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A 21st Century Primer on Vocalizing.

IMAGINE A PERFECT WORLD where both personally tailored and off-the-rack clothes cost the same. Given the choice, most of us would likely choose tailored ones, as they would fit and look better. Now consider the same economic miracle, but with one wrinkle: purchasing tailor made clothes costs the same as off-the-rack, but the buyer must do the design work for him or herself to get the tailored ones at the same price. How many people would still choose tailored clothing?

Much the same choice exists in the singing profession. Writers on voice pedagogy dating back hundreds of years have designed vocalises and even entire voice training systems. (1) Through careful shopping, one can find pedagogic clothes that fit most singers reasonably well and suit most occasions. Books, CDs, DVDs, and websites are available that feature exercises and vocal methods and can be purchased at a reasonable price. Authors of such exercise resources include Panofka, Marchesi, Coffin, and Miller, to name only a few. (2) The choice exists, however, for knowledgeable singers and teachers to design vocalises and to formulate their own system of organizing vocalises that best fit personal needs. By designing exercises, one avoids the dangers of buying pedagogic clothing "off the rack," which dangers include falling into a rote approach, with little thought being put into why a specific exercise should be used, how it should be employed, or how it might be adapted to meet individual needs. As any good tailor will say, no matter how fashionable the outfit, one size does not fit all and one style does not fit all ages.

Exercises are specific patterns of pitches, vowels, consonants, and some nonspeech sounds that are used to develop technique and to establish or renew the body-mind relationship. They can be "stand alone" patterns specifically designed by a teacher to target technical skills, or they can be select phrases or longer passages carefully excerpted from the literature for teaching purposes. Physiologically, exercises used in practice sessions should stretch tendons, ligaments, and muscles; move joints gently through their full range of motion; increase blood flow to active areas; increase precision of muscle action; foster balance of function between antagonist pairs; encourage efficient, rapid transitions from one activity to another; and develop overall power. (3)

A distinction needs to be made between "warming up" and "vocalizing." Athletes and performers of all types, including singers, warm up to renew and review established skills, and to prime themselves for performance. Immediately prior to a performance is a time for reassurance of skills, not swimming in unfamiliar seas. Singers vocalize to learn new skills and to transfer those skills to music performance. So instead of vocalize, vocal skill acquisition might be a more accurate descriptor. (4) Singers should spend time vocalizing almost every day. The singer constantly challenging him- or herself with learning new skills is the singer who avoids falling into a rut.


Good tailors need to know about different types of fabric--what kinds of thread are used to make them, can they be ironed or dyed, do they need to be dry cleaned, how long they last under normal wearing conditions, and, most importantly, how to cut and sew them. Additionally, a knowledgeable tailor knows about different stitching styles, how to hide where a seam is, how to remove a stitch without leaving a mark, and how to make subtle alterations to best flatter the wearer's body shape.

Similarly, voice teachers need to understand the elements that make up vocalises, how these elements can be varied and combined (and the physiological, biomechanical, and acoustic ramifications of such actions), as well as how to assess existing exercises, adjust exercises to best "suit" the student in question, and create new ones as needed. Some of the elements of vocalises that can be varied at the teacher's or singer's discretion are direction, pattern, length, vowels, consonants, tempo and note values, and dynamic level.

Direction (5)

Lower range singing is marked by more thyroarytenoid muscle (TA) activity and lower subglottic pressure, while higher range singing in female classical production and male falsetto involves a more active cricothyroid muscle (CT) and generally higher subglottic pressure. Therefore, exercises that begin high and move lower generally require higher subglottic pressure and a more active CT muscle at vocal onset, with the CT gradually releasing and the TA gradually activating more as subglottic pressure decreases. Exercises that ascend require the same singers to start phonation with a more active TA and a less active CT, then gradually reduce TA activity and activate the CT more as the exercise continues. One must also manage subglottic pressure so as not to adversely affect intonation, as excessive pressure can make the pitch sharp. (6) CCM singers (both genders) and male classical production performers typically keep the TA more active and increase subglottic pressure throughout ascending patterns and higher passages.


