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With regard to fundamental frequency, sound level (SL) increases about 6 dB/octave, all else being equal. This is the primary reason why females often outsing males on the opera stage if they sing an octave higher. With regard to lung pressure, SL increases about 6-9 dB/with every doubling of lung pressure. The major phenomenon here is increase in peak glottal airflow. The frequency spectrum affects loudness perception if the sound is more than a simple tone.
This webpage provides a very basic introduction to the anatomy and physiology of the larynx, and how the voice works. Diagrams are highly schematic.
Michael responds to a Letter to the Editor regarding muscle use in breathing.
This article is a brief description of the work of David Blair McClosky and the techniques for healthy voice use that he developed over 60 years ago. Mr. McClosky was a pioneer in the field of voice science and his work continues to help singers, music teachers, choir directors, and other professional voice users to regain and enhance a healthy voice. This article explains the essence of the techniques which include body alignment, abdominal breathing, balanced onset, and six specific areas of relaxation of the extrinsic muscles. Application of these techniques provide a physiological approach to vocal production that coordinates the body as a vocal instrument.
This very short video shows a 3-D representation of the diaphragm's movement during respiration.
An interactive diagram of the larynx. This resource demonstrates how the larynx is constructed and how different parts of the larynx work separately and together. Includes visuals of how the intrinsic muscles of the larynx work. A wonderful resource for any undergraduate pedagogy class.
The audio file comes with a graphical representation of the symbols and diacritics in the International Phonetic Alphabet, and audio representations of the phonemes. You just click the sound and the audio plays. There are also audio explanations of various concepts. Quick Time Player is required.
The authors succinctly describe their thesis: "[This study] will discuss the use of nutrition and integrative medicine for singers. In the second article, these approaches will be applied to specific conditions to describe how integrative medicine can be useful for diseases or conditions such as GERD, allergies, URIs, menopausal symptoms, and performance anxiety." For the first installment, see 68, no. 2 Nov./Dec. 2011 (165-173).
Saunders-Barton gives a historical background to the development of a musical play or the musical and explains how vocal qualities evolved to match the demands. She explains that the vocal demands now call for very refined coordination of the C.T. and C.A. muscles. She also mentions how the vocal styles intended for legit shows such as Carousel are now changing and we have to become more open minded as singers and listeners.
This piece offers practical tips for anxiety management in the specific setting of a music audition: being well-prepared; expecting the unexpected; using mental rehearsal; turning doubts into ambitions; rewarding oneself for the effort; and knowing when to seek deeper counseling. It was written last year at the request of the Majoring in Music website shown, which is aimed at prospective college students.
The article addresses the several concerns that might confront the singer in vocal fold surgery. Helpful and very informative.
This 8-minute video uses 3-D computer graphics to give a clear basic introduction to the muscles attached to the cricoid cartilage.
Formerly Google Body, Zygote Body is a web application by Zygote Media Group that renders manipulable 3D anatomical models of the human body. Several layers from muscle tissues down to blood vessels can be removed or made transparent to allow better study of individual body parts. Most of the body parts are labelled and searchable. The models do not incorporate movement.
Continuing the series begun in 2010, Michael aims to "clarify misconceptions about vocal production.” In this installment she notes of the titular myth, "Like many of the anatomically incorrect images we use routinely in the studio, this advise is well motivated, but can have unintended consequences.” For part one see 66, no. 5 (547-551); part two 67, no. 4 (417-421); part three 68, 4 (419-425).
McCoy's training as a choral conductor and his acknowledged status as scholar of voice pedagogy make him the ideal person to negotiate the controversies surrounding the overlapping domains of technique in choral singing and technique in solo singing. This first installment in the series focuses on vibrato; high tessitura and vowels; and stamina in lengthy rehearsals. McCoy believes that choral directors and singing teachers can work together on the many issues this subject raises, noting that “we all have the ultimate goal of making beautiful music.”
This audio clip is of a music teacher with scarring of the vocal fold, residual to surgical removal of a vocal fold polyp without adequate post-operative care instructions. Notice how the breathy, strained quality sounds similar to nodules or some other lesion of the vocal folds, reminding us that it is imperative to have a laryngeal examination before trying to treat, or work with, a voice that is obviously disorderd.
