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Matt
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Hi Matt...

Twang is referring to a certain vocal mode that represents both laryngeal configuration & the resulting tonality that that laryngeal configuration produces. Training people to twang can be very helpful for some singers to bridge their passagio. Even more compelling is how well it can assist in getting full vocal fold closure or "adduction" in the head voice. Simply put, an good strong twang in the head voice can eliminate falsetto and replace that tone with something that sounds full or more "chesty". Now I am way over simplifying here and missing some points, but rather attempting to cut to the chase for you.

The understanding of the physiology of twang and how it helps singers bridge and connect is one of the most important advancements in my voice pedagogy. I cant emphasize enough how significant it is in getting singers, particularly contemporary singers with extreme singing requirements, to the next level.

Here is the best explanation of twang I have seen:

Twang itself occurs due to narrowing the epilarynx (area above the vocal folds) via constriction of the aryepiglottic sphincter, or fold as it is referred to on the diagram. This occurs due to part of the oblique arytenoid muscles contracting (sometimes described as the separate muscle aryepiglotticus). Epiglottal tilting along with increased adduction of the vocal folds (oblique arytenoid muscles are part of the interarytenoid muscle group which adduct the vocal folds) results.

This narrowing creates an extra resonator leading to clustering of the third, fourth, and fifth formants and a higher amplitude of the vowel spectra at around 3.0 kHz and this is the characteristic 'singer's formant' or squillo that has been described here. Some people describe this as a bright brassy sound.

Using twang leads to the volume being perceived as louder for 2 reasons. Firstly, the increased vocal fold adduction, when coupled with increased breath pressure, leads to increased amplitude of the sound and therefore an increase in the volume percieved by the individual. Secondly, the extra spectral boost corresponds with the resonant frequency of the external auditory meatus (the bit between the external and middle ear) making the perveived volume louder.

The important thing is how to apply all this in the process of voice pedagogy and finding a teacher that can teach it to you... thats hard to find.

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"Twang" became a specific term for focused forward resonance, with particular frequency bands prominent, due to the influence of Jo Estill, a singer and researcher whose work with speech scientist Ray Colten in 1960s-70s demonstrated the acoustic and physiological differences between operatic and country singing, possibly the first time any singing production outside of "classical" was studied in this way. She is retired but her training programs can be accessed through http://www.trainmyvoice.com/.

Estill's work also demonstrated how much resonance is produced in "the first inch" above vocal cords (epilarynx/aryepiglottic region) even though our sensation of it is more diffuse throughout face & head.

Robert's explanation is right-on. Top scientist Ingo Titze has an important summary for those with geek-tolerance, in Scientific American, January08.

There is now some controversy about the use of "twang" as a specific scientific reference, since country and Broadway and many other musicians use various terms and the word "twang" may not communicate clearly within the singing community. It has become a useful shorthand in the speech science world however & may not get dislodged.

for anyone with an interest in this stuff: google The Voice Foundation & consider attending the yearly symposium in June, Philadelphia. The first sessions are always an introduction to voice anatomy and acoustics.

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I posted on this in another thread, but seems relevant here, so I have copied it over.

Elrathion had posted 2 examples of sung tone, one with 'Twang', one without. Here are the audio spectrum analyses of his examples:

First Image: with Twang. 2nd Image, without Twang.

Here is what I see, and some impressions about what I heard:

In terms of harmonic content of the sounds, a tone with 'Twang' contains strong harmonics above the range of the resonances which influence vowel perception. In the two samples above, the real differences become apparent at about 2KHz, or 2000 cycles per second, and continue up to 5Khz, and likely beyond that. (For those wanting to know how to know that, see the faint numbers on the very bottom of the images.. The scale starts at 0 on the left, and goes up to 5 on this display.

To my ear, the tone with 'Twang' has a much firmer adduction. Acoustically, though, Twang does not mean a strong singer's formant, but there is a mild one in this example 3 to 4 KHz range (it looks like a bit of boost has been applied in this area).

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The important thing is how to apply all this in the process of voice pedagogy and finding a teacher that can teach it to you... thats hard to find.

I guess we'll see how good you are at our next lesson. :D Course, I guess it all depends on how well I pay attention!

