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Using the Pharyngeal Voice to Develop a Strong Mix

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There is still alot of debate in vocal teaching circles concerning the healthiness of belting. Even finding a consistent definition is tricky. It's a sound that is often identified with Broadway or gospel singing. It is a big, loud, powerful sound that can be quite stirring. The potential problem with pure belting is that the chest voice range is pushed higher than is optimal, which can make a singer hyperfunctional. In my opinion, it is better to develop a strong mix or middle voice that can can be leaned into for more power.

One exercise that can help in that area is the pharyngeal voice or 'witch's voice. The use of this device dates back to the baroque period and the training of the castrati. This ugly, bratty sound helps to bridge the chest into the middle area easily without pushing or straining. Use the sounds 'nay', 'naa', & 'waa' in your practice. As you ascend the scale, don't get intentionally louder- the pharyngeal resonance will give a sense of more power without your help! Just keep the sound ugly without strain. Be sure not to jam the sound into your nose. It works wonders without taxing the voice.

A great scale pattern to start with is the octave arpeggio with the top note repeated:

nay- nay-nay-nay-nay-nay-nay-nay-nay-nay

1 3 5 8 8 8 8 5 3 1

The repeat of the top note give the muscles a greater opportunity to remember the proper response. From here, you can add the octave & a half pattern as well as the mixed octave scale. These two amp up the challenge by covering more range more quickly.


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