Why is voice classification important?
It is important because misclassification can rob a voice of tonal beauty and freedom of production, can cause endless frustration and disappointment, can shorten a career, and can cause vocal damage of varying degrees of permanence.
Singing at a pitch level that is either too low or too high creates:
Vocal pathology
Why is it important not to make an immediate judgment regarding a student’s classification?
Premature concern with classification can result in misclassification, with all its attendant dangers.
What is the first essential in singing?
To establish good vocal habits within a limited, comfortable range.
Why is it important to first establish good vocal habits within a limited, comfortable range?
When techniques of posture, breathing, phonation, resonation, and articulation have become established in this comfortable area, the true quality of the voice will emerge and the upper and lower limits of the range can be explored safely.
The first rule of voice classification:
Don’t be in a hurry.
The second rule of classification:
Assume that the voice is of medium classification until it proves otherwise.
Why should a teacher assume that a voice is of medium classification until it proves otherwise?
Most of the populace is of a medium category, and singing in a medium range is less likely to cause vocal harm.
True or false: Medium voices have the same upper and lower limits.
False. There are higher and lower medium voices, and one medium voice might have a much larger or smaller range than another.
This will help prevent a teacher from making a harmful misclassification of a voice:
Assuming a medium classification until the teacher gets to know the voice intimately.
At the beginning of vocal study, it is more important to a) expand the singer’s range or b) establish vocal freedom.
b) establish vocal freedom
Why is it more important to develop vocal freedom than try to expand the range of a new singer?
It will lead to better vocal health, with less chance of vocal harm.
Why do choir directors have a difficult time correctly placing voices within a choir?
If most voices are of medium classification, then the director will have to place many voices in categories that are too high or too low in order to fill the choir.
There are fewer dangers in singing in a range that is too _______ than in singing too _________.
low, high
Why do many students obsess over voice classification, and what problem might this present?
It is considered more in style to be of a higher classification, and it is a popular conception that singers with high voices make more money. Many singers will strive to be of a classification that they are not, and this causes vocal problems.
What are the four main considerations for classifying a voice?
1) range 2) tessitura 3) timbre 4) transition points (breaks)
What are a few secondary considerations when classifying a voice?
physical characteristics, speech level, scientific testing
How many octaves should a professional singer be able to comfortably sing in?
What percentages of notes sung by a certain classification will lie in the middle two octaves that the singer of that classification should be able to comfortably sing in?
90 to 95 percent
Practical 12th, ideal 2 octaves, and extreme ranges for a bass:
A2-E4, F2-F4, C2-G4
Practical 12th, ideal 2 octaves, and extreme ranges for a baritone:
B2-F#4, Ab2-Ab4, G2-Bb4
Practical 12th, ideal 2 octaves, and extreme ranges for a tenor:
D3-A4, C3-C5, Bb2-Eb5
Practical 12th, ideal 2 octaves, and extreme ranges for a contralto:
A3-E5, G3-G5, C3-Bb5
Practical 12th, ideal 2 octaves, and extreme ranges for a mezzo:
C4-G5, A3-A5, G3-A5
Practical 12th, ideal 2 octaves, and extreme ranges for a soprano:
E4-A5, C4-C6, A3-F6
This is often confused with range.
What is the difference between range and tessitura?
Range is concerned with the total compass of a voice part or of a singer. Tessitura is concerned with the part of the range which is receiving the most use. It may refer to the voice part itself or how the singer relates to it.
True or false: A song can have the same range, but a different tessitura.
How does a singer with a wide range determine which tessitura they should sing in?
The decision should be made mostly on which range proves more tiring to the singer.
If a singer can sing comfortably in two tessituras, the smart decision is to choose the __________ one.
Lower; it is less likely to cause vocal harm.
Vocal longevity bears a direct relationship to vocal ___________.
This is the most intangible criterion used in determining voice classification.
How does a teacher use timbre to help determine voice classification?
The teacher must hear the voice as it sounds now and picture in their mental ear how it will sound when it is fully developed. To do this, the teacher must recall other voices, other students, desired tonal images, etc.
Why is timbre the most risky criterion for new teachers to use?
They do not have an arsenal of tonal memories to call on.
