View Full Version : Vocal cord Isolation Exercises

08-21-2004, 03:04 AM
Ok, if you've read any of my posts, then you know i talk a deal about isolation. The T.V., Movies, and being assimilated in a society where everyone watches these two means that incorrect vocal techniques have abounded and are second nature. this means that for much of our lives we have learned to talk, gesture, and sing with a high, tense throat. so when we try to sing, its difficult to erase 18+ years of incorrect movements.

Heres the skinny. when we try to sing harder, and/or go up in pitch, we think that we have to tense up and move the throat up as we strain to get higher/louder. THis Is one of your main singing nemesises eseses(nemesi?) hehe. this leads to your throat blocking airflow to your cords, which means less air to activate the cords, which means less tone, volume. so now you think you have to push harder to get the tone and volume, which leads to you squeezing your throat more and around and around this vicous cycle you go. There is also increased pressure on the cords, but less activation. which leads to bowing of the cords and fatigue way before youve gotten a chance to work the cords properly to allow for growth and muscle memory.
So we need to learn to isolate the muscles that control the cords from those that control the throat. To simplify, think about this. there are only six sounds your cords can make. thats it. singing isnt hard! those are the six vowels... Ay, E, I, O, U(as in uuh, not yu) and ah. then you can mix them a bit to get other things like R sounds. Everything else is consonants. these are basically noise that interrupts the vowels! thats it. you make these with the other parts of your mouth. your tongue, teeth, mouth, etc. Realized how simple it is yet? had any epiphany yet, ever thought about it this way? its true. think about it. so noone ever needs help on consonants do they? noone ever cracks a note on a Ttt, or a bbbb. see!? so practice vowels.
always warm up. at least do gentle to moderate singing. there are tons of exercises. but at least do some scales and glisses up and down to get the range muscles loosened, even if you dont uses deep vocals or high falsetto. warm to them anyways. do staccato(broken, seperated) and legatto(connected, smooth silky) notes. on each vowel.

without moving a single body part, no eybrow raising, no mouth moving, no arm moving, fingers , no anything. just open your mouth a bit. keep it open, now inhale, stomach bellowing out, exhale to sing from the gut, do scales up and down with each vowel. dont move anything! Now do glisses up and down a few times with each vowel. a gliss is when you go from high to low or low to high, with one connected sound. like a siren. (no you dont have to go up and down with one breath. seperate. although later i would try to implement this) do these from your lowest chest to your highest falsetto. without moving! not your neck,not your chin, teeth, eyes, NOTHING! you want to be a robot. also a good gliss from the gut, low to high and back down is very soothing. you can feel the resonance and vibrations move from your chest, and just work its way up to your head. and back down. (again, this is one reason why buddhists and meditators do chants, mantras and whatnot. the vibrations of the sound vibrate your whole body and can help alleviate many many illnesses by the same affects that ultrasound has) Its particularly felt in the chest, throat and head. hence, head voice and chest voice. it can also help you realize the need for a more consistent strong pressure, which would be your diaphragm. Work the still face exercises while going up in volume. pay attention to the feeling you need to press the cords against the extra pressure. your adams apple shouldnt move as you do this. And work on going up in pitch without going up in volume. this is very important, as you have to be able to seperate these muscle functions to minimize undue stress and blowout. Independence is what youre looking for.

if you feel strained by doing any of these exercises youre not coming from your gut. so keep experimenting til you find it. its the same feeling that you use to grunt, cough or clear your throat. the way your gut and belly button squeeze in and up. you have to be able to do this to your lungs slowly as you exhale a note. but this is the area you should should feel singing from. not your throat. But you dont need to have a high pressure all the time. The lungs should be the tank, and the diaphragm(gut) is the valve at your disposal.

You should be able to go up or down without a crack/break and without losing integrity in the sound. play around and have fun with it and feeling it. the areas where you move from chest to head and from head to falsetto are normally the weakest, and where many cracks occur, because people cant isolate enough to keep the cords flexible and moving constantly. and again, the higher the note , the thinner the cords, so pressure should back off ever so slightly, now when you reach falsetto you want to keep adequate pressure because this doesnt use the cords in the same way and they need extra air. you should be able to get a constant silky movement. i will post samples later. just pratice.
put your finger on your adams apple. (ladys you have one too). now swallow, feel how your larynx moves up. now yawn, or recreate that feeling(damn, i just yawned for real! weird). see how it drops. when you swallow, your throat muscles constrict to block airflow remember, science class? so that you dont choke, and the epiglottis flips down to make a covering so that no fluid or food goes down the airway. when you yawn, the throat bellows open so that you can get as much air and oxygen as you can, the purpose of the yawn! so which is the best for singin! a low larynx of course. using the throat muscles is a no no! so practice with your finger on your larynx. the cords are directly behind it. so realize how much you move it when singing and try to work on not moving it so much. now there are obviously some movements but you get the point! as you go up in pitch, you can keep the larynx low by ever so slightly tucking your chin. keep the cheekbones high, like youre scruncing up your nose and halfway smiling,or kinda like a dog snarling. if you can watch Chris cornell(one of the best rock vocalists ever) he does it all the time.

