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What does Vocal Cord Adduction Feel Like? | Q&A

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What does Vocal Cord Adduction Feel Like? | Members Q&A

A Breaking the Chains student Q&A on vocal cord adduction:


Hey Kevin,

It’s really cool of you to answer your customer’s questions – most don’t do that and it really sets you apart. I’ve recommended Breaking the Chains because of your service.

Anyway, I have a quick question about vocal cord adduction because lately, I’ve been working very hard on trying to adduct, or “zip up” my vocal cords to smooth the chest/head registers.

I use both Breaking the Chains and Brett Manning’s Mastering Mix, and I feel these two courses really complement each other. Manning advises to use the “gee” sound to learn what it feels like to feel the vocal cords open and close with the hard “g”. You, on the other had, advise to grunt and feel the vocal cords adducting. I understand and can feel the hard “g” close my cords, but I cannot for the life of me use a grunt to mimic that feeling. One question I have, is the ultimate adduction result of the “hard g” and the “grunt” the same? More importantly though, if I try to imitate that closing-the-cords feeling that I get with the “gee” exercise, it leaves me with very sore muscles in my neck, leading me to believe that I’m doing it totally improperly.

Additionally – and this leaves me even more confused – I’ve watched Laryngoscope videos on youtube and I cannot for the life of me even see where the vocal cords are zipping up (the see the cords coming together on a planar level but never zipping up like the pictures show in the Breaking the Chains handbook.

So, any advice is appreciated – what does it feel like to adduct your cords? What muscles are you using specifically? Your Larynx? Your Soft Palate?

thank you,



My reply:

Hi Greg,

I decided early on that if I really wanted to help singers achieve their vocal goals I was going to have to be there to answer questions. If there is one thing a buyer of a “at home” vocal course needs is their questions answered. I’m not a believer of a once you bought you’re on your own kind of customer service.

Now on to vocal adduction: There are two ways to achieve adduction. 1. Physically producing cord compression by pressing the vocal cords together (Mastering Mix) and 2. Producing cord compression using mostly breath pressure and only slight physical pressing (Breaking the Chains and old school classical method)

I have the “Mastering Mix” series and while it has many great exercises to relieve tension into mix it misses the one very important tool a singer needs – projection. The Speech Level Singing (SLS) crowd emphasizes vocal cord compression over strong breath support. They have this “you already know how to breath – so just breath” philosophy. I am the reverse. Mastering Mix talks a lot about the “light mix” which is technically called medial cord closure. This is where you are only using the fine edges of the vocal cords to sing. Therefore you don’t need a lot of breath support to produce sound. It’s a lot like speech. Its also makes your voice very thin sounding. Unfortunately singing is more intense than speech (Rock & Metal is a lot more intense) therefore you need more intense breath support. That is where my method comes in.

The SLS “Gee” exercise uses the heavy “G” consonant to force cord closure using just the vocal cords and very little breath. The problem is that method makes it very easy to squeeze inside the neck to produce a “singing level” sound.

Using the “soft grunt” requires you to push air from deep around your waist to produce the sound. This leaves the throat to feel open and unrestricted. The voice is essentially a wind instrument so to make it work properly you have to use a good amount of air – just like any other wind instrument. To get it to work you literally have to sing while holding back your breath. It’s hard to describe in words but try this: take the example of the “Vocal Edge” exercise on CD 1 of “Chains”. It’s a very short little burst of sound using the “uh” sound, like in the word “cup”. Now take that short little sound and gradually drag it out longer and longer. You get the typical “Manning” light edge sound. Now take that drawn out, light edge sound and add a grunty/forceful exhale from the waist to it. What should happen is that very hard “uh” sound starts to soften, but it also become louder and deeper sounding. Do NOT press at the throat, take that very easy “edge” sound and add a lot of air behind it. With that big exhale of air from deep in the body you will feel less of a need to grasp inside the throat as the sound still happens without all that tension. The throat open and widens to accommodate that on rush of air. The cords stay closed because they naturally resist the air you exhale. Pushing air out rapidly gets them to exert pressure against themselves to stay closed. This creates what we call “breath compression”. Its more in line to how the vocal cords work anyway.