This webpage provides basic information about a wide variety of voice disorders, and also helps the reader determine if he or she may have a voice disorder. The last part of the page provides information about the process of evaluation and treatment, but the reader is warned that it is specific to the Lions Voice Clinic. This portion unfortunately cannot be separated from the first sections. It is, however, information that is similar across clinics across the country.
This 12-minute video uses 3-D computer graphics to elucidate the cartilagenous framework of the larynx, including the muscular attachments.
The authors succinctly describe their thesis: "[This study] will discuss the use of nutrition and integrative medicine for singers. In this first article, a definition and categorization of integrative medicines is presented, along with background information on nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical fitness, and stress management.” For the second installment, see 68, no. 3 Jan./Feb. 2012 (291-298).
This article by Mary Saunders-Barton describes her experiences teaching young musical theatre students non-classical music. She describes the basic fundamental techniques of singing and her technical training theory for both men and women. She describes more in detail the differences of teaching male and female students and gives several spoken and sung exercises to use.
Vowels are synthesized using vocal tract solid models, demonstrating functions of the vocal tract and vocal cords waves. The models were shaped based on 3D MRI and stereolithography (Rapid Prototyping), and glottal waves are generated using Rosenberg-Klatt waveform with 1/f fluctuation of its cycle. Male and female models are used to produce vowels. Voice qualities are well enough to identify the persons whom MR images were taken from.
This short audio clip is of a middle-aged woman with a vocal fold paralysis. The definition of breathiness is turbulence noise of air escaping through the incompletely closed glottis. This is clearly heard in this sample. You can also hear that she runs out of breath quickly.
Dr. Titze demonstrates exercises that can be done using the straw. He does not give any explanation of the scientific underpinnings of the semi-occluded vocal tract exercises, and only provides a brief explanation for the purposes of the exercises.
This often-quoted article presents the history of CCM styles and their development throughout the 20th century along with acoustic comparison of CCM singing with classical as evidence that contemporary singing is fundamentally different from classical and deserves its own pedagogical approach.
This article provides an insightful overview of the musical theatre singing voice. Causey introduces experts within the pedagogy field and provides their credentials and professional opinions. Using quotes from each of these professionals, this article presents basic scientific and experiential evidence to explain the importance and necessity of training in the musical theatre style.
This 6-minute video uses 3-D computer graphics to give a clear basic introduction to the muscles attached to the hyoid bone and tongue. It does not cover the intrinsic muscles of the tongue.
This 11:26 minute clip was heard on Science Friday on National Public Radio on 5/27/2016. Vocologists John Nix and MacKenzie Parrott provide explanations of the use of vocal fry in pop music, and other genres of singing. This clip includes excerpts of The Star Spangled Banner sung with and without vocal fry. Parrots provides results of the study regarding listener preferences. Scientific explanation of the laryngeal mechanism for vocal fry is minimal.
The author used iterviews with MDs to provide solid information for singers regarding voice care.
This webpage provides basic information about how to maintain good vocal health. While the information is standard, and univeral to almost any credible source about the voice, the reader is warned that there is an advertising aspect for the Lions Voice Clinic that cannot be separated from the rest of the content.
Fresh insight into the teaching of breathing for singing is provided by the two noted pedagogues.
Choral pedagogy, the newest academic field in performing arts medicine, addresses the need for choral conductors to be better informed about vocal health. Recently, several authors have studied the special issues of choral conducting that can strengthen voices rather than injure them.
The author discusses the cognitive substrates of performance failures known in the sports world as "choking" but known to performers as "stage fright" by considering psychological research of the phenomenon dubbed "The Ironic Effect."
When selected nonsurgical treatments fail and when a patient remains sufficiently symptomatic to warrant the surgical risks in the opinion of the patient, voice therapist, and laryngologist, meticulous microsurgery usually results in voice improvement. Many abnormalities, as detailed, in the article, do require surgery.