Many musical terms exist to describe vocal patterns, including agility, fioritura, sostenuto, staccato, scalar, arpeggiated, conjunct, and disjunct. An agility exercise, which requires a singer to rapidly move the voice through disjunct intervals accurately, is the vocal version of making efficient, rapid transitions from one activity to another. It may help to think of the foot and racket work of a tennis player in a long, thrilling point, or a football player running through two parallel lines of tires. Agility requires very fast changes in intrinsic muscle activation and subglottic pressure. Fioritura, on the other hand, is rapid conjunct changes, where the magnitude of change intrinsically is less, but the speed of change is increased. Sostenuto exercises build stability of function between antagonist pairs of muscles and encourage appropriate breath management, stable adductory behavior, and consistent laryngeal positioning. Staccato exercises require instantaneous synchronization of breath, pitch, and vowel, increasing the precision of muscle action; they are thus very beneficial for fine control of adduction.


Exercise length can be varied for pedagogic reasons. Shorter exercises typically demand less from the respiratory and adductory musculature than do longer exercises. The longer the exercise, the more precise and stable the postural balance, breath management and adductory control must be.


Vowels are a key variable in vocalises. Adjusting vowels in accordance with the location of the first two vowel formants is of particular importance to singers. (7) Vocalises must be designed in such a way to help students automatically make the necessary adjustments. The concept of vocal tract inertance also needs to be considered. Low first formant vowels such as /i/and /u/are more inertive than more open vowels, and encourage a lighter production. (8)


Different consonants can be used in vocalizing, depending upon the needs of the student. For example, students with tongue retraction habits may profit from using tongue fronting consonants like /t/, /z/, /d/, /l/, and /n/as intial consonants before troublesome vowels. Students needing airflow at onset might be best served by pilot consonants which promote airflow. However, the higher air pressure of these consonants must be taken into account (see Table 1, pages 192-195). The voiced fricatives, such as /v/and /z/and voiced plosives like /b/and /d/might be the best compromise. One must also consider the turbulence that is created in the airstream by fricatives. In short, there are no magic consonants or vowels that help all singers. Two other important factors are habituation and generalization. As a behavior is repeated, it becomes more habituated (more automatic) and it can also become generalized (the behavior has some negative or positive effect on other behaviors and situations). With respect to singing, over time the habilitative benefits of an articulatory pattern may change or even become negative rather than positive. A wide variety of articulation patterns that are used in a rotating fashion seems most effective. Readers are referred to more in-depth discussions of consonants in writings by Berton Coffin, Richard Miller, and Garyth Nair. (9)

Tempo and Note Values

A slower tempo requires more stability of muscular function intrinsically and extrinsically, and a more consistent air flow, similar to that mentioned about sostenuto patterns. A faster tempo requires more flexibility of function and more rapid muscular adjustments. Likewise, more sustained notes in an exercise tend to invite a fuller, richer timbre, and often more activity from the TA muscle. Teachers must always know what they are requiring of their students physiologically when they design patterns of varying lengths.

Dynamic Level

The extremes of one's dynamic level require greater overall stability and control of the vocal mechanism. The higher the dynamic level, the more vowel adjustment needs to be made. Reduced dynamic levels typically require the vowel to be more closed (closing the mouth and lowering the first formant), making the vocal tract more inertive; as the amplitude of the sound being fed into the vocal tract is increased and the complexity of the sound wave grows (because firmer adduction at the glottis generates a richer source spectrum of partials), the more a singer must tune the vocal tract to be in sync acoustically with the vibrator.

As the table indicates, there are many factors to consider in designing exercises, including intrinsic and extrinsic muscle activation, lamina propria fatigue, and musical factors (e.g., relevance of the exercise to musical applications: does it assist in the transference of needed skills?). Consider the following analysis of two exercises:

1. For soprano, a legato arpeggio on the vowel /[alpha]/, starting on [F.sub.4] and proceeding upward to [A.sub.5] on scale degrees 1-3-5-8-10-8-5-3-1.

The pedagogic goal is to sing legato at a comfortably high intensity through at least one register bridge, such as might be necessary in negotiating a sweeping phrase in the music of Brahms or Strauss. To achieve this, an optimal balance between the TA and CT must occur for each pitch, subglottic pressure must be carefully managed, and the singer must appropriately modify the vowel, first aligning the second formant of the vowel with 2[F.sub.0], then changing resonance strategies at [F.sub.5], aligning the first formant with [F.sub.0]. (10) The combination of a high frequency range and high vibration amplitude can fatigue the lamina propria of the vocal folds over time. Multiple attempts of this pattern could fatigue the extrinsic laryngeal positioning muscles and the breathing musculature as well.