I am intrigued by this as this just came up in the lesson I had yesterday.

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Hmmm. Reminds me of a graham bonnet clip at youtube where he explains that he points his head squarely ahead when going for the high notes, without really knowing why. I suppose he's angling his larynx.

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its a very interesting debate. for instance pharyngeal voice and twang may be considered the same thing or very similar as they have similar qualities but im not so sure they are. i think i will do a thread about them soon

Centre: When you do that, I suggest we consider both the phonation and the resonance characteristics.

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It's not because things have similar attributes in alot of cases that 2 things are the same.

Twang isn't equal to squillo, but has part in it's formation, twang isn't equal to the pharengeal voice but also takes part in the formation of it. However you can twang without it being squillo, you can twang without singing in your pharengeal voice. It's important to distinguish this.

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A very interesting debate and topic and Im so glad to see you all discussing it! Im still learning about it, but in practical application, I am getting amazing results with my clients by working on twang for bridging and more importantly, getting connectivity in the head voice... twang is a falsetto killer in the head voice. Anyone that would like to learn how to do it, just look me up for internet lessons and we'll definately get something accomplished...

Where is Martin and Beyond, they have some good stuff on this topic... ?

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please everyone, be aware that words mean different things to different folks. Terminology is a huge problem everywhere I go in voice field, maybe because until recently there was no way to define tone qualities objectively. So when we refer to twang or even falsetto in a forum like this things can get confusing ... as if we're sitting in the dark assuming that what you mean by "beige" is what I mean by "tan".

I'm not criticising anyone here, but I could imagine arguments developing in these forums just because of meaning different things in the same wrds. it would be great to detour far around such danger before it unfolds...let this be a place where we help each other understand what is being done & taught, with all the contradiction and confusion that still exist. Subject matter experts can teach us the most up to date understanding, and it will still seem very incomplete.

Nowadays it is possible to set objective measures for many of the terms singers use...measure which formants / freqs are strongest in the tone 100 listeners (from the right mix of schools/conservatories/careers) would describe as squillo vs twang, country vs. cantorial. But even this type of research is in early stages. Those who are desperate for absolutes, universal definitions, and hard facts are encouraged to help find out!

Just a thought from cross-disciplinary & language-maven point of view.

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Robert,

Well you basically gave a perfect explanation of the physical function of twang in your first post :)

---------------------------

I'm very interested in knowing what is ment by pharyngeal voice? I've asked about this before but know one actually seem to be able to tell....but still the term is often being used.

Maybe someone could post an example? A clip from a song etc.?

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Yeah, Robert's already got it laid out rather scientifically in his post. If I were to add...

I would first simplify. While I believe knowing the science behind the voice is a majour player, it does NOT, however, result in knowing how to do things. It does let you feel the sensations of your body and understand them. From there you know whether or not they should be right or wrong. You can become your own teacher.

Twang is simply a tilting of the epiglottis over the larynx, and a "squeezing" of the surrounding area of the pharynx. Because of this you create higher harmonics. It also increases nasal resonance (note I do not mean NASALITY. Nasality is only occuring when the velar port is open and the fundamental frequency is allowed to pass through, but that's a subject for annother time.) which is why it is perceived as so much brighter.

Twang CANNOT occur if you do not have a proper closure already. Medial Compression must be present, or the folds will just tense up in an imbalanced way, causing more problems. Even a LIGHT closure with very little Medial Compression can be enhanced by twang. The reason for this is that Medial Compression closes the back of the folds (and possible aids in stretching the folds up to the "damping" point around high C *for males*). The actions created by twang AMPLIFY Medial Compression and creater tighter folds. This also gives off more amplitude and explains why distortions need more volume to be created (not air flow), as distortions utilize twang as well.

Too much twang distortions the sound. In the lower ranges that means more like a duck (see the Aflac Duck, linked at bottom), and in the upper ranges it means more like the Witch's Cackle.

Hope this helps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kYYwMLQ38E

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Twang CANNOT occur if you do not have a proper closure already.

Are you refering to that you can't twang on a breathy note? If so then that's not entirely correct. It's possible to twang a breathy note and also possible to make a distortion on a breathy note.

This also gives off more amplitude and explains why distortions need more volume to be created (not air flow), as distortions utilize twang as well.

