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The Mantra III

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Nothing in the throat, ever, amen.

So, using the word "amen" is dramatic but it is a pattern of speech I learned from my mother, who primarily raised me and my brother.

And perhaps people resent the finality that implies. And certainly, the statement has been misunderstood.

I do not mean there is not tension. There is tension in anything you do, such as raising a bottle of water to have a drink. However, it is a balance of which you are not aware unless you have a muscle injury or strain. Your bicep contracts. At the same time, your tricep is also tensed but releasing tension to slow the approximate delivery of the bottle to your mouth. Do you feel anything in your arm, normally, without paying attention, when you raise this bottle to drink? Of course, not. So, I could just as easily describe the action of getting a drink of water from a bottle, "nothing in the upper arm, ever, amen."

But what about when you first learned to use your arm? Do you remember that? I don't. Perhaps there was fatigue, at first. But I cannot confirm that and newborn infants already have the motion completed, though not as graceful as in later years.

And it is possible to feel "odd" in the throat when learning new coordination. So, you might feel something in the throat when training. But the object is to not feel undue strain or injury there. I also use that phrase to avoid concentrating on the throat.

Many have pointed out that Garcia "invented" the laryngoscope and that he advocated over-technical anatomy lessons for singers. Nope. Once he saw with it that the physical aspects he thought were happening were, indeed, happening, he no longer needed it. A student of Garcia was interviewed and he said, in all the lessons, Garcia never even used the word larynx. What he taught was placement and tone.

For the most part, what the voice box does is a combination of being autonomic and whatever is habit. But the sooner one gets away from throat consciousness, the better I think it is. And I know some instruction advises keeping a low larynx. A good note is often accompanied by a low or at least stable larynx. And the movements are usually subtle, anyway. However, to a large extent, I think it is a side effect of other things being right, like the noble chest and Nike shoes I mentioned in another post.

If you are opening the jaw properly and have proper tongue height, this is part of what sets the level of the larynx. Also, from the research of Sundberg, he points out that with proper breath management, there is less air volume at the larynx, and therefore, lessing bowing and raising of the larynx due to high sub-glottic pressure. So, with proper articulation and breath management, a good note happens and a stable larynx is present, rather than "holding" the larynx in one spot. The latter implies overt manipulation in the throat, which will lead to unnecessary tension and fatigue.

So, again, what you are doing below with breath and above with the head and it's resonance and articulation is what creates the good note, and the throat should be free to do it's thing. Which leads to the next thing.

"Chest voice." "Head Voice." The problem with these is that the former is defined by action at the folds, the latter by what is happening in the head. To me, the descriptions should be about sound, rather than mechanical actions. Just like "open throat" is not an actual throat shape, it is a quality of sound that seems to be round, vibrant, voluminous. Even if the resonators are specifically tuned and even narrowed, somewhat. The sound is "open." Again, language is the problem.

The pitch level at which you speak is nominally called "chest voice" and many people feel vibrations in the upper chest area of the body. Mechanically, especially without training, what is happening is that the majority of fold tissue is involved in oscillation and the meeting edges of the folds during adduction or close proximity are at maximum surface area, producing collisions.

To create higher notes requires faster vibrations which also requires less material vibrating. It's a physics thingy. Anyway, so the larynx tilts, whether you direct it so, or not, and the folds stretch and thin and the glottis or aperture of adduction widens a little and the collisions should be less impactive. Momentum equals mass times velocity. For the delicate folds to survive, there needs to be less mass.

At the highest notes, the leading edges of the folds are at their thinnest and barely meeting. Some call this falsetto. Anyway, these thinned out edges are vibrating in the flow of air and are creating a pure tone, more pure than what you create down low.

And what brings the volume is resonance. So, to some extent, there is no chest or head voice, it is all one voice, adjusting along the way to produce a note at the end with the right pitch and volume. And you simply will not create an E5 the same exact way that you create an E2 by means of the amount of fold involvement or meeting area. The structure is not built that way and attempting to do so leads to damage and injury.

One other thing. Is it possible for a weightlifter to lift more than usual and then recover from fatigue and the muscle rebuilds bigger to withstand the increased work load? Yes. This does not work so well in the voice. The actual muscles involved are very fine and small and so are the ligaments. Of all the instruments in the world, the human voice is the most fragile, yet resilient, at least in youth. In singing, you are building coordination and the end goal is for the singing to be endurable, and repeatable. And you can only do that if the throat is not suffering.

I know this was a long post. Sorry. Quite a bit for something I said you shouldn't feel, eh?


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