This video is one of four in a series showing the larynx of an adult female with a left vocal fold paresis (incomplete paralysis). Note that the left vocal fold does move slightly, but is very limited compared to the right. The paresis results in weak glottic closure, which prevents normal vocal fold vibration. This video shows the larynx prior to a thyroplasty, that is, surgical placement of an implant that provides improved glottic closure and therefore better vibration. This series of videos provides a good demonstration of the concept of entrainment, in which the vocal folds become "entrained" in the airstream to vibrate, as long as they are close enough together, and have similar underlying muscle tone.
Most contemporary worship services utilize some sort of amplification, and this article helps demystify the types of microphones a worship leader or singer might use in services, along with suggestions of how to best implement amplification in different situations.
This video is one of four in a series showing the larynx of an adult female with a left vocal fold paresis (incomplete paralysis). Note that the left vocal fold does move slightly, but is very limited compared to the right. The paresis results in weak glottic closure, which prevents normal vocal fold vibration. This video shows the larynx after thyroplasty, that is, surgical placement of an implant that provides improved glottic closure and therefore better vibration. This series of videos provides a good demonstration of the concept of entrainment, in which the vocal folds become "entrained" in the airstream to vibrate, as long as they are close enough together, and have similar underlying muscle tone. The improvement in entrainment provided by the improved glottic closure allows for much more normal vibration of the vocal folds.
The problem of reflux has become well known among singing teachers. It is worthwhile for singing teacher to recognize that diagnosis and treatment of reflux in singers and other otolaryngology patients remain more controversial than we would like. Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) represents a complex spectrum of pathophysiology, diagnostic challenge and therapeutic controversy. Patient management can be optimized only through excellently designed studies with rigorous inclusion criteria, involving close collaboration among laryngologists, gastroenterologists, research scientists, and reflux surgeons.
This very short video clip shows the larynx during laughter.
Now that the leading edge of Baby Boomers has turned 65, voice pedagogy for the aging singer is sure to become a hotter topic in NATS. Edwin_x0090_'s pedagogical advice for working with the older vocalist centers on body position, respiration, audiation, phonation, and resonation. These technical considerations must be coupled with realistic expectations for vocal performance in the later years of one_x0090_s singing life.
It has long been the hallmark of a fine teacher to assign proper vocalises to the student. From a scientific perspective, the messa di voce, staccato and sustaining long phrases are discussed.
This short audio clip is of an adult male with a vocal fold polyp. The polyp results in irregular vocal fold vibration that results in the perception of roughness. See also the video clip of the same lesion.
While not strictly a pedagogy article, this gives an excellent primer in the dos and don'ts of auditioning for musical theatre from the most prolific casting director in musical theatre today, including advice on song choices and riffing.
This 10-minute video was produced by National Geographic as part of their ‘Incredible Human Machine’ series. This video focuses on Steven Tyler (of the band Aerosmith), his vocal prowess, and resulting vocal bleed after overuse. The video includes endoscopy of Tyler’s vocal folds, as well as the surgery to treat his vocal bleed.
This 10-minute video provides an explanation of muscle function of the vocal tract using 3-D computer graphics. This video covers muscle functions at the most basic and fundamental level.
From an assumption that far little has been written about the nose, the author discusses its anatomy, nosebleeds, obstruction, fracture, various growths,etc.
The author provides a comprehensive, historical review of contributions to voice science and pedagogy. The article explores the relationship between science and art through its history, its current state, and the new field of cognitive science to which voice pedagogy could look for a rapprochement between these two modes of understanding and the teaching of singing.
Continuing the series begun in 2010, Michael aims to clarify misconceptions about vocal production. In this installment Michael and Goding examine some myths and truths about vocal fold swelling, particularly as it pertains to upper respiratory infection (URI). For part one see 66, no. 5 (547-551); part two 67, no. 4 (417-421); part four 69, no. 2 (167-172).
Laryngoscopy is the art of placing a camera in the throat to view the vocal cords. Important aspects of how to perform the examination, what structures can be seen and how do different areas function are described. A laryngoscopy is the foundation for diagnosing hoarseness or voice problems.
This short audio clip is of a high school aged female singer with a vascular (blood filled) lesion of the right vocal fold. The vocal fold is also irregular, swollen and stiff, and therefore does not vibrate well. Because of the irregularity of the vibratory margin of the vocal fold, the glottis does not close completely. The definition of breathiness is turbulence noise of air escaping through the incompletely closed glottis. This can be heard in this sample. You can also hear that she runs out of breath quickly. However, the breathiness is not as severe or apparent as it is in the breathy/paralysis clip. One could think that she is simply using a breathy style in the context of the song, or that she is young and needs to "focus" or "support" the tone. In fact, however, the vocal fold is badly damaged.