2. For mezzo soprano, a staccato agility pattern on /o/in F major starting on [C.sub.5] and proceeding on scale degrees 5-4-5-3-5-2-5-1.

The pedagogic goals are precise vocal onset/offset control and agility, such as is required in much of Rossini's vocal music. This exercise demands an instantaneous TA/CT balance for targeting each new pitch along with adduction (LCA/IA activity) in rapid alternation with abduction (PCA activity). The singer must adjust for the next pitch while the vocal folds are abducted. In addition, there must be instantaneous adjustment of subglottic pressure for each new pitch. Repeated trials of this exercise can fatigue the intrinsic muscles.

The author teaches pedagogy courses to undergraduates and graduates, and finds that having young teachers-in-training analyze existing vocalises, such as was done above, is an excellent method for preparing them to develop corrective exercises of their own. He suggests having the students sing each exercise under consideration several times, in order to explore the sensations created while singing it; this is followed by a discussion of articulatory movements--mapping the activity of the structures involved. After this, the direction, pattern, length, vowels, consonants, tempo/note values, and dynamic level are all examined, keeping in mind the physiology and acoustics of the singing voice. In this fashion, they gradually become empowered to address technical issues in their students through tailoring novel exercises to suit each singer's strengths and weaknesses.


Carefully designed exercises (or selectively chosen phrases from the literature) are only one means of addressing technical issues with singers. Singing teachers must develop and employ keen observation and listening skills, for both functional and artistic issues in order to correctly identify the underlying cause of the vocal difficulty (not just the symptoms) and to select appropriate habilitative exercises. (11) When choosing exercises or phrases, teachers must balance a number of factors in addition to those already mentioned above, including how soon the singer needs to be able to perform, how well the singer copes with challenges, and how to present the singer with feedback. The timing of upcoming performances is crucial. There are exercises and teaching techniques that can provide a "quick fix" for a specific problem; however, in some cases, the quick fix is not always the best choice in the long term. The emotional stability of the singer when he or she is experiencing difficulties can be a very crucial issue in choosing how to habilitate a singer. During the process of remedying an issue, vocal production may initially become more unstable as old habits are given up before new habits become secure. Finally, teachers must carefully consider how best to implement corrections. Some students respond best to demonstration and imitation; others thrive with imagery, specific physical instructions, or real-time visual feedback. In any case, it is essential to use as accurate terminology as possible when describing any aspect of technique. No matter the instructional method, nebulous language that is neither specific in its directive nor based on physiological principles has little place in the modern teaching studio.


This article was adapted with permission from "Systematic Development of Vocal Technique," a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Singing, edited by Graham Welch, David Howard, and John Nix.


(1.) Mathilde Marchesi, Bel Canto: A Theoretical and Practical Vocal Method (London: Enoch and Sons, n.d.; reprint ed., New York: Dover, 1970); Manuel Garcia, Traite Complet de l'Art du Chant (Paris: chez l'auteur, 1847); Niccolo Vaccai, Practical Italian Method, trans. Louis Elson (New York: White-Smith Music Publishers, n.d.); Estelle Liebling, The Estelle Liebling Vocal Course (5 vols.), ed. Bernard Whitefield (New York: Chappell, 1956); Seth Riggs, Singing for the Stars: A Complete Program for Training Your Voice (Sherman Oaks, CA: Alfred, 1998).

(2.) Heinrich Panofka, Twenty-Four Progressive Vocalises Within The Compass Of One Octave And A Half For All Voices Except Bass: Op.85 (New York: G. Schirmer, 1900); Marchesi; Berton Coffin, The Sounds of Singing: Vocal Techniques with Vowel-Pitch Charts ([Boulder, CO: Pruett], 1976); Richard Miller, The Structure of Singing: System and Art in Vocal Technique (New York: Schirmer, 1986).

(3.) Ingo Titze, "Warm-up exercises," The NATS Journal 49, no. 5 (May/June 1993): 21; Ingo Titze, "The Five Best Vocal Warm Up Exercises," Journal of Singing 57, no. 3 (January/February 2001): 51-52.

(4.) Ingo Titze, Principles of Voice Production (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1994), 215; Ingo Titze and Katherine Verdolini-Abbott, Vocology (Salt Lake City: National Center for Voice and Speech, 2012), 216-238; Wendy LeBorgne and Marci Rosenberg, The Vocal Athlete (San Diego: Plural Publishing, 2014), 259-269.

