In an explosion of the may forms of popular vocal music, now termed CCM or Contemporary Commercial Music, there has been much study and development technique. Sure, we are using the same instrument and muscles that we use for a more classical sound, but also using them slightly differently. There is a different balance of how our muscles are used, but a balance nonetheless that is related to our more 'classical' voice. For example, a lyric soprano has to be a lyric belter with thinner thyroarytenoid activity (TA) than a mezzo soprano/belter might use.
Let me back up and give a quick review of vocal muscles and how they work. You have both thyroarytenoid muscles and cricothyroid muscles located in your larynx which with air help you to make sound or your vocal fold activity. The thyroaryteniod muscles (TA) are responsible for shortening and thickening the vocal folds (a more chest voice sound) and the cricothyroid muscles (CT) are responsible for stretching and thinning the vocal folds (a more head voice or falsetto sound). There are other helping muscles, but identifying these two will help you to understand how we create a more chest dominant sound versus head voice (falsetto in male).
When you are singing a lower chest/belt, your TA are more active and when you are singing in head voice/falsetto your CT are more active. The opposing muscles are active to create a healthy and efficient sound. It is keeping the TA-CT muscle interaction balanced which creates a healthy sound, whatever sound you are trying to create.
Vocal fold activity in combination with resonance create your overall phonation (what you sound like). Your vocal folds are your sound source but do nothing without air. Giving breath to your sound initiates it all and how your air resonates within the shape of your resonators (throat, mouth and nose) creates your unique sound and why no two voices are exactly alike. When training singers, we teachers instruct you to think of taller, round vowels in classical singing and bright, narrow and more square vowels and often speech like sound in CCM singing.
"All voice training, Classical or CCM, should include the development of the entire vocal mechanism from the lowest TA- dominant sound to the highest CT-dominant sound, as well as he multitude of resonance options, so that the entire musculature gains strength, flexibility, coordination, and endurance" Robert Edwin, Belt is Legit Journal of Singing November 2007
In other words, whatever area of singing you are working on, you should train your whole voice in that style, activating your CT dominant or TA dominant sound and its delicate balance. Similar vocal exercises may be used to do this for both Classical and CCM, but with a belt voice versus a classical voice. This concept of cross-training carries not only through your range, but through style transition, helps keep the voice healthy. Imagine only ever using your quadracept muscles and not using your hamstrings. Your legs would be out of balance. Working both in balance, creates strong, sustainable legs. Working both your TA and CT muscles in balance creates a solid and beautiful singing voice!
Stay tuned for more on Cross-Training the Voice!