The Bel Canto and the epiglottis

The Bel Canto refers to the Italian originated vocal style which became known through the singing of opera.
I’ve investigated the status of the larynx when an individual is singing the Bel Canto.
I’ve compared a Bel Canto singer with non-Bel Canto singer, by reviewing their separate performances on recorded videos. My opinions about the Bel Canto performance are as follows:
(1)I never got tired or lost interest during the performance, even when I listened to their singing for a long time.
(2)There is no awkwardness observed when the performer sang high pitched tones.
(3)The voice sounded completely natural.
The results were the opposite when I reviewed the non-Bel Canto vocalist.

I’ve figured out how ‘vitally important’ having control of the epiglottis is, after I investigated the extrinsic larynx of an individual who has mastered the Bel Canto.

The epiglottis’ lid (the opening and closing mechanism) is made by the cartilage which sends food and/or drink to the esophagus.
The orange line is the epiglottis in the figure below.

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Front

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Side

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Top

You can see the thyroid cartilage and the epiglottis in the above figures.
The epiglottis is covered by the mucosa tissues in the larynx and is controlled by the thyroepiglottic muscle.
The thyroepiglottic muscle pulls down the epiglottis to stand vertically.

The orange line is the epiglottis in the figure.
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Next, I’ll explain how the epiglottis moves, exactly.
Its movements are primarily only made when eating or drinking. When you swallow the food, the thyroid cartilage moves forward and collapses at same time.

The orange circle is the epiglottis in the figure.
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The following movie mentions how to move the epiglottis when people are swallowing jelly. As the video showed, when the jelly passed through the throat the epiglottis began to collapse.


If you let out the voice when the epiglottis is standing vertically, the bronchi, the glottis, the piriform recess, the pharynx and the nasal cavity align in the vocal tract, then the voice can expel swiftly. In my opinion the above process is the best for vocalization.
You need to have good muscle condition to be able to stand the epiglottis vertically.

Note1:The Bel Canto is originally utilized for singing in the style of opera. Commonly there is no need to sing Pop or Rock music in this style, but… Bel Canto can and should be used for vocal training to assist in creating depth in the voice.
Note2:Although it’s possible to have the right condition to vocalize the Bel Canto, it maybe difficult to control when singing. This is because it is not easy to control the epiglottis on purpose as well as accurately.
Note3:Please note that if the hyoid bone gets in deep, the epiglottis cannot stand vertically because the hyoid bone blocks the epiglottis’ ability to move freely.

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The mirror effect of voice

Girl face, hearing colors of music

The mirror effect of voice means that your singing is better if you listen to good singing, and your singing is worse if you listen to bad singing. Basically what type of music you hear and surround yourself with can influence your own sounds.
When you listen to a good voice sing, talk or even just music with no vocals … your vocals will be mirroring that good quality. In contrast, when you listen to bad vocals or poor sound quality you will also mirror that poor sound.
In an experiment which analyzed the above circumstances, when comparing people who listened to noisy sounds from a construction site to people who listened to classical music for the same amount of time, people who listened to noisy sounds were observed to have (acquired) more of a rough voice than the classical listeners.
In another experiment, the tester asked some people to listen to ‘only one’ (specific) musical instrument that played classical music for 2 months.
As a result, when listening and reviewing their voice after the experiment, they displayed and produced obvious similar sound qualities of that specific instrument that they heard so often.
I believe this happened, because their voice and mind absorbed the tones of the musical instrument they were constantly hearing. Although, the length of time the sounds were heard and the repetition of those sound qualities also impacted the resulting ability and level of the mirroring.
These supporting facts of positive influence can surely have advantages, if utilized properly and consistently, to target a specific vocal quality and make your voice sound better.

Note: I have been asked, if there is a way to learn the mirror effect of voice which displays a high degree of being exact and precise.
Keep in mind, the mirror effect is not completely exact and precise – I’ll explain as follows:
It is only possible to mirror style, effect and quality. Understand that extreme vocal range changes cannot be mirrored. Be aware and recognize the characteristics of your voice. It is impossible if you have small larynx like a small instrument (for example a flute) and you want to mirror and produce big (like a contrabass) sound.
If your goal is to copy your favorite singer or musical performance in voice, you don’t need a loud voice to mirror those sounds, just use sound repetition by listening as well as singing over and over again.
It’s not easy, but you can duplicate an original/specific sound if you practice enough.
If you can record your voice and check its progress over time, you can expect and hear more observably distinct improvements.
Please try it!

