A review of the book, “The Anatomy of Voice”

Anatomy of Voice book cover

Anatomy of Voice

How to enhance and project your best voice

by Calais-Germain and Germain

 

A review by David Delaney, MA, CAR, LPC- Certified Advanced Rolfer®

Singing Voice Trainer & Therapist

4.13.18

 

This book is a gold mine for an experienced singer but more especially for those who teach voice and quite comprehensive in its scope.  The drawings are wonderful, they represent real people in real situations, and is well organized. On the back cover, it is suggested that this book is for singers, teachers, actors, lawyers, politicians, or workshop leaders and offers that “this book reveals how understanding your vocal anatomy enables you to express your best voice”.  I am sure that this is true to a degree.

 

It is organized in a very intelligent way, starting with the vocal apparatus, and then looks at the skeleton. It introduces what is known as the ‘generators’ of voice, the larynx, the vocal tract, and finally specific language used in the vocal education professions. From the very beginning, it is an education in itself about the body and structure, and voice production.

 

A singer myself and someone who has worked over 3 decades with professional singers, I am always left scratching my head when I hear it announced that there is no actual vocal apparatus.  This book states that the voice is an event that cannot be broken down and that it is the entire body and more that makes up our voice.  I have no contradiction with this statement, that we use our entire body when speaking and singing.  But I must insist that there is a vocal apparatus and a human expression system.  Yes, our organism is a complex, adaptive system and follows the laws of non-linear reality just as Dr. Rolf taught us with the example of the phase shift or state change that occurs when energy is added to fascia and gel transforms to sol, and so on.

 

Our human organism follows the principles of non-linear reality which means that there is an unpredictability within the interaction of systems. So, even though my tongue has other functions, if is still part of my vocal apparatus, and has evolved to allow complex and highly nuanced communication that has allowed us to ultimately build society and culture.  Our highly complex system of the ear (vestibular and cochlear system) has multiple functions, yet we would never say that it is not a discrete system for hearing and listening (as well as kinesthesia and balance, cortical recharge, vocalization control and so on).

 

Nevertheless, this book is inspiring for the serious voice student, voice educator or professional who uses their voice in their work, with its numerous drawings of individuals using their voice in various postures and situations.

 

Any book such as this one is also limited in how far it can take a serious student of voice based on my 40 years as a singer, therapist for singers, and voice trainer. This is because it is unable to demonstrate between the difference in the speech function in the front of the mouth that must be kept independent from the vibratory event that happens in the pharynx, between larynx and spinal column (and that is the primary way that we ‘feel’ our own voice).   If you put these two functions together because of a acquired family habits or based on a regionalism, accident or injury, unresolved systemic trauma or just plain misguided training, you can miss the exponential event that happens when these two apparently separate functions transform into one event (that is greater than the sum of the two systems).

 

For most singers who are serious about uncovering and utilizing their natural voice, which is often inhibited in the process of socialization when we are children, generally only an experienced vocal trainer or teacher, Tomatis® practitioner (I am certified) or incredible Rolfer® or any intervention that can renormalize the body/psyche can help you reverse tendencies that are acquired unconsciously.

 

Beautiful anatomy pictures, a tremendous overview of the physiology of voice production.

 

Interesting that she is both a dancer and physical therapist.  I have found in my working with professional dancers that there can sometimes be a split between their movement function and their voice (Gene Kelly had a serious glottal fry).  The voice function often must be integrated with someone capable of doing this, who can help them use their respiratory/pharyngeal/bucal space function in a more effective and precise manner.

 

Learning that singing demands the least amount of breath is not easy in the early stages of vocal training since we are often used to over-exerting when we begin to sing, especially in front of others. This use of force (panic state that I can measure using the EEG) in the vocal process reduces the full range of the voice exponentially and limits its range and full spectrum of possibilities.  This level of understanding cannot be transmitted in such a book, given what we now know about learning and the mirror neurons.  Kinesthetic learning is primarily about learning person to person. In other words, it wasn’t what Dr. Rolf, or our Rolfing instructor said about Rolfing, so much as it was how they were and what she did while Rolfing that really counted in our learning development as Rolf Practitioners.

