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Singing with a high larynx - is this a "natural" occurance?

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miss pk
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So all my life, i've been singing with a high larynx, and apparently so have many other amateur singers. I'm wondering about a bunch of things regarding the larynx and would appreciate some input:

-Is your larynx supposed to rise a certain amount when you sing higher notes or is it supposed to stay "still"? I know that a high larynx is NOT necessarily a bad thing - especially when you want to twang or add certain "effects" to your singing, but i have an uncontrollable high larynx and am not sure that's a good thing.

-Is singing with a high larynx a natural occurance that we need to LEARN to control and coordinate so that it stays in a lower/neutral position when we sing? or do some people who know nothing about technique naturally sing with a low/neutral larynx, and i'm just not one of those lucky people?

-Do most people when they begin to learn proper singing technique have difficulty getting the hang of this? the SS program was especially frustrating because the program makes it seem like keeping a neutral larynx is an easy thing to do, no matter how high the note... :|

Thanks!

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So all my life, i've been singing with a high larynx, and apparently so have many other amateur singers. I'm wondering about a bunch of things regarding the larynx and would appreciate some input:

-Is your larynx supposed to rise a certain amount when you sing higher notes or is it supposed to stay "still"? I know that a high larynx is NOT necessarily a bad thing - especially when you want to twang or add certain "effects" to your singing, but i have an uncontrollable high larynx and am not sure that's a good thing.

Miss pk: The vocal mechanism for pitch change is pretty much independent of the position of the larynx in the throat. That is to say, it is not necessary for the larynx to go up in the throat to sing notes higher in pitch. Nor, conversely, does the larynx need to go down in the throat to sing lower notes.

That said, there are some approaches to voice production that desire the larynx to rise in the throat with higher notes, so that the resonances of the vocal tract will follow the harmonics as they rise, keeping the same harmonic in the 'sweet spot' as long as is possible. Using this approach, there comes a limit to how high the larynx can be raised, and then a sudden tone quality change happens as the singer transitions into (what is likely) head voice.

In my experience, a rise of the larynx as the scale ascends is the result of increasing tension in the muscles above the larynx, the muscles which raise it when swallowing, from which it is suspended in the throat. Very often, when a singer has tension of the muscles around the larynx, many of the muscles which connect to the larynx (upward and downward ) get tense, and the ones which go upward (which are active in swalllowing) will 'win', causing the larynx to rise.

-Is singing with a high larynx a natural occurance that we need to LEARN to control and coordinate so that it stays in a lower/neutral position when we sing? or do some people who know nothing about technique naturally sing with a low/neutral larynx, and i'm just not one of those lucky people?

Some people learn it without trying, some people must learn it deliberately. I personally, had to learn it deliberately, by learning how my own approach to singing was inducing the extra tensions, and then replacing those habits with non-tense ones.

-Do most people when they begin to learn proper singing technique have difficulty getting the hang of this? the SS program was especially frustrating because the program makes it seem like keeping a neutral larynx is an easy thing to do, no matter how high the note... :|

Very many who have challenges in this area will have to work some time re-conceptualizing their singing voice without the associated (and habitual) tension actions. Don't feel alone in the challenges you've got, and the frustration you feel. Many, many folks have this same thing.

As to specific exercises to deal with the situation, I recommend to go to the source of the extraneous tension, which is likely a bit of oversinging, that is, singing too heavily, and on working too hard to exhale air. Also review your posture, that you are not letting your sternum drop as you begin a note. That will pretty much guarantee that you are using more air pressure than you need at this point in your development.

