Finding the Pharyngeal Voice – Male Voice

This is the second part of my discussion regarding the Pharyngeal Voice.  Part one dealt with applying the technique for the female voice.  Today we’ll discuss applying these techniques to the male voice.  If you missed Part one, CLICK HERE.

Pharyngeal Voice for the Male Voice

As discussed on part one, many young female singers struggle with the ability to successfully connect out of chest voice.  This issue is also very common with young male singers.  There is either not enough chest voice involved (lack of thyroarytenoid involvement), which makes it sound too heady for the style, or the overuse of chest voice, with too much air pressure (subglottal pressure) building up under the vocal cords, which leads to strain, pitch problems, and usually an uncoordinated flip into a falsetto-based head voice at c#5. It is the second manner of use that also creates vocal health issues for younger females that like to belt but in a potentially hazardous manner.

This condition of over-pressurized chest voice is also a common occurrence in young male singers. The lack of mixed voice in a male will also produce strain, and will severely limit their top range. A lot of younger males who have been classified as baritones or basses could actually blossom into tenors, once they find their mixed voice and connection into head.

Male singers need to induce mixed voice at somewhere around D4-E♭4. When younger male singers try to sing something out of the classical realm, they usually start singing on the call of the voice (a polite term for yelling) because they are pulling pure chest up into the area where a mixed voice or connected head tone should be used. While this may be satisfying to the singer, it is not to the audience or to their vocal cords. The culprit of this is usually too much air pressure, and vowels that are going wide. Vowels (in the male and female voice) at the point where they are approaching mixed voice need to narrow, not widen. For example /o/ takes on a hint of /u/ with the end result sounding like /o/ the way it would be pronounced in Minnesota. This may sound odd to the singer, but to the audience, it sounds very speech like. Open vowels absolutely need to narrow as they come out of the chest.

Narrower versions of open vowels promote vocal fold lengthening and thinning via cricothyroid involvement, balance the air pressure below and above the vocal cords, and realign the formants (pockets of acoustic strength in the overtone series) to make them sound speech like. Not only does this produce a well-balanced voice, it makes the text intelligible.

In the final part we’ll be looking at the results of implementing these techniques on a young voice.  If you have questions, please contact me using the form to the right.