True or false: All light, lyric voices are high.
False. There are light mezzos, baritones, etc.
True or false: Not all heavy, dramatic voices are low.
What do terms such as dramatic and lyric primarily refer to?
Size of voice, kind of tone quality, or style of singing…not range.
Why are many young or undeveloped voices misclassified as sopranos or tenors?
Because they sound light.
These are two classification-related mistakes a student can make that can lead to vocal harm:
Students may misclassify themselves or adopt wrong tonal images.
There is a strong correlation between the vocal image a singer adopts and this:
The creation and continuation of most functional and organic voice disorders.
Some teachers rely almost exclusively on this to classify voices.
Transition points
True or false: The transition points of high, medium, and low voices follow the same sequence, with higher voices having higher transition points and lower voices having lower transition points.
What is a transition point?
It is generally accepted that most singers have moree or less clearly defined areas in the voice where there is a “register” change, a change of quality, or the necessity for some change in technique.
This is a good term for what needs to happen around the breaks in the voice to navigate them successfully.
Resonance adjustment
The most obvious transition occurs in the _________ part of the female voice and the __________ part of the male voice, but on the same pitches.
lower, upper
Transition point for contraltos and basses (according to the book):
Transition point for mezzos and baritones:
Transition point for sopranos and tenors
Upper transition point for contraltos:
Upper transition point for mezzos:
Upper transition point for sopranos:
Where does the upper female transition point occur relative to the lower transition point?
One octave above.
Is the upper or lower transition point more conclusive for categorizing female voices?
What is the goal for a singer in the transitional areas of the voice?
To learn to camouflage the change until it is almost imperceptible.
True or false: All vowels have the same transition points.
False. Front vowels shift sooner.
Students who do not accept their real classification may do this in relation to their transition points:
They may adopt the transition points of their desired classification just to prove a point.
It is generally better to speak (higher or lower)?
What are some physical characteristics of singers with high voices?
Round faces, short necks, large chests, and short stature.
What are some physical characteristics of singers with low voices?
long faces, long necks, flat chests, and tall stature
The relationship between good singing and good ___________ can’t be overemphasized.
It is accepted that _______ ____ ______ is a primary determinant of voice type.
vocal fold length
The most important factor in voice classification is probably:
comfortable tessitura
Possible dangers of misclassification:
a shortened career, loss of tonal beauty, loss of freedom of production, continuing frustration and disappointment, and the possibility of serious vocal damage.
Why might it take years for vocal damage to make an appearance after a voice has been misclassified?
The human voice, especially in early adulthood, is very resilient.
Is it possible for a singer who has sung in the same fach for years to see vocal damage?
Yes. Sometimes damage can take a long time to appear, but misclassification will eventually take its toll.
Singing in the wrong category, especially too high, can cause this vocal condition.
Singing above your best tessitura does this to your vocal cords:
Keeps them under unnecessary tension for long periods of time.
When is singing at too low a pitch likely to be damaging?
When the singer forces their voice down.
This happens when a person sings lower notes correctly.
There is an element of relaxation of subglottic air pressure which permits the vocal folds to vibrate freely.
This happens when a singer tries to sing a pitch that is below their singing range.
It will become almost inaudible or will turn to breath.
Trying to force the voice to sing lower than its natural range will cause this paradoxical symptom.
The voice will cut off even higher because of the increased breath pressure.
The secret to successful low notes:
The relaxation of the support mechanism as the pitch descends
With proper singing technique, the singer’s voice should hold up until what age?
Well into his 60’s or 70’s.
Four major reasons for a shortened vocal career:
wrong classification, wrong technique, singing too much and too often without proper rest, and health problems.
Define resonation
The process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air.
The end result of resonation is:
to make a better sound.
Various definitions related to the resonation process include such terms as:
amplification, enrichment, enlargement, improvement, intensification, and prolongation.
What are the two basic kinds of resonance?
Sympathetic and conductive
What is sympathetic resonance?
The resonator starts functioning because it receives vibrations through the air and responds to them sympathetically.
What is conductive resonance?
The resonator starts vibrating because it is in physical contact with the vibrating body.