(5.) Much of the next paragraph is based upon the discussion and muscle activation plots in Titze, Principles of Voice Production, 204-213. See also Donald Miller, Resonance in Singing: Voice Building through Acoustic Feedback (Princeton, NJ: Inside View Press, 2008), 45-95; Oren Brown, "Inflection Therapy for Functional Disorders of Phonation," Journal of Singing 61, no. 1 (September/October 2004): 27-33.

(6.) Titze, Principles of Voice Production, 210.

(7.) Barbara Doscher, The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1994), 137-140, 144-160; John Nix, "Vowel Modification Revisited," Journal of Singing 61, no. 2 (November/December 2004): 173-176; Titze, Principles of Voice Production, 165-167.

(8.) Ingo Titze, "The Use of Low First Formant Vowels and Nasals to Train the Lighter Mechanism," Journal of Singing 55, no. 4 (March/April 1999): 41-43.

(9.) Berton Coffin, "Articulation for Opera, Oratorio and Recital," NATS Bulletin 32, no. 2 (November/December 1976): 26-41; Richard Miller, 79-107, 293-296; Garyth Nair, The Craft of Singing (San Diego: Plural, 2007), 301-391, 445-472, 509-542.

(10.) Nair; Donald Miller, 70-78.

(11.) John Nix, "Developing Critical Listening and Observational Skills in Young Voice Teachers," Journal of Singing 59, no. 1 (September/October 2002): 27-30.

John Nix, Tenor, is Professor of Voice and Voice Pedagogy at UT-San Antonio. Mr. Nix has taught at The University of Colorado-Denver, Eastern New Mexico University, and worked for four years at the National Center for Voice and Speech with Ingo Titze. He holds degrees from the University of Georgia, Florida State University, the University of Colorado, and a Vocology Certificate from the University of Iowa. At Colorado, he studied voice and pedagogy with Barbara Doscher and Alexander Technique with James Brody. His students have sung with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera, Nevada Opera, San Antonio Opera, The Soldiers' Chorus, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Metropolitan Opera Chorus, and teach at several universities. He has won grants from The Grammy Foundation and NIH, and was awarded the 2006 Van Lawrence Award. He has published more than 25 articles and edited or contributed to five books.
A tenor, all singers above,
(This doesn't admit of a question),
Should keep himself quiet,
Attend to his diet
And carefully nurse his digestion:

But when he is madly in love
It's certain to tell on his singing-You
can't do chromatics
With proper emphatics
When anguish your bosom is wringing!

When distracted with worries in plenty,
And his pulse is a hundred and twenty,
And his fluttering bosom the slave of mistrust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe-[sings a high note],
You see, I can't do myself justice!

I could sing, if my fervour were mock,
It's easy enough if you're acting-But
when one's emotion
Is born of devotion
You musn't be over-exacting.

One ought to be firm as a rock
To venture a shake in vibrato,
When fervour's expected
Keep cool and collected
Or never attempt agitato.

But, of course, when his tongue is of leather,
And his lips appear pasted together,
And his sensitive palate is dry as a crust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe-[sings a cadence]
It's no use-I can't do myself justice!
Gilbert & Sullivan, Utopia (Limited),
Act II (Captain Fitzbattleaxe)

TABLE 1. Exercise variations for singing training.

Exercise Characteristic   Physiological and Acoustic Considerations

Ascending pattern         Increased subglottic pressure as pitch rises;
                          Classical female singers: decrease TA
                          activation and increase CT as pitch rises;
                          CCM "belt": increased TA and CT with pitch
                          rise. Females in classical style above
                          approx. G4 gradually open lower F1 vowels to
                          achieve F1-F0 match. Males generally close
                          vowels D4-G4 to lower F1. Extrinsic muscle
                          activation varies with style, but often
                          increases in operatic males and CCM belt with
                          pitch rise.

Descending pattern        Gradual decrease in subglottic pressure as
                          pitch decreases; gradual decrease in CT
                          activation with decrease in pitch. Classical
                          females descending to approximately E4 close
                          vowels; males and females descending below E4
                          generally open vowels gradually.

Agility pattern (rapid    Rapid adjustments on TA/CT activation balance
wide pitch changes)       needed; some adjustments in LCA/IA/PCA may be
                          needed as well; rapid adjustments in
                          subglottic pressure needed; consistent
                          function of extrinsic muscles needed for
                          maintaining a stable laryngeal position.

