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Pushing the air and compressing the air...

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Stan
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Hey guys, I have a really dumb question here...

Exactly what does it mean to "push" the air as you sing and to "compress" the air as you sing?

Do they both mean the same thing? Is pushing air when you're squeezing everything out of your lungs and compression is tightening the abs?

I'm a bit confused and would really appreciate the help!

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stan, the trick (and believe me it takes discipline and focus) is not to push air when you sing. compress the air refers to supporting the breath. compression particularly comes into play in higher full voiced notes, you need to compress the air because you're moving the air through a smaller opening in the folds.

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stan, the trick (and believe me it takes discipline and focus) is not to push air when you sing. compress the air refers to supporting the breath. compression particularly comes into play in higher full voiced notes, you need to compress the air because you're moving the air through a smaller opening in the folds.

Stan, Bob: I'll extend what Bob said by saying that pushing air is simply letting the forces of exhalation go unrestrained during phonation. There are many muscles, and also gravity, that can be involved in this. The compression comes when the glottis is closed somewhat or fully, so that the exhalation force is resisted by the vocal bands. When the glottis is mostly-closed, the phonation is breathy, the glottis leaks air, and there is not much subglottic pressure. As the glottis gets more toward complete closure in the phonation cycle, the tone is less breathy, less air is leaked, and subglottic pressure goes up.

Subglottic pressure also goes up when the closed phase of the phonation rises, i.e., with a longer time closed.

Research has shown that resonance can have an effect on the length of the closed phase, making it longer. If a singer is using twang or singer's formant produced by epilaryngeal narrowing, not only do the vocal bands shut very rapidly (making the tone have energetic high harmonics,) but the closed phase increases in length. increasing the overall power of the voice. The resonance also provides cushioning to the vocal bands so that the louder sound is also more sustainable.

As to preventing the overpressure that is so common in male voices in the upper middle voice, IMO the very best technique and approach comes from learning the balanced onset, and the bodily sense at the start of the note that there is not really very much exhaling going on. For some, the image that works best is to imagine that the singer is simply fogging a pair of glasses, or 'breathing out very slowly' during the phonation. For others, the 'firm the belly outward' approach works best, but has to be done judiciously or insufficient air will be supplied. Every singer has to learn this for themselves.

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