become shouty and push air to sing higher.
One of the least developed aspects of his singing is his vocal agility. As mostly a ballad singer, he tends to sing songs with straight melodies. However showing off the ability to add intricate runs in songs has become more popular over the years, so in recent years Kim Yeonwoo has been attempting more runs than he used to in his earlier years. It’s clear to hear that his runs are often improvised and not completely practiced note by note. He doesn’t have the natural flexibility to sing runs with accurate pitch and clearly divided single notes, so he tends to slide and guess the notes he wants to sing with. Theoretically for those who haven’t developed their agility can benefit from singing runs slowly while focusing on rhythmic precision and pitch separation, while gradually speeding the runs up to develop their agility. Most idols and singers though tend to skip through this process and just guess the runs, while hoping they land more or less where they had initially planned. This is the case with Kim Yeonwoo, where the runs are often musically and technically sloppy overall, as heard in “내가 너의 곁에 잠시 살았다는걸,” “나와 같다면” and “What Friends Are For.”
Kim Yeonwoo is amongst the generation of solo ballad singers who debuted around the 90’s and have earned a name and legacy for themselves throughout the years. He debuted originally in 1996 through Yoo Hee Yeol’s project album (under the stage name Toy) where he was featured as the main vocalist for the song “내가 너의 곁에 잠시 살았다는 걸.” Back when he debuted, his singing technique was fairly underdeveloped and he sang mostly through having the natural ease in a mid to high tenor range while having a pleasant sounding singing voice. However as he aged, he’s shown great improvement and has put a lot of work into developing his muscles with proper vocal technique to better perform even his older material. He recently rose back to fame amongst international audiences as well as a younger generation by participating in the popular survival singing show King of Mask Singer, remaining the king for four generations as Cleopatra beating out other popular vocalists like Block B’s Taeil, Ailee, Jo Janghyuk, APink’s Eunji and former member of SPICA, Kim Boa.
The lower portion of his range is one that’s often neglected and stylistically sung with breathiness. He often sings down to D3 but avoids singing much lower than that. Down to D3, his sound is relatively strong and shows a very clean development of his chest voice muscles, the thyroarytenoid muscles. His sound remains solid, forward and projected through both his mask and chest resonators. Examples include “Phantom of the Opera,” “사랑할수록” and “사랑과 우정 사이.” At times support may stylistically drop around F3, generally when doing more complex vocal runs or when using stylistic breathiness. This kind of lack of support is also present around the D3 ~ C3 range, such as in “내가 너의 곁에 잠시 살았다는 걸,” “나와 같다면” and in “눈물나는 날에는 .” However he’s shown multiple times that when stylistically needed, he’s able to keep his vocal cords connected while maintaining support and proper placement as low as C3, as heard with the C#3’s in “사랑할수록,” as well as C3’s in different performances of “사랑했지만,” as well as in “말하는 대로.” Below C3, he may keep tone but generally loses support and becomes softer without as much development from his chest voice muscles, as heard with the B2’s in “오래전 그날,” as well as the A2’s in “사랑.. 그 놈,” and “사랑했지만,” and G2’s in “오래전 그날.”
His mixed voice is one that shows a true clean development and ease that most of his peers seem to lack. While most males tend to overshoot their sound by over compensating with air pressure and pushed chest-dominant mixed voices, Kim Yeonwoo keeps his mix generally placed towards his mask throughout his supported range. He phrases with ease as high as G4 and A4, which can be seen as generally high for tenors, but when he sings them, they sound so effortless that it doesn’t seem like he’s singing as high as he truly is. The ease is accomplished by keeping his mixed balanced enough while not overpushing air pressure, allowing the sound to be placed higher as he ascends in range instead of resisting a higher placement like most less trained vocalists tend to do as they reach for higher notes.