Dr. John Nix addresses the pervasive issue of vibrato use in the vocal studio and choral settings. He begins by defining vibrato and comparing various kinds of functional and non-functional vibrato (healthy vibrato, wobble, bleat or flutter), including the characteristics of each. He also notes that airflow rates for tones with vibrato tend to about 10% greater than tones without vibrato. In Nix’s study of 350 singers, he found that the majority of those who received explicit instruction regarding using vibrato in singing, that instruction came from a voice teacher; in those who received explicit instruction in non-vibrato singing, the majority received it from a choir director. He addresses changing aesthetics with regard to vibrato, and cites several articles from past issues of the Journal of Singing. Nix offers several exercises for developing flexibility in producing vibrato and non-vibrato sounds. He also suggests revisiting the all-too-easily forgotten basic checklist needed for good singing: alignment, breath, vowels, and addressing any visible tension.
This video is one of four in a series showing the larynx of an adult female with a left vocal fold paresis (incomplete paralysis). Note that the left vocal fold does move slightly, but is very limited compared to the right. The paresis results in weak glottic closure, which prevents normal vocal fold vibration. This video shows the larynx after thyroplasty, that is, surgical placement of an implant that provides improved glottic closure and therefore better vibration. The improvement with better glottic closure is quite dramatic. This series of videos provides a good demonstration of the concept of entrainment, in which the vocal folds become "entrained" in the airstream to vibrate, as long as they are close enough together, and have similar underlying muscle tone.
This video shows a larynx with a hemorrhagic (blood filled, aka vascular) polyp on the right vocal fold. The polyp results in incomplete closure of the glottis, and irregular vibration of the vocal folds. The varies according to pitch and loudness. The video makes it clear why the singing voice quality in the audio clip varies from markedly rough to normal.
This CBS news article summarizes a resaerch study published in the journal PLOS ONE, showing that women who use vocal fry may be perceived negatively when being interviewed for a job. The new article includes an audio clip of Faith Salie, Sunday Morning contributor, discussing vocal fry. Readers are encouraged to read the entire research article, by following the link at CBS News, or given in this database below.
Singing teachers should be familiar with sinusitis, as virtually all will encounter students with sinusitis. Many more students with sinus symptoms actually have allergic rhinitis.
This 15-minute video is aimed at educating any heavy voice users, such as teachers, singers or actors about vocal swelling and potential injury from over-use. Demonstrations of swelling check exercises are provided, as well the warning signs that are generally associated with vocal injury.
A paper presented at the Fifth International Congress of Voice Teachers, Helsinki. In conclusion, the author urges, for optimal communication through speech or sing, every speech or voice teacher needs to have complete knowledge of the movements of the muscles in the vocal tract required for the phonological system of the language being sung.
In summary, harmonics in the glottal waveform are produced by adducing the vocal folds sufficiently so that they can collide. This changes the waveform from a simple oscillatory shape that has only one frequency. Alternately, or in conjunction with collision, the vocal tract can be engaged to feed back an acoustic wave to the glottal flow.
This video shows the larynx of a college-age singer with a healthy larynx. The vibration is seen as a blur at first, but halfway through, the halogen light is turned off and the strobe (xenon) light is turned on. The stroboscopy gives the optimal illusion of slow-motion vibration, allowing us to see the mucosal wave. Notice the symmetry and regularity of the normal mucosal wave.
real-time MRI of vocal performance, with examples from an opera soprano, and an emcee/beatboxer. Presented at the ISMRM Sounds and Visions Session, May 2006, Seattle.
The author asks the question: “Is there a lesson in the Olympic games that can be applied to singing?” Much of the new information that has advanced the coaching of sports is taken from analysis of precisely timed video. Because so little of the movement of the voice producing organs can be captured by noninvasive video, singing teachers have to rely on self-reporting of singers regarding what they “do” to achieve desired results. However, one particularly measurement of the singing voice that is now within reach for all is that of spectrum analysis, which is discussed in detail.
