July 13th, 2013

Part I - The Foundation of ‘Singing’

What is the difference between singing and talking? There are definitely some clear characteristics with singing:
However, there is pitch control when you talk, otherwise it would sound monotonous. Even monotonous speakers use pitch control, otherwise they wouldn’t be intelligible. You stress certain syllables of words, and you stress certain words more by applying pitch difference. When you sing, you control pitch in a certain tonality, but it doesn’t make a clear difference between singing and talking if you did only that.

You could use more rhythm while controlling pitch more pronounced, but when you talk, you use a set of rules of rhythm to begin with. Want an example?

Obviously there is a fixed meter when singing, but there is a certain sense of meter when talking, as well. So that’s not the main difference.

Lengthening the vowels while changing pitch and using rhythm is getting somewhere, but it still wouldn’t sound like singing.
A great example is how people usually ‘sing’ Happy Birthday to someone. You could consider it singing, but it’s flat. You could easily pick out the singers with that song, because they do something more. They ‘cry’.

There is some sense of crying if you listen to singers. It’s because the voice is configured similar to when someone is crying.

Here is an image of what is happening:

The thyroid cartilage is tilted forward, causing the vocal folds to stretch and thin. This formation creates a warmth and smoothness, which is not possible if the thyroid cartilage isn’t tilted. Vibrato is achieved if one has the ability to tense the muscles just as much to tilt the thyroid cartilage and nothing more so that it is still flexible. This causes pulsations of the thyroid cartilage when phonating, which gives a ‘natural’ effect of vibrato.

This formation can be done in the complete vocal range and thus the complete modal range. Notice that thyroid tilt has nothing to do with a low larynx. The thyroid is part of the larynx.

Examples of Cry

Les pêcheurs de perles - Je crois entendre encore by Alain Vanzo
Notice that Alain is singing too round and connected for it to be falsetto. It’s very, very light, yes. And it most certainly sounds like crying.

Miss Saigon - Last Night of the World by Simon Bowman (notice there’s no applause for the female singer. How sad.)
Listen to Simon. Hear how from 1:31 onward, he goes high in pitch​—​up to G♯4​—​but it’s clearly not falsetto, because it’s connected and pure, neither is it chest voice, because it’s way too light to be chest voice. You could say it’s head voice or mix, but technically he is just staying in cry mode all through.
From 4:20 onwards, he is doing more, something I’ll explain in another article.

Queensrÿche - En Force by Geoff Tate
Again, way too warm and connected to be falsetto and too light to be chest voice. This is the reason why terms chest voice and head voice are only getting problematic.
If you listen him singing the word ‘had’ in, ‘Once, long ago we had’, he sounds very much like he’s yawning. Yawning is similar to crying, but with yawning, the larynx is lowered, along with a tilter thyroid cartilage. In Estillian terms, this is called: sobbing.

Dio - Don’t Talk to Strangers by Ronnie James Dio up until 1:05

This is a good example of slowly adding more stuff to the crying:


Mind that he already has quite a present twang,also a term I’ll talk thoroughly about later along with cricoid tilt. I will give you a brief explanation, now:

The cricoid cartilage is underneath the thyroid cartilage which can tilt, as well. It makes the mass of the vocal folds thicker, causing a more powerful, shouty sound. You can combine it with thyroid tilt so that the folds are stretched, but thick, so that vibrato is also possible.

Twang is a term usually meant that the epiglottis sphincter is narrowed down, resulting the phonated sound to be very sharp. Technically this would be called Aryepiglottic Sphincter, or AES, but Twang is the popular term. You can both have Nasal Twang as well as Oral Twang, the only difference is that with Nasal Twang the velum is not closing the nasal passage so the sound escapes both out of the mouth as well as out of the nose. Nasal Twang is a bit muffled, compared to Oral Twang, which is sharp, present, metallic.

By aspiration, I mean that the sound is airy. In Estillian terms, this is called falsetto, but I find it to be a very bad term, because many would immediately respond: Wow, Dio never sang in falsetto!!! And it certainly has a certain presence, but notice the difference when he’s singing aspiration and when he’s in cry. I call it aspiration, just so I wouldn’t get into trouble.

Actually, the Dio example may be too soon to give as an example because of all the extra things he’s doing, but I hope that I can point out that even he is using Cry as a fundamental part of his singing.


Cry (Thyroid Tilt)
The difference between singing and talking is mainly the tilting of the thyroid cartilage causing the vocal folds to be streched and thinned.

Sob is the same as cry, only the larynx is lowered, as well.

Cricoid Tilt
Tilting the crycoid cartilage causes the vocal folds to thicken, resulting in a shouty sound when phonating. It can be combined with Cry for vibrato and possibly adding more smoothness and warmth to the voice.

Twang (AES)
With twang, the aryepliggotic sphincter is narrowed causing the phonating sound to be sharp and ringy.
Amount of nasality can be regulated by adjusting the closure of the nasal passage by the velum.

Aspiration (Falsetto)
The vocal folds are stiff and only the edges of the folds are pulsating. The sound will be airy.