Another name for conductive resonance:
Forced resonance
What are conductive vibrations best used for in singing?
They are good sensation guides for the singer. They provide evidence that the singer’s vocal folds are forming strong primary vibrations which are being carried from them to the head and chest.
This type of resonance has the most impact on the sound a singer makes:
Factors that determine the resonance characteristics of a resonator, in which small changes can cause major changes in sound:
Size, shape, type of opening, composition and thickness of the walls, surface, and combined resonators.
The larger the resonator:
The lower the frequency it will respond to, the greater the volume of air, and the lower the pitch.
Besides the size of the resonator, what factor will affect the pitch?
Shape of the resonator.
A conical resonator does this to the pitch:
Amplifies it indiscriminately.
The pitch of a cylindrical resonator is affected primarily by what?
The length of the tube.
A spherical resonator will be affected most by these factors:
The amount of opening it has and whether or not that opening has a lip.
Two jars have the same volume. One has a large opening, one has a small opening. Which creates a lower pitch when you blow on it?
The smaller opening.
Two bottles have the same shape but different sizes. Which creates a lower pitch when you blow on it?
The larger one.
Three factors that relate to the walls of a resonator that will affect how it functions:
The material it is made of, the thickness of its walls, and the type of surface it has.
The harder the surface of the resonator, the ________ selective it will be.
The softer the surface of the resonator, the ______ ___________ it will become.
more universal
Hardness carried to the extreme in a resonator will create this:
penetrating tone with a few very strong high partials.
Softness in the resonator carried to the extreme will result in this:
mushy, non-directional tone of little character.
Joining two resonators together results in:
lowered resonant frequency of each in different proportions according to their capacities, their orifices, and so forth.
Term meaning two or more resonators joined together.
Coupled resonators.
Name all of the vocal resonators.
The chest, the tracheal tree, the larynx, the pharynx, the oral cavity, the nasal cavity, and the sinuses.
How does the chest resonator affect the vocal sound?
It is not an effective resonator and does not really influence the sound.
The vibrating felt in the chest could be called:
A resonance sensation.
What is the tracheal tree?
The trachea and the bronchial tubes combine to form an inverted Y-shaped structure. It lies just below the larynx and has a definite tubular shape and hard surfaces.
True or false: The internal diameter of the tube in the tracheal tree can be increased or decreased to a moderate extent and is under conscious control.
False. It can be increased and decreased, but it is not under conscious control.
True or false: The response of the tracheal tree will be the same for all pitches except for its own resonant frequency.
When the resonance frequency of the tracheal tree is reached, the response of the subglottic tube is to act as:
an acoustical impedance or interference which tends to upset the phonatory function of the larynx.
The tracheal tree will continue to impede normal phonatory function of the larynx until:
The singer learns to adjust the supraglottal resonators to compensate for it.
True or false: The tracheal tree makes no contribution to the resonance system except for a negative effect around its resonant frequency.
Why is the larynx considered a resonator?
Even though it is primarily a vibrator, it also is a cavity, even if it is a very small one.
The larynx functions only for this type of frequencies, since it is so small.
High frequencies.
Brilliance or ring is this:
A prominent overtone lying between 2800 and 3200 Hertz, with male voices nearer the lower limit and female voices near the upper.
The “ring” can also be called:
The singer’s formant
This plays an important role in the generation of the singer’s formant.
The laryngeal tube
True or false: The larynx is under conscious control.
How can the singer’s formant or ring be encouraged?
It can be indirectly encouraged by awareness on the part of the student and teacher of the sounds which contain it.
Why is the singer’s formant required to be heard over an orchestra?
It sits at a frequency that is naturally weak in the orchestra.
What is the most important resonator?
The pharynx
Why is the pharynx the most important resonator?
It is the first cavity of any size through which the product of the laryngeal vibrator passes, and the other supraglottal cavities have to accept whatever the pharynx passes on to them.
What are the supraglottal resonators?
The pharynx, the oral cavity, the nasal cavity, and the sinuses.
Why is the pharynx ideally suited to function as a resonator?
Its vertical and horizontal dimensions can be increased or decreased, the tension in its walls is highly variable, and the size of the orifices leading to the mouth and nose can be varied, as can the entrance to the larynx itself.
