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Apr 19th, 2013
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  1. Hi,
  3. Below an explanation I posted to another group. Please comment
  4. and tell us other ways or tricks you used in order to learn
  5. how to pull larynx upwards and backwards by will.
  7. -----
  9. > I'm currently working with a speech therapist
  11. > I'm getting there but must say, with voice there are no shortcuts.
  13. Speech therapists are financially interested to assert that there are
  14. no shortcuts, and/or don't know a shortcut because it's not in their books.
  15. I know a shortcut, and explain it here in this message.
  16. To grasp it is much faster and cheaper (free :) than going to a
  17. speech therapist, but may require some effort to reread several times
  18. and understand every sentence.
  20. Melanie Anne Phillips is right that resonance is the most important
  21. (a man and a woman can sing the same note, i.e. with exactly same pitch,
  22. but you still can hear that one voice is masculine and another feminine).
  23. But Melanie doesn't explain correctly how she changes her resonance because
  24. she just changes it while not understanding how she does that.
  26. Adam's Apple is a projection of thyroid cartilage - the largest
  27. part of larynx (which sometimes is called "voice box").
  28. Anterior (frontal) ends of vocal folds/cords are attached to
  29. thyroid cartilage on the inside. Trachea (the tube from lungs to larynx)
  30. is flexible and extensible a little, like a vacuum cleaner hose.
  31. Pharynx (the tube from larynx to oral cavity) is soft and flexible.
  32. Larynx is suspended in the neck from horseshoe-like hyoid bone
  33. at the juncture of neck and head. Larynx and hyoid bone together
  34. are suspended with three groups of muscles: the first group of muscles
  35. pulls larynx downwards (towards clavicles); the second group of muscles
  36. pulls larynx upwards and forwards (towards chin tip); the third group
  37. of muscles pulls larynx upwards and backwards. Larynx can be shifted
  38. with these muscles in various directions. By will too.
  40. There is a common misconception among singers and their teachers
  41. about "head resonance" vs. "chest resonance". Indeed there is
  42. a very important (at least for us) distinction, but the resonance
  43. really is not in the chest cavity. Place your hand on your upper chest
  44. at the center, say "mmmm...". If you feel how your chest vibrates
  45. then it's because the first set of muscles (between larynx and clavicles)
  46. are strained, so taut muscles conduct vibration from vocal folds attached
  47. to the larynx to chest bones. It only seems that the chest resonates,
  48. really it just vibrates. The resonance important for us is in the
  49. vocal tract from vocal folds to lips. Chest vibration is a sign
  50. that you do it wrong regarding voice feminization because that
  51. first set of muscles besides conducting vibration also pulls larynx down
  52. lengthening the vocal tract. The resonance important for us depends
  53. on vocal tract length (longer tube resonates on lower frequencies,
  54. so the voice sounds masculine).
  55. For voice feminization you need to shorten your vocal tract
  56. by pulling your larynx upwards and backwards
  57. (the crucial bit about "and backwards" - thanks Rachael).
  58. As an useful side effect, that also hides Adam's Apple from sight.
  60. Understanding of this paragraph is optional:
  61. Frequency of vibration of vocal cords is called pitch, or
  62. fundamental frequency (F0), or glottal pulse rate (GPR).
  63. It's like vibration of a guitar string.
  64. Vocal tract length (VTL) determines frequencies of formants -
  65. resonances in vocal tract, like resonances in acoustic guitar body.
  66. Imagine that you change volume of guitar body - the guitar
  67. will sound different with the same notes played on the same strings.
  68. Don't confuse formants with harmonics / overtones.
  69. Human ear works like a spectrograph. Formants are peaks of
  70. spectral envelope on a spectrogram. Formants, GPR and VTL
  71. are terms of phonetics. Speech therapists traditionally don't study
  72. recent advances in phonetics concerning importance of
  73. VTL as well as GPR for male vs. female voice perception.
  74. So they lead the long (paid) way around
  75. with various exercises instead of the shortcut.
  77. Larynx is pulled upwards and backwards with three pairs of muscles.
  78. Their names in English: stylopharyngeus muscle
  79. ,
  80. posterior belly of the digastric muscle
  81. ,
  82. stylohyoid muscle .
  83. Study pictures on these pages.
  84. You need to understand where these muscles are.
  85. Then imagine where they are in your neck.
  86. Names of these muscles in French: muscle stylo-pharyngien,
  87. muscle digastrigue (ventre posterieur), muscle stylo-hyoidien.
  88. More pictures, some labeled in French:
  94. Place your fingers of your throat lightly, swallow, feel how
  95. Adam's Apple goes up, then down. Swallow again, try to delay its descent.
  96. Try to feel inside your neck (not with fingers) the muscles
  97. which pull Adam's apple upwards during swallowing.
  98. Learn to pull your Adam's Apple upwards and backwards.
  99. Then learn to do that during speech. It's the shortcut.
  101. Besides delaying larynx descent after swallowing, another trick
  102. "to get it" is imagining that you direct sound of your voice
  103. through palate towards nose tip.
  105. One more way: those muscles are contracted while gargling
  106. (for much longer time than during swallowing).
  108. Pulling your Adam's Apple upwards and backwards
  109. makes the resonance of your voice female.
  110. But you'll notice that doing that also makes raising pitch easier.
  112. Dr. James Thomas' FemLar (feminization laryngoplasty) surgery
  113. nowadays consists from 1) cutting off
  114. a vertical strip at the center of thyroid cartilage and
  115. anterior parts of vocal folds, stitching the remnants together
  116. (that raises pitch and eliminates Adam's Apple),
  117. and 2) thyrohyoid elevation (don't confuse with cricothyroid approximation) -
  118. he ties thyroid cartilage to hyoid bone.
  119. The 1) was invented by a Thai surgeon Somyos Kunachak,
  120. but only Thomas does the 2) after Patty studied phonetics
  121. and explained about VTL on this group and to Thomas.
  122. After FemLar vocal folds are not as taut as after
  123. cricothyroid approximation (CTA), so they don't stretch
  124. and pitch doesn't lower back after few years.
  125. But the FemLar surgery besides leaving a scar is very risky:
  126. one cough during the first month can tear the stitch,
  127. a vocal fold comes loose and you lose the voice altogether;
  128. uneven length of cut folds can cause air leak between folds;
  129. voice becomes weaker and can become less intelligible.
  130. Thyrohyoid elevation pulls larynx up, but you can pull larynx further
  131. by will without surgery.
  133. Testosterone causes growth of vocal folds and thyroid cartilage,
  134. male vocal folds are longer and more massive. Less known fact is
  135. that male larynx descends further than female. I suspect that
  136. testosterone lengthens stylohyoid ligament. Besides,
  137. average male skull is larger than average female skull,
  138. so for female VTL you need to pull larynx (with Adam's Apple)
  139. (upwards and backwards) further than its usual female position.
  141. Lena
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