Fioritura pattern         Very rapid and subtle adjustments needed
(rapid narrow pitch       between TA and CT, in conjunction with
changes)                  subglottic pressure adjustments; consistent
                          function of extrinsic muscles needed for
                          maintaining a stable laryngeal position

Sostenuto pattern         Requires coordinated extrinsic muscle
                          function for stable laryngeal position,
                          especially at high dynamic levels. Demanding
                          for the respiratory system. Requires skilled
                          LCA/IA/PCA balance in order to provide
                          adductory integrity and dynamic control.

Staccato pattern          Requires instantaneous adjustments of all
                          intrinsic muscles; instantaneous adjustment
                          of subglottal pressure with each pitch
                          change. Generally requires a slightly less
                          open vowel than sostenuto singing
Conjunct pattern          Physiological demands vary with the tempo:
(Can be slow or fast      slow conjunct is a form of sostenuto; fast
in tempo. Intervals       conjunct is fioritura.
between notes smaller
than minor 3rd.)

Disjunct pattern          Physiological demands vary with tempo: fast
(Can be slow or fast      disjunct is agility. Demands fine control of
in tempo. Intervals       TA/CT balance, and when performed over the
minor 3rd or larger.)     primary registration bridge, some adjustment
                          of LCA/IA/PCA may be needed. For classical
                          style males, extrinsic muscle function
                          important, especially in leaps up/down
                          through the passaggio.

Length of exercise:       (a) See aspects listed for sostenuto above;
(a) Long                  longer exercises/phrases tax the extrinsic
(b) Short                 laryngeal positioning musculature, the
                          adductory muscles, the respiratory system and
                          postural muscles; requires balancing of the
                          active muscular aspects and passive recoil
                          forces of breathing.
                          (b) Less demanding on the respiratory system;
                          demands vary with the tessitura-a short
                          intense outburst can be just as taxing as a
                          longer phrase at a lower tessitura.

Type of onset used:       (a) Features greater activity in the TA;
(a) Fry (pulse register)  minimal activity in the CT, IA, PCA; low
(b) Aspirated             subglottic pressure;constriction of the
(h-onset)                 laryngeal vestibule. Possible better velar
(c) Balanced              closure and reduced nasality.
                          (b) Reduced impact forces on vocal fold
                          (c) Aerodynamic and myoelastic factors

Semi-occluded vocal       SOVT postures achieve a high maximum flow
tract postures (SOVT)     declination rate with relatively low vocal
                          fold vibration amplitude, producing more
                          acoustic output for less effort and reduced
                          risk of tissue damage from impact forces;
                          some semi-occluded postures may encourage
                          epilaryngeal outlet narrowing, which may aid
                          in the production of the singer's formant
                          cluster and may aid in matching glottal
                          impedance with vocal tract input impedance.
                          Improved breath management: a vocalist can
                          engage greater thoracic and abdominal
                          "support" without using a pressed phonation.
                          Lowered phonation threshold pressure: the
                          positive pressures above the glottis lower
                          PTP. "Head voice" sensation is encouraged,
                          due to the sympathetic vibration of the
                          oro-facial tissues and sinuses of the face
                          and skull and a coupling of the vibration of
                          the upper surface of the vocal folds with
                          acoustic pressures above the glottis. A
                          higher ratio of TA activation relative to CT
                          activation has been seen during and after use
                          of the semi-occluded postures. Similar to
                          that found when contrasting "covered" with
                          "open" singing. See Titzec and Beled for
                          further information.

Vowels:                   (a) Tongue freedom essential; slight
(a) Front (also known     nasalization often occurs with use. F1 and F2
as "tongue" vowels-/i/,   widely separated.
/e/, etc.)                (b) Degree of jaw opening and lip rounding
(b) Back (also known      very important for tuning; [F.sub.1] and
as "lip" vowels-/a/,      [F.sub.2] closer together.
/o/, /u/)                 (c) Combines the tongue position of front
(c) Mixed                 vowels with the lip rounding of back vowels.
                          (d) Accurate "mapping" of the jaw joint is
                          crucial; lower F1.
(d) Closed (refers to     (e) Degree of mouth opening used varies with
mouth opening)            pitch, dynamic range, desired vowel, duration
(e) Open (refers to       of note, size of singer's voice; higher F1.
mouth opening, not
pharyngeal sensation)