Where is the pharynx located?
It extends from the back of the nose down to the larynx and the mouth of the esophagus.
This forms the walls of the pharynx.
Three large bands of constrictor muscles (the upper, middle, and lower constrictors).
The nasopharynx can be shut off from the rest of the pharynx by the action of:
the upper constrictor and the elevation of the soft palate.
The laryngopharynx can virtually be cut off from the rest of the pharynx by:
the juxtaposition of the back of the tongue and the pharyngeal wall.
This is the second most important resonator.
The oral cavity.
Why does the oral cavity serve as an effective vocal resonator?
Its location, size, and adjustability make it a good resonator.
How are the dimensions of the oral cavity manipulated?
By movements of the tongue, soft palate jaw, lips, and the shape of the front and back of the orifice.
The main functions of the mouth are to:
form the vocal tone into understandable units by supplying consonants for communication, to get the sound out where it can be heard, and to join with the pharynx in the formation of vowel sounds.
What is the most important factor of articulation?
The singer must be able to articulate without spoiling the quality which has been generated in the larynx and resonated by the pharynx.
What is one of the most important functions of the oral cavity as a resonator?
To act as a funnel for the projection of sound.
This is the third most important resonator.
The nasal cavity
What sounds is the nasal cavity essential in?
m, n, ng
The opening between the back of the nose and the back of the mouth is called:
the nasal port
The only way the singer can change the shape of the nasal cavity is to:
flare the nostrils, although it doesn’t change much.
The action of this opens and closes the nasal cavity.
The soft palate
Vibration felt in the nose acts as:
evidence of a good phonatory process and the effectiveness of the pharynx and mouth as resonators.
The vibrations felt in the nasal cavity are a ____________, not a __________, of the sound you are producing.
Result, cause
This is the reason that the sinuses are insignificant as resonators.
Their size, location, minuteness of orifice, and lack of adjustability make it an insignificant resonator.
Name the three most important resonators in order of importance.
Pharynx, oral cavity, nasal cavity.
The pharynx brings out the _______ partials in the vocal tone, and therefore contribute to tone that can be described in this way:
lower; warm, full, round, rich, or mellow.
These two things work cooperatively in the formation of vowel sounds, functioning as combined resonators.
Pharynx and mouth
The larynx should be _____________ _____.
Comfortably low.
The extrinsic muscles of the larynx perform this task:
They pull up and down on the larynx, stabilizing it.
True or false: The larynx should travel up as the pitch travels up.
A high larynx results in this type of sound:
Tight and edgy
This is an ideal position for singing and should be cultivated.
Beginning-of-a-yawn position
Why should a full yawn position be avoided?
It depresses the larynx.
The location of the larynx affects the pharynx in these two ways:
It alters the tension in its walls and and its size.
When the larynx is high, the length of the pharynx is:
When the pharynx is high, the walls of the pharynx are made:
When the larynx is high, the horizontal dimensions of the pharynx are:
A high larynx affects the pharynx in these three ways:
Diminishes the length, hardens the walls, and decreases the horizontal dimensions.
A high larynx restricts:
The resonance abilities of the pharynx.
The open throat is:
a pre-yawn positions.
Desirable attributes of an open throat:
1. Sufficient size to bring out low partials. 2. Sufficient flexibility to adjust to different pitches coming from the larynx. 3. Sufficient softness to absorb undesirable high partials and respond to a broad range of pitches. 4. Sufficient muscle tone to preserve the character of the tone.
In order for sufficient space to be maintained in the pharynx, these muscles must not be allowed to take over.
The swallowing muscles.
One of the main causes of bad vocal sound:
tensing the constrictor muscles
Tensing the constrictor muscles causes this:
hardening of the resonator walls, reduced space, and tension in the vocal folds.
Tense constrictor muscles lead to this kind of sound:
tight, hard
The beginning of a yawn position leads to the following positive things:
1. Opens pathway for a noiseless and almost effortless taking of air. 2. Puts the larynx in a comfortably low position without tensing to do so. 3. Increases the size of the throat, especially in the vertical dimension. 4. Relaxes the muscles controlling the articulators, thus freeing them for action.
