Posts tagged #techniques

The Theme is Scream: Can You Scream-Sing Properly?

Have you heard those heavy metal screaming bands? They may not be your cup of tea, but you might end up with a lead-singer from this type of genre on caseload someday. These singers growl and grunt on a nightly basis when on tour, so how is the voice not completely wrecked? Screaming is not only hard on some people's ears, it is hard on the vocal folds as well. There is, however, a ray of hope for those suffering from vocal issues as a direct result from their love affair with screaming metal music.

As Melissa Cross explains, proper screaming technique can be taught. She instructs singers to scream properly so they can avoid damage to their vocal folds. These screaming performances night after night will take a toll, so without proper training, she warns, it could end a career. You can scream using your true vocal folds and/or your false vocal folds. Your true folds are more delicate than your false, and they have no nerve endings. They vibrate together about 500 times per second, and can swell with overuse and misuse. This swelling is what causes roughness and hoarseness in the vocal quality, because the true vocal folds can no longer vibrate efficiently with increased weight.

Enter, the false vocal folds, sometimes called vestibular folds. The false folds are located right above the true folds and can vibrate together much like the walls of the throat would vibrate for a laryngectomee with a tracheoesophageal prosthesis. This man has had his voice box and vocal cords removed and is using a hands-free prosthesis to inhale air from his stoma. The air does not exit the way it entered, and is forced up through the throat tissue. That is why he sounds the way he does. This is also different from the electrolarynx. Have you seen that tobacco commercial? The electrolarynx is held against the outside of the neck and sends vibrations through the tissue that can be shaped by your mouth, tongue, teeth and lips to produce words and sentences.

Growling is utilized in mainstream music too, but much more infrequently. Artists like Carrie Underwood and Christina Aguilera both use their false vocal folds to add intensity to some of their phrasing. Here, Carrie growls at 1:23 on "fight" and here Christina does it on "My" at 0:03 and on "touch" at 2:38 here.

Ms. Cross is interesting to me because she is a classically trained voice teacher and she is educating a select population on how to effectively use their mechanism for the sound of choice for their music style. She aims for multiple overtones in the screams she teaches, which I would hope would decrease any resultant hyperfunction from too low or too high of a scream. She warns not to utilize both folds simultaneously, for fear of overuse as well.

There is information that is erroneous out there too. Here is someone saying that the epiglottis is responsible for the growl. Um, no. We have this video, I don't know why she is teaching the student to vibrate his palatal arches, but she is. Perhaps she is trying to eradicate any accidental use of the true vocal folds? But why not educate the student on the whole mechanism? The diagram gives me shivers.

Ms. Cross is due to discuss her techniques on a NATS Chat in February, and I'm very interested to hear what she has to say. Her techniques are unusual, but obviously encourage a balanced vocal subsystem of equal parts air, sound and resonance. Your opera singing vocal teacher might cry blasphemy, but it is all the same mechanism, and I haven't run across anyone else who has taken on this niche. Very cool.

 

-ATVC

 

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also owns and runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.

Twang, Twang Into the Room: A Look Twang as a Therapy Technique

#researchtues and #bangbang

Resonant Voice Therapy might have let you hold its hand in school, but I'm gunna show you how to graduate...haha. I can't get that song off my radio!

When I came across the title to the research article I am featuring for this week's Research Tuesday, I wondered to myself about my own "twang" and how often it probably rises to the surface since I'm from Texas. I treat clients often who have a twang of their own and I smile when it is very apparent because it makes me proud to be a Texan and to call this great state my home.

You all may be familiar with Resonant Voice Therapy and its uses for unloading the vocal mechanism. You may not be familiar at all with "Twang Therapy Techniques." Joanna Lott defines it as, "an aryepiglottic narrowing to create a high intensity vocal quality while maintaining low vocal effort." This is narrowing the aryepiglottic sphincter, as evidenced in this video. Elpida Koutsoubaki, Voice Therapist (from Athens, Greece), is using this to review the patient’s progress. She had received 3 voice therapy sessions leading up to this. “She is one of many patients with bilateral vocal fold paralysis for whom twang therapy has mercifully delivered a fully rehabilitated and functional voice (and breath support),” Elpida says.

Still wondering how Twang sounds? Think Lois Griffin from Family Guy. Yanagisawa, Lombard & Steinhauer describe it similar to an oboe, banjo or duck quack. I'm thinking, 'Yeah I already have my patients try enough crazy sounds, what's one more animal sound-a-like?' It turns out, twanging, for lack of a better term (so as not to confuse others with Miley Cyrus and her antics) could really benefit a client in the therapy room.

Twang constricts the vocal tract in a way that clusters formants in an acoustically pleasing way because it complements the resonant frequency of the ear canal. Because it increases the perceived loudness levels for the listener, the client can increase volume without increasing effort. Pretty cool, huh?

And.....drumroll please....another guest appearance of, yes, wait for it..... INERTIVE REACTANCE. This is where the back pressure created by this "tube within a tube" eases the pressure and allows the vocal folds to self-sustain vibratory cycles with no excess effort for the patient or performer. (Just like Straw Phonation!)

But is there a danger of bad production habits? With any therapy technique, you must be knowledgeable about it going badly in order to keep your patients on the right side of the line. Aryepiglottic constriction has been found to be present in every-day vocal production, so it is safely utilized by the general public. Hyperfunction, on the other hand, is any false vocal fold medial constriction and is strictly prohibited because it recruits excess and unnecessary muscular effort to phonate. Make sure you are monitoring the difference carefully when utilizing this in the therapy room.

This can also treat the hypophonic voice, as a study by Lombard and Steinhauer proved in 2007. Vocal fold paralysis or atrophy can lead to a breathy, unsupported vocal quality. After receiving voice therapy sessions using twang intervention, all of the participants were very happy with the finished product and that they were increasing intensity without sacrificing effort or coming across like a country-music singer. I wonder how it would work with tandem with an LSVT approach?

When utilizingthis technique, it is important to know how to distinguish twang-y from nasal-y, as evidenced in this video. He is referencing Jo Estill's twang teaching, and educating on how to utilize your aryepiglottic folds when twanging. He explains about the soft palate movement nicely as well.

More studies are needed to determine the effects of twang therapy, so "get a ride in the engine that could...go..." and twang twang into the research scene!

 

-ATVC

References:

Joanna Lott; The Use of the Twang Technique in Voice Therapy. Perspect Voice Voice Dis 2014;24(3):119-123. doi: 10.1044/vvd24.3.119.

Also, Elpida has offered to answer questions re. application of Twang to bilateral vocal fold paralysis.
You can reach her at ivoicetherapy@gmail.com

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also owns and runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.