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Vocal myths and answers, Part Three - By Jeannie Deva
Voice teachers have created phrases to convey to singers, what they hoped would be, better understandings with which to develop their voices. However, since many of these terms were used to create imagery and others were not based on actual vocal anatomy, instead of enhanced understanding, we have newly created confusions. If some of these terms, phrases or directions have made you stare blankly and wonder, it is important to regain your understanding so that you may move forward in your vocal development. To assist you in with this, let's examine the most commonly used phrases and clarify their meaning based on knowledge of how your body actually works when you sing.

Placing The Voice ? Singing By Sensation:

Over the last thirty years, research has indicated that, contrary to common belief, it is not the difference in resonation that creates the different registers but actual changes in the positions of the vocal folds. (More commonly referred to as vocal cords, these two flaps of mucous membrane coated muscles lie horizontally behind your Adam’s apple, inside the larynx, your voice box.) By vibrating, your vocal folds create the sounds of your voice. In effect, the vibrations of your voice, as an automatic process, will resonate where appropriate, complementing the position, speed of vibration, and type of sound wave (the vowel) produced by your vocal folds. It can be helpful to orient you to various possibilities to help you permit the natural functions to occur, but I do not find it necessary to focus on the “placement” of the voice, nor on sensations through which to attempt control. (These findings have been substantiated by Dr. Ingo R. Titze, professor of speech pathology and audiology at the University of Iowa’s Wendell Johnson Speech And Hearing Center.)

“Pulling Your Chest Voice Into Your Head Voice:” Many voice teachers instruct that it is bad practice to pull your “chest voice” into your “head voice.” Still others maintain that you should try to pull your chest up into your head voice. Here is another one of those expressions that can leave you trying to guess its meaning. In the latter case, “chest voice” is used to describe a deeper, richer sound while “head voice” means more of a treble tonality. The idea of blending the two qualities is often desirable, especially for singers looking to create a more powerful sound throughout a wide range. To achieve greater depth and fullness, it boils down, once again, to reducing excessive tongue and larynx tension while singing from your lower to higher range. Part of the point my work is to assist you in achieving natural ? not artificial ? fullness, without use of

Breath Support: So often we hear phrases like “you must use good breath support” or, “support you tone¼” But we aren’t usually taught exactly how to achieve this or why it’s important. Your vocal folds need different degrees of air pressure, depending upon their position and speed of vibration. For each sound, the less air used, loud or soft, the better the sound. All the air used must be transformed into sound waves. If not, air wastage occurs, with extra air forced through the folds, creating a breathy sound. Excess air can be injurious not only to good sound, but the voice mechanism itself by forcing the vocal folds too far apart and causing tension in the larynx. There are, however, techniques that permit you to sing breathy when that sound is appropriate to the emotion and style of the song. The achievement of good ? natural - breat

This article is an excerpt from Jeannie Deva's popular book and CD series: "The Contemporary Vocalist,” Volume One. © 2004, Jeannie Deva Enterprises, Inc.
© 2003 Jeannie Deva. Jeannie Deva is the founder of Jeannie Deva® Voice Studios since 1978 and of The Deva Method® A Non-Classical Approach for Singers. While her private voice studio is located in Los Angeles, Jeannie maintains private clients across the country and in Europe. Author of the internationally published vocal home-study course: "The Contemporary Vocalist" book and CDs, she has been flown to recording studios internationally to handle album vocal production and has been endorsed by producers and engineers of the Rolling Stones, The Cars, Aerosmith, and many others. Clients include Grammy Award Winner Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin, Coppertree, Dar Williams, Moodcrush, members of the J. Geils band, cast of Fame, Jesus Christ Superstar and many more.

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