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Does the flu and allergies affect the false folds?

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jonpall
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I had the flu or a cold (some throat sickness) the other day and a bit of cat allergies. I guess my throat had some excess mucus or was swollen or something because I've been having a real hard time doing distortion with the false folds (by over-twanging). So I was wondering if having that type of sickness affects the false folds in some way. Anyone have a clue?

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I've had a slight cold for about a week, which didn't affect me and my voice coming back to health from what I think was a self-inflicted malady. That is, I have been doing some exercises (sirens, lip bubbles, and scales) and haven't had a problem, even while having a cold. And singing whole songs. And even going through my set list of songs I normally do.

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  • 1 month later...

I am no expert on distorsion, far from it. But I can actually find it a bit easier to do distorsion with the false folds with a certain amount of swollenness from a cold. If I have no voice it's no go, but if my throat is just a little bit swollen it feels like the false folds have a shorter way to come together.

I always have to warm up to be able to sing well, be it clean singing or trying out distorsion. I feel I always have to get my voice "into place", about 30 minutes of warm up usually do the trick.

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I am no expert on distorsion, far from it. But I can actually find it a bit easier to do distorsion with the false folds with a certain amount of swollenness from a cold. If I have no voice it's no go, but if my throat is just a little bit swollen it feels like the false folds have a shorter way to come together.

I always have to warm up to be able to sing well, be it clean singing or trying out distorsion. I feel I always have to get my voice "into place", about 30 minutes of warm up usually do the trick.

I'm not a coach but when I have a cold, my voice can sound raspy and I know it's mainly because of mucus coating eveything in the breathing path. And it sounds through my bones as if my voice drops almost a whole octave. Usually, it's a good time to do "Ice Cream Man" by Van Halen. Not only because the range is low but because the lyric is staccato and I don't have much breath support during the worst part of a cold.

I am also susceptible to allergies and as I posted earlier, Texas is the place to have allergies. This is where weather starts. Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, cold air racing down the eastern side of the Great Divide from Canada and other points north, and a dry line formed by the deserts in the western part of our state. So, there's stuff blowing in here from all over. It seems I start every morning with blowing my nose and sound much like an air horn on a large truck. (I can also imitate a diesel engine with tongue trills.) But, mostly, I can clear it up with that and a cough to get mucus off the folds. Many people hurt their voices when they cough. I don't, as a rule. As a child, I had asthma and learned, somehow, to keep my throat relaxed when coughing. I have also learned to cough with my whole body. Most people try to stifle a cough, as if it something shameful. I will curl up in the cough. This is to combat the chance of straining muscles. That is, I am allowing my body to compress and aid the cough, much like the way a dog barks with total body involvement. Watch a dog bark. They don't just bark with their muzzle. It involves breathing a certain way and the entire body is involved. They can bark for hours because their throat is unconstricted.

I'm not all that good at false fold rattle, at least when I think about it. But I could see where if parts other than the folds are swollen, such as parts of the pharynx, even, then it should technically be easier to bring them into near proximity for a rattle.

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Jonpall - In the past 3 months I've had 3 colds and the last one turned into Bronchitis. I've tried my best to sing through these colds. What I've found is if any of your soft tissue is inflammed it affects coordination. The more inflammation, the worse the coordination. So it would make sense that if your false folds are inflammed it will through off your coordination. They won't be as elastic as you are used. Like "tennis elbow" or tendonitus, you can play tennis with it, but you just aren't going to be able to play as well as normal.

Mucus can be the source of the inflammation (nasal drip) so if you can control the mucus, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the inflammation. There are various ways to control mucus. Mucinex-D is what my doctor always tells me to get. It works by thinning out the mucus. It does help, but it has also dried out my throat making my chords feel like "leather" and creating other singing issues - but that is if I take two tablets instead of one.

A natural product that does a great job controlling mucus in the throat is the VocalZone pastilles. Those work excellent.

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It's my understanding that false fold distortion isn't produced by over-twanging; that's just normal distortion. False fold distortion - "growl" in CVT terms - doesn't involve a whole lot of twang and can only be produced safely in the lower part of your voice. That is what CVT says anyway. False fold distortion makes you sound like louis armstrong, or if you really go for it you can sound like oli sykes from bring me the horizon. Mucus from a cold might affect the false folds, but I've had a mucus-y cold for about a week and have had no trouble producing false fold distortion.

