I was told from some Japanese Singers who travel and stay abroad, that after returning to Japan they felt their throat had become tight and that their larynx had fallen into a deeper position. These Japanese Singers had no prior issues and claimed to have performed brilliantly overseas. They asked me,”what could have caused this and how could they have prevented this from happening?”
One of the reasons is surely because of the language exchange difference. Their vocalization habits changed when they started speaking bilingually or even switching to solely to another language temporarily. Their normal routine was that they spoke only Japanese in Japan. When on tour and travelling that vocalization reflex and the muscles surrounding their normal speaking routine was different. So different that it strained and had an negative impact on their throats’ status and condition. Let’s breakdown how Japanese is vocalized.
You need to vocalize every single letter when you speak Japanese.
For example, when you say (good morning) “Ohayou”, you have to vocalize “O” “h” “a” “y” “o” “u” respectively.
In the case of the Expat Japanese Singers’ vocalization, the musculus extrinsic laryngis became tired, then hardened, eventually getting more difficult for them to vocalize both singing and speaking.
English and French native speakers usually vocalize whole words at a time smoothly, without pausing. That form is similar to singing, because the speaker is not vocalizing each letter, the sound has a flow to it. No wonder why the Expatriate Japanese Singers had hardened throats when returning back to Japan – The drawn out vocalization had exhausted and overwhelmed their throats.
Let’s look at two different approaches to running the 100-meter dash, running 100 meters without stopping compared to stopping/pausing every 10 meters. The latter definitely uses more muscle.
Note1:Japanese climate is very high in temperature and humidity compared to California or Italy. When inhaling, the vocal folds and the soft tissues of the resonance chamber are moisturized by the humid air. Less activity of vocalization causes excessive muscle tension and makes you feel like the vocal cord is heavier.
Note2:Furthermore, like the Japanese Singers, most people take a plane to enter and leave Japan. I think their vocal cords got swollen during the dry flight from the cabin air, which contributed to their voice problem.
I really feel that many Pop Singers stop making an effort to improve their voices after they become popular and successful.
I’m not talking about all Singers, but all too often I tend to come across similar cases with the following circumstances:
●Singers never changing or evolving their style or vocal range after making a hit song.
●They prioritize the quality of sound over the quality of their voice.
●They fake singing a song (lip syncing) at a concert/music festival, or use equipment such as a fan accessory to make their effort less. Some even mask their future albums’ songs performed in concerts by using distracting dance choreography tactics.
●They sing only easy songs publicly, that do not exhibit special talent or ability.
●Big fans/supporters can sometimes spoil a Singer’s image, with their dedication and admiration of the Pop Singer’s “Idol” status.
●They never try new song styles, because they are afraid of change and how it will affect their listeners’ opinions of them.
●Making money is inevitably more important them than singing and making music.
Note1:A singer is really similar to a sports athlete. If a track and field athlete achieves breaking/setting a world record, more than likely they are trying to set the bar higher and work towards getting a better record next time.
If a figure skater gets a high or even perfect score, too often they will continue training and working hard to maintain that score and stay in the leading ranks.
In the same way, if you achieve success with singing, you should to continue to maintain and strive to reach for a higher level of ability and broadened range in order to survive in the music industry.
Please do not sell yourself short in advancing your singing career or in making an effort to sing a song, because you think or were told that your voice is a gift to the listeners.
Beginning with observing form and mechanics, let’s have a brief overview of the resonance chamber, which is near the vocal folds 1:laryngeal ventricle 2: piriform recess 3:pharyngeal cavity 4:oral cavity 5:nasal cavity.
The voice is made in the resonance chamber.
The distance is very short between the external nostril and the oral cavity. The nasal cavity area itself is a large space, and comparable to the size of the inferior concha. There is a relevant connection between the voice and the nasal cavity.
The nose and nasal cavity both play many important roles in our everyday life functions. The most vital role is to send air (breathing) with humidity to the lungs. This action also can alter the temperature of air that enters the body from the outside, by warming cold air as well as chilling hot air.
The nose also prevents dust from entering the body, blocking it with our natural nose hairs.
The nose affects producing a good or bad voice, depending on the angle of the path for airflow. A clear path is often most desirable, but many singers with a nasal type sounding voice have used that as a trademark sound.
The nose holes usually face toward the ground, in which the air enters. After the air enters, it turns at a right angle to head to the epipharynx, then it turns at right angle again to go to lungs passing through the pharynx and the vocal fold. (Figure 2).
This process also prevents lungs from becoming dry, due to humidity in the air we breathe.
The process of voice production uses air being exhaled, going outside through the opposite way in which the airflow entered.
When the voice is travelling through the nasal cavity, a slight turning (due to a curve shape) happens, which makes a positive influence on the voice.
This is also same concept as when there are structures on the ceiling or wall in concert hall. These structures or masses diffuse, direct and even reflect sound.
I have tested and ran a survey, comparing the sound production of air entering and turning to exit at different angles. I used two identical in size vinyl pipes (diameter is 2 inches and total length is 35 inches) with one pipe being bent (Figure 1:A) and the other being straight(Figure1:B). The study began with playing music into one side, and participants listening/observing the sound that exited from the other side.
Survey results concluded that the bent pipe’s sound was better.
Five people participated in this study, and all of them had the same opinion.
The bent pipe’s angle mimicked the space of the nasal cavity. Therefor I have determined that the air pathway’s angle is relevant to a good voice.
Note:Sound is not transferred or even made without air/airflow, especially the human voice.
LDP (Larynx Deep Position) deteriorates the ability to control breathing. This lack of control can be especially noticeable and reported by musicians who play wind instruments, to whom controlling breath is a key factor in making their music.
An experienced Clarinetist recently asked me, “What could be the reason why I couldn’t, all of a sudden, control my breathing when playing clarinet the other day? I’ve never had a problem before.”
I examined him and determined that he has LDP, which caused the omohyoid muscle to go up.
When I moved his larynx by hand, it made a clicking sound.
The following order of issues will happen if you play clarinet (or really any woodwind instrument) with LDP.
1:The arytenoid cartilago corniculata is pressured by LDP.
2:The arytenoid cartilage will forcibly slide and rotate.
3:The glottis opens and breath leaks out.
4:It will become hard to control breathing. Breath is going in through the nasal cavity, while breath is slowed or stopped from entering by way of the mouth/oral cavity.
The black arrow shows the vector of LDP, and the red arrows show the vector of the cervical spine. As a result the blue arrow, which highlights The arytenoid cartilage, forcibly slides and rotates.
Note1:The arytenoid cartilage is moved by sliding and rotating, creating a double action, similar to the action of a temporomandibular joint and cricothyroid articulation.
Note2:Generating sound by clarinet or any other woodwind instrument is really similar to the process of generating human voice.