Again, you want to have some place/time where you can't be judged. to play around and ahve fun with your voice, and to discover your voice, and to practice. for me, this is my ride to work and my car in general. i've learned 90% of my voice in my car. of course, again, dont compete with the electronic system. you have an acoustic system, and you cant go buy another if you blow it out!

Remember you can convey the emotion and get the expressions with the face, but you have to be able to isolate this and everything else from the cords. emotions can really screw you up with tension. especially when getting into a song. the thing is to be able to make the sound so damn good that it conveys your emotion and you dont have to do it so much with other things that can only hinder you, or potentially hinder you. plus if you slip up and lose focus you can tense up and blow something out. it happens all the time. and you cant get good tone and volume by pushing 100% as hard as you can. forget about it. let your ego go. your lungs are always gonna be stronger than your little thin cords. so realize and work on trying to get the job done with 80% or less of push. too much push and the air just passing through, and cords flutter, bow and dont get a good vibration because its just too much air! the trick is to convey any wanted facial maneurisms and etc and look like youre bout to shlt a brick or whatnot, while youre really only pushing 60 or 70%. its not slacking off because you dont want your singing or screaming to sound like a cough. once you realize that your best rasp and scream and tone come at about 70% push, this will soon take a backseat to just trying to push so hard, because you realize that this is where the best sound is. so soon your ego says, hell, it sounds better, raspier, truer, grittier, etc, because we got more tone and resonance. So this level is now where you feel it more and your emotions can now be seen, but more importantly heard better. i guarantee you there are few singers that push 100% ever. even deftones, mudvayne, slipknot. you just cant do it! but you can look like , and sound like you are! And if you do push at 100 for a raspy scream, getting the rasp properly from the false cords(glottal, back of the throat wrong answer buzzer ANNKKK, and or dog bark area) its blocked to where the cords dont get 100%. But that takes proper technique and practice.
So to sum up. There are only six singing vowels, and a mix thereof. its simple! and consonants are only noise that interrupts these vowels. its simple! practice not moving anything but the cords. learn the feelings of this and work with it as you do your normal singing.
Warm up, stay hydrated, and warm down. Do regular ee's for a minute at the end of your workout. i say workout because it should be a workout. im not talking about five or ten minutes messing around here. with warming up, exercises, singing and warm down i would shoot for at least 45 minutes at the minimum. i dont like to sing for less than an hour and a half. i feel cheated. so get it going. learn to sing from the gut, and not the throat and you wil be reborn into a new world of vocal dexterity, manipulation and control.

08-21-2004, 06:56 AM
awesome thread/advice/exercises. i know what you mean about singing for less than 1 1/2 hours. i'm not like that with singing but with weigthlifting. i can't just start and quit in an hour. i feel cheated as well. but i haven't been singing for too long so i'll start with shorter sessions.

08-21-2004, 11:06 AM
im just about to go to the gym. be sure not to do too much grunting while youre there.

08-21-2004, 11:45 AM
hmmm i never thought about that. good idea.

08-22-2004, 02:51 AM
actually even if you dont grunt it still affects your vocal cords. your false cords above them close off to give your body that support that you get when you strain. so the pressure still affects them. but its not really much to learn about. technically, though....the heavier the lifting, the more fatigue and strain on your vocal cords. thats just for the information. hell i lift pretty **** hard, so i try to circumvent the adverse affects by taking care in all the other ways i can. it all adds up.

08-22-2004, 05:33 AM
i never thought about lifting and singing connections. but thanks for poitning it out.

08-31-2004, 02:24 PM
This is a godsend man... I'm a guitarist by trade, but this helps me out a lot with the current situation my band is in. Our singer wasn't cutting it, so we just got rid of him, and now my other guitarist and I are planning on taking dual-lead vocals... But I'd been having problems with volume control... I was either pushing too over the top and hurting myself, or I wasn't quite loud enough, wasn't projecting to have my voice heard while I was harmonizing, even. I was closing off throat quite a bit, and I didn't even realize.