Unvoiced hypertonic vocalization & voiced hypertonic vocalization

There are two kinds of hypertonic vocalization, they are unvoiced and voiced hypertonic vocalization.
Unvoiced hypertonic vocalization means that the muscles are constantly hard around the larynx even when you do not vocalize.
Voiced hypertonic vocalization is when the muscles strain so hard when you vocalize.
Muscles get hard when you talk or sing, because vocalization is a muscle movement.
If you use your muscles properly and in moderation, you can have a great voice. On the other hand, if you use your muscles too often and excessively, it will have a negative effect on your vocalization.
In medical terminology, myo means muscle and fibril means fiber. Muscles are generally moved by the actin and myosin (long proteins) in the myofibril. Muscles contract by sliding the thin (actin) and thick (myocin) filaments along eachother. Therefore, if you strain or force your muscles too much when you are vocalizing, that is classifed as voiced hypertonic vocalization.
The 2 types of hypertonic vocalization are as follows.
(1)Hypertonic vocalization only unvocalized.(The larynx is not strained)
(2)Hypertonic vocalization, both vocalized and unvocalized.

Nobody possesses muscles that are strained without voice or muscles that are not strained with voice.
In the above 2 cases (2) is problematic, because it’s a hard to vocalize easily if the muscles are hard around the larynx. This is not a disease but a conition that can cause problems with vocalizing.
If you think that, you never show improvement with your singing or you can not let out your voice smoothly, I highly recommend you have your throat and muscles checked.

sensual plesure

Note:The relevance between Spasmodic Dysphonia and the hypertonic vocalization.
I’ve diagnosed many larynxes of patients who have Spasmodic Dysphonia .
As a result, I’ve found out the following facts about hypertonic vocalization.
1:Most of people who have Spasmodic Dysphonia have both the unvoiced & voiced hypertonic vocalization in the beginning phase.
2:I can fix and treat both all types of unvoiced hypertonic vocalization in our clinic.
3:Improving voiced hypertonic vocalization is different and varies to each individual.
4:Everybody shows improvemnt and finds it easier to vocalize after fixing voiced hypertonic vocalization.

The natural voice and the falsetto

Do you know what the difference is between a natural voice and a falsetto?
This is very complex to explain and there is no simplified definition, because the usage the muscles are different and depend on the individual.
There are two soft tissues that are truly relevant to the natural and falsetto voice.
(1) Vocal cords’ muscle
The vocal cords’ muscles exist inside the lamina of the thyroid cartilage and the cricothyroid ligament, through the front of the vocal ligament, and the vocal process.
Together the vocal ligament and the arytenoid cartilage control the tension of the vocal muscles, by rotating and sliding, up and down the vocal scale.
The vocal scale and pitches are changed by extending and contracting the muscles. Vocal cord muscles cannot extend by themselves.
(2) Vocal cords’ mucosa
The vocal cords’ mucosa is (generally thick) membranous tissue.
Although the vocal cords’ mucosa (density) is controlled by the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The vocal cords’ mucosa does change when vibrating and (the density) depends on that status.
Therefore, the pitch is changed by thinning or thickening the mucosa. That is why, the voice will sound hoarse if it is dry.

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The vocal cord when opening

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The green is the vocal fold and the blue is the edge of vocal cord

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The vocal cord when closing

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The green is the vocal cord muscles and the blue is the vocal cords mucosa

Natural voice:The status when the vocal cord muscles and the vocal cord mucosa vibrate.
Falsetto voice:The status when the vocal cord muscles harden, stop vibrating and only the edge of the vocal cord mucosa vibrates.
A mixed voice, refers to mixing the above two voices properly. You cannot acquire the proper mixed voice if your vocal cord muscles are not flexible and your vocal mucosa is not present and well hydrated.
For getting flexibility of the vocal cord muscles, you have to improve the circulatory function of the intralaryngeal muscle and move the arytenoid cartilage.

Note1:The red line is the vocal cord.
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Note2:The blue circle is the vocal cord.
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Vocal range is determined by the size of the thyroid cartilage.

Vocal range is classified and measured by listening to the type of voice a person possesses, such as soprano, alto, tenor baritone or bass.
Of course, the condition is also important when determining the vocal range by singing.
I often hear the following statements: “I wanted to sing soprano, but my teacher said that I’m a mezzo-soprano.” or “Although I thought my voice sounds baritone, the vocal coach said that my voice sounds more in the range of bass.”
If your teacher or vocal coach observes your singing range and classifies it by name, that decision should be trusted as well as accurate.
However there is another way to determine a person’s vocal range, and that is by the size and shape of the thyroid cartilage.
Vocal range is decided by the size, the angle, the thickness/width of the thyroid cartilage, and also the size and shape of the hyoid bone.

