Our Vocal Cords –
The Origin Of Our Voice!
When we talk about singing, most of us rarely talk about our vocal cords, and would begin by emphasizing our breathing, since the first action that we do is actually to breathe before we even begin to make any sound! We believe that once we train ourselves to be able to control our breathing well, we will be able to sing well too.
However, equally important is our set of vocal cords, which is the origin of our strong and healthy voice! Without them, we would have NO voice, even if we have a strong diaphragm and lots of breath in our lungs.
Our vocal cords are actually housed in what we call our ‘voice box’ or larynx, also commonly known as our ‘Adam’s Apple’, which is most easily seen as a bulge in most men’s throats.
These cords produce sound through rapid vibration with the passage of air between the set of cords. When the air passes through the cords, forcing them apart, the cords immediately close back, creating multiple vibrations at a certain frequency, and this creates what our human ear perceives as the sound of our voice. This also means that our vocal cords bear the brunt of the air pressure created when we sing!
For a more detailed description, visit this webpage at Wikipedia which is packed with interesting information about these important cord muscles!
Another fact that most people do not know is that these cord muscles actually can control our breathing too! Previously, our focus was on how our diaphragm and its surrounding muscles control our breathing, but it is also a fact that our cords can control our breath, by shutting completely and not letting any air out of our body!
We can demonstrate this by pronouncing these words loudly: “HAK!!! Ah…..” Make sure that you shut your cord muscles completely at the end of the word “HAK!!!”, and only when you let some air pass through your cords, it will allow you to produce the next word, “Ah….” as a form of release…
You can also demonstrate how our cords control our breathing by holding your breath and leaving your mouth open! It is this important set of muscles that is holding back the breath in our body, and once our cords are open, the breath will be able to pass through!
One other important and useful fact about our voice is that for LOW notes, our cord muscles are relatively less tense and less stretched out. However, for HIGH notes, our cords are much more tense and more stretched out! This means that when we do our humming or lip trill vocal warmups and we do progressively higher notes, our cord muscles are actually being stretched out more and becoming more and more tense!
This would mean that we need to be more careful when we start to sing higher and higher notes, as our cord muscles are subject to more and more strain, and they would then be more vulnerable to vocal abuse.
Various vocal warmup exercises are available in this website to stretch out our vocal cords before singing to prevent unnecessary harm to our voice. There are also other vocal training exercises to help us to develop a strong and healthy singing voice!
One very important point to note is that we should not be over-zealous when we are training our vocal cord muscles. Just as we would not want to strain our back or sprain our shoulders when we lift weights, we would also not want to hurt our voice muscles by over-training or subjecting them to much fatigue.
A general guideline is that whenever we feel fatigue or even slight pain in our voice or throat, STOP and REST! This will prevent any unnecessary damage to these small but important muscles in our voice box!
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