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Question about open throat technique

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Opaa
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I'm currently investigating the facts about "open throat technique" and trying to put the pieces together. I've had some advantages and some trouble with the way Ken Tamplin teaches it.

-Those who teach the "open throat", say that it should be applied at all times, the throat should stay "open" at all times. Is this true, a fact?

-What happens physically when applying "open throat"? Lifting of the soft palate? Tongue moves away from the throat creating more space? What else? Just relaxed throat, relaxed outer muscles?

-Are there any disadvantages with applying open throat at all times?

-Are there any advantages at any times with singing with a "closed throat", whatever that means.

-According to CVT the lifting of the soft palate is not essential until the high notes, yet open throat means to lift it at all times, right?

-More from CVT: Also the "hold" that curbing has in the throat, is that contradictory to "open throat"?

-And more CVT: How does open throat work with singing in light neutral (or light falsetto)? Is it just a sound color option, or something more essential?

Now is Adam Lambert applying open throat at all times in this clip (lifting palate etc):

Tricky questions, if anyone is able to answer some of them, it will be greatly appreciated!

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Great questions Oppa! I’ll take a stab at them but in more of a generalized response.

I like Video Bob’s description of how the throat should feel passive, like on open cylinder. All the work is coming from the lower core (support). And I would add that for me that open, non constricted throat is when I have configured everything (a balanced register of cord closure with the right amount of air pressure underneath), and the shaping of the vocal track that maximizes resonance for that particular pitch and vowel. It feels extremely easy with the least amount of effort. There are no extraneous constrictions and the pressure above the cords feels as similar as possible with the pressure under them. That coordination is continually adjusting with the continual changes in consonants, vowels, pitches and phrasing of the words. It is a passive feeling and open.

Now all the other stuff, extra twang, joker smile, lowering the soft palate, distortion, grit, overloading the cords for some effect, hold, etc. are added constrictions to the pure open throat singing. But all of these add-ons should be controlled within set parameters and done at will to minimize wear and tear.

If you are using CVT terms, I would describe Metal Like Neutral (MLN) as the closest thing to a pure open throat technique with minimal constrictions or interference.

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To answer your question in a general manner:

CVT originally had "open throat" as one of their three most important principles but then they replaced it with "necessary twang". The reason was that there are instances where having your throat TOO open can make things more difficult for you. One good example would be distortion on top of high pitched notes. In this case, there has to be a certain narrowing in the back of the throat to make it easier to get the false folds to vibrate and create distortion so if you had your throat extremly open, you would probably hurt your throat.

CVT's idea of an "open throat" is basically "to relax your throat" - not to keep it as open as possible. Keeping a general relaxed feeling is always very important, even though certain muscles in your throat might be contracting fairly hard sometimes (on high powerful notes and when you're doing distortion, f.ex.). But the overall feeling of your throat should always be relaxed, especially the outer muscles. Inhaling on a slight yawn or adding a very slight "dopy" sound to your tone helps with this, definitely.

Induvidual questions:

- Those who teach the "open throat", say that it should be applied at all times, the throat should stay "open" at all times. Is this true, a fact?

Answer: It would feel relaxed and without tension at ALL times. Focus more on that, plus yawning/dopy sound, as opposed to trying to open your throat and mouth as much as you can. There are various schools of thought on this matter, however, so take everything you see on this forum, including my ideas, with a grain of salt.

-What happens physically when applying "open throat"? Lifting of the soft palate? Tongue moves away from the throat creating more space? What else? Just relaxed throat, relaxed outer muscles?

Answer: Those things can happen, yes (and they're good examples). Most importantly, a lot of muscles lose tension.

-Are there any disadvantages with applying open throat at all times?

Answer: Like I said, opening it too much can cause extreme dopiness in your sound and also make distortion harder.

-Are there any advantages at any times with singing with a "closed throat", whatever that means.