The question is discussed: how does the technical training of a countertenor differ from that of other male singers? A useful introduction to and overview of the countertenor fach by a respected pedagogue. Some terms on the "legitimacy" of this fach are slightly outdated, but it is a useful article nonetheless.
The purpose of the article is to help the individual, teacher, and family member navigate through the vocal health care system. The different types of voice care professionals involved in voice evaluation and treatment are mentioned. A variety of key components of voice evaluation are described as well as assists in providing the reader with a method to find a voice care physician.
The author suggests that most confounding problem in dealing with vocal fatigue is not knowing how much voice rest is needed for recovery. Considerable research is ongoing in this area.
Continuing the series begun in 2010, Michael aims to "clarify misconceptions about vocal production.” In this installment she addresses three pervasive _myths”: 1) that the vocal folds are "chords” (sic); 2), that one can sing "on” or "off” the cords (sic); and 3), that falsetto is produced with _false vocal folds.” For part one see 66, no. 5 (547-551); part three 68, no. 4 (419-425); part four 69, no. 2 (167-172).
This interactive resource provides animated views of the internal structures of the larynx and the mucosa, allowing the user to view animations of muscle contraction in all planes, complete with descriptions and definitions. Additionally, images of a larynx dissection, video clips of normal vocal fold function and of vocal fold pathologies, and some clinical case studies are available. Learning objectives and self-quizzes are also included.
A well organized, overview of Belting. It begins with a review of the physiology of the voice, then moves into historical context, definitions and their discrepancies, and a discussion of what is actually occuring during belt singing. This presentation is filled with excellent citations and presents the controversies in a well thought out manner. It also discusses whether or not belting is healthy and then strategies for maintaining vocal health for those who teach and perform in this style. As a final thought they quote Barbara Doscher when she states that "our profession has a responsibility to all singers, not just to those whose aesthetic preference we agree with." A starting place for the teacher who is grappling with how to and whether or not to teach those who wish to belt.
In this article Dr. Austin discusses the importance of eliminating breathiness from the tone of young singers who are interested in the bel canto tradition. The breathy onset is described as the most common fault in young voices. Teaching a ‘neat and clean’ beginning to the sung tone as experienced when one speaks the word ‘awesome’ can lead to a tone that is clear and ringing.
This very short video clip shows the larynx during whistling
An exploration of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Voice Syndrome (PMVS) that details the ways in which singers may be physically and emotionally affected. Based on a number of medical studies of the phenomenon, the author provides strategies for students and teachers to address this highly personal subject sensitively and effectively. [pp. 27-34]
It is suggested that a diagnostic category termed the vocal overdoer syndrome (VOS) can be of use not only in the voice clinic but also in the singing studio.
A stylized medical animation of the normal breathing cycle.
This 15-minute video uses models, diagrams and several endoscopy videos to demonstrate the anatomy and phyisology of the vocal tract, touching briefly on the airway's role in swallowing and focusing primarily on speech. Endoscopy videos are included, showing the difference between healthy and damaged vocal folds.
This video is one of four in a series showing the larynx of an adult female with a left vocal fold paresis (incomplete paralysis). Note that the left vocal fold does move slightly, but is very limited compared to the right. The paresis results in weak glottic closure, which prevents normal vocal fold vibration. This video shows the larynx prior to a thyroplasty, that is, surgical placement of an implant that provides improved glottic closure and therefore better vibration. This series of videos provides a good demonstration of the concept of entrainment, in which the vocal folds become "entrained" in the airstream to vibrate, as long as they are close enough together, and have similar underlying muscle tone. The stroboscopy makes it clear that entrainment is often not achieved, leaving the vocal folds to vibrate separately, often at different frequencies. When the pitch is high enough, and there is enough longitudinal tension along the left vocal fold, the right vocal fold can vibrate against it with adequate regularity to a achieve a stable frequency, although the glottic closure is insufficient for much volume.
Jeannette Lovetri provides a great article that explains the term “belt”. She defines it as a “kind of vocal quality, derived from powerful, intensified speech, that can cut through a space and be heard well even when it isn’t electronically amplified.” Lovetri goes on to describe what she feels healthy belting is and what singers need to know about it.
