Vocal Chord Adduction in singing
Adduction refers to any part of your body being moved closer to your centre, for example, when you place your hands together like in prayer any movement in Yoga involving the solar plexus or centering your core. Basically, it means “move towards the centre”, and the opposite, abduction, means to separate further from your core. This is important to your vocal technique because singing is often a balancing act of coordination where your vocal mechanism needs to be centred like a tight-rope in a balanced way for your onsets, your registers, vocal chord closure and many other aspects of your voice.
So, in singing, Adduction means to bring your vocal chords closer together towards the centre of your throat, in essence closing your chords. Vocal chord closure is one of the pivotal aspects of your singing voice, as this closure allows your chords to vibrate in the proper manner to create resonance and ultimately what we know as singing.
How to sing with a balanced vocal onset
Your onset, in other words the way your resonance stars depends on proper vocal chord control and you ability to adduct your vocal chords in an efficient way. A balanced onset is the only healthy onset in singing and is created by a perfection coordination between your vocal chord closure and the flow of pressurised air. A breathy onset occurs when you sing with aspirated air before your onset, often leading a singer to a flat intonation and a contributing factor to vocal damage such as nodes. A glottal onset occurs through overly forceful closure of your vocal chords and results in a singer being sharp and again playing a contributing factor to vocal damage and voice strain.
Chord Closure and Singing Consonants
Your vocal onsets actually differ from your consonants, and I often see beginner singers suffering from an unintentional crossover between these two vocal elements. Your onset is how your resonance starts, and a consonant is simply how this resonance or airflow is articulated into the sounds other than vowels that shape our words after or before the fact. Aside from an open resonant consonant like M, N and NG, your onset always begins on a vowel – so take care when you are singing consonants to separate this word articulation from your onset to ensure proper resonance and strain free singing.
I personally like to group the consonants into their matching types and form an approach with each of my students towards each sound considering their voice type, accent and singing experience. As you can see, your onset is simply how your vocal chords and airflow coordinate together to start your resonance, and a consonant sound is how your airflow and resonance are articulated into the non-vowel sounds that make up our words.
How to improve singing voice control
If you want to improve singing voice control so that you can adduct your vocal chords and sing with a powerful and strain free balanced onset, it’s important that you set up a strong foundation. I often tell my vocal students that their singing voices are only going to be as strong as the foundation on which they build them. Set up your posture for proper Appoggio singing technique along with placing your resonance with proper support and vowel production for the most consistent, confident and powerful singing voice you could imagine.
Your foundation starts with posture, which starts with keeping your head up, your shoulders back, chin parallel with the floor and finally your ribs in a widened state. To widen your ribs for effective Appoggio, I like to add in the honorary fourth step of raising the sternum in my student’s posture setup – raising your sternum without breathing in allows you to control your airflow solely through extension of the diaphragm instead of contracting your ribs to expel air like we often do in speech.
Develop the middle register
Your two main registers Chest voice and Head Voice are enabled by engagement of the TA (thyroarytenoid) and CT (cricothyroid) muscles respectively, and when you learn how to coordinate this engagement, you allow an honorary third register that is often called mix or middle voice. Often male singers with lower voices struggle with letting go of a tight TA engagement and “pulling chest” as they ascend, and female singers with higher voice types often struggle to attain TA engagement and have a perpetual lilt and airy sound to their voices.
If you want to learn how to sing in middle voice, it’s actually super easy with the steps-based approach I’ve developed here at Bohemian Vocal Studio. By using a visual tool such as projection you can kick start your middle coordination with ease around your first break and build an impressive singing voice that retains the depth and richness of chest with the extensive range afforded by head voice. Your middle voice is key to singing high notes without strain and ultimately how to sing higher chest voice notes.
This central coordination of your main registers is the professional and powerful sound you hear in your favourite singers voices, especially when they seemingly transition through they full range without a break in a powerfully resonant way without strain.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level by developing control over your vocal chord adduction and your middle register, you can book a book a Skype Session and we’ll get started today!
If you have any questions about adduction or chord closure, please leave any feedback or questions below.
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.