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i think you will find that most people that have had no training will usually display a uncontrollably increasingly higher larynx as they sing higher just as the majority of people experience a flip/break going from chest to head voice without training but then the two issues can be interrelated (as im sure you know from studying the SS stuff, and im sure you know the reasons why this happens such as muscles like the elevators coming into action in an attempt to manipulate/stretch the vocal folds to acchieve higher pitches-something that does not have to happen at all the sing higher) so in a way it is a ´´natural`` occurance, just not a helpful one.it just means you are in the same club as the 95% rest of us that have had the same problems to varying degrees. there is not a problem in singing with a higher larynx or a lower larynx to acchieve certain tones or effects but i do think its not a good situation to be in where say, the only way you can sing high notes is with a high larynx because aside from the technique/technical issues it means you can only sing higher with a certain modified, affected tone rather than having the choice of your natural, speaking like tone if you want it. also you have to define high larynx. if its moving say a millimeter or two then that is not really a problem. certain vowels such as EEE will naturally raise the larynx slightly even when you speak but if your larynx is moving up uncontrollably say in cenimeters or inches then thats is not a good sign. the thing is its all about muscle memory, i for instance was very influenced by all the high singing metal singers like Rob Halford so for years whilst i was singing all that kind of stuff i had a high larynx. now maybe i would have had a high larynx anyway but i think singing all that really high stuff incorrectly all the time reinforced the habit. back then i could do all the Halford type screams up to about A,B above tenor high C but my larynx was incredibly high. after a few years of stabilizing my larynx i can sing up to a E above tenor high C with a stable larynx, sometimes the F and on a good day the F#(and although you will have a general compass of range it isnt un common for the range to keep increasing the longer you are in the right co-ordination- i suspect the longer i train that i will eventually be able to sing those high Gs and As with a stable larynx and if i never do, oh well im sure i can live with only the high E, F above tenor high C LOL) but i cant help thinking that it would have taken less time if i hadnt come from a background of unwittingly building a very high larynx muscle memory in my system (and of course even now from time to time i will catch myself in a slight incorrect position and i will correct it, but said incorrect postion is absolutley nothing like it was). this is why although i do advocate trying varying singing techniques and taking what you think is helpful and such i dont see how for instance you can learn correct muscle memory for a stable laynx when your doing a stable larynx singing technique one week and then a completely high laynxed one the next. it takes time to build up the right co-ordination and depending on the individual the amount of time. it could take weeks, it could take months or it could take years but the longer you do it the wrong way the longer it will take to do it the right way.

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A very important topic... PK, you can train to sing with a lowered larynx, a balanced larynx or a "tilted" larygeal configuration. Much of it depends on your genre', the kind of overtones you want to create and your own anatomy or what you are inclined to do... we call that the "attractor state". Most things in vocal pedagogy are just not "black or white" because your dealing with such diversity in applications. An opera singer has a much different application and value-set then a metal singer or pop singer.

I would like to coat-tail on Steve's eloquent response by saying that if/when you work on "lifted" or "tilted" laryngeal positions, when done properly, it has nothing to do with engaging the extrinsic constrictor muscles, to Steve's point. Red veins popping out in the neck and stuff like that are not what any voice expert advocates.

Allow me to clarify another point from my personal experience as a voice coach. Training people to "twang" or sling with some tilted configs. is NOT necessarily done so because of the overtones... its a tool that is used to help some people learn to bridge and get vocal fold closure in the head voice, independent of the overtones this configuration may create. As a voice teacher, I want to train people to bridge and connect FIRST... then we go back and work on the formant and round out the sound if necessary.. this final step is very contingent on the individual voice.

Generally speaking, it is widely considered that a lowered larynx creates more space in the pharanx and thus enriches the darker overtones... so Opera singers benefit from this... tilted larynx configs amplify the overtones, assist in bridging the passagio (for some people) and greatly improve vocal fold closure in the head voice... so contemporary, rock & metal singers benefit from this. My personal opinion is that the pursuit of "balanced" larynx configs. in every and all applications, such as SS, leave you in a kind of purgatory... some people can get some bridging with it, others cant (they need more "tools" not offered by SS) and full tones in the head voice can be "flutey-hoots" with not enough edge to them. That might be fine if your an adult contemporary singer, but if your a rock, theater, or metal singer, it leaves you short changed.

It boils down to your anatomy and your genre', that which will dictate how much of any of these configurations you should be focusing on.

Now then, since your my student... although interesting, this is not your biggest objective in your training right now... what you need PK is to focus on your respiration and physical attitude when you sing. We have you relatively lined up well now, your not singing from the "bottom up" anymore... now its time to let loose some support, get athletic and let it rip... no shy singing this Saturday.

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A very important topic... PK, you can train to sing with a lowered larynx, a balanced larynx or a "tilted" larygeal configuration. Much of it depends on your genre', the kind of overtones you want to create and your own anatomy or what you are inclined to do... we call that the "attractor state". Most things in vocal pedagogy are just not "black or white" because your dealing with such diversity in applications. An opera singer has a much different application and value-set then a metal singer or pop singer.

# this is very true but its also why many singers that have been taught to sing with a high larynx or low one are often ´´locked`` into that mode and when they try to produce a tone that is not affected by either postion cant. its why many classical singers cant sing pop or it sounds kinda funny because they can only sing and do it with a low larynxed postion witch has that distinctive tone. if you learn to do all or should i say master co-ordinations from a balanced larynx position you can then a choose whether you want to accheive a balanced larynx tone or high or low one. not just be locked into one mode or one sound. you have a neutral foundation from which to work from or modify if you want to#

I would like to coat-tail on Steve's eloquent response by saying that if/when you work on "lifted" or "tilted" laryngeal positions, when done properly, it has nothing to do with engaging the extrinsic constrictor muscles, to Steve's point. Red veins popping out in the neck and stuff like that are not what any voice expert advocates.

