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The following laryngoscopy photos are medical-in-confidence and are copyright of Daniel Singh. Content may not be reproduced in whole or part. The process that the vocal folds undergo for speaking and singing are highly complex and cannot be totally observed using current medical equipment. The photos below are intended to show visually what approximately happens.

TEST: Vocal folds at normal rest

The vocal folds are the 2 pieces of white soft tissue about the size of a 10 cent coin. The photo shows the vocal folds are rest and no vocalizing in action. The folds appear as a "V" shape with the bottom of the "V" nearer to the Adam's apple and the back end toward the back of the throat.

TEST: Vocal folds during voicing

During voicing (vocalizing), the vocal folds come together (approximate). Good vocal fold approximation is important during speaking and singing. There is a lot that happens internally to create a sound but to put it simply, the folds open and close causing them to vibrate. This happens approximately 440 times a second when vocalizing an A above middle C.

TEST: Taking a deep breath

The vocal folds open allowing air to fill the trachea (windpipe). Close observation shows the rings of the trachea. The vocal folds serve also as a protective measure in the event of food accidentally going down this pipe. When we swallow, the larynx rises up and the epiglottis (the "U" shaped flap closer to the bottom of the photo) covers the vocal cords and the trachea and the passage to the esophagus (food pipe) opens allowing food to slide into this pipe.

TEST: Falsetto / 01

Falsetto is a co-ordination where the vocal folds do not approximate (connect) well. The true vocal folds do not function ideally and the false vocal folds upper ventricular folds vibrate. Falsetto can be present in high or low registers and are present in both male and female voices.

TEST: Falsetto / 02

Since the true vocal folds do not approximate well in falsetto, a very small gap exists between the left and right vocal folds. This creates an "air-leak" when singing. Singers often find themselves running out of air and very often are told to "give it more support" or "sing from the diaphragm". However, this does not fix the main problem - the connection of the folds.

TEST: Falsetto / 03

Falsetto is characteristically a sound that's airy, light and not connected to the bottom of the range. Thus, singers who sing their high notes in falsetto, will experience a "break" in the voice when coming back down to the lower registers. Falsetto is not a sound that singers can lean into or strengthen. It should be used only for effect or style and not to sing all high notes.

TEST: Mix / 01

In the "mix", the back end of the vocal folds (upper half of the photo) close leaving the front portion of the vocal folds (bottom half of the photo) to vibrate. In mix, the cords thin and dampen as a singer continues to cross his/her vocal bridges. There is always a balance of air and muscle in the voice and no change in quality. Mixing also eliminates vocal breaks which occur when singers usually sing from chest voice to head voice or chest voice to falsetto.

TEST: Mix / 02

When a singer sings in the "mix", there are no "air leaks" as seen in falsetto. There is no need for extra breath or diaphragm support. An interesting observation is that nodules usually form in singers who pull up the bottom (yell) or flip (falsetto) in the exact place where the "mixing process" is supposed to take place. Singing in the mix creates a healthy vocal technique that one can use for a lifetime.

TEST: Lip thrills

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TEST: Falsetto

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TEST: Mixing

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TEST: Close up view of vocal folds

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