How to Sing Better: Resonance in Singing

Uncategorized Jun 21, 2021

Resonance happens in the vocal tract- the cavities of the pharynx and mouth.  This is where the buzz-like basic voiced sound is transformed through the magic of formants and harmonics interacting with each other.  The vocal tract includes the pharynx (where the larynx resides, known as the laryngopharynx), the mouth and, to a smaller extent, the nasal cavities or nasopharynx. The mouth and pharynx are where partials are filtered and selectively boosted or attenuated (damped).

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The pharynx is more commonly known as the throat. This is the first “container” that an energized airwave encounters before traveling up to the oral cavity. The role of the pharynx is to filter and selectively boost some partials and to dampen or attenuate others.

The size of this resonating tube can be altered by movements of the larynx, which increases or decreases the tube length. This, in turn, alters formant and harmonic relationships. The pharynx...

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How Your Voice Works: The Way Sound is Produced

Uncategorized Jun 14, 2021

The voice can be thought of as a source-filter system; the source is the lungs that provide breath pressure to the vibrating vocal folds and the filter is the pharynx and mouth of the vocal tract where some frequencies or partials are boosted and others damped or attenuated, a process known as resonance.

In speaking, this system is linear; however, in singing, the components of the system affect one another, creating energy boosting.


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How Your Voice Works: Anatomy and Physiology

Uncategorized Jun 07, 2021

Anatomy is the study of the body and physiology is the study of how the systems in the body function.

An understanding of how the cooperative components of your amazing vocal system work together will provide you with a solid fact-based foundation on which to build good vocal technique.

Some singers are sensation based; they are mostly concerned with what feels right. However, others may be interested in knowing some of the science behind this marvelously designed system.

In previous units, we have learned that the singing voice functions as a system; systems are comprised of components that must work cooperatively.

The system of the voice consists of three components: respiration (air, or energy source), phonation (the vibrator or oscillator) and resonation (a filtering and selective reinforcement system).

Respiration for singing is produced by the lungs, trachea, diaphragm, and other muscles of respiration. Air traveling upward from the lungs meets the vocal folds.


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How to Sing Better: The Tongue

Uncategorized May 31, 2021


F1 correlates inversely with tongue height; the higher the tongue is, the more closed the vowel is and the lower the F1 frequency is. As the tongue moves from a high to a low position (from closed to open vowels), the pharyngeal cavity decreases in volume or space, and the mouth cavity (meaning the area in front of the tongue constriction) increases in volume or space.

Closed vowels, because the tongue is high in the mouth and pulled upward and out of the pharynx, create more pharyngeal space and less mouth space.

Lower F1 correlates with less hold. Higher F1 correlates with more hold.  A high tongue produces a closed vowel and lower F1 frequencies, effectively creating more release. A flat tongue produces an open vowel and higher F1 frequencies, effectively creating more hold.

Singers who pull chest sing with a wide grimace, extremely spread lips, and a raised larynx, raising F1 frequencies. The raised larynx creates a smaller pharyngeal...

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How to Sing Better: Vowels, Harmonics, and Formants

Uncategorized May 24, 2021


Every component of sound has a vibrational frequency, represented in Hertz (Hz). Pitch, for example, is a vibrational frequency; the A above middle C is called A-440 because it vibrates at 440 Hz or cycles per second.

During phonation, the vocal folds rapidly open and close, converting aerodynamic energy to acoustic energy. This acoustic energy is comprised of partials, including F0, the fundamental or pitch (also known as the first harmonic or H1) and overtones. 

Some overtones are non-musical noise sounds, and others, those occurring with mathematical regularity above the fundamental, are called harmonics.

Harmonics are multiples of the fundamental. For example, if the fundamental (F0, or the pitch) is 220, the next harmonic would occur at 440 (220 x 2), the next at 660 (220 x 3), the next at 880 (220 x 4), etc. Harmonics occur at decreasing intervals above the pitch, starting with the second harmonic at the octave, the third harmonic is a perfect fifth above that...

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How to Sing Better with Vowels

Uncategorized May 17, 2021

Vowels (from the Latin vocalis, meaning "uttering voice") are sounds in which the vocal tract is open.