# the isolation aspect i do find very interesting but the fact that the larynx comes up might make it more risky of engaging the wrong muscles? the isoltion aspect of the AES and such is something i would like to investigate#

Allow me to clarify another point from my personal experience as a voice coach. Training people to "twang" or sling with some tilted configs. is NOT necessarily done so because of the overtones... its a tool that is used to help some people learn to bridge and get vocal fold closure in the head voice, independent of the overtones this configuration may create. As a voice teacher, I want to train people to bridge and connect FIRST... then we go back and work on the formant and round out the sound if necessary.. this final step is very contingent on the individual voice.

#Robert i couldnt agree more. its something they do in balaced larynx techniques like SLS and SS with NAYS and NGs and such precisely because it can help co-ordination through the bridges. once that co-ordination is there or at least the singer has experienced it we abandon the high larynx version and apply the same bridging co-ordination to a neutral, balanced larynx postion. of course it can and is also done the other way around starting of with a low larynx and going to a balanced one.#

Generally speaking, it is widely considered that a lowered larynx creates more space in the pharanx and thus enriches the darker overtones... so Opera singers benefit from this... tilted larynx configs amplify the overtones, assist in bridging the passagio (for some people) and greatly improve vocal fold closure in the head voice... so contemporary, rock & metal singers benefit from this. My personal opinion is that the pursuit of "balanced" larynx configs. in every and all applications, such as SS, leave you in a kind of purgatory... some people can get some bridging with it, others cant (they need more "tools" not offered by SS) and full tones in the head voice can be "flutey-hoots" with not enough edge to them. That might be fine if your an adult contemporary singer, but if your a rock, theater, or metal singer, it leaves you short changed.

#i guess you could call it purgatory, i call it neutral or natural I.E. like your speking voice is. the balanced larynx ´´sound`` does have ´´ring`` to it, its just that the overall sound is a more natural one rather than the pintched upper harmonics of a high larynx or the production of darker, thicker overtones of a low larynx. one of the points of balaced larynx techiques is that when speaking the larynx is generally balanced and you sound, well like you. you can then take that ´´you`` quality and apply it to all pitches. of course you might sound slightly ´´hooty`` or clasical sounding if you havent mastered a stable,balanced larynx on higher pitches and you add a little dopeiness or dumbness to the sound to get it down but when mastered you dont have to do that and it sounds very full and very natural.#

It boils down to your anatomy and your genre', that which will dictate how much of any of these configurations you should be focusing on.

Now then, since your my student... although interesting, this is not your biggest objective in your training right now... what you need PK is to focus on your respiration and physical attitude when you sing. We have you relatively lined up well now, your not singing from the "bottom up" anymore... now its time to let loose some support, get athletic and let it rip... no shy singing this Saturday.

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Vaguely on topic, I've noticed that when I breath out *without* making a sound, my larynx rises with the breath somewhat.

I can concentrate and get it to not rise on the breath, but I wonder if its an issue or a non-issue...

Edit: I also just noticed that it'll sink down further the deeper I inhale.

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  • 7 months later...

The larynx naturally goes up when singing because most of us naturally sing our higher notes wrong. You will realize that when you try to sing the same note in a lower volume, your voice breaks and it seems so much harder to sing the song (singing in lower volume is a way to check the voice). To achieve a neutral larynx you CAN NOT try to make it stay in the middle you have to know a certain way to sing that will keep it in the middle. Choose a tone or sing in one tone and try to keep it consistent even in your higher notes. If you started out with a sweet tone, no matter how high your note gets the sweetness should still be in there and the same with a deep tone, and any other.

TELEMARKETERS are a GREAT example and these are the sound you want to imitate. Always wonder why they sound so different than a person who is regularly speaking? That's because they're talking in one tone but not exactly monotonous. Plus, it takes practice! Not anyone can try to talk like them. They talk higher and then suddenly lower, and did you know that when doing so, your larynx isn't even moving. It stays in the same spot. Singing should be done the same way.

Read anything, an article, a book and imitate the voice of a telemarketers. Play around with the tone and you will realize that your voice suddenly feels more like the cord of a guitar which is exactly what you want. It worked for me and I know it will work for you!

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