Answer: Difficult to answer. Some parts of your throat need to close at certain places in your throat, actually, and some parts should open for a bigger sound. F.ex. you might want to lift your palate for more resonance but contract your epiglottis funnel to add twang. Many vocal students don't really benefit from knowing such extreme details, so if this doesn't interest you, just forget about those details.

-According to CVT the lifting of the soft palate is not essential until the high notes, yet open throat means to lift it at all times, right?

Answer: CVT says you can lift the soft palate or lower it whenever you want, depending on the sound you want. It usually helps to lift it for higher notes so it's generally MORE important to lift it for higher notes. Just try it out - when a high note is about to come, add a slight "dopy" sound to your tone and don't push the high note - just imagine that it's placed high in your head and LET it happen. It works for MANY people, including myself.

-More from CVT: Also the "hold" that curbing has in the throat, is that contradictory to "open throat"?

Answer: In some ways. Like I said, parts of your throat need to "open" and parts need to close. Your epiglottis funnel might be the best example of a place in your throat that should always close a bit, both with and without distortion.

-And more CVT: How does open throat work with singing in light neutral (or light falsetto)? Is it just a sound color option, or something more essential?

Answer: It's independent from singing light or heavy. But opening certain parts of your throat, like your pharinx, will make heavier sounds easier/possible.

Now is Adam Lambert applying open throat at all times in this clip (lifting palate etc):

Answer: Same as before - his throat is always relaxed but his epiglottis funnel is contracted. Try singing like a duck or a witch and have a dopy/yawny sound at the same time and you get closer to his sound.

Btw. all of these thing are just my opinions from my experience.

Cheers!

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all great responses..

maybe i can just add that open throat singing does not always mean you need to have an open (vertically wide open) mouth. in some cases you can open the mouth (vertically) too tall and end up putting pressure and constricting the tone. you can be open in the back of the throat but it may not appear that way as you look at the singer. (i had to learn this.)

one of the great things about open throat singing is you've eliminated or minimized air "blockages" such as the tongue and lips so the air is free to move up and hit desirable resonating pockets and exit out the mouth with little obstruction and hence a free flowing tone.

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Answer: CVT says you can lift the soft palate or lower it whenever you want, depending on the sound you want. It usually helps to lift it for higher notes so it's generally MORE important to lift it for higher notes. Just try it out - when a high note is about to come, add a slight "dopy" sound to your tone and don't push the high note - just imagine that it's placed high in your head and LET it happen. It works for MANY people, including myself.

I have a question about this point. It seems like in one part CVT says to raise the pallet on high notes for more space. But it also says are supposed to raise your larynx on the high notes, which if I remember correctly, doesn't that tend to hold down the palate? I'm also confused because some people say you raise the pallet to make more space for the high notes, but others say higher notes need a shorter resonance track to resonate optimally, which seems like a lower pallette and high larynx would work better. I feel like there's a bunch of contradictions here better, getting me confused. Personally, the dopey high notes feel easier on me, but they cut off sound a little operatic and closer to a heady falsetto tone, but shortening the vocal tract gives a little bit more bite and a more chesty edgy sound, but feels a little rougher on my vocal chords.

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Hey, Truth, I think it's a case of which is better, imagery or science. I get value from both. As opposed to thinking of the soft palate up or down, sometimes, I find it better to think of retracted and non-retracted. And I get that from Dr. Fillebrown. When I go for high notes, the soft palate is retracted, making the uvula minimal. On a high note with the back of the tongue raised but not impinging on the throat, I can get a vibration of the uvula, a rattle distortion and it is what I am doing when I think of Lunte's overlay distortion. And it's more of a rattle than a rasp.

Which fits in with my mantra. Movement in the belly for controlling the air, feeling the note in the head, nothing in the throat, ever. One opera singer I read said, "when I sing, it feels as if I have no throat."

My idea of overlay distortion is the only one I will contemplate doing. It is way away from the folds and the nerves and muscles controlling the larynx and folds.

