The Vocal Cords

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The vocal cords are the critical system in a healthy functioning voice.
Singers who injure their voices generally have damaged their vocal cords, while singers who project with ease and power have vocal cords that are healthy, strong, and coordinated.
Many singers are unaware of the simple and effective techniques that can be used to keep their vocal cords healthy: 1.
Stay hydrated, drinking at least two liters of water daily 2.
Avoid clearing your throat 3.
If you feel your voice getting tired with a scratchy or tingly sensation, stop singing 4.
Avoid using a glottal attack 5.
Engage the the vocal cords by actively speaking the words of your song The Structure of your Vocal Cords Your vocal cords are capable of amazing feats.
They can vibrate at more than 1000 cycles per second, and resist large amounts of pressure and energy with great speed and, dexterity.
The vocal cords are surrounded by three layers of mucous that act as a lubricant; a special protective coating that allow the vocal cords to contact each other and cycle through the sound waves at very high speeds and volume.
It's helpful to consider the "water structure" of the vocal cords, and recognize the essential role that mucous plays in the health of the vocal cords.
In order for them to function properly, you must drink enough water! Similarly, clearing your throat is to be avoided, because it scrapes off this precious mucous so necessary to the high speed vibration of the vocal cords.
When you clear your voice because of "phlegm", your body will immediately send more to continue to protect the vulnerable layers of muscle that lay beneath the outer layers of mucous.
If you continue to clear and sing, these inner layers of the vocal cords will swell up, preventing an even closure and resulting in a broken sound.
That is why if you feel your vocal cords starting to get inflamed with a scratchy or tingly sensation, it is important to stop singing right away.
Sometimes it only takes a minute or two for them to recover, but sometimes longer, much longer to recover depending on the extent of the injury to the inner layer of the vocal cord.
Adduction, or Vocal Cord Closure When you make a sound, begin to vibrate, or adduct, The opposite of adduction is abduction (when things are taken apart from each other).
The critical moment for a singer is when adduction is initiated after breathing, because the first wave of vocal cord closure requires the most energy, and sets up the dynamics for whatever notes follow.
In other words, when you start to sing, don't blast your with too much air, but try to engage them gradually on the flow or air, avoiding any muscular motion in your throat.
When you initiate adduction properly, your voice flows effortlessly with power and emotion.
This we will refer to as balanced initiation, where air meets vocal cord in perfect balance and energy.
The chief enemy of this balanced initiation of the is the glottal attack.
A glottal attack happens when the epiglottis closes and releases at the moment of initiation.
This can be a little subtle to detect at first, but the easiest way to learn and understand it is to watch my video describing the.
You can feel the epiglottis closing when you swallow or cough, but the most dramatic feeling comes if you pretend to throw up (Yuck!).
The epiglottis closes the throat and protects the voice and lungs from liquid intrusion.
When you sing, it's easy to use a glottal attack to initiate adduction, but it will lead to damage of the, limit your range, cause you to run out of breath and sing of key.
In other words, it's simpler for the brain to figure out pitch with the glottal attack, but everything that happens after that first split second of initiation is doomed! This is why: Immense pressure can be restrained with the epiglottis, much more than the can handle generally.
Once the epiglottis is released, the become overwhelmed with air pressure, and cannot sustain the adduction for very long.
The action of the glottal attack scrapes the mucous off of the, causing strain and inflammation.
The closure of the windpipe at the epiglottis causes the resonant spaces above the larynx to become blocked, preventing the pharynx and head voice from resonating, and preventing an even blend between chest voice and head voice.
Engaging the Vocal Cords Singing is not all about relaxation.
If you completely relaxed everything, there would be no sound! The art of singing well is the proper engagement of the "little" muscles that control the, while relaxing the "big" outer muscles that interfere with proper functioning of the voice.
The "Big Muscle" groups that can interfere with the functioning of the vocal cords are: The jaw The neck The tongue The epiglottis (when initiating with a glottal attack) Some of the "Little Muscle" groups inside the larynx that control the voice at the Balance Point are the: Thyroaratanoid (TA) muscle (primarily controlling the chest voice and making the pitch lower) Cricothyroid (CT) muscle (primarily controlling the head voice and making the pitch higher.
It is an oversimplification to describe the workings of the limited to these two muscles, because in reality there are several sub muscle groups working together to control the, and the way in which the operate is highly complex.
But for the purposes of understanding, it is helpful to imagine just two, with the TA muscle grounding you to your lower, chest notes, and the CT muscle grounding you to your higher, head voice notes.
Here again, the video is most helpful to hear the action of these muscles.
The key to the health of the vocal cords is the effective engagement of the TA and the CT muscles, without tightening the Big muscle groups that constrict the muscles surrounding the larynx and vocal cords.
This engagement I refer to as "Good Grip", and makes the voice have a somewhat reedy or edgy quality.
It is the quality of speech, which I refer to as the Balance Point.
There is a misconception among many singers about the notion of grip, because many singers mistakenly believe that there should be complete relaxation in the voice box.
If you sing this way, your voice will be very breathy and airy, and you will run out of breath quickly.
The result of this insufficient adduction is a very tired voice, because inevitably, the lack of grip at the level results in an activation of the big outer muscles, or a "Bad Grip" of the voice.
All of this can be simply discovered by watching your face as you sing.
Are there tendons sticking out in your neck? Is your face wrinkled as you sing high? Is your tongue shriveling up as you sing? Work to relax the big muscles you can see with your eyes, and engage the little muscles inside the larynx that give the voice the spoken, edgy quality of adduction.
The master concept behind the control of the is the action of speech, or the Balance Point.
When you talk with a sincere, natural voice, your adduct.
Singing requires a wider dynamic range of pitch and volume, and so it can be difficult to maintain adduction of the.
But the moment that the stop adducting, whether due to too much air pressure, tension in the outer muscles, or some other imbalance in the voice, the listener can perceive that the artist is no longer "sincere", and the song looses it's meaning.
Therefore, the quest for the proper vocal technique is a quest for sincerity or honesty, where the message of the song comes through you with power, clarity, and emotion.
Having good coordination of and surrounding muscles is the key to this goal.
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