How does the beginning of a yawn position increase the size of the pharynx?
lowers the larynx, gently lifts the soft palate, and relaxes the constrictor muscles.
On what vowel does the soft palate assume its highest position?
The soft palate elevates considerably for this type of consonant:
What position should the mouth be in for singing?
Freely open as in the beginning of a yawn with the lower jaw dropping freely open as well.
True or false: the singer’s formant is only present in a few different sounds.
False. It should be present in all sounds.
Since the singer’s formant can be present in all sounds, it must be comparatively:
insensitive to vowel articulation.
The part of the vocal tract that varies the least with vowel articulation is:
the laryngeal tube.
Conditions favorable for the generation of the singer’s formant are:
1. lowering of the larynx 2. widening of the laryngeal ventricle and 3. widening of the pyriform sinuses
What position is most conducive to the singer’s formant?
Name the two major categories of faults related to resonation.
Faults related to nasal resonance and faults related to the basic harmonic spectrum of a voice (its tone color).
What are the two faults related to nasal resonance?
1. hypernasality and 2. hyponasality
How much nasal resonance should be in the voice is a matter of:
When does true nasal resonance occur?
When the nasal port is open enough for the nasal resonator to exert the predominant influence on the external sound produced.
Two other names for true nasal resonance:
postnasality and nasal honk
What causes forced nasality or nasal twang?
A tight, pinched sound which seems to be centered in the nasal cavity. It differs from true nasality because the sound can be produced when the nasal port is closed. It is caused by a constricted pharynx.
What range is associated with nasal twang?
2500-2800 Hertz
What is the difference between nasal honk and nasal twang?
Nasal honk is the result of a hung soft palate whereas nasal twang is the result of pharyngeal tension.
Insufficient nasal resonance is said to be:
Best correction for denasality:
Nasal consonants
Nasal honk occurs when:
the soft palate doesn’t sufficiently close off the nasal cavity and so it predominates on non-nasal sounds.
What are some steps to take to correct nasal honk?
1. Find out why he’s making the sound (former teacher, tonal preference, easier to sing that way, etc). 2. Try to develop a new tonal model. 3. Try to direct his tonal sensations to a new location. 4. Experiment with nasal consonants and plosive consonants. 5. As a last result, substitute nasal twang to teach them a new sensation.
Why are plosive consonants helpful in reducing nasal honk?
They require closure of the nasal port.
How is nasal twang corrected?
1. Loosen general tension in the body. 2. Use exercises to relax the neck, throat, and jaw. 3. Thy to develop a new tonal model for the student. 4. Direct the student’s tonal sensations to a new location.
Name the two faults related to tone color.
Too bright (white, forward, or open) and too dark (muffled, swallowed, covered, far back).
Both too bright and too dark sound result from:
failure to bring the vocal resonators into proper balance.
In a too bright voice, too much emphasis is put on this resonator.
The mouth, not enough on the pharynx.
In a too dark voice, too much emphasis is put on this resonator:
The pharynx, not enough on the mouth.
Brightness and darkness are not faults in themselves; they become faults when:
a majority would identify the sound as too bright or too dark.
Why is “placing” a voice physically impossible?
Sound moves out from its vibrating source in waves, filling any vocal resonator which it has access to. There is nothing in the human mechanism by means of which a singer can place, focus, or throw the sound anywhere.
What are factors that cause a too-bright sound?
1. Lack of space in the pharynx due to the action of the constrictor muscles and. or elevation of the larynx. 2. Tension in the walls of the pharyngeal resonator making it too selective. 3. Wrong tonal models. 4. Exaggerated mouth opening, pulling the lips back in a forced smile, or protruding the lips too much. 5. Excessive tension in the muscles of the lips, tongue, jaw, or palatal arches.
This fault often occurs along with a too-bright sound.
Hyperfunctional phonation.
What are some corrective measures for a too-bright sound?
1. Check posture, breathing, and support. 2. Use exercises to relax and loosen the neck, throat, and articulators. 3. Exercise extensive practice on establishing and maintaining the beginning-of-a-yawn position. 4. Develop a new tonal model. 5. Suggest that he think of a sound that is further back or otherwise calls attention away from the mouth. 6. Imagine a deeper, richer, more dramatic sound. 7. Use back vowels combined with b, m, or j.
