Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Maddie. Maddie Wonders, “Why do people sound better when they sing in the shower?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Maddie!
Do you like to sing? Some people are really great at singing while others are…well…not quite as great. Even if you’re not a great singer, you might still enjoy belting a song at the top of your lungs.
In Wonderopolis, there’s one place where we LOVE to sing out loud. Can you guess where it is? It’s not a large stage. It can get kind of steamy. Give up? It’s the shower!
Do you like to sing in the shower? We’ve all done it from time to time. Some people keep a radio in the bathroom. Others simply carry their favorite jingle in their head into the shower with them. But we’ve all grabbed a shampoo bottle like a microphone and crooned a tune or two.
People who like to sing in the shower usually claim that they sound better there. Could that be true? After all, when you go to see your favorite singer perform live, you don’t show up in their bathroom. They also don’t bring a shower stall out onto stage with them. So, why would a shower make any difference in how you sound?
Well, there is something about the shower that can make your voice more appealing. It all comes down to the science of sound. When you sing in a large open room, for example, your voice travels out. You only hear it as your throat produces it.
Inside a shower, however, your voice bounces back and forth off the walls and any hard objects. When you sing in the shower, you not only hear your voice as it is produced, but also in the form of echoes as it bounces off the walls. These multiple reflections are known as reverberation, or reverb for short. They blur and prolong the sound of your voice, since some reflections make it back to your ears more quickly than others. This makes your voice sound richer and fuller.
Hard and smooth surfaces, like those typically found in showers, don’t absorb much sound. Instead, they reflect it. All these reflections in a small space boost the overall sound intensity of your voice. This makes it seem more powerful than it usually is.
Reverberation of your voice has another key benefit. All those reflections of sound bouncing around help to even out variations in pitch. So if you don’t hit every note precisely, your voice will still sound better than it would in an open area. Karaoke machines sometimes add reverb to users’ voices for this same reason!
Shower stalls that resemble small boxes can also function as a resonant cavity. This means that they naturally amplify certain frequencies of sound, known as the resonant frequencies. In the average-sized shower, the fundamental resonant frequency is about 100 hertz. This matches the natural bass tones of the human voice, making your voice sound deeper and fuller than normal.
The next time you’re impersonating your favorite pop singer and you can’t quite hit the notes, hit the shower instead. Sing loud and proud as you get clean and enjoy acoustic benefits that only your shower can provide!
Standards: NGSS.PS4.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1