Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

March 2012

Voice Science-Default Vocal Position

In last month’s issue, I introduced the term vocal habitation: the “process of building and strengthening the voice to meet specific needs”. Poor vocal economy results in too much effort at input for too little vocal output. In order to utilize the voice optimally it is necessary to know the sound quality desired and to understand the inherent cost of  achieving that goal.

The concept of equilibrium positions, i.e., a condition in which all acting influences are cancelled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced or unchanging system, ( is an important concept in vocal training. Just as bridges and buildings may sway during high wind, only to return to their original positions afterwards, in vocal habilitation, all the anatomical components necessary for vocal production, the rib cage, larynx, articulators etc., have positions of equilibrium that can be optimized for phonation. These “default” positions are altered every time there is a pitch, vowel or air pressure change. An alteration in one component triggers movement in the equilibrium positions of other components (more air pressure for higher pitches, jaw and lip shapings for different vowels etc).  Vocal training involves a never ending readjustment of all the components to find the combined equilibrium position for the most economical phonation, i.e., “global optimization shifts” that result in a harmoniously working system. It is also important that these positions not be extreme or one directional. As an example, muscles tend to work best at mid-length range vs. maximal extension, giving the option of either more or less, but always seeking the “equilibrium position” that delivers the best result. The old axiom, “moderation in all things” is true even here.

Vocology: The Science and Practice of Vocal Habilitation. Ingo Ttize & Katherine V. Abbott. National Center for Voice and Speech. 2012.


Did You Know…..

The acoustic carrier of all voiced sounds is a complex waveform containing multiple sinusoids vs. a single one; that breathing, pitch, intensity and articulation can disrupt the voicing of the carrier; that primal sounds like giggling, cooing and squealing start to occur in infants between 2-4 months?

Things to Do-What’s My Air Pressure

Because breath pressure is such an important component of phonation, especially singing, below are two variations of an exercise for exploring the sensations of negative vs. positive air pressure.

Take a deep breath and with your hand clasped firmly over your mouth (no leakage from your nose either!), exhale and notice any outward movement of your hand. This is a positive pressure. When you inhale, pay attention to the suction action on your palm. This is negative pressure. Try the same thing forming the consonant F. Again, make note of the effect these actions have on the lower lip. Since your vocal folds are direct recipients of this pressure during phonation, these exercises should help give you an idea of how air pressure moves the vocal folds.

What’s New?

On Saturday, March 16, reVoice is offering an “Intro Voice” class through Communiversity. Call 816-235-1407 to enroll. Class size limited.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 10 at 2pm for the Women’s Voices concert at Village Presbyterian Church.Tickets are $10 and will help fund college scholarships through AAUW.

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