In general he may at times place his voice too far forward into his nose at times, becoming slightly too whiny. This however isn’t necessarily unhealthy nor a real technical issue as he’s able to minimize nasality and produce resonance just as consistently and at will, so by choosing a placement that’s a bit more forward, he’s able to ease into his upper range without as much effort while still remaining healthy and projected. While this may not have been the case earlier in his career, where a rough and throaty quality was present as low as even F4, such as in “여전히 아름다운지,” he’s shown huge changes in his approach over the years. He’s grown to be able to control his mix with cleaner support while remaining quite light, as heard with the same song performed in 2017 on Fantastic Duo. Resonance and support in his mixed voice can be heard with the F#4’s in “오래전 그날,” “사랑한다는 흔한 말,” “만약에 말이야,” G4’s in “사랑할수록,” “사랑.. 그 놈,” G#4’s in “사랑과 우정 사이,” A4’s in “내가 너의 곁에 잠시 살았다는 걸,” “이별택시,” and “가질수 없는 너” as well as the Bb4’s in “사랑했지만,” “사랑할수록,” “나와 같다면,” “이밤 지나면,” “That’s What Friends Are For.” As he ascends above Bb4 though, he tends to become screechier and shoutier. His throat muscles narrow around his larynx while his sound becomes much thinner and pushed. Examples of this can be heard with the B4’s in “사랑과 우정 사이,” C5’s in “서울의 달,” C#5’s in “사랑과 우정 사이,” and the D5’s in “호랑나비.”
Arguably his least developed register would be his head voice. Most of the time Kim Yeonwoo seems to resort to transitioning into his falsetto or avoiding singing in his upper register altogether. Examples of his transitions being slightly slow as his vocal cords don’t react as quickly to the changes of registers can be heard with “사랑한다는 흔한 말.” Generally speaking his upper register is more of a falsetto, but he’s shown the ability to use a supported head voice, although scarcely, as high as D5, as heard in “이 밤이 지나면.” Above D5, he seems to be fairly uncomfortable as his cricothyroid muscles lack almost any development. His sound is generally much thinner, he’s unable to place his sound more towards his head and thus pushes with more air to even get the notes to come out. The higher notes above D5 sound tight and shouty, without as much ease as the rest of his range. This can be heard with his range up to F5 in “이밤 지나면” as well as up to G5’s in “호랑나비” and in “나와 같다면.”
Musically Kim Yeonwoo shows great interpretation skills. Originally he didn’t need to resort to as much showing off to establish himself as a vocalist, choosing to focus more on the dynamic delivery of songs. The most prominent change in his singing is the obvious difference one can hear when comparing his performances from the 90’s to more recent performance. His general approach uses his support mechanism a lot better, truly engaging the diaphragm while keeping his throat more open and relaxed. Throughout the years, he’s shown huge improvement in his vocal technique, which one can hear by even comparing him singing the same song along his career. Contrasting performances of “내가 너의 곁에 잠시 살았다는 걸” show that in the 90’s, he’d use his throat muscles and squeeze his higher notes even around G4 without projecting his voice nearly as much, while performances in 2007 show a much better engagement of support further developed as he aged when listening to performances from 2015.
Kim Yeonwoo is truly a pioneer and an example to be followed. While many vocalists who debuted in the 90’s, where a developed system for vocal training in Korea wasn’t as established for pop singers and most would rely on raw talents, remained rough diamonds throughout their careers, Kim Yeonwoo is one of the few vocalists who’s set out of his comfort zone and undergone training to become a much better professional of his field. This also helps credit him further as a vocal instructor who might know better how to help those with natural gifts but not as much technique, as people who are naturally good may not know how to teach, but someone who’s gone through being untrained and needing to learn technique from the basics might be a better instructor overall. He’s admired by many of his peer vocalists and his songs have been covered by many idols, including B1A4’s Sandeul and SHINee’s Onew.
Much like vocal agility, showing off runs or altering songs to make them more intricate has become more popular these days in Korea. As such, for televised performances of songs such as his hits over the years have seen some changes, melodically. The most obvious one seems to be “내가 너의 곁에 잠시 살았다는 걸” where he really explored more of a different approach than the usual melody of the song. Otherwise, most of the time he tends to sing songs as they’re originally written so that he can focus more on the emotional delivery through dynamics and expression, as opposed to showing off his singing. Other examples of melodic changes to songs also include “이 밤이 지나면.” He’s also able to blend his voice well with others in harmonies, as heard in “사랑한다는 흔한 말.”
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Vocal Range Video(s)
Videos by: 옥파고
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)