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ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Breathing Versus Vocal Sound

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We are now going to get into some very key
elements regarding the physiology or
anatomy of your voice,
so you understand your instrument better
can from there, marry your thoughts and
efforts with the truth of your instrument.
Rather than some kind of idea that
wherever it came from,
doesn't actually align with the facts of
how your body works to make sound.
So, anytime that you make a vocal sound,
that's the results of your vocal folds
Take a look at this side view of this
picture of the head, and
you'll see on the side a little black line
in the front of the throat.
That is not a hole.
That is simply where the vocal folds are
Now, I'll show you on myself.
So, find your Adam's apple.
If you're female they're usually not so
easy to find,
but if you look on my neck, it's not down
It's right about midway.
And, if you put your thumb and your index
finger right in front of it, don't push,
and go you'll feel the directness of the
vibration that's being created in there.
Have you heard of vocal chords?
Is that how you've thought of them?
They're not, because chords will make you
think in terms of strings.
And, I know when I first started, you
know, looking into the voice and
studying it.
Even though I had sung for years earlier
at a certain point,
I decided that I would study more about
the voice and
see if there's anything I could do to
enhance my sound and such.
And, even that teacher at the time would
refer to them as vocal chords.
And un, I didn't even realize the picture
that I was
creating in my mind of these two strings.
And, I kind of, you know, tried to, well,
you know,
strings have to be connected someplace.
So, I was imagining that they were
connected to my jaw and to my collarbone,
and I, that, I figured, well, they have to
And, I didn't really understand how they
vibrated, so
I thought I had to use my throat muscles
to clang them together.
And, I was a very powerful, short-ranged
singer who couldn't sing very long after
that development.
[LAUGH] And I would wear my voice out
really fast.
When I found out that they aren't strings,
I was like, oh boy.
I feel so silly.
So anyway, there, there are these twin
muscles that lie horizontally just behind
your Adam's apple.
Actually if you feel this whole section,
you can feel like the wall
of this tube is kinda hard and it's made
out of cartilage.
And, you'll notice it's really not that
So, the vocal folds are inside that and
the whole
tube you know that is, doesn't fill your
throat, it's just the front section.
So, let's take a look at that side section
of the head again.
And, you'll notice where it's labeled the
esophagus, Tthat's what you swallow down.
So swallow, and look at the picture.
And, it just goes down back behind where
your voice is.
If you've ever swallowed down the wrong
pipe as they say,
it means that instead of whatever you
swallowed going down the esophagus,
which is that dark tube behind the larynx.
You ended up inhaling what you were
supposed to swallow, and
it came down here.
And, the original reason or purpose for
the vocal folds
was to catch anything that you ended up
sucking into your breathing tube.
And, close and spin some mucus around it
and cough, so
that it would get it out of your breathing
tube and
not go into your lungs, which would be a
bad thing.
So, that's, that's what all that was.
And then, human beings began to develop
the desire to communicate through sound.
And, the secondary purpose of the vocal
folds, which was for
vibrating, ended up, I don't know,
occurring, being born, and evolved from
So, you've noticed where they are.
Now, let's take a look at the picture of
the vocal folds themselves.
This is a diagram, and it shows the two
vocal folds
open while you're breathing.
Breathing is subdivided into inhale and
And during both, your vocal folds remain
It's kind of like a triangular opening,
like a wedge of space.
And, the air goes in and out through that
into your, through your nose or
your mouth, past your vocal folds, and
into your lungs.
Let's demonstrate this.
So, take a look at my feet and
I want you to do the same thing.
Put your feet flat together.
You can do it standing or seated, it
doesn't matter.
Keep your toes together and open your
Now, you'll notice that there's space.
And so, your feet are representing your
vocal folds and
that space is what you're breathing
No vocal sound, only breathing.
In order to make vocal sound,
keep your toes together, the heels come
back together.
And in this case, with your feet, they're
lying side by side, then air comes up
to them from underneath and triggers their
vibration and sound is made.
So, we've got them,
now you can watch my hands.
You've got them, here's like vocal folds
looking down the head at the top
of them, in the front here of the tube and
they open for breathing.
Br, breath, in, out, in, out, in, out.
You want to make sound.
The back ends pivoting closed.
They don't jam together.
They just lie side by side.
Air comes up, I'm going to use my fingers
air comes up to them vibrates them,
converts them into vibration,
the air stream, converts into vibration,
and sound is born.
Breathing and vocal sound are different.
They are totally different.
Breathing just means air is exhaled.
There's no purpose for it other than
leaving your body, and air is inhaled.
Certainly, when you make focal sound, you
need to inhale
because that's the fuel needed to vibrate
your vocal folds,
but then there's something else that needs
to occur.
And, we're gonna get into that in just a
moment and discover what it is,
and why it's necessary, and how you can
employ it automatically and naturally.