"Normal" vocal distortion - the kind you make by over-twanging and lifting the back of your tongue - would be harder to do with a cold. Colds generally make things harder to do without being warmed up, and a warm-up when you have a cold is incredibly helpful. The number one thing that helps me when I'm having trouble with producing distortion is remembering to lower the soft palate. The three ingredients you need to create distortion are: over-twanging the epiglottis, raising the back of the tongue towards the uvula (the hanging thing in the back of your throat), and keeping the soft palate low. In my experience that last one is the hardest to do because most voice teachers will teach you to raise the soft palate at all times because it greatly improves your tone. So it's a matter of relaxing that part of your throat and getting it not to go up! It's easy enough to tell if you're raising it or not by looking in the mirror while trying to produce distortion. You don't want the uvula to go up. It's very difficult when you have a cold to put all of these techniques together, so warming up is very useful. VocalZone is also a godsend, it warms you up without having to do any exercises!

Now false fold distortion is a different ballgame. Correct me if I'm wrong here but I think false fold distortion is the one used by louis armstrong. So it sounds like you're producing it deeper in the throat than normal everyday distortion, and it has a much deeper sound to it. CVT will tell you that it can only be produced on the lower notes, but that isn't true. You can use it throughout most of your chest voice, but you HAVE to keep the larynx low and support must be greatly increased as you go higher. It's possible that your difficulty producing false fold distortion on the higher notes (if that is what you're referring to) is from lack of support and/or too high a larynx.

Feel free to correct me but that's my understanding of it all. Hope this helps!

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It's my understanding that false fold distortion isn't produced by over-twanging; that's just normal distortion. False fold distortion - "growl" in CVT terms - doesn't involve a whole lot of twang and can only be produced safely in the lower part of your voice. That is what CVT says anyway. False fold distortion makes you sound like louis armstrong, or if you really go for it you can sound like oli sykes from bring me the horizon. Mucus from a cold might affect the false folds, but I've had a mucus-y cold for about a week and have had no trouble producing false fold distortion.

"Normal" vocal distortion - the kind you make by over-twanging and lifting the back of your tongue - would be harder to do with a cold. Colds generally make things harder to do without being warmed up, and a warm-up when you have a cold is incredibly helpful. The number one thing that helps me when I'm having trouble with producing distortion is remembering to lower the soft palate. The three ingredients you need to create distortion are: over-twanging the epiglottis, raising the back of the tongue towards the uvula (the hanging thing in the back of your throat), and keeping the soft palate low. In my experience that last one is the hardest to do because most voice teachers will teach you to raise the soft palate at all times because it greatly improves your tone. So it's a matter of relaxing that part of your throat and getting it not to go up! It's easy enough to tell if you're raising it or not by looking in the mirror while trying to produce distortion. You don't want the uvula to go up. It's very difficult when you have a cold to put all of these techniques together, so warming up is very useful. VocalZone is also a godsend, it warms you up without having to do any exercises!

Now false fold distortion is a different ballgame. Correct me if I'm wrong here but I think false fold distortion is the one used by louis armstrong. So it sounds like you're producing it deeper in the throat than normal everyday distortion, and it has a much deeper sound to it. CVT will tell you that it can only be produced on the lower notes, but that isn't true. You can use it throughout most of your chest voice, but you HAVE to keep the larynx low and support must be greatly increased as you go higher. It's possible that your difficulty producing false fold distortion on the higher notes (if that is what you're referring to) is from lack of support and/or too high a larynx.

Feel free to correct me but that's my understanding of it all. Hope this helps!

The distortion which many achieve by over twanging is produced by the false folds. Growl is produced by the false folds too but a big part of growl is tongue position. So unless you mean creaking which CVT also talks about you were half right/wrong. ;)

EDIT: I took a closer look in the book and I can't actually say for sure that growl has false fold interaction, a more detailed description than my "tongue position" notion earlier is that growl is all about pushing down the epiglottis so that it almost covers your vocal folds to produce that growl sound like louis has.

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My wife uses Mucinex and it does work but then, she is constantly clearing her throat. Now, she doesn't sing extensively, as I do. Most times, her singing is soft, in order to be under the lead vocals of a song. But still, if I had to clear my throat that often, I couldn't get through a whole song. That being said, though, whatever it takes to clear the mucus might be a help, though it might dry you out, as well.