 

This book will remain in my voice education library and is useful to me because I already learned the effective and necessary fine motor skills for singing via teacher-to-student transmission, and the anatomy alone is helpful in clarifying what motor/muscles skills are needed by those I am passing on my experience as a singer to.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human vocal system.

Review article of the book “Anatomy of Voice” by Calais-Germain and Germain

Anatomy of Voice:How to enhance and project your best voice

by Calais-Germain and Germain

Structure, Function, Integration Journal – Vol. 47 – Nº 3

November 2019

 

A review by David Delaney, MA, CAR, LPC- Certified Advanced Rolfer®

Singing Voice Trainer & Therapist

4.13.18 as published in the Rolf Institute Journal

 

This book is a gold mine for an experienced singer but more especially for those who teach voice and quite comprehensive in its scope.  The drawings are wonderful, they represent real people in real situations, and is well organized. On the back cover, it is suggested that this book is for singers, teachers, actors, lawyers, politicians, or workshop leaders and offers that “this book reveals how understanding your vocal anatomy enables you to express your best voice”.  I am sure that this is true to a degree.

 

It is organized in a very intelligent way, starting with the vocal apparatus, and then looks at the skeleton. It introduces what is known as the ‘generators’ of voice, the larynx, the vocal tract, and finally specific language used in the vocal education professions. From the very beginning, it is an education in itself about the body and structure, and voice production.

 

A singer myself and someone who has worked over 3 decades with professional singers, I am always left scratching my head when I hear it announced that there is no actual vocal apparatus.  This book states that the voice is an event that cannot be broken down and that it is the entire body and more that makes up our voice.  I have no contradiction with this statement, that we use our entire body when speaking and singing.  But I must insist that there is a vocal apparatus and a human expression system.  Yes, our organism is a complex, adaptive system and follows the laws of non-linear reality just as Dr. Rolf taught us with the example of the phase shift or state change that occurs when energy is added to fascia and gel transforms to sol, and so on.

 

Our human organism follows the principles of non-linear reality which means that there is an unpredictability within the interaction of systems. So, even though my tongue has other functions, if is still part of my vocal apparatus, and has evolved to allow complex and highly nuanced communication that has allowed us to ultimately build society and culture.  Our highly complex system of the ear (vestibular and cochlear system) has multiple functions, yet we would never say that it is not a discrete system for hearing and listening (as well as kinesthesia and balance, cortical recharge, vocalization control and so on).

 

Nevertheless, this book is inspiring for the serious voice student, voice educator or professional who uses their voice in their work, with its numerous drawings of individuals using their voice in various postures and situations.

 

Any book such as this one is also limited in how far it can take a serious student of voice based on my 40 years as a singer, therapist  for singers, and voice trainer. This is because it is unable to demonstrate between the difference in the speech function in the front of the mouth that must be kept independent from the vibratory event that happens in the pharynx, between larynx and spinal column (and that is the primary way that we ‘feel’ our own voice).   If you put these two functions together because of a acquired family habits or based on a regionalism, accident or injury, unresolved systemic trauma or just plain misguided training, you can miss the exponential event that happens when these two apparently separate functions transform into one event (that is greater than the sum of the two systems).

 

For most singers who are serious about uncovering and utilizing their natural voice, which is often inhibited in the process of socialization when we are children, generally only an experienced vocal trainer or teacher, Tomatis® practitioner (I am certified) or incredible Rolfer® or any intervention that can renormalize the body/psyche can help you reverse tendencies that are acquired unconsciously.

 

Beautiful anatomy pictures, a tremendous overview of the physiology of voice production.

 

Interesting that she is both a dancer and physical therapist.  I have found in my working with professional dancers that there can sometimes be a split between their movement function and their voice (Gene Kelly had a serious glottal fry).  The voice function often must be integrated with someone capable of doing this, who can help them use their respiratory/pharyngeal/bucal space function in a more effective and precise manner.

 

Learning that singing demands the least amount of breath is not easy in the early stages of vocal training since we are often used to over-exerting when we begin to sing, especially in front of others. This use of force (panic state that I can measure using the EEG) in the vocal process reduces the full range of the voice exponentially and limits its range and full spectrum of possibilities.  This level of understanding cannot be transmitted in such a book, given what we now know about learning and the mirror neurons.  Kinesthetic learning is primarily about learning person to person. In other words, it wasn’t what Dr. Rolf, or our Rolfing instructor said about Rolfing, so much as it was how they were and what she did while Rolfing that really counted in our learning development as Rolf Practitioners.