The first of a series of articles, the author wishes to provide facts that can clarify myths about vocal technique or the vocal mechanism. Dr. Michael is Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Minnesota Medical School. (For the second installment, see vol. 67, no. 4, March/April 2011: 417-421.)
Pomfret considers perhaps the most overlooked portion of the voice lesson: the vocalise. Her methodic approach to vocalizing includes considerations of what it means to warm up, what exercises help to accomplish the task, exercises for voice building, and vocalises for special repertoire or voice types.
This 90-minute video shows a presentation given by Dr. Robert Sataloff at the 2008 National Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. It provides a basic overview of essentials of anatomy and physiology that singing teachers should understand, as well as an overview of medical conditions that affect the voice, and basic concepts of evaluation and treatment.
This brief video shows a stroboscopic laryngeal exam of a female with nodules. Several pitches are produced. It is clear that the nodules prevent vocal fold vibration at a higher pitch.
The value of phonating into a small-diameter straw is explained, a healthy action for the tissues while the abdominal muscles get a good workout.
The authors write that maintaining longevity of the voice involves attention to training and proper hygiene of the vocal folds throughout one's career. Daily stretching, attention to diet and hydration and, the use of proper voice technique in all vocal situations are essential components of prolonged vocal health.
This audio clip is of a music teacher with scarring of the vocal fold, residual to surgical removal of a vocal fold polyp without adequate post-operative care instructions. Notice how the breathy, strained quality sounds similar to nodules or some other lesion of the vocal folds, especially with the loss of higher pitches. This reminds us that it is imperative to have a laryngeal examination before trying to treat, or work with, a voice that is obviously disorderd.
Helpful axioms are provided that will help the singer budget voice use and save one from costly cancellations or just help preserve vocal health.
In this article, the author reflects on his article "Are We the National Association of Teachers of Classical Singing?" that appeared in May 1985 issue of "The NATS Bulletin." The focus of the article is how NATS members can address the need for competent and knowledgeable singing instructors among nonclassical singers
This short audio clip is of an adult male professional singer with a complaint of noise in his voice. The listener can hear the mild roughness in the quality. In this case, the laryngeal exam showed there was no lesion, but the vocal folds were "pressed" during phonation; that is, the closed phase of the vibratory cycle was long, and impact of the vocal folds was high. Also, the ventricular folds squeezed together somewhat when the tone became more rough. The resulting quality is known as strain. The "buzzy" quality is the result of a subharmonic, an irregular vibration at a frequency that is lower than the fundamental frequency of vibration. (Remember that the fundamental frequency provides the pitch.) The subharmonic is generated because of the irregular and asymmetrical pressure at the glottis.
The Alexander Technique is a practical, well-established, and proven self-help method for relief from chronic pain. It is a tool for renewing freedom of movement, by helping release strain and muscle tension which has built up over time. It is an especially useful tool for singers and actors, and was, in fact, developed over 100 years ago by an actor who was consistently losing his voice.
Dr. Titze and other experts explain vocal production by means of analogies to how a car works. This is highly simplified, but graphics are helpful. A highlight is a famous movie scene, in which the voice signal sounds as it would without the filtering of the vocal tract.
Speech-language pathologist Barbara Wilson Arboleda discusses healthy ways to strengthen the young singer's voice when singing pop-rock.
Much has been written concerning the function of the vocal folds. This article speaks to the function of the vocal fold cells, an aspect about which little has been written.
McCoy's training as a choral conductor and his acknowledged status as scholar of voice pedagogy make him the ideal person to negotiate the controversies surrounding the overlapping domains of technique in choral singing and technique in solo singing. This first installment in the series focuses on vibrato; high tessitura and vowels; and stamina in lengthy rehearsals. McCoy believes that choral directors and singing teachers can work together on the many issues this subject raises, noting that “we all have the ultimate goal of making beautiful music.”
Jeannette LoVetri provides numerous examples of how CCM singing differs from classical singing. She expands on these ideas in other blog posts titled "More Details About Why CCM Is Different Than Classical" and "Still More About CCM vs Classical." Many of these ideas are further developed in scholarly journal articles Lovetri has authored/co-authored.
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