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Phonation, Resonance & Hyperfunction

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What Is Phonation?

The creation of sound from air. A mostly mental process! If we wish to create a good vocal sound we must first define that concept:

  •  Freely produced
  •  Pleasant to listen to
  •  Loud enough to be heard easily
  • Rich, ringing, and resonant
  • Energy flows smoothly from note to note
  • Consistently produced
  • Vibrant, dynamic, and alive
  • Flexibly expressive

Beautiful sounds start in the mind of the singer. If you cannot think a beautiful sound, it is an accident if you make one. You must learn to picture the sound in your mind's eye and hear it in your mind's ear before it can become a consistent reality.

What Is Resonance?

An enhancement to our phonatory product.

Resonator Usage

Chest Not effective more for feedback.

Tracheal Tree:

May cause lower break. This resonator is a fixed physical space.


Can produce an overtone whose attribute is identified as brilliance, or more frequently as ring. More recently this overtone has become known as the singer's formant. This resonator is not under conscious control!

Pharynx /Throat

Most important resonator. Because of its size, the pharynx is capable of bringing out the lower partials of the vocal tone when it is properly used. The resulting quality is described by terms such as fullness, roundness, warmth, richness, or mellowness.

Oral Cavity / Mouth

Second most important. The function of the mouth is to shape the tone into words, and the skill one must acquire is that of articulating without spoiling the quality which has been generated in the larynx and resonated by the pharynx. Joins with the pharynx in the formation of vowels.

Nose Used only for M, N, NG.

Sinuses Ineffective.

Vocal Position Recommended for Good Tone:

Lowered Larynx

Open Throat

1. sufficient size to bring out the low partials,

2. sufficient flexibility to adjust (tune) to different pitches coming from the larynx,

3. sufficient softness to absorb undesirable high partials and respond to a broad range of pitches, and

4. sufficient muscle tonus to preserve the character of the tone.

  •  Lifted Soft Palate
  •  Mouth Free and open, relaxed lips.
  • Singer's Formant Brilliance Overtone

What is Hyperfunction?

Relates to Phonation and the balance between air support and vocal chord control.

In an ideal, balanced phonation, [breathing and phonation] coordinate in such a way that the desired pitch and dynamic level are achieved with a minimum of effort from the support mechanism. Stated another way, the breath pressure and the vocal chord tension are so perfectly balanced that the desired vibration can take place without unnecessary tension or leakage of breath.


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