This chapter reviews several studies of singing in different styles. The studies reveal that the differences concern all the main dimensions of phonation: F0, loudness, phonation type, and formant frequencies. Most vocal styles differ substantially from normal speech, though in quite different ways. A difficulty in describing the characteristics of the styles of singing typical of different musical genres is that the same term does not always mean the same to all experts. Some diverging results in voice research on styles of singing may perhaps emerge from such terminological issues. The author suggests that descriptions of different styles of singing should be related to objective findings on the overall phonatory and articulatory potentials of the voice.
Accounts of breathing in methodological books on singing are often confusing or inaccurate rather than helpful. This chapter provides an overview of the principles of respiration and how this is modified for singing. Inspiration results from an increase in thoracic dimensions caused by activity in the diaphragm and external intercostal muscles. At high lung volumes the sternocleidomastoids and scalenes also aid chest expansion. Subglottic pressure is created during expiration by the contraction of the abdominal wall, predominantly as a result of lateral abdominal muscle activity, which drives the relaxed diaphragm upwards while simultaneously the internal intercostals pull the ribs downwards. When the lungs are full and the inspiratory muscles release, elastic recoil forces alone can drive out the air and in order to regulate subglottic pressure these forces must be resisted by gradually reducing inspiratory muscle activity. How different patterns of activity in these and other muscles contribute to singing is described and the way in which similar ends can be achieved by different means in different singers is explained.
John S. Rubin and Ruth Epstein
Both medical professionals and voice users have healthy voice as a goal. In order to maintain health, an understanding of efficient vocal production is necessary. Knowledge of the structure and function of the vocal energy source (the air stream from the lungs), the sound source (the vibrating vocal folds), and the resonators (the vocal tract) empowers individuals to choose healthy vocal hygiene. Such hygiene is especially important to singers, who require fine coordination of all vocal systems to produce aesthetically pleasing sounds over a wide pitch and dynamic range. In addition, during a lifetime of voice use, nearly every professional voice user will have periods of vocal difficulty. Vocal stressors (physiological and/or psychological) can undermine even the most disciplined individuals. The importance of a vocal support team during these difficult times is emphasized.
Boris A. Kleber and Jean Mary Zarate
To produce vocalizations including speech and song, the control of all muscles along the vocal tract (e.g. for respiration, vocal fold motion, resonance changes, and articulation) requires the concerted effort of a vast network of brain regions. However, singers are usually unaware of the neural networks that govern and coordinate all of these muscle groups, or what happens in these networks when auditory or somatosensory feedback notifies the singer of vocal errors, or if feedback is compromised even temporarily. In this chapter, the authors attempt to define the basic neural networks involved in singing, discuss how these networks may change due to extensive vocal training and practice, and present recent findings that illustrate how the networks respond to alterations to auditory and kinesthetic feedback.