 

This book will remain in my voice education library and is useful to me because I already learned the effective and necessary fine motor skills for singing via teacher-to-student transmission, and the anatomy alone is helpful in clarifying what motor/muscles skills are needed by those I am passing on my experience as a singer to.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human vocal system.

Breathing technique contradictions among singing teachers

I recently read a research paper on breathing technique related to singing. Here is an interesting comment from a singing student on  his experience of working with various teachers of singing:

“One teacher will tell you that… you must protrude your abdomen so that your diaphragm has room to operate. The next will contradict this… you should contract the muscles of the abdomen causing it to flatten. Another group will tell you to fill your lungs full of air and go ahead and sing. Their ideas of breath expulsion are just as divergent. One says… to push out the abdomen and use force in contradicting the muscles around the lower ribs. Another will tell you… you must forcibly flatten the abdomen and give a big push with the diaphragm. Still another suggests that you let the chest sink as breath is expelled, keeping a steady pressure upon the lungs with the rib 2 muscles… Is it any wonder that voice pupils get the idea that singing is an abnormal art and not founded on nature at all?”

My own training with various singing teachers was similar. Everyone seemed to have a different idea about how to do it.  It was not until I met and trained with Margaret Laughlin Riddleberger (Metropolitan Opera) that I began to understand that singing and speaking are the same physiological process and the speaking voice is essentially the basis of the singing voice. Here is Dr. P. Mario Marifioti’s third Principle of voice production that correlates with how I learned to sing:

 

 

Third Principle

Breath is an indispensable factor in voice production, but

it is not the essential power which develops the voice as it

is taught today. On the contrary, the function of singing

develops the breathing apparatus and its power, just as

any physiological function develops the organ from which

it takes origin. Therefore, singing develops breathing, not

breathing, singing.

 

I discovered that I had been doing something different the moment I began to sing then when I spoke. And many singers do so as well, in my direct observation. Marifioti’s fifth principle clarifies what I learned from Margaret:

 

Fifth Principle

Speaking and singing are similar functions, produced by

the same physiological mechanism; therefore they are the

same vocal mechanism.

The speaking voice acts as the substantial factor of the

singing voice and constitutes its real support. Singing, it

its very essence, is merely speaking in musical rhythm;

hence no correct singing can  exist without a correctly

produced speaking voice.

Any singer who wishes to sing in the their authentic God given voice, must either have it innately or find a teacher who can get them to bridge the gap between you speaking voice and singing voice. It is that simple. No tips or tricks or theory or belief, or dogma will get you there.  It took me more than 10 years of training to achieve the singing voice that matched my speaking voice signature while singing in front of a live audience.

Today, I have found ways to accelerate the singers development toward virtuosity if they have the raw talent and the dedication and perseverance that it takes to get there. With me, it will begin with an audition interview and a Tomatis® Listening Test.

 

In this video, notice how speaking and singing are the same process, from my NUC one man show, “Love, Desire and Growing Pains” at the Avalon Theater.

 

Singing with true sentiment

“There is no medium

for expressing human sentiments or feelings

so high,

so strong &

so effective

as to bear comparison with the human voice”.

Dr. P. Mario Marafioti

 

 

But learning to use your full vocal expression system to its full potential, the way that Nature designed, it is not as easy as watching a video on Youtube about singing, because it takes mastery to use it for its highest purpose (Civilization).  We are outer directed in this culture and we are definitely hypnotized to a degree (so who is hypnotizing us? our lower egos).

Embodied singing demands full, moment to moment commitment to be engaged deeply as a physical Human Being, openly communicating with other fellow human beings.  It is a rare one of us who has achieved this level of mastery, and so, this is is a challenge for the singer who sings for audiences. Without challenge, we do not evolve.  We must use the power of healing of the human voice to heal society.  A famous Sufi teacher named Hazrat Inayat Khan says that “our voice is our Spirit made visible”.

 

This is the Work that we are involved in at TheSingersCENTER.com.

Please reach out if you wish to know more.

 

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