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The following is involved in Vocal Production:

  • The Power & Support Source: Lungs, Breath, and the Primary Respiratory Muscles (Diaphragm, Transverse Abdominus, Intercostals)
  • The Secondary Power & Support Source: Accessory Respiratory Muscles (sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, serratus, pectoralis major & minor, upper trapezius, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, iliocostalis lumborum, quadratus lumborum, levatores costarum, transversus thoracis and subclavius)
  • The Oscillator: Larynx (vocal folds), Air, Space
  • The Resonators: Pharynx, Oral Cavity, Nasal Cavity
  • The Vibrators: Chest Cavity (breast bone), skull, objects or people within range of the singer
  • The Articulators: tongue, teeth, palate, lips
  • The Physical Foundation: Postural Alignment, Feet, Legs, Hip Flexors, Piriformis, Psoas, muscles of the pelvic floor, and Transverse Abdominus
  • The Aural Foundation: Ears & Imagination - You hear the pitch before you sing it
  • The Emotional Foundation: Trust in Self, Personal Confidence, Communication Skills

These components interact with each other to produce one's unique vocal signature.

The production of vocal sound involves a complex set of tasks requiring the coordination of many muscles and sensory nerves. The production of a single vowel such as 'a' involves the use of imagination, the brain, and numerous large power muscles, combined with miniscule muscles in the neck, larynx, upper throat and mouth to modulate that air into sound. All this in coordination with the diaphragm to control airflow, while sensory feedback from nerves in the sinus, throat and chest cavities matching with the art of hearing are involved in the transmutation of laryngal vibration to the vocalization of a given syllable. This complex coordination is performed every second; instantly, subconsciously, and continuously during speech. The trick is to get out of our own way enough to let this system work freely, the way it was designed.

The vocal folds are membranes that spring together and apart while speaking and singing. The vocal cords are covered with a very thin layer of mucous, similar in consistency to the membrane of an uncooked egg. Other tiny muscles within the larynx control the space between the cords as well as the length of the cords. As air pressure builds, the folds oscillate; a buzzing sound is created. A gentle oscillation creates a soft sound, a stronger oscillation creates a loud sound. The quicker the cords open and close, the higher the resulting pitch (vocal cords open and close around 100 times per second during normal speech). When you are about to sing, you first internally hear the pitch you are about to sing (accomplished singers hear the entire phrase they are about to sing) while inhaling. As you do so the miniscule muscles of the larynx bring the vocal cords together in order to create the perfect environment to sing this pitch. They stay closed until enough breath pressure builds, we exhale, and a burst of air escapes through the cords. Sound is produced by the pressure changes created as the stream of air passes through the oscillating vocal folds. It is interesting to note that the vocal folds themselves produce only a light buzzing; the resonators are what actually create sound, making speaking and singing possible. Although this can be overstated, the nasal and oral cavities is where much of the "head voice" lies, whereas the upper chest cavity and lower pharynx is where much of the chest voice resonates.

The purpose of the support system is to generate enough power to direct a controlled air stream between the vocal folds to match the pitch or phrase heard in the imagination. Learning control over one's air supply is a major part of proper singing technique. This is where (besides not actually hearing the pitch) many problems occur. Learning how to breathe in a manner that empowers the support system without constricting the air supply, throat, tongue, jaw, neck, abdominals, or chest muscles (among others) is what all singers at one point or another struggle with. A beautiful, resonant sound is found when all of these actions work together in balance.

The voice as a communicative device is closely linked to our humanity and emotions. In order to find this balance, singers must often face themselves in ways that are challenging. You may be forced to sing and express in a manner that runs contrary to set emotional patterns of your daily life. Chronic fears, protective mechanisms, feelings of vulnerability, as well as expression and communication issues may have to be faced. Differing settings of text, and the vocal qualities necessary to express these texts may "push our buttons", bringing up a wide range of strong emotions in the vocalist. Freedom of expression doesn't always come easily, as it is connected very closely to awareness of self. The good news is, the more awareness of self the speaker or singer has available, the more they are free to express the emotions of the text. By expanding your sense of self you expand your voice, and vice-versa. This is one of the many goals of exceptional voice lessons.