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Lowering/dropping the soft pallet (?)

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I have read, here and elsewhere, about dropping or lowering the soft pallet. I didn't even know what a soft pallet was :D So I looked it up. Ok, I know what it is now. But I'm still a little unclear as to what lowering it does.

I have also, in my studies, come across the technique or practice technique of "yawning." I originally thought this was just to exercise lowering a high larynx.

Well, on the way to work today I was doing some warmups and a couple of exercises and decided to mess around with a note or two while getting the feeling of yawning. I did a natural speaking voice note(chest) and then moved up toward head. As I was doing this and trying to feel as if I were yawning, something happened. I actually yawned! :D Exciting? No. But what happened when I yawned was an ah ha moment. My soft pallet dropped or started to close up. So I immediately started to try to do this on purpose and tested a few notes. What I noticed, and I have no idea if this is right or what is supposed to happen, is that it felt more pharyngeal. Also when I played with it I seemed to be able to change tone a bit. But that tonal change was more of a throat change (it felt like). Like I was getting a more tone full sound. Almost as if, while it was pharyngeal, it was also like my throat was open and resonating the sound. Is that weird?

I'm still unsure of what the whole soft pallet deal is :) I'm only stating an observation made by accident today. What it all means I have yet to work out.

Ok...thinking outloud is over.

Tommy

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As far as I'm aware, when you yawn it has the opposite effect to what you are describing..! i.e. the soft palette raises and opens up. The pharyngeal sound and open throat will come as a result of opening up the space in your throat (by raising your soft palette).

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Well, open...close, lift, drop. It did something :D And whatever it did caused the rest to happen.

But opening makes sense and would explain why it felt better in tone as if my throat was open and resonating sound.

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It's soft palate actually ;)

Also, what you're talking about is lifting the soft palate, not lowering it. Imagine it this way: the back of your throat is a three-way intersection. From below there's the throat, from above is the nasal passage and in front is the mouth cavity. What lifting the soft palate does is it closes off Nasal Passage Street.

To feel the nasality when your soft palate is lowered, just produce a hum with your mouth closed.

To feel the lifting of the soft palate, puff out your cheeks lightly without exhaling through the nose, and then open your mouth, preserving the feeling in your throat. Whatever sound you make now, you're making it with a lifted soft palate.

The act of lifting it itself has a pretty distinctive feel actually, and speaking in this posture feels a little bit like having a cold, especially if you try to pronounce m, n or ng. Normal everyday speech is pretty nasalized for most people, so they're kind of unused to the sensation of lifted palate. I know I wasn't.

Trying to sing through an actual yawn, like you did, is somewhat counter-productive though, as I see it, because the yawn is a pretty extreme vocal posture, and it kind of muffles the whole sound. Also, whenever you try to do it even a little, it usually escalates into a full-blown yawn :)

Try the cheek-puffing thing to get into the proper groove; either that or pretend you're having a cold, like speaking "muh" and "nuh" so that they sound like "buh" and "duh". Bear in mind that in actual singing you have to allow the soft palate to lower for the naturally nasalized sounds, but you should train to lift it immediately afterwards.

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Thanks Trip. Also thanks for the spelling lesson. I have to blame spell check...if it doesn't correct me I now assume it's correct. This is causing my spelling to become weak....duhhh. Getting lazy :( I guess a soft pallet would need a forklift to lift it :lol:

That was a good explanation and example you gave, thanks. One note though. I wasn't trying to sing or hit a note while yawning. I only meant that while trying to use the feel of a yawn it made me actually yawn. The real yawn then made me feel my palate lift. (which I thought was lowering). So what I was explaining was that the actual action gave me an insight to the feeling.

Thanks

Tommy

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You're welcome :)

Yawning has that effect, yeah :)

It made me aware of my own lifting palate too.

I was just saying that if you try to reproduce that feeling again by thinking "a little yawn now, please" it's prone to become an actual real yawn instead of an efficiently lifted soft palate. I know that's what happens with me at least :lol:

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i personally believe the yawn is misunderstood...

the yawn "configuation" which can be extremely helpful all depending on the singer, and their intentions with a sound (vowel) or song.

also, it is a great way to open up the throat.

but try not to think of it in the literal way. it not the vertical height that's the benefit, it's the congifuration. it's a nice setup of the vocal tract when it's done correctly.

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Soft palate (either spelling) - a comfortable mat that you can sleep on at a friend's house. :lol:

Actually, I think of the soft palate as retracting, in order to access the resonant spaces, especially for higher notes.

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