Page 10 - Voice for Life Yellow Workbook
P. 10

                                 Tone and range
 Releasing the larynx
Produce a hollow ‘ghur’ sound, either speaking or on a pitch of your choice. Raise the back of your tongue against your soft palate so the ‘g’ is produced at the back of the throat. (If you are unsure where your soft palate is, roll your tongue back along the roof of the mouth from behind your teeth. With the tip of your tongue you will first feel the bony hard palate and then the fleshy soft palate.) Watch this in a mirror. The hollow vowel which follows should make your larynx drop dramatically.
During this exercise, if you are producing a hollow sound (like a sea lion!) you have successfully used a muscle called the sterno-thyroid to pull the larynx down from underneath, rather than using the hyoid bone to force the larynx down from above.
 Begin the exercise below at a comfortable pitch for you, but near the bottom of your range. Repeat several times using the ‘ghur’ sound. Once you have mastered this, move onto a gentle, continuous ‘vvv’ sound.
Next, repeat the exercise using a hollow humming. Let a little air escape first to create space at the back of the throat and neck. Whilst producing the ‘vvv’ sound or when humming, the larynx should stay reasonably low.
 Lowering the larynx to produce a dark tone
Try the following exercise, based on the ‘ghur’ exercise above. Again, choose a fairly low starting pitch. This time, join the ‘ghur’ onto an ‘oo’. The ‘ghur’ will lower the larynx before you open onto the ‘oo’. This ‘oo’ should be dark in tone because the larynx is low, the throat is open and, therefore, the vocal tract is lengthened. Some people like this darker sound. It can be useful in sombre pieces such as Rimsky– Korsakov’s Our Father or the ‘Lacrymosa’ from Mozart’s Requiem.
If the larynx is too high when you sing, you will produce a strangled sound. If it is too low, you will produce a swallowed sound. It is important to sing with the larynx in the correct position. To do this, you need to neutralize the muscles under the jaw and around your hyoid bone. This ‘releases’ the larynx. Regular use of the exercises below will help you to do this.
It requires practice to ensure that this dark tone does not become hard or shallow. As long as it is achieved as explained above and the hyoid bone is not pushed down, it will not become hooty or swallowed. Do not fix the larynx down – a larynx which is fixed or forced into a low position is as bad as one which is too fixed too high. If you have any doubts about any of this, talk to your choir trainer or singing teacher.
  10 Module A: Using the voice well

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