I tried the FVF idea, twice. And injured myself, twice. Why twice? Because I don't think that I know everything and assumed that I did it wrong the first time. Then I read some anatomy. The FVF don't play any part in tone production. They are ventricle like flaps that are retracted by sphincters to keep them that way. They only close during the act of swallowing and their function is to protected the folds and the respiratory system during the act of swallowing food or drink. For me, to try and engage them is like trying to squeeze water from a rock. Also, although the lower throat is cartilege, one cannot constrict and reduce the actual diameter by will.

The only thing we can do to impede or narrow the airway is to move the tongue back and forth. So, anyway, there I was trying to produce a partial swallow while singing my swan song, my theme song, that which describes me best, "Highway to Hell." Some people have a song that speaks everything they need. For Snejk, it is "Fullmoon" by Sonata Arctica. For Bob, it might be a few songs by Foreigner. For me, it's "Highway to Hell."

I got through one take. By the next day, I could speak a low, scratchy tenor and squeak a yodelling whistle, and nothing in between. The only thing that saved me was not singing anything for two weeks. And then, leading back in with classical techniques, namely light, sometimes falsetto descending sirens. The coordination, plus simply allowing whatever swelling to subside.

Since I have stuck to the open throat idea and only achieve some kind of rattle far away from the folds and only when I feel like it and only if it involves relaxing, I have not had another episode.

However, others' mileage may vary.

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The TVS overlay distortion is actually false fold distortion.

Then I guess am misunderstanding it. For what I am doing is nowhere near the vocal folds. And I'm not as big on singing with distortion as others may wish for themselves. And I am okay with that. For me, for my comfort level, whatever effect I am going to have is going to be well away from the folds.

So, as a vocal athlete, I might be the old man with a walker. :lol:

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Thanks for the answers!

"Many vocal students don't really benefit from knowing such extreme details, so if this doesn't interest you, just forget about those details." To me it seems helpful to understand the details and it's a way to make sure that I know what I'm doing. But it's just a small part of the whole process of developing voice. Practice, experimenting and intuition and so on.. But yeah I have an urge to understand the physical, anatomical details to get the big picture. Sometimes I should let go of this urge for sure when it gets confusing and dragging.. :)

And to be honest I'm getting more and more confused, I'm reading Anthony Frisells The Tenor Voice now.. A lot of new questions arise, and open throat isn't the number one issue anymore. But it's all good, I'm excited to discover new things and building an understanding of my singing voice. Confusion is part of the prosess for sure!

So thanks for the responses so far, I will be back reading these answers many times I suppose and there might be more questions in the future..

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It seems amazing. I have some intuition telling me that this is what I've been missing looking for developing "Adam Lambertish headvoice control". Also it seems to explain some of the problems I'm experiencing throughout my range right now, and also explain some of the progress I've made by "fooling around" and experimenting with my headvoice intuitively, not really knowing what I was doing.

I'm about to post some questions about it into some already existing Frisell-thread or start a new one.. But first I got to gather the questions.

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  • 2 years later...

Real quick question about open throat, and especially in the context that Tamplin teaches it:

When I sing scales with an open throat and aim to make it bright, it seems I can either make it open or bright. It's either/or (explained in the end). And another thing: I have to be insanely loud to be able to connect the bright coordination (high soft palate), and my tongue raises as I ascend the scale. It doesn't choke out the sound, but it makes it really "small", in an Axl Rose-ish way. Kinda like a cartoon fly or something. Or Meathead, but not so much so.

- Is this what is meant by "little boy voice?"

The minute I start lowering my larynx or trying to control/relax my tongue to flatten down I flip into pure headvoice.

Also, I don't get how to get the bright sound with a low volume, as Tamplin does in his material. I don't think he sounds that bright in the higher notes, but when he comes back down he does. Should I practice light and uncompressed, or loud but compressed?

EDIT: I think Jonpall addressed this problem in his post. I should've read more thoroughly. :)

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