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What is working for me right now, when, for some reason I'm having a hard time producing false fold distortion, is starting with a clean, "centered" tone and increase my twang slowly until I hear the distortion of the false folds kick in and then don't twang any more. And while I twang, I try not to pull in any "constrictor" muscles, i.e. only use the twang muscles. I do that by trying to release all the muscles in my throat that don't need to contract, increase my support a bit and try to find that magic sweet spot in the top back of my throat where the grit can be safely produced (or most safely).

I think I sometimes tend to twang a bit too fast when I'm practising going from a clean tone to a gritty one (this is an exercise and not something you'd do a lot when singing songs), which results in me not using the muscles in my throat optimally. It's kind of like the grit is produced in this magic spot (probably near the soft palate) and I have to focus the tone exactly in that spot. If I "almost" hit that spot or "right next to it" or I hit it but I also hit the area around it, I just constrict and maybe get some grit/distortion but it wears out my voice. Also, the tone needs to have next to no air.

Just some points for future reference.

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The distortion which many achieve by over twanging is produced by the false folds. Growl is produced by the false folds too but a big part of growl is tongue position. So unless you mean creaking which CVT also talks about you were half right/wrong.

EDIT: I took a closer look in the book and I can't actually say for sure that growl has false fold interaction, a more detailed description than my "tongue position" notion earlier is that growl is all about pushing down the epiglottis so that it almost covers your vocal folds to produce that growl sound like louis has.

Oh right, that totally changes my world! I've just been watching about half an hour's worth of endoscopies to figure out exactly what is happening down there and it seems that you're right. So growl has more to do with the interaction between the epiglottis and the false folds and over-twanging squeezes the vocal tract together to get the false folds to interact.

Now I'm a little bit confused here. jonpall, the distortion you're describing is exactly the same kind of sensation I experience when over-twanging. I get a very crisp sound with high overtones similar to, say, M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold. But in the CVI video about distortion

(endoscope videos at the end) the examples of distorting by over-twanging seem to sound nothing like the sound I'm getting. So is what we're doing still using the false folds, or is it something completely different?

*I hope I'm not hi-jacking the post here, but I think it would be useful to have a better understanding of how these sounds are actually produced.

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Tristan, perhaps it's just because people are different and everyone's distortion sounds a bit unique? Here's mine, f.ex., well at least it sounded like this a few months ago: http://www.box.net/shared/iykav6nvkt. Just note that here I distort very hard and get a very brutal distortion. Normally, especially for stuff like classic rock, I'd not go as far and only get a slight rasp and not even on all notes but rather some key phrases here and there. And also bear with me that I'm no expert at this (yet) ;)

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Yeah, that makes sense. It's possible that the microphone from the endoscope didn't capture all the sound too. I've just done some heavy distortion exercises myself and I found I could produce a similar sound to your clip (sounds great btw) I thought what I've been doing might be this creak-distortion I've read about, but I think it's just that everyone's sound is different. Thanks for the clarification jonpall! :D

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There might be some creak-distortion or creaking present sometimes when me, or just any singer is doing distortion. And sometimes it's JUST creaking.

I'm reminded of something Mark Baxter wrote in Jamie Vendera's book "Raise your voice, 2nd edition". He said something along the lines that the false folds rarely act alone. There is almost always some other part of your throat, perhaps your vocal folds, that contracts and constricts a bit at the same time. And therefore, perhaps singers who like raspy singing should get too caught up in if they are producing the rasp with the false folds or the true folds, or both or with something else, as long as you minimize constriction and throat pain as much as humanly possible when doing those sounds.

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The number one thing that helps me when I'm having trouble with producing distortion is remembering to lower the soft palate. The three ingredients you need to create distortion are: over-twanging the epiglottis, raising the back of the tongue towards the uvula (the hanging thing in the back of your throat), and keeping the soft palate low. In my experience that last one is the hardest to do because most voice teachers will teach you to raise the soft palate at all times because it greatly improves your tone. So it's a matter of relaxing that part of your throat and getting it not to go up! It's easy enough to tell if you're raising it or not by looking in the mirror while trying to produce distortion. You don't want the uvula to go up.

Tristan Bell - that's actually very interesting because I've been experimenting with keeping a low palate for the past few days and it seemed that I wasn't really concious of doing that before (when doing distortion). I've been having occasional days where it seems to be very hard for me to do distortion and right now I think it's very likely because I've been trained to sing with a raised palate at all times. It may be my missing ingredient for high screams and I'm sure lots of other rock vocalists out there would benefit from knowing about this. It's mentioned in the CVT book but for some reason I didn't give it much attention. Silly me.

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