in Complete Vocal Technique

The three overall principles are the most fundamental and important to perfect. They make it possible to reach all the high and low tones within the range of the individual speaker, to speak long phrases, to have a clear and powerful voice and to avoid hoarseness.

The three overall principles must be obeyed regardless of mode, sound color, and effect. They are:

1. Support
This means working against the natural urge of the diaphragm to release the air that has been inhaled. This is achieved by resisting its movement. During singing, the waist muscles and solar plexus are pushed outwards whilst the abdomen around the navel is gradually pulled in in a constant and sustained manner CVTexp_LH-sp-stotteand the back muscles are tightened. The muscles in the loin try to pull the pelvis backwards, while the muscles in the abdomen try to pull the pelvis up under your body. This battle created between the abdominal muscles and the muscles in the loin is a valuable and important part of support. However, the support must happen in a sustained and continuous manner as though working against a resistance for as long as a sound is being produced. When the muscle contractions stop being sustained and continuous, for instance if you cannot pull the abdomen around the navel inwards any further or push the muscles of the waist or solar plexus outwards any further, then there is usually no more support. It is important to conserve your support energy so you do not waste it or use it at the wrong point in time. Do not use support before it is necessary. Save it for when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase. Support is hard physical work so you should be in good physical condition.

2. Necessary Twang
CVTexp_epi-twangThe area above the vocal cords forms a funnel, this is called the ‘epiglottic funnel’. When twanging, the opening of the epiglottic funnel is made smaller by bringing the arytenoid cartilages closer to the lower part of epiglottis (the petiole). As a result the sound gets clearer and non-breathy, and you can increase your volume. You always need to use necessary twang in order to have correct technique and achieve easy and unhindered use of the voice regardless of the mode, sound color and effect used. Necessary twang makes it easier to sing in all ways. For many this necessary twang does not sound twanged at all.

3. Avoid protruding the jaw and tightening the lips

CVTexp_fingerimundAvoid protruding the jaw and tightening the lips as it often produces uncontrolled constriction around the vocal cords. Achieve a correct jaw position by bending your head back and placing a finger between the upper and lower jaw. Keep this position of the jaw as you sing. The lower jaw should be pulled backwards relative to the upper jaw. Be sure to open the mouth wider on high and low notes than on notes in the middle part of the voice.

Whilst avoiding tightening the lips, it is also important to form vowels with the tongue without altering the shape of the mouth too much. Consonants on the other hand are usually produced by narrowing the vocal tract and by tension in the lips, but as you do not stay on them for very long in singing they do not impair singing. It is important to be able to release the tension immediately going from consonants to vowels.