Consonants:               Peak Intraoral Pressure
(a) Voiced                (Higher>Lower)
(b) Unvoiced              Unvoiced plosives > Voiced plosives and
(c) Fricatives            Unvoiced fricatives (example: compare [p]
(d) Plosives              with [b], [f]).
(e) Affricates            Unvoiced fricatives > Voiced fricatives
(f) Glides                (example: [f] with [v]).
(g) Nasals                Intervocalic plosives > Prevocalic plosives >
                          Postvocalic plosives (example: compare [aba]
                          with [ba] with [ab]. See Table 8-9 in Baken
                          and Orlikoff for further details. (f)
                          Plosives > Fricatives > "Vowel-like sounds"
                          (example: compare [d] with [v] with [w]
                          Unvoiced phones > Voiced cognates to those
                          phones (example: compare [t] with [d], [p]
                          with [b] Lingua-alveolars> Labiodentals. See
                          also Table 9-9 in Baken and Orlikoff.g

Tempo of exercise         (a) Same as found above under agility and
(a) Fast                  fioritura
(b) Slow                  (b) Same as found above under sostenuto and
                          long length of exercise

Dynamic level             (a) Higher subglottic pressure; a slightly
(a) High                  more open vowel shape is necessary; much like
(b) Low                   sostenuto in other muscular demands. Taxing
(c) Crescendo             to the lamina propria, particularly when
(d) Decrescendo           passages are repeated at this level. Demands
(e) Messa di voce         more power from the respiratory system.
                          (b) Lower subglottic pressure; a slightly
                          more closed vowel should be used; intrinsic
                          and extrinsic stability still very important.
                          Demands more fine control in the respiratory
                          and adductory musculature.
                          (c) Extrinsic stability necessary; increasing
                          subglottic pressure; increased glottal
                          resistance (although some advocate a very
                          slight abduction). Vowel modifies from more
                          closed to more open with increase in dynamic.
                          (d) Extrinsic stability essential; decreasing
                          subglottic pressure; some pedagogues advocate
                          slightly increasing adduction. Vowel modifies
                          from more open to more closed with decrease
                          in dynamic.
                          (e) Combines aspects of (c) and (d) from

Exercise Characteristic   Comments on Application to Singing Training

Ascending pattern         Used often in music for building musical and
                          dramatic intensity; essential to almost all

Descending pattern        Singers often overshoot descending intervals;
                          good for initial exercise, especially for
                          singers with overly heavy production.

Agility pattern (rapid    Often seen in bel canto or 20/21st century
wide pitch changes)       literature; beneficial though challenging for
                          singers with a heavy production; valuable for
                          older singers in order to maintain

Fioritura pattern         Often seen in classical and bel canto
(rapid narrow pitch       literature; beneficial though challenging for
changes)                  singers with a heavy production; valuable for
                          older singers in order to maintain

Sostenuto pattern         Often seen in classical and romantic period
                          music; essential for developing legato

Staccato pattern          Often seen in bel canto or 20/21st century
                          literature; challenging but helpful for
                          singers with a heavy production; recommended
                          for older singers in order to maintain
                          adductory control and dynamic finesse;
                          provides an excellent means of developing
                          efficient phonation and appoggio breathing

Conjunct pattern          Excellent for addressing specific areas of a
(Can be slow or fast      singer's voice for vowel tuning, intonation,
in tempo. Intervals       etc.
between notes smaller
than minor 3rd.)

Disjunct pattern          Especially valuable for working on 20/21st
(Can be slow or fast      century literature and advanced repertoire in
in tempo. Intervals       other musical styles.
minor 3rd or larger.)

Length of exercise:       (a) Essential for developing legato,
(a) Long                  especially for the bel canto/romantic style.
(b) Short                 (b) Better for younger or less technically
                          advanced singers.