Thanks for helping me out, man.

08-31-2004, 06:11 PM
cool. if you go to the voice help hotline sticky there is alot of stuff. Maybe thats how you go to this thread in the first place.

rock on!

09-08-2004, 09:12 PM
hey i was wondering. i dont know exactly where my "chest voice", "head voice", and "falseto voices" are. I can only really find 1 spot where my voice breaks. thats when i start real low, then move to the high, and it happens when i get to the higher notes. But u talk about 3 voices and i can only think of 2... which i always thought were chest n head voices.

am i just a freak? lol

09-09-2004, 01:43 AM
three voices, two breaks. hehe. thats right. one between your low, mid, and then again between your mid and high. your falsetto is just when your cords open up and you get airy. do a gliss with E and you can feel it. should at least.

09-18-2004, 06:03 PM
How would you sing like Daniel Johns does in silverchair - Without You? I'd make a clip of it if I could, but I can't. I hope you've heard it...

09-18-2004, 11:59 PM
Is all the same B. check out my voicehelp hotline.

01-23-2005, 07:47 PM
how do you get a bush singing tone. Where would you sing from?

01-23-2005, 09:03 PM
What kind of question is "where would you sing from?"

The sound doesn't come from anywhere other than the vocal cords and there is only one proper way to control the air -- with the gut or diaphragm.

01-23-2005, 10:21 PM

practice relaxing first, and moving as little as possible to get your goal sound, with minimal push.

05-11-2005, 05:00 PM
Hey, I'm singing melodic punk in band. Any special advice?

05-12-2005, 12:41 AM
yeah, dont suck balls

05-12-2005, 02:03 AM

05-12-2005, 10:59 AM
nice v'tar, panther. and nice poast, merkaba.

"The singer doesen't sing in a space, the space sings the singer."

05-12-2005, 11:04 AM
yeah, dont suck balls

Congratulations! You won the Jam Session "Worst Post of week" award!

09-27-2005, 05:50 PM
Well, youre being slack and impatient and you need to try harder! Geez

09-27-2005, 06:00 PM
Hehe, just kidding. Yea, no problem I'm glad I can be of any assistance. Dont worry too much about the larynx...It will want to rise a bit and thats ok. But if you put your finger on your apple and swallow, feel how it clamps up...as we know this is to block the air flow passage so you dont choke off of what youre swallowing...so you wouldnt want to block of air when youre singing, so you dont want your apple to clamp up like this. it will rise a bit. But again if you kinda drop your chin a bit and maybe slightly smile it will help a tad bit. If you can post a sample do that. Thats what we always do around here. You can start in a mid range note and slide up in one continuous note to your highest note. If you can flip into head smoothly without trying to hold on to chest voice and stretching it out and sounding all raspy then thats just as important. Sometimes people will try to hold on to chest, lower register, because they cant access head voice, so then they start straining to get higher notes and this tension can also make the larynx squeeze. Read around my voicehelp hotline, the latest one I did was last week, Finding the head voice. Best wishes!
Checkout the Hotline! (http://www.musicianforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219911)

09-27-2005, 11:51 PM
heh what realm u be on?

09-28-2005, 12:41 AM
Cool kalby. I appreciate the kind words. Dont worry about your sample. It cant be any worse than some of the other ones we've had. Trust me. But most people in this forum will offer constructive criticism. Most. You still get the occasional butthole but thats life.

Glad youre making progress.

09-28-2005, 01:47 PM
hey...wow i havnt been on this forum in a while. umm...I've been "trying" to do screaming vocals for a while now....but i never really got to it, i guess. I was too busy, parents were home (and I havn't gotten past not wanting them to think im insane) , or I just...thought I'd sound dumb. I finally got around to it about 2 hours ago. I just read one of your threads, and I think it said not to do those kinds of vocals for over and hour ina half? Well... i stopped, but right before I did, i recorded myself. This is right at the end...and maybe its because the music I was singing along to wasn't as loud, or because i had been doing it for 90 minutes (i prefer the latter, ha) but....it sucks. Also, try to remember I've been doing this for less than two hours, while many people I know have been doing it for years, etc. etc. anyway here it is..its atreyu. Im not really going against my natural vocal style ( i dont think i am, anyway) by doing theyre style of vocals....if im even doing them anywhere near right. but um... i dunno i tried to go higher, and i couldnt really do it... it seemed like there were two different pitches i guess....one sorta in the background, and one that you could hear, and that i could easily fluctuate. then....that one in the background never changed, no matter how hard i tried. hm...anyway, this is it.


