The Bel Canto is widely known and associated with popular vocalism all over the world.
I’ve investigated the Bel Canto by scientifically observing the musculus extrinsic laryngis.
I’ll introduce how to improve vocalism of the Bel Canto through muscle movements.
First, you should know and be comfortable with the structure of your throat, the figure of muscles around your larynx, the movement of the epiglottis, and the pharyngeal cavity.
When you improve moving the hyoid muscles, you can master not only the Bel Canto but also sing more easily.
I’ll explain how to move the epiglottis in general below.
When food is coming into the esophagus, the epiglottis falls down and then moves back up immediately. It is important to stand your epiglottis at this time.
You can train yourself on how to stand your epiglottis easily. If you drink a little water and swallow while touching your lower hyoid bone with both thumbs, you can feel the thyroid cartilage moving to the upper location and becoming wider at that moment in time.
You have to vocalize when your thyroid cartilage returns to the lower location from the upper location.
When you let out your voice, I recommend vocalizing with the single letter sound of I or E. Practicing this will make the epiglottis stand easily. Start vocalizing from lower than your favorite pitch, getting higher-pitched little by little. If and when you are used to it, and at same time, please pull up your hyoid bone forward by using the thumb and index finger over the skin.
Be mindful you may have to practice over and over again until you get the timing correct. Be careful not to press or pull too hard.
In fact, a specific muscle does not exist which stands the epiglottis, it is only standing while the thyroid cartilage is moving when swallowing.
If you follow and train using the above technique, you can stand the epiglottis vertically.
You are moving the hyoid bone to the forward position and the epiglottis is pulled by the hyoepiglottic ligament.
The purpose of this training exercise is to feel the movement of the epiglottis. That being stated, please do not unnecessarily move the lips and mouth too much.
Picture the movement is like releasing and relaxing your throat, regardless of any pitches when vocalizing.
If you can do this properly and train over and over again, you will acquire real vocalism of the Bel Canto.
The ‘tongue trill’ is often used in vocal training. A tongue trill is when the tongue vibrates when exhaling during vocalization. This vibration is sometimes referred to as rolling the tongue. It is common to practice the tongue trill with the letters A, L, and R. Surprisingly, many people do not know which muscle they are primarily using when producing a tongue trill. I have investigated the movements using palpation techniques and will review the mechanics in the image displayed below.
First, let me explain the structure of tongue.
The tongue sticks to the hyoid bone, which is the bone located at the base of the tongue.
Typically, most people think the tongue root is located in the back of the tongue, but actually ‘the root’ attaches in the mental spine of the mandible.
The tongue root is highlighted in blue in the above image, and the tongue is coiled in the air whilst the hyoid bone sustains the tongue.
The human tongue is divided into anterior and posterior parts. The anterior part is the visible part situated at the front and contains the superior longitudinal muscle, the inferior longitudinal muscle, the transverse muscle and the vertical muscle. All of these muscles, through movements, change the figure of the tongue.
The posterior part of the tongue is the part closest to the throat. Which contains the hyoglossus muscle, the styloglossus muscle, the genioglossus muscle and the palatoglossus muscle. These muscles also play an important role in the production of the tongue’s movements.
All of the tongue’s muscles are controlled by nerves, except the palatoglossus muscle. Which is why that specific nerve activation is so important and comes into play when stuttering or speaking.
There are two ways of how to do the tongue trill:
A:The posterior parts or the anterior part move easily, and make a smooth and natural sound.
B:Pulling and straining the anterior part firmly, making an awkward and unnatural sound.
C:The posterior parts and the anterior part are hard, and can not vibrate properly, making the effect brief. This kind of type mostly uses the vocal cord and exhalation.
A and B can do the tongue trill but not C.
Furthermore, ‘A’ is really good at doing the tongue trill, and ‘B’ can but barely do the tongue trill.
The tongue trill aims to acquire the flexibility of the anterior and posterior muscles (suprahyoid muscles).
However, if you do not use the right techniques, such as ‘B’ or ‘C’, you could chance straining the tongue or throat, which may obstruct your vocalizing.
Please be careful when practicing or performing the tongue trill.
The ‘lip roll’ is often used for vocal training. A lip roll is the term used for making the lips vibrate through exhalation.
The lip roll is made by using the orbicularis oris muscle. The orbicularis oris muscle is very important due to its role in closing your mouth and is considered complex.
