Resonance and Articulation – part 1
The human voice is mainly a wind instrument but has functionalities of a string instrument. It is important to recognize the voice as an instrument to facilitate learning the skills of playing that instrument. We train the muscles of the larynx, assisted by facial and respiratory muslces, to coordinate in a certain way so that we can produce the sounds we want. Even though we operate within the anatomical paramters given to us by birth, we can still train to coordiate those muscles so that we can become the best singer we can be within those anatomical parameters. Singing as well as speaking results from three components of voice production: voicing, resonance, articulation. In this section we will look at resonance.
What is Resonance?
McKinney defines vocal resonance as “the process by which phonation enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air.”
Any object that can vibrate in response to another vibration can be an acoustic resonator. The voice, like all acoustic instruments such as the guitar, trumpet, piano, or violin, has its own special chambers for resonating the tone. Once the tone is produced by the vibrating vocal folds, it vibrates in and through the open resonating chambers, or the vocal tract.
The various resonances can represent vocal colors in a continuous spectrum, we may call this spectrum a resonance track. The objective is to have command of all the colors of the spectrum, which allows greater scope of emotional expression.
How does the resonance system within our body work?
The sound generated by the vocal folds is modified by the vocal tract resonators. Acoustic resonators are filters and when we speak, a talker’s vocal tract alters and shapes certain acoustic characteristics. This can be compared to a filtering system where changes in the shape of a tube will lead to changes in the sound outcome.
Voiced sounds are amplified and modified by the vocal tract resonators (the larynx, pharynx, oral cavity, and nasal cavity). The amplification of certain frequencies allow singers like Jamie Vendera to shatter glass with his voice.
The Source-Filter Theory and Resonance
The Source-Filter Theory describe the articulatory and resonance system. The source is the vibration of the vocal folds at the glottis; the filter is the vocal tract, which includes the pharynx, oral cavity and nasal cavity. Resonance is the amplification of voiced sounds by the vocal tract resonators. The resonators make a person’s voice recognizable and unique.
The basic Source-Filter Theory applies most directly to vowels. By including valves of the vocal tract, the
theory can also apply to consonants. Depending upon the position of the articulators we can distinguish one vowel or consonants from the other. We can use movable articulators like the tongue, lips, mandible and the soft palate, as well as immovable articulators like the teeth, hard palate and alveolar ridge. The movement of the articulators shape the cavities of the vocal tract and determine the sound which emerges at the lips.
In the next blog we will look at the process of voice production.
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