My throat is sore....and there's a small amount of mucus building up. Everytime i clear it, it hurts. Feels like Ive been screaming or somehting....lol. well umm...just wondering if you had ny advice for a beginner. Tell me what i did wrong on the sample, 'cuz i know i did alot of things wrong. tell me what i did right too. Im currently drinking alot of water, and reading threads...Thanks everyone, and thanks to Merkaba youve already helped alot.

09-29-2005, 06:43 PM
I've been reading and thoroughly practicing your warmups and what not but I still end up with a really crappy falsetto scream (I also can't seem to do a regular voiced-low growl scream properly) I think I need more...explaining, if you can please take the time to go to www.fabchannel.com and on the bottom right frame there's some bands you can watch live, please watch a bit of 3 inches of blood, this is exactly how my current falsetto scream sounds like which I HATE cause i honestly don't think it sounds aggressive, rather it sounds like marge simpson. If you can please email me (nickname009@gmail.com) and maybe help me out by explaining in further detail of what it means to 'pull back/down on the throat'. I'm having trouble getting it to sound raspy and volume is also an issue, if i whisper the scream with no voice it always sounds great in terms of rasp and what not, once i add a voice or note to it, if it's falsetto i get 3 inches of blood type of girly scream and if it's low growl it's just...well i'm not sure. Thanks!

05-21-2006, 09:46 PM
What kind of question is "where would you sing from?"

The sound doesn't come from anywhere other than the vocal cords and there is only one proper way to control the air -- with the gut or diaphragm.

You can actually guide the area of resonation on your body, so that, as the holy father of this godsend thread has emphasized, the throat is alleviated.

You want to sing from the biggest part of your body: the core. Think comparable to other instruments, they are all designed with big, hollow, amplifying material. In singing, one's body is the instrument.
The chello's rich sound is produced though it's body, as should the voice; focus the your pressure to the lower back and sides, and again as the brainiac ET has pointed out, cheekbones and skull. The throat is so narrow, one of the least sonorous areas of our anatomy, and the core so bellowing and powerful. Bottom line: Bones and flesh resonate.

It's a tricky process to redirect the voice. Start by placing your hands on the desired area and feel the vibrations. Lower and comfortable notes shouldn't be much of a problem after some practise, the high little pipsqueak notes are the hardest. My best, succinct advise: While you climb up a scale, think down; don't stretch the neck, keep a level vantage, calm your face, and imagine the sound flowing down your asophagus (sp?).

Oh, and the diaphragm is an involuntary muscle. More often than not, instructors who bark 'Use your diaphragm!' (I've had about ten) are simply speaking fluffy buzz-words.
That's not to say the diaphragm cannot be strengthened. Core training excersise are surpsingly effective, do a quick Google.

05-22-2006, 09:03 AM
You do realize that you just responded to a question from January 2005??

05-01-2009, 10:05 PM
hey im new to the singing thing but not the music thing i play tromebone in band (only cause guitar wasnt beginner instrument i played it first year ecpecting to play guitar next but he wont let me switch now :mad:)
u can tell from my user name ima be a screamer like bfmv or tdg (emo bands)
(im emo btw i dont like saying it but i need all the help i can get and ill give any info that will help u specify pretty much step by step what i gotta do to improve) i read tons of ur posts and i need ur help i read singing from gut both linkswarm up mucus scream link 1 and 2 and a few others. can u plz send me an e-mail (halo.wars@rocketmail.com)that sums all i need to know to be a singer/screamer like
these bands: bullet for my valentine, and three days grace. i want to be a singer/guitarest thats like miss of these to bands. and these songs in specific:
waking the demon, hit the floor, posion, scream aim fire, eye of the storm,
gone forever, pain, riot, over and over, burn, wake up and look at any other songs by either of these 2 bands any of them similiar to these songs 2 ok
ive tried all ur tips for screaming to pushing 50-80% i even pushed my hardest (hesitated to after what u said tho but wanted the sound atleast once) still nothin i even tried what some idiots say no techniqe whatsoever to screaming just let emotions flow through u and scream same old normal lyrics wit out scream :confused::angry::upset: i thought it was to much mucus (still do) but i cant get it out wit ur humming techniqe any other tips ill make a recording and e-mail it to you (lol what is ur e-mail i dont like talking about this kinda stuff of public forms i get embarrased ppl usually say im stupid or somethin.

btw i dont mean yaaaaaaaaaayya or ahhhhhhhh screams i mean litterally scream lyrics like pain (song i listed earlier ill try to scream pain usen all common techniqes ur techniqes and all techniqes i ever heard of i really need help with the matter please respond