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What does vocal adduction feel like | Q&A

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A Breaking the Chains student asks about vocal cord adduction:

Hey Kevin,

I have a quick question about vocal cord adduction because lately, I've been working very hard on trying to adduct, or zip up my vocal cords to smooth the chest/head registers.

I use both Breaking the Chains and B. Manning's 'Mastering Mix', and I feel these two courses really complement each other. Manning advises to use the gee sound to learn what it feels like to feel the vocal cords open and close with the hard g. You, on the other had, advise to grunt and feel the vocal cords adducting. I understand and can feel the hard g close my cords, but I cannot for the life of me use a grunt to mimic that feeling.

One question I have, is the ultimate adduction result of the hard g and the grunt the same? More importantly though, if I try to imitate that closing-the-cords feeling that I get with the gee exercise, it leaves me with very sore muscles in my neck, leading me to believe that I'm doing it totally improperly.

Additionally and this leaves me even more confused  I've watched Laryngoscope videos on youtube and I cannot for the life of me even see where the vocal cords are zipping up (the see the cords coming together on a planar level but never zipping up like the pictures show in the Breaking the Chains handbook.

So, any advice is appreciated what does it feel like to adduct your cords? What muscles are you using specifically? Your Larynx? Your Soft Palate?

Thank you,

Greg

 

My reply:

Hi Greg,

There are two ways to achieve adduction. 1. Physically producing cord compression by pressing the vocal cords together (Mastering Mix) and 2. Producing cord compression using mostly breath pressure and only slight physical pressing (Breaking the Chains and old school classical method)

I have the Mastering Mix series and while it has many great exercises to relieve tension into mix it misses the one very important tool a singer needs projection. The Speech Level Singing (SLS) crowd emphasizes vocal cord compression over strong breath support. They have this you already know how to breath so just breath philosophy. I am the reverse. 'Mastering Mix' talks a lot about the light mix which is technically called medial cord closure. This is where you are only using the fine edges of the vocal cords to sing. Therefore you don't need a lot of breath support to produce sound. It's a lot like speech. Its also makes your voice very thin sounding. Unfortunately singing is more intense than speech (Rock & Metal is a lot more intense) therefore you need more intense breath support. That is where my method comes in.

The SLS Gee exercise uses the heavy G consonant to force cord closure using just the vocal cords and very little breath. The problem is that method makes it very easy to squeeze inside the neck to produce a singing level sound.

Using the soft grunt as used in "Breaking the Chains" requires you to push air from deep around your waist to produce the "singing level" sound. This leaves the throat to feel open and unrestricted. Your voice is essentially a wind instrument so to make it work properly you have to use a good amount of air just like any other wind instrument. To get it to work you literally have to sing while holding back your breath.

It's hard to describe in words but try this: take the example of the Vocal Edge exercise on CD 1 of Chains. It's a very short little burst of sound using the uh sound, like in the word cup. Now take that short little sound and gradually drag it out longer and longer. You get the typical Manning light edge sound. Now take that drawn out, light edge sound and add a grunty/forceful exhale from the waist to it. What should happen is that very hard uh sound starts to soften, but it also become louder and deeper sounding. Do NOT press at the throat, take that very easy edge sound and add a lot of air behind it. With that big exhale of air from deep in the body you will feel less of a need to grasp inside the throat as the sound still happens without all that tension. The throat open and widens to accommodate that on rush of air. The cords stay closed because they naturally resist the air you exhale. Pushing air out rapidly gets them to exert pressure against themselves to stay closed. This creates what is called breath compression. This way is more in line to how the vocal cords work naturally top produce big sounds.

In old school Italian voice technique this "breath compression" is often called appogio. This is how male Opera singers get such powerful sounding voices. Its perfect for Rock singing. We did this as kids without thinking. We could yell and laugh all day and never lose our voices. That's because we weren't consciously trying to manipulate our vocal cords. We just let them do what they do naturally. We stayed out their way. In my opinion the more we try to manipulate the vocal cords physically (like SLS), the harder it is to learn how to use them correctly in a big way. If your breath support is on target and you don’t need grip at the throat, the voice works the way it is designed.

Feeling adduction:

There is no way to fully feel the cords physically adduct, its merely a sensation of slight pressure when they are closed. Our cords adduct every time we speak (adduction means cords closing) and we don't feel that do we? There is no big, physical sensation to adduction aside from the sensation of sound buzzing in your throat. You don't usually see it on laryngoscope videos (unless they slow it way down) because it happens at 100's of times a second too fast for the eye to catch. The raising or lowering of the soft palate is not involved in adduction but the soft palate can be used to create proper support and tone manipulation.

I hope that helps.

Thanks,

Kevin

Rock the Stage NYC

www.rockthestagenyc.com

www.youtube.com/user/rockthestagenyc

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