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(This view is from directly above the hynoid bone, the thyroid cartilage, the arytenoid cartilage, and the cricoid cartilage.)
For example, when you see the viola and violin, the size is obviously different. The style has similarities, but the range of sounds that can be produced are very different.

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(The left is a violin and the right is a viola.)

Vocalization is really similar to and can be compared to musical instruments. My studies and experience have given me the ability to know what kind of vocal range is suitably associated to a person by visually examining their larynx.

Note: Technically the soft tissue around the thyroid cartilage also relates to deciding vocal ranges.
Also, the resonance chamber plays an important role in the determination of vocal range. In the fact, these parts can be exercised and strengthened through training and practice, making them relevant to athletic ability. In conclusion supporting the association between vocalization, musical instruments and sports.
As mentioned in the 5 factors of Creating Voice (Please see the top page in the blog), vocalization is made by “Physical movements”,” Practiced techniques” and “Mental health”. Focus on these areas when finding a suitable song to match with your vocal range. Finding the correct type of sound to match your abilities will utilize the skill range of your overall voice.

If you can control the resonance chamber, you will get a great voice!

The source or creation of sound is the vocal cord and the production of that sound is made in the resonance chamber. These are the most important factors of voice.
If you can learn to understand and fully control the resonance chamber, you will get great voice.
People have five main resonance chambers, and mobility is important for each part.
The bigger the space, the better the sound. The right positioning combined with the muscles moving smoothly, determine the ease of mobility. If these two things function properly, you can more easily display a high quality voice.
The following figure shows 1:laryngeal ventricle 2: piriform recess 3:pharyngeal cavity 4:oral cavity 5:nasal cavity.

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(1)Laryngeal ventricle
This makes basic sounds, and helps in making and fluctuating the sound’s pitch.
Although it is true that the pitch is also made by expanding and contracting the vocal cord, the pitch is tuned finely between the false vocal cords (vestibule) in the laryngeal ventricle.
(2)Piriform recess
This makes the space to send the food to the esophagus. It also sends air to the glottis and can be compared to a tree branch.
The size of the piriform recess depends on the size and shape of the thyroid cartilage, and is also affected by the thickness of the soft tissue in the larynx.
Bigger thyroid cartilage makes more space in the piriform recess and possibly makes more resonant sounds.
The piriform recess is an inborn part, you can never change the size of it after being born.
(3)Pharyngeal cavity
This part decides the tone color of the voice. Tone color is what allows the listener to identify a sound as being produced by a specific person or instrument. Understanding and recognizing tone color also helps people differentiate between sounds produced by instruments of the same type. For example a saxophone sounds very different than a trumpet, even when they play a tone at the same frequency, volume and duration. And one trumpet’s quality of sound may sound very different than another trumpet. The same is true with voices and every voice has tone color.
I’ve studied and listened to the voices of many singers. Some of whom have a big pharyngeal cavity, that have shown the ability to control and move it easily which assists in making a high quality voice.
It is widely known as, ‘the opening of the throat,’ this saying actually refers to the action of making the pharyngeal cavity bigger or wider.
People also sometimes say, ‘to put the throat forward,’ but in fact there is no muscle that technically can move the throat forward.
Professional singers that can open their throat very well have really flexible muscles around the larynx.
They cannot check the flexibility of the larynx by themselves, and they often do not know how open their throat exactly.
It’s not easy to open the throat without having flexible muscles around the larynx. However, these singers have acquired these flexible muscles by practiced technical stretching.
(4)Oral cavity
This makes the final adjustments to all sounds and words. The role of the tongue is also relevant to the oral cavity.
The oral cavity is different from the larynx and the pharynx, being it’s a lot easier to control.
The hyoid bone is in proportion to the kinematic performance of the suprahyoid muscles. This process is really important for speaking smoothly.
The hyoid bone is in the shape of a “U” and supports the tongue. The hyoid bone floats in the air, if this gets in deep it may cause pressure. This pressure on the tongue obstructs the tongue by preventing it from moving smoothly. By doing this the space in the mouth is changed by contracting and expanding the suprahyoid muscles. The role of the suprahyoid muscles is important because most people cannot lift up the soft palate easily.
(5)Oral cavity
If you let out your voice by pinching your nose, the sound is going to be closed.
The oral cavity a the central part used to take in and let out air.
Generally, your voice is going to be hoarse if a lot of air comes out from the mouth. This is because the mouth can expel more air than the nose, due to the passage size differences.