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Cannot Understand Cord Closure

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If we cannot FEEL the cords close... I mean if I make a hard "g" or "k" sound sure the cords are closed but I still cannot access the middle voice.

I know when my voice is breathy because I hear a "fssss" or airier sound. Recently I have been making "dopier" sounds to very bright sounds on the same note to attempt to feel closure.

But anyways... if the singer cannot physically feel the vocal cords close (because they close 100s or 1000s of times per second) how does the average singer learn to adduct the cords.

Especially in falsetto/headvoice when such little cord mass is being used. Often times I do not feel anything, no resonance, nothing. Yet I can still produce some impressive high notes?

I do believe this is counter-productive to my singing goals so I have stopped singing in a falsetto/headvoice with no resonance-feedback and switched to just slowly gently stretching up the chest register.

What are some ways I can learn to understand and adjust cord closure on my own?

- JayMC

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For me, I will admit that doing exercises from KTVA/singing "heavy" helped me unconsciously learn to close my folds, as singing "falsetto-y" above the passagio was a huge problem for me.

I think a key thing is to think of twang, and to use it. It helps to be mega-twangy by imitating a witch's cackle, the sound of a car revving etc and then try to decrease it a bit, though imo a huge problem for many singers is that they do not realize that they often need more twang nor that their favorite singers are using more twang than they think.

I've been working on the CVT modes recently, particularly curbing, and was having trouble since it's a half-metallic mode, and either found myself singing full metallic or neutral high up. So I was singing along to Stevie Wonder songs trying to imitate his tone and realized I needed more twang high up and it worked wonders. So I think more twang is often a cure for quite a few singer problems.

EDIT: A BIG thing I've learned to help with cord closure, without necessarily "over-twanging" is to try to sing bright. Even if you think you might sound too bright, just work on some scales etc singing as bright as possible and see what your results are.

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You learn it through exercises. Through DOING it.

First you need to know what you are looking for regarding the sensation and sound.

You CAN feel the cords close. Of course you are not feeling it directly, but there is an indirect sensation that happens.

The physical sensation is basically an internal squeeze at the larynx. That's an oversimplification but it should be all you need to know to get started as long as you don't completely misinterpret it (moderation is key, don't be an overcautious wimp about training it but don't hurt yourself either)

The sound is clear, with no air leaking through, and usually (but not always) quite buzzy and resonant.

Step two is finding it through its connection to more primitive sounds. Quacking like a duck and crying like a child are probably the easiest ways to find it (and in these cases, it will come together with twang).

Start by finding it in chest voice, then move to head, mix, whatever.

The #1 objective of cord closure is to remove airiness. That's it.

And the simplest description of it is it's a healthy, fine squeeze, inside, perhaps a bit around the larynx. And it should naturally encourage you to connect with your body...pay attention to if you feel the respiratory system start responding and working in tandem with the closure, that's what you want.

How to train it: exercises.

The main tools I have found that best train closure:

for closure with more twang:

bright non-airy ee vowel

bright non-airy aa (as in cat) vowel

onsetting with a glottal attack

bright buzzy humming (should be able to sound like a kazoo if you exaggerate it)

staccato scales

for a darker more adult-cry-like closure:

onsetting with the consonants b, d, or g

onsetting with vocal fry

You're saying you don't have cord closure because you can't get middle voice - well cord closure has almost nothing to do with "middle voice" especially because "middle voice" doesn't really exist in the first place...it's mixed voice and nothing but accessing the infinite shades of middle ground between chest and head. But you can be fairly airy in a mix and you can have great closure but suck at mixing. They are quite related but all I'm saying is closure isn't the silver bullet to accessing a mix.

The exercise you're saying about going from dopier to bright, will not help cord closure. This is the thing about being self-taught, you try to make up your own exercises but they just don't work because they didn't come from a qualified teacher! Do the stuff I suggested above, it's what great coaches have showed me, what they'd have you work with. Do it on scales, sirens, and onsets in all parts of the voice...first do a light warm up not worrying about closure, then start with working closure in chest for about 10 mins, then working closure in the head voice for about 20 mins, then try to ease into some kind of mix toward the end of your practice session. Take a break or stop when you get to a point where you just can't find cord closure anymore, that usually means your folds have started swelling and need some rest. It's a normal part of the process the key is just stop immediately when the swelling happens so you don't exacerbate it and then rest 30 mins and it will be gone.

Stay hydrated with warm water or tea throughout too, that also prevents swelling/damage.

Exercising cord closure is some of the hardest and most athletic vocalizing you'll ever do but it is so worth it...but just be smart and pay tons of attention to vocal health to make sure you're doing more good than harm.

DO NOT neglect falsetto/head voice just because it's feeling weak. Nothing wrong with working a weak head voice, it eventually grows if you train correctly.

