Know your vocal cords and play your voice chords

Pitch Control

Understanding the pitch of the voice

The pitch of the voice depends on four parameters:

  1. the air pressure,
  2. the stretching of the vocal cords,
  3. the vocal muscles stiffness,
  4. the joining strength of the vocal cords.

The air pressure is controlled by all the breathing muscles: diaphragm, abdominal muscles, intercostal muscles, and to a lesser extent neck muscles.

The other parameters are controled by the larynx muscles: cricothyroid muscle, thyroarytenoid muscle, lateral cricoarytenoid muscle and posterior cricoarytenoid muscle. The effect of these muscles depends on the mechanism used.

The control of the pitch is therefore primarily a muscular control. His mastery is a question of training, as in athletic training.

The audio-phonatory loops

Singing well supposes hearing well. The deaf have trouble controlling their voices. Buildup of wax in the ear or some ear infections will disable the hearing of low-pitched sounds, other deafness may affect high-pitched sounds.

The audiophonation loops

The voice we produce reaches our ears using three ways:

  1. by a short path from the mouth,
  2. after reflexion and modification by the external acoustic,
  3. through the skull directly to the inner ear.

The high-pitched sounds are poorly transmitted through the direct path, so that when you listen to your recorded voice, it is difficult to recognize it, it seems too high-pitched.

In the long circuit, there is a feedback of the room that is variable depending on the type of materials used and its dimensions. Some rooms are more attractive than others, depending on whether the voice is properly returned or is lost in the distance.

In the internal listening, the voice reaches the ear through vibrations of the bones, tendons and muscles. The voice is distorted: the sounds do not spread the same way in air and in the body tissues.

All these internal and external sounds mix, varied in quality and shifted over time, it is an additional reason for not recognise his voice on a tape.

Singing in tune

Everybody can sing, with varying degrees of ease, but the singing out of tune can generally be corrected quite well. Singing in tune involves three steps: to hear, to remember, to reproduce. It is rare that the hearing or the memory is concerned. In general, sing out of tune comes from a lack of learning.

Generally, when we sing out of tune, we can hear that something is wrong and we search at random how to correct that. Canta responds to this research by showing exactly how to correct our voice. Canta creates a feedback loop which replaces the deficient audio-phonatory loop and allows to gradually strengthen it.

The regular repetition of these exercices with Canta will develop the internal representation of the right notes and also the efficiency of the command circuits of the muscles involved in the pitch control. It's like a bodybuilding equipment which would force you to make the right gesture to develop certain muscles, the repetition of these gestures will help you develop these muscles with maximum efficiency.

The Canta loop

The vibrato

The vibrato is a variation of frequency and amplitude of the voice around the note the singer aim at. The pitch deviation is around one quarter to a half-ton, with a frequency of 5 to 7 Hz.

It should not be confused with the trill, which is rapid alternation between two adjacent notes, nor with the trillo which is the chopped repetition the same note.

Withney Houston's vibrato
Vibrato and trills by Whitney Houston

The whispered voice does not have vibrato nor a forced voice produced without comfort and with muscle tension. The vibrato is involuntary. It is produced when there is a position of balance between two antagonistic muscles of the larynx thanks to a reflex loop. This is the same reflex mechanism that shook the knees of some sitting when they put their feet on the edge.

The vibrato is significantly amplified by a resonance effect of the laryngeal skeleton whose frequency is around 5 Hz.

To remove the vibrato of a voice is possible but requires energy and lowers the efficiency of the voice.

The vibrato is a natural phenomenon, neurologycally programmed. It can not be taught but is revealed when the rest of the vocal gesture is made under optimum conditions.

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