Actually distortion doesn't need more volume to be created. When you add distortion the overall volume will actually drop.

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LOL. You're crazy, Robert, but definitely right.

Actually distortion doesn't need more volume to be created. When you add distortion the overall volume will actually drop.

Are you talking about true volume, as perceived by equipment based on total air pressure, air flow, and air velocity, or are you talking about volume as perceived by ear? Of course, if you're using (CVT terms here) Overdrive or Edge towards the upper part of their able ranges (please let's just assume C6, female C, is the Edge limit for this debate; I know there is no limit) a distortion will lower the volume. It's also based on which type of distortion you are doing. I can agree with you, but in some ways disagree, as I have stated. By all means, I'll agree to disagree.

Are you refering to that you can't twang on a breathy note? If so then that's not entirely correct. It's possible to twang a breathy note and also possible to make a distortion on a breathy note.

How are you adding twang? There are multiple pieces that create twang. If you know what you're doing, you can twang on a breathy note, but you've already balanced the breathy tone. If you have it balanced, it's a "proper closure." If you don't have it balanced out, adding twang can, and most often will, take the voice further out of balance. I should have been more clear. You are correct there.

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Beyond,

Yes it's the perceived volume I'm refering to :)

I think the reason why the twang can be a little tricky is bc it's related to clossure like earlier mentioned.

There are two muscle groups which are responsible for the adduction of the vocal folds:

- Interarytenoids (IA) : A primary adductor of the cartilagenous portion of the vocal folds.

- Lateral cricoarytenoids (LCA) : A primary adductor of the membranous portion of the vocal folds.

And the twang mechanism activates the interarytenoids because the oblique arytenoid muscles are part of the interarytenoids just like Robert described in his first post.

So you can twang (which will activate IA) and still be breathy do to lack of LCA activation.

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If I recall my anatomy correctly, the LCA are towards the middle of the vocal folds (length, not thickness, as seen from the overhead view; V shape) and push inwards to each other. The IA are towards the very back edges and pull the ends of the folds in towards each other and back, somewhat stretching the folds. This sensation is why most people began saying that the folds "damped" at the first bridge. The IA involvement was greater at that point than before. As you twang and increase the IA involvement, you'll lessen the added, excess air. But it's all a matter of balancing your voice. Truely, anything can be balanced if you know what you're doing, or stumble upon it.

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Beyond,

Yes it's the perceived volume I'm refering to :)

I think the reason why the twang can be a little tricky is bc it's related to clossure like earlier mentioned.

There are two muscle groups which are responsible for the adduction of the vocal folds:

- Interarytenoids (IA) : A primary adductor of the cartilagenous portion of the vocal folds.

- Lateral cricoarytenoids (LCA) : A primary adductor of the membranous portion of the vocal folds.

And the twang mechanism activates the interarytenoids because the oblique arytenoid muscles are part of the interarytenoids just like Robert described in his first post.

So you can twang (which will activate IA) and still be breathy do to lack of LCA activation.

Martin: Are you proposing that the IA can close the posterior section of the glottis _without_ the transverse cricoarytenoids first rotating inward? If so, please send me a link to a discussion of this idea, as it is contrary to my current understanding of laryngeal physiology.

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If I recall my anatomy correctly, the LCA are towards the middle of the vocal folds (length, not thickness, as seen from the overhead view; V shape) and push inwards to each other. The IA are towards the very back edges and pull the ends of the folds in towards each other and back, somewhat stretching the folds. This sensation is why most people began saying that the folds "damped" at the first bridge. The IA involvement was greater at that point than before. As you twang and increase the IA involvement, you'll lessen the added, excess air. But it's all a matter of balancing your voice. Truely, anything can be balanced if you know what you're doing, or stumble upon it.

Beyond: Better go back to your notes. :-) The lateral Cricoarytenoids attach to the arytenoid cartileges themselves. When the muscles engage, they pull on the arytenoids in specific directions, causing the parts where the posterior ends of the vocal bands are connected to rotate together, adducting the bands.

The IA goes between the arytenoid cartileges, and when engaged, pulls them close to one another, completing the closure of the glottis. To my knowledge, they are not connected to anything that would allow them to pull 'back'.

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