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"Pharyngeal" Voice - What is this?

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miss pk

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Can someone explain what "pharyngeal" voice is (and if there is another term for it?) and how to sing in "pharyngeal" voice? I have seen this come up in other singing forums from people who think this is a useful way to access upper range. I googled it and found an article called "The Problem with Singing Today" that references "pharyngeal" voice, but i have to say i'm not sure i understand exactly what they're referring to. Here's an excerpt:

"The greatest loss in today's teaching has been the true knowledge of registration, as developed principally by the castrati. When they ceased to be 'snipped' much of their key knowledge and experience was lost with them. Although most teachers know of the existence of registers and the need to join them together, few know or really understand the importance of the pharyngeal voice in uniting the voice into one cohesive unit, and fewer still actually know how to develop this mechanism correctly. On its own the pharyngeal voice is strident, similar to a cackle, yet combined with either the falsetto or chest voice, it produces a voice of great power, agility, range, and with noticeable ease. Garcia in his second Treatise in Singing purports to a type of mechanism that enables tenors to produce high and extreme high notes with astonishing ease and power. It is this mechanism that is the key to producing high notes at all dynamics (remember the pianissimo B flat at the end of 'Celeste Aida' which needs to be sung by a spinto?), the messa di Voce, the brightness and clarity of all notes in the range (for want of a better word, the term 'squillo') as well as ensuring the sound is produced with ease. "


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  • 2 weeks later...


Yes that's the pharyngeal sound according to SS. Usually the pharyngeal is the same as twang which is a specific narrowing of the epilaryngal tube(area right above the vocal folds).

FYI. In phonetics the NG sound is called a "Velar Nasal". :)

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Hi - from the context of the original post on pharyngeal singing I think they are talking about what we call open throat. It's rather delicate to start some sort of discussion on vocal terms, however, without context, so I will just say that Francis and I are putting up a blog this week, and we will talk about what we know and answer questions in that framework. I think it will be a bit easier in this more circumscribed format, and those who sing other styles can visit us to look at our approach. Perhaps they will find it helpful.

All the best,


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Hi guys...yes holding the sound in the pharynx. It has a unique resonance and I teach this with sanskrit toning combining open sounds with "ng" and "mm". A good singer just glides through these techniques without you realising they are there! Great resonance you can feel in the pharyngeal area too!:cool: h

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Miss PK,

Jaime Vendera has an easy to understand explanation of the Pharyngeal Voice in his course "Raise Your Voice".

Basically it kind of goes like this: You have the Falsetto voice which is the soft high "hootie" sounding tone, then there is the regular chest voice, then in between the two is the pharyngeal, which is like a witches cackle. Like the witch in the wizard of Oz. "I'll get you my pretty!"

A different muscle is engaged to create it's sound, according to Jaime.

You should check out his course.

Hope this helps,



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thanks for the responses - they're very interesting. in terms of the witches cackle, i thought it was something you could do to get better "closure" if your singing is "breathy". i didn't realize that was also known as "pharyngeal" voice. (or am i misunderstanding something?)

so is pharyngeal voice something you would use throughout your entire range? or just in parts of it (ie. higer range?)?

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