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SLS, constriction, twang, etc: Do I understand correctly?

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zkhandwala
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I've been studying SLS for just over a year, and have made much progress (though much progress remains to be made!), but am now curious about the various alternate techniques out there, and am looking for a better understanding of a few concepts related to the distinguishing features of some of these techniques. This is my current understanding:

Constriction: From what I understand, one of the major differences between a lot of the popular modern techniques relates to how much constriction of the vocal passage is developed and used. It seems that SLS and Bel Canto preach zero constriction (as my teacher says, a little tongue-in-cheek, properly developed and trained vocal folds can 'outconstrict' any extralaryngeal constrictors), while other techniques employ various amounts of constriction/twang, often involving a repositioning or a reorientation of the larynx. It appears that different techniques use different approaches to constriction, utilizing different muscles in different ways.

Compression/Support: The SLS technique (at least the way it has been explained and taught to me) doesn't appear to focus much on breathing or support, unlike some of the other techniques. If is is so, I'm assuming that this relates to the idea of constriction, in that a constricted technique requires more control of air pressure dynamics in producing tone than does a technique like SLS.

I have a number of other things I'd like a clearer understanding of, but I'll leave it at that for now. Is my understanding at least approximately correct?

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Hey zkhandwala. Regarding constriction, I believe most legit vocal methods preach minimal Vocal Cord constriction. You are using the word constriction and twang interchangeably. Technically, yes, twang would be a constriction of the vocal tract because it is narrowing the space above the cords, the important point here being "above". As long as you are just constricting there it won't harm your vocal cords. Twang usually isn't referred to as 'constriction' in singing discussion because constricting usually implies 'unhealthy cord constriction' and twang is a healthy and sometimes desired effect. This also applies to healthy constriction of the false vocal folds, or decreasing vocal tract space with the tongue position; they're both types of constriction but healthy and above the cords and can be desirable effects. I'd say the different systems have slight differences in vocal tract setups and ways to get there and ways to eliminate unhealthy constriction, but none actually teaches you to constrict your vocal cords.

I believe you are right about SLS (at least in the past) not focusing on support for fear of causing constriction higher up, and compared to some more rock oriented systems, yes, there may be less call for greater than normal support levels in SLS methodology. I think this works fine for many people, but for me, going outside the system and learning about support was a huge help as I wasn't naturally very good at supporting correctly. Learning support and retracting the false vocal cords from "Singing and the Actor" was key in maintaining an unconstricted cord setup for me.

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Thanks truth1ness! That was helpful. It is correct to say, then, that a lot of the modern rock-oriented techniques teach a form of vocal tract narrowing (above the true folds) in order to achieve twang, while SLS eschews this?

As for support, I've always been one to struggle with any technique that focuses on it. Whenever I try to manage breath intake or outflow I run into tension problems in/near the larynx. This is one reason pure SLS has been useful for me.

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Zkhandwala, I'm glad to see you're asking these questions about constriction and twang, as I believe they are central to the development of the healthy singing voice. I agree with truth1ness that while twang is a sort of constriction, when you hear someone use the term constriction, they're usually referring to the bad kind of tension. I have a video here that addresses the issue of jaw constriction and it's effect on the mix, and it has some audio exercises you can work with to explore the release of constriction around the larynx. I worked a lot with Seth Riggs in the 90's, so he's a big influence on my technique, although there are some important differences with my technique and SLS in it's current form.

http://jdsvoice.com/jdsmethod/lesson-1.html

You have to let go of the bad tension to get the good stuff!

-John

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It seems that SLS and Bel Canto preach zero constriction, while other techniques employ various amounts of constriction/twang

Bel Canto uses a lot of twang, actually. They just do it with a lower larynx to balance the highs with more lows. And I'm 100% certain that SLS uses twang too. No reason not to really, it's a win/win tool. More volume, less effort, fuller tone. It's not on/off, it's gradual.

Constrictions stem from crushing your larynx with outer muscles. As far as I know, no system on the planet teaches to do that, quite the contrary.

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I know Singing Success talks about the pharyngeal resonator/resonance a lot, and the effect sound a lot like twang to me. Does anyone know for sure if pharyngeal resonance and twang are talking about the same mechanism? And does SLS use the pharyngeal resonance concept?

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