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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Accounts of breathing in methodological books on singing are often confusing or inaccurate rather than helpful. This chapter provides an overview of the principles ofrespiration and how this is modified for singing. Inspiration results from an increase inthoracic 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 relaxeddiaphragm upwards while simultaneously the internal intercostals pull the ribsdownwards. When the lungs are full and the inspiratory muscles release, elastic recoilforces alone can drive out the air and in order to regulate subglottic pressure theseforces 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 theway in which similar ends can be achieved by different means in different singers isexplained.

Keywords: breathing, diaphragm, intercostal muscles, abdominal wall, elastic recoil, subglottic pressure

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