Our voices are our instruments. We carry them around with us all the time and we can use them all day long (some more than others!). Wind instruments, brass instruments and other types of instruments use the same basic principles as the voice. Last week, we looked at the airflow—like the bellows of an accordion, the pumps of an organ or the breath of a trumpet or clarinet.
But airflow is not the only thing needed to make noise in those instruments. Our ears hear pitch based on frequency—how fast or slow the airwaves are vibrating. Airflow doesn’t cause vibrations that can be heard—those vibrations require something else. The clarinet has a mouthpiece with a reed that, when blown properly, rapidly vibrates, causing pitch. The trumpet player “buzzes” his lips like a kid making an elephant noise, causing the vibration that results in pitch. Without the reed or the buzzing lips, airflow alone just blows spit out the instrument. That’s not the prettiest sound.
So what is it that causes vibration in our instrument? You guessed it—our vocal chords. Airflow moving over the “buzz” of our vocal chords produces the sound we hear. Airflow without vocal chords is just breathing. Vocal chords without airflow will just give you a sore throat (think of a guttural, gravelly sound).
If airflow comes before you activate your vocal chords, you end up with breathy singing. Your words start with “h.” Don’t sing, “Hall to Jesus hi surrhender.”
But if airflow comes after you start singing a word, you’ll get that scooping sound. We don’t want that, either.
What we want is coordination between your breath and vocal chords. Turn them on together. Concentrate and coordinate today.