I hear a lot of singers who have beautiful voices; you know the ones that you listen to and can’t help but smile.

As great as they are with that particular sound, it seems to me that some people are slightly limited to offering just one type of sound which, but given a few pointers they can really expand their vocal abilities and grow as a singer.

Hopefully, reading this will help those who want to get that extra gear in their voice. And, these new sounds may even become more of a regular thing!

Vocal Anatomy for Singers

It really surprises me how few people who take up singing have never seen inside a larynx before and as a result, they don;t know what is anatomically happening when they sing or speak.

To me, that’s like going to a foreign city without a map.

So, let’s take a look shall we?

Vocal Chords

This is a cross section of the larynx from a birds eye view i.e. looking down your throat.

Do you see those white bits in the middle?

Those are your vocal chords (also called vocal folds).

Ideally, they are symmetrical, smooth and hydrated folds that vibrate together to create sound.

How do the vocal chords vibrate?

These folds require air to pass through the gap in the middle (the glottis) in order to vibrate together. The air flow and pressure is determined by the tension and length of chords.

Fun Fact: The chords can vibrate together up to 1000 times per second!

Where does the power in a voice come from?

This is all down to the use of breath and the power source (the lungs).

Often, singers complain about a lack of power in their voice and get disheartened by their inability as a result.

However, the reason they are struggling isn’t because there is something wrong with them. They just aren’t tapping into the full breath capacity that is available to them.

The airstream on the out-breath is the vital source of energy the chords need to produce sound; so the stronger this stream is, the stronger and clearer the voice will likely be.

Think about it from an input-output perspective and try and draw out the most power you can from your lungs.

So, the vibrating chords supported by good breath control produce sound?

Correct, but without other factors this sound would only produce a buzz. That’s why when our resonators come into play.

Quick terminology check here: resonators are all those structures above the vocal folds for example: the throat, tongue, nose and mouth.

If you were to lift a structure called the ‘soft palate’ at the back and roof of your mouth, more space will be created in the following areas: back of the mouth, neck and lower head which allows the sound more spatial area in which to resonate.

If you compare this to a lower palate when the air can exit via the mouth and/or nose, you will produce a more nasal type sound.

The soft palate is just one example of a structure can affect the sound we produce in our singing and speaking voices, to learn more please keep your eyes peeled for more articles I’ll be publishing.

While you’re waiting, have a look at this endoscopy exam on youtube – it’s a fantastic example of how the chords function in real life.


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