If you strain the orbicularis oris muscle too much, you will not be able to vibrate your lips sufficiently. Conversely, if you ease the orbicularis oris muscle too much, when you open your mouth widely, you will not be able to let out your breath properly.
People who can do a lip roll really well, usually strain the orbicularis oris muscle at first on purpose and then ease the muscle later.
Additionally, if you do not exhale when doing a lip roll with a steady speed, your lips will stop vibrating. This is also a good technique to practice for breathing training.
If the lips are too narrow or if there is too much of a space when forming the lip roll shape, it will be difficult to produce a good sound. Keep in mind this tip, you definitely cannot touch your teeth to the inside of your lips when attempting to create a lip roll. Touching your teeth to the lips will only result in muffling and ceasing the lips’ ability to vibrate.
If you stretch your orbicularis oris muscle with your fingers before doing a lip roll, it will be easier to do the lip roll for a longer period of time.
Red is the part of the orbicularis oris muscle.
Note: A vocal coach once asked me, “Some of my students cannot do the lip roll, even if I teach them the simplest basic techniques. If they keep practicing and training, will they be able to do the lip roll someday? Or, is it just physically impossible for some people?”
My answer to him was: We have still not figured out the exact mechanics regarding variations of the tongue and orbicularis oris muscle, because it varies greatly from individual to individual. Therefore, it is very possible that an individual may not be able not do a lip roll physically, even if they practice and do a lot of training.
If you do not have this problem, you can do lip roll when you train by moving the larynx and suprahyoid muscles.
But please be aware that some people cannot do a lip roll congenially and if you force them to do lip roll and they constantly fail, they may not favor singing or vocalizing. So, be patient and positive when training or assisting others.
It is true that your voice and singing can get and sound better if you let out the voice from your belly? Although, the voice does not exactly come out from the belly, it is a common reference which is referring to the target area and feeling experienced.
The mechanism is as follows;
(1)Growing the expiratory pressure
(2)Generating lifting power in the glottis by “Bernoulli’s principle”
(3)Improving the vocal cord when vibrating
(4)Make the voice sound louder and/or echoing.
Below is a more detailed clarification.
(1)Growing the expiratory pressure:
If someone asks you to, “let out your voice from the belly,” then you may suddenly become aware or focused on the belly and strain the abdominals. So, you probably have this common question, should you expand your belly or pull in your belly?
If you take a breath with pulling in your belly, the diaphragm lifts up, decreasing the space in the abdominal area causing the majority of air not to come into the lungs.
Conversely, if you take a breath while expanding your belly, the diaphragm goes down, increasing the space in the abdominal area and the majority of air will come into the lungs.
I recommend you imagine or practice. Try to stick out your belly when you take a breath.
Equally important is to notice that when you also let your breath out, if you try to stick out your belly slowly you can control a breath longer and a variety of breathing motions.
There are so many methods of breathing, but there is only one important fact to keep focused on… which is that the air only gets into the lungs and never in the abdominal.
The air should never get under the diaphragm.
The following figure shows the body’s condition when exhaling and inhaling air.
The left figure shows the position of the diaphragm when exhaling and the right figure shows when inhaling and the lungs are filled with the air.
When the diaphragm moves up and down, the air gets in and out of the lungs. This is ‘a breath.’
When the air is passing through the glottis, the air current is accelerating faster than around the glottis, and the vocal cords will close.
Maybe you are now questioning, if the air current is too much?
The air current is only too much if the air current flips the vocal cord. If this happens, you cannot expel the voice correctly and this is completely considered ‘leaking a breath.’ Therefore, if you want to use, Bernoulli’s principle properly, you have to control your breathing.
We usually control breathing by using the diaphragm. Recent studies have found out that the space of the resonance chamber can also control breathing. More frequently than ever, many great singers are controlling their breathing by using the resonance chamber.
(3)Improving the vocal cord vibrating:
You can open and close the glottis with minimal strength and effort if you can use Bernoulli’s principle precisely. In which through practice and training can make your voice stronger or weaker more easily.
This is really efficient when vibrating the vocal cord, by not using or needing extra strength or energy.
(4)Make the voice louder or echoing:
This result is from (3).
Letting out the voice from your belly has a profound meaning, and hopefully now it easier to imagine how to do that.
Please let out your voice from the belly!