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bigmike those exercises don't really help find cord closure...pretending you're fogging glasses? that's for airflow, the opposite of what we want here

The groaning one is okay but it tends to encourage some grit and/or weight to come along with it...pretty sure that's not what Jay is looking for

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well the way i was 'fogging the glasses' wasnt just pushing loose air out, but breathing air from the back of my mouth. like if i were to do it just breathing and not singing, the exhale would sound almost silent and i notice for me it's decreasing the airflow. i actually got the term from steven fraser,

"This mental image, of the slow exhalation, is a very beneficial one when doing what you are trying to do. The particular one you mention is related to one used in classical-singing circles, which is sometimes known as 'inhaling the note', or 'fogging the glasses'. All of them reduce the extra breath energy, and help to bring things more into balance."

also

"The physical action that the 'inhale the note' imagery is designed to provoke is to put the muscles of inhalation and exhalation into balance, specifically to counteract the common reflex to 'push' the note out. In another manner of speaking, its a way to provoke support reflexively, without talking about muscles at all. Likewise your lazy smoke exhale and the glasses fog. When it comes to the 'fogging the glasses' image, a more detailed way is to say 'breathe out as slowly as you can with your mouth wide open', and then start singing with the same level of exhalation energy."

http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?id=753

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Yea well that's support, not cord closure.

really? cause i thought what steven was talking about was the same thing as something like the groan. or looking at something like the uh oh, uh feels like the air is going backward i.e. drink in the breath/fogging the glasses. and the oh feels like the air is being pushed out. then if i focus on fogging the glasses on the ohh it's much less breathy so i was under the impression that it was inducing cord closure.

so i guess i'm wrong?

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The groan involves support too though

Jay, training both together is training it correctly. You can train cord closure without support but it would be less healthy. To be clear I don't mean any fancy super physical support though, its subtle. It's more about making sure you're not unsupported, rather than trying to consciously bring about a specific support technique.

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How would one go about doing that?

I shouldn't have said train. You wouldn't want it.

The beginners who are told "don't sing from your throat, sing from your diaphragm" are probably the ones who only do cord closure in the throat and then don't control the subglottal pressure accordingly. That's essentially what I mean, blowing air without control and attempting to control through cord closure alone

There is such a thing, right?

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Grunting and groaning can lead to over compressed, overdone subglottal pressure. A nice solid onset like eh(like in the every) is just the right amount of closure and then keep that as you ascend or descend. Don't hold onto it to tightly, just allow it to rise in pitch without completely letting go to falsetto(that is the technique part) it takes time and practice. But do it gradually.

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when doing cord closure you feel it in the throat right? cause i've been told quite a few times when singing you don't feel anything there, or is it you just don't want excessive constriction.

You'll never feel absolutely nothing in the throat but eventually you will feel so little that you can take your mind off of it. In fact even with that, there's often excess tension we don't need.

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but moreso in the sense that you feel there is something in the dead center of the throat

wow that was really helpful. not sure if im doing right, but it's at least better than what i was doing. right after focusing on tensing in the middle, i went back and sang how i normally do and i noticed all this tension was on the side of my neck that i wasn't aware of before, and with the same effort it wasn't as loud as tensing in the middle.

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I just have a quick comment on the plosives like [g] or . It's important to realize if they are voiced or not. If they are voiced then the vocal folds are closed. However every time you make a hard plosive the vocal folds are always abducted (open). It's only in the split second after the release of the plosive that the vocal folds adduct. Also the time it takes for the vocal folds to adduct (Voice Onset Time) is what makes the difference between ex. [g] and [k].

What I'm basically trying to say is that in the common exercises with [g] or the vocal folds are actually open on those consonants not closed. :)

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I just have a quick comment on the plosives like [g] or . It's important to realize if they are voiced or not. If they are voiced then the vocal folds are closed. However every time you make a hard plosive the vocal folds are always abducted (open). It's only in the split second after the release of the plosive that the vocal folds adduct. Also the time it takes for the vocal folds to adduct (Voice Onset Time) is what makes the difference between ex. [g] and [k].

What I'm basically trying to say is that in the common exercises with [g] or the vocal folds are actually open on those consonants not closed. :)

It don't think it matters for the student to know that though. And I'd imagine the benefit comes from the abrupt closure immediately after the consonant

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there's a breathing exercise called pranayama breathing where you making a light hissing sound in the throat. but i wasn't sure if that induces correct closure of if that's too much tension, or if it even brings in tension in the right place?

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In relevance to what martin is saying Brett Manning says to hold the "b" for an uncomfortable amount of time. Can someone explain further. I do agree that the cords sometimes "burst" open for me and I find I gotta do it gently lol!

He talks about it at 3:45

PS thanks for chiming in Martin, how do you find closure personally?

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