Type of onset used:       (a) Pedagogic uses detailed in Nix, Emerich,
(a) Fry (pulse register)  and Titze.a
(b) Aspirated             (b) Healthier alternative for singers who are
(h-onset)                 hyperfunctional with 'glottal' onsets.
(c) Balanced              (c) Can be trained with staccato and other
                          onset/offset exercises; see Richard Miller
                          for examples. (b)

Semi-occluded vocal       Sensations of more consistent respiratory
tract postures (SOVT)     support, particularly found with lip buzzes
                          and raspberries. (b) Sensations of vibration
                          in the oro-facial area, particularly while
                          doing the voiced fricatives, the nasals, the
                          lip buzz, raspberry and rolled r. (c) Release
                          of habitual tensions in the tongue, lips, and
                          jaw, particularly while doing the oscillatory
                          and transitory semi-occlusions. (d) Release
                          of inhibitions. (e) Elevation of the soft
                          palate in the nonnasal semi-occluded postures.
                          (f) Fronting the tongue. The voiced fricative
                          /z/, the nasal continuant /n/, the raspberry,
                          the rolled r, /j/ glide and the voiced
                          plosive /d/ all front the tongue. See Nix for
                          more details.e

Vowels:                   (a) Can be paired with back vowels to help
(a) Front (also known     find desired chiaroscuro timbre.
as "tongue" vowels-/i/,   (b) Can be paired with front vowels to help
/e/, etc.)                find desired chiaroscuro timbre.
(b) Back (also known      (c) Often helpful in working with male singers
as "lip" vowels-/a/,      in upper range.
/o/, /u/)                 (d) Essential for work with male singers in
(c) Mixed                 the western classical style higher range.

(d) Closed (refers to     (e) Essential for work with female singers in
mouth opening)            all styles in higher range.
(e) Open (refers to
mouth opening, not
pharyngeal sensation)

Consonants:               As a wide variety of consonants are used in
(a) Voiced                languages, singers should include different
(b) Unvoiced              types of consonants in their vocalizing. The
(c) Fricatives            tongue fronting consonants [t], [d], [n], [z],
(d) Plosives              [j], and [l] can be useful as pilots to back
(e) Affricates            vowels, which timbrally can become too dark.
(f) Glides                Similarly, lip rounding consonants such as
(g) Nasals                [w] can be used as pilots to front vowels
                          perceived to be too strident. The plosives
                          and voiced fricatives that feature velar
                          closure can be used as pilots in front of
                          vowels that are undesirably nasalized.

Tempo of exercise         Exercise tempi should be varied to develop
(a) Fast                  general technical skills and to meet specific
(b) Slow                  repertoire requirements. Those singers who
                          perform Baroque, Classical, and bel canto
                          period music should make extensive use of fast
                          tempi exercises.

Dynamic level             All are fundamental aspects of many styles.
(a) High                  Stability of postural, respiratory and
(b) Low                   laryngeal function is required for high
(c) Crescendo             dynamic singing in CCM and operatic styles.
(d) Decrescendo           Stability at low dynamic levels is essential
(e) Messa di voce         for healthy choral singing and for subtlety
                          in the art song repertoire.
                          The messa di voce is a quintessential sign of
                          great artistry (or the lack thereof). Great
                          tool for shaping cadences and phrases.

(a.) John Nix, Kate Emerich, and Ingo Titze, "Application of Vocal Fry
to the Training of Singers," Journal of Singing 62, no. 1
(September/October 2005): 53-59.
(b.) Richard Miller, The Structure of Singing (New York: Schirmer,
1986), 11-19.
(c.) Ingo Titze, "A theoretical study of F0-F1 interaction with
application to resonant speaking and singing voice," Journal of Voice
18, no. 3 (2004): 292-298; Ingo Titze, "Voice training and therapy with
a semi-occluded vocal tract: rationale and scientific underpinnings,"
Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research 49, no. 2 (April
2006): 448-459.
(d.) Irene Bele, "Artificially lengthened and constricted vocal tract
in vocal training methods," Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology 30, no. 1
(2005): 34-40.
(e.) John Nix, "Lip Trills and Raspberries: 'High Spit Factor'
Alternatives to the Nasal Continuant Consonants," Journal of Singing
55, no. 3 (January/February 1999): 15-19; John Nix and C. Blake
Simpson, "Semi-occluded Vocal Tract Postures and their Application in
the Singing Voice Studio," Journal of Singing 64, no. 3
(January/February 2008): 339-342; John Nix, "Closing Your Mouth to
'Open' Your Sound," Journal of Singing 73, no. 1 (September/October
2016): 35-41.
(f.) Ronald J. Baken and Robert F. Orlikoff, Clinical Measurement of
Speech and Voice (San Diego: Singular, 2000), 317.
(g.) Ibid., 362.
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Author:Titze, Ingo
Publication:Journal of Singing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2017
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