Vowels form the nucleus or center of a syllable. Because the vocal tract is open and the articulators don’t move when singing vowels, the resonance frequencies are more stable. When we sustain notes in singing, we do so on vowels, not consonants.

All great singing is based on exceptional vowel production.


Vowel articulation occurs in one of three cavities: the oral (mouth and pharynx), labial, (lips) and to a smaller degree, the nasal (nose) cavity.

Vowels are formed mostly by various alterations of the constriction of the tongue, with help from the lips for the rounded vowels only- [u] (you), [o] (go), and [ʊ] (good). The constriction of the tongue is the middle area that can arch upward for vowels such as [i] or flatten for vowels such as [ɑ].

The constriction divides the oral cavity into the mouth and pharynx.

Aside from formation of rounded...

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Singing High- The Upper Register Modes

Uncategorized May 10, 2021

In Step Three of the Eight Steps of Vocal Development program at Sing Like a Star Studios, our focus is on the upper register- the notes above the primo passaggio. We sing high notes in our upper register. In upper register phonation, the vocal folds are longer, thinner, and tauter, and the vocal folds meet higher on the depth of the fold.

This area of the voice has traditionally had many different names such as head voice, falsetto, loft, M2, light mechanism, etc.

Terminology in the world of voice can be confusing; the use of the term falsetto, for example, means different things to different pedagogues. In much of the traditional literature, the word falsetto meant anything above the primo passaggio for males.

In contemporary singing, falsetto can be defined as breathy and anemic singing caused by inadequate vocal fold adduction and low closed quotient.

Another example: mix in a contemporary male tenor would be termed head voice in the classical world.


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How to Sing: The Throat Muscles

Uncategorized May 03, 2021

Muscles that attach the larynx to something outside of itself are called extrinsic muscles. The extrinsic muscles are responsible for raising and lowering the larynx. The larynx elevates several centimeters when we swallow; it lowers several centimeters when we yawn or take a relaxed and deep breath.

In swallowing, a group of sphincter muscles (sphincter muscles are muscles that surround and constrict an opening) force the larynx upward and seal the air passage. Activating these swallowing/sphincter muscles is antithetical to good singing.

Try swallowing and singing at the same time- it can’t be done!

Many self-taught or poorly taught singers activate these muscles during vocalization. The extrinsic muscles are also known as interfering muscles because they interfere with the process of free vocalization.

The extrinsic strap muscles are attached outside the larynx, holding the larynx in place, stabilizing it, and moving it up or down. These muscles, if consistently tensed...

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Optimal Larynx Position in Singing

Uncategorized Apr 26, 2021

Laryngeal stability and control of the vertical position of the larynx are foundational tenets of good vocal production. The larynx must be free from tension and extrinsic muscle interference to respond to the requirements of singing.

It is vital that the larynx is not allowed to rise as the pitch ascends. This is important, not only for registration and blending purposes, but also for beautiful timbre. A raised larynx is undesirable because it produces a thinner, more strident vocal timbre.

Maintaining a stable laryngeal position allows the intrinsic muscles to adjust more easily for pitch and produces a more consistent timbre throughout the singer’s range. If the larynx is allowed to change position with each new pitch, the vocal quality will be inconsistent.

The optimal position of the larynx while singing is neutral- relaxed and comfortably low- the position it naturally assumes when we take a deep breath. The larynx should not be allowed to elevate when singing high...

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Your Voice Box: The Larynx

Uncategorized Apr 19, 2021

The larynx, along with the vocal folds, is part of the phonation system.

The larynx, the housing of the vocal folds, is an acorn-sized protuberance made of cartilage. The male larynx is larger than the female larynx because the male vocal folds are larger.

The male larynx is also formed at a sharper angle than the female larynx; it is a 90-degree angle, while the female larynx is a softer 120-degree angle.

The larynx is moveable and is affected by the action of the extrinsic swallowing muscles of the neck surrounding it. When we swallow, the larynx is pulled upward by those extrinsic muscles.

When we sing, those muscles should not engage; the larynx should be comfortably neutral and relaxed.

Most singers unknowingly engage extrinsic muscle and hike the larynx as they approach the top notes of the lower register unless they have learned how to transition through the primo passaggio or first bridge correctly.


The larynx is suspended from the hyoid bone, which helps to...

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