Too-bright sounds are often associated with this larynx position.
High larynx
A too dark sound is placing too much emphasis on this:
The pharyngeal resonator.
What factors can cause a too-dark sound?
1. Overuse of the yawning muscles with resulting spread throat and/or depressed larynx. 2. Lack of oral space due to lip, jaw, or tongue position. 3. Wrong tonal models. 4. Flabby surfaces of the pharyngeal walls. 5. Tongue pulled back into the pharynx.
Does darkness in a sound come from too much or too little tension?
It can come from either, so it is important to identify the specific cause before correcting it.
What should a teacher look for first when a singer makes a too-dark sound?
lack of activity in the articulators, such as failure to move the lips or make any significant mouth opening, which can muffle the sound even when no other faults are present.
How does a teacher correct an overly dark sound caused by a lack of movement in the lips or mouth opening?
Call the student’s attention to it and require him to practice in front of a mirror.
What’s the first question a teacher should ask about a too-dark sound?
Is it breathy or not?
If a student’s too-dark tone is breathy, what is a good first step?
Work on the phonation problem first. It will often fix the timbre problem.
What are other steps to correcting an overly dark tone?
Figure out why he’s singing that way, develop a new tonal model, explain that a balanced sound requires a lot of hard palate vibration behind the front teeth and near the back of the palate and seems more centered in the throat. Make sure his tongue isn’t being pulled back by having him sing with his tongue out. Exercise him on frontal vowels and rapid articulation exercises.
What is adduction?
The coming together of the vocal folds.
What is abduction?
The separating of the vocal folds.
What are the five major controls that govern the vibration of the vocal folds?
1. Adduction 2. Thickness 3. Length 4. Tension 5. Breath (BATTL)
What happens if adduction is too tight?
The vocal folds squeeze the glottis, causing a tight, harsh tone.
What happens if adduction is too soft?
The vocal folds do not seal the glottis, causing a breathy, limp tone.
Thick vocal folds produce:
Slower vibrations, lower pitches, and a more robust tonal quality.
Thin vocal folds produce:
faster vibrations, higher pitches, and purer, more floating tone.
Vocal cords get longer or shorter to control:
Long, stretched vocal folds produce:
faster vibrations, higher pitches, and a purer tonal quality.
Shorter vocal folds produce:
slower vibrations, lower pitches, and a more robust tonal quality.
This is the tension in the vocal folds when they are stretched.
Longitudinal tension
As the longitudinal tension increases in the cords, they tend to:
vibrate faster and raise the pitch.
Breath controls vocal fold vibration through:
The Bernoulli Effect.
More breath pressure causes ___________ tones while less breath pressure causes _________ tones.
louder, softer.
Too much breath pressure causes the vocal folds to tighten too much to maintain pitch, causing:
tight, forced tone.
Too little breath pressure causes the cords to tighten, causing:
a weak, inflexible tone.
How long are the vocal folds?
3/4 of an inch
Where are the intercostals located?
Between each rib.
What are the two layers of the intercostals called?
External and internal intercostals
Which intercostal muscles cause air intake?
External intercostals
The lungs expand as a result of:
The external intercostals contracting, causing the ribs to move outward.
Which are more important to singing: the external intercostals or the internal intercostals?
External intercostals.
The ribs stay open for singing because of these muscles:
The external intercostals
The abdomen lies between the:
diaphragm and the pelvis
The thorax refers to the:
chest cavity
What separates the abdomen from the thorax?
The diaphragm.
Define muscular antagonism
Two muscles pull against each other.
How does muscular antagonism influence breath control?
The external intercostals and the abdominals pull against each other. The external intercostals expand the rib cage and the abdominals pull against the open rib cage.
What are opposing pressures?
Muscles pushing against each other.
How are opposing pressures utilized in breathing for singing?
The diaphragm contracts downward and the abdominals contract, pushing the viscera upward, opposing the downward force of the diaphragm. The diaphragm slowly yields to the viscera, creating a smooth, even outflow of air.