In old school Italian voice technique this is called “appogio”. This is how male Opera singers get such powerful sounding voices. Its perfect for Rock singing. We did this as kids without thinking. We could yell and laugh all day and never lose our voices. That’s because we weren’t consciously trying to manipulate our vocal cords. We just let them do what they do naturally. We stayed out their way. In my opinion the more we try to manipulate the vocal cords physically (like SLS), the harder it is to learn how to use them correctly. If you’re breath support is on target and you don’t grip at the throat, the voice works the way it is designed.

Feeling adduction:

There is no way to physically feel the cords adduct, its merely a sensation of slight “pressure” when they are closed. Our cords adduct every time we speak (adduction means cords closing) and we don’t feel that do we? There is no physical sensation to adduction just the sensation of sound buzzing in your throat. You don’t usually see it on laryngoscope videos (unless they slow it way down) because it happens at 100’s of times a second – too fast for the eye to catch. The raising or lowering of the soft palate is not involved in adduction but it can be used to create proper support and tone manipulation.

I hope that helps.




Rock the Stage NYC



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Great answear, just add that recent studies has show that the folds dont "Zip" until you reach the whistlerange iae above soprano high C. That is if he's refering to the zipper image some coaches ask students to have. Oh and adduction sure have a feeling, it's just that that feeling can differ from person to person.

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This agrees with what Jesse Nemitz told me when I took lessons from him. Yet others say it's a bad idea to try to push too much air. I am confused.

don't be confused. this had to be drilled into me before i got it.

if you push too much air into the vocal folds with too much force the air blows past them too fast and your tone with break up. it also dries them out. try to look at it as placing the air onto the vocal folds. the higher up you go in pitch the more metered pressure you need. this is where support makes a huge difference. with full voiced high notes the air is moving past a smaller opening (real small). support is so, so important!

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I'd love to not be confused about support! I think it's what's missing from my voice, given that my curbing/mix sounds wimpy and thin. It sounds a bit fuller if I do it louder, but not great. Am I supposed to use my abdominal muscles to push more air out or to hold air back? What Jesse Nemitz told me was that you push more air out, this causes the vocal cords to get sucked together more (compression) and creates the fuller sound. Thing is, other people say the opposite.

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I'd love to not be confused about support! I think it's what's missing from my voice, given that my curbing/mix sounds wimpy and thin. It sounds a bit fuller if I do it louder, but not great. Am I supposed to use my abdominal muscles to push more air out or to hold air back? What Jesse Nemitz told me was that you push more air out, this causes the vocal cords to get sucked together more (compression) and creates the fuller sound. Thing is, other people say the opposite.

eggplantbren: If you want to learn how to make a clearer/fuller sound, the path toward this is pretty direct, and no mystery is involved.

The power of the abs to blow air radically outstrips the ability of the vocal bands to resist the pressure. The muscle which can balance off the power of the abs is the diaphragm. Learning to involve it while singing is not difficult. If you are interested to learn this (even if you choose eventually not to use it) then just say so. There are several on this list that can offer you their perspective as to how they learned it.

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  • Administrator

Vocal Fold Adduction feels like this:

1). You feel the resonant vibrations inside the deeper depths of the layrnx.

2). You feel back pressure from the sub-glottal air pressure.

3). You feel additional resonate occillations in the back of your head, typically if your placements are covered.

4). You feel great because your voice sounds like a belt, even in the head voice due to a combination of proper deep and wide head placements, balanced twang-like modal phonations and tasty vowel modifications.

Isolated twang contractions are the means to train this muscle memory for beginners.

Hope this helps...

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  • Administrator

I have a "Lecture" coming soon in the update to "The Four Pillars of Singing" that is just exactly that... it walks through about 3-4 techniques you can work on to learn how to twang and get fold compression. Not edited yet... but I could do a low production "rob flip cam" version of the same thing I suppose... Ill try to get to it next time im in the studio.

Of course in an internet lesson, I can show you how: www.thevocaliststudio.com/purchase-training Or with my consultation service, Id be happy to help you.

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