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Vocal Feminization: Throat control/breathing

6: Throat control

Melanie Anne Phillips' simple, yet brilliant insight is that voice passing is about resonance, not pitch. You need to have your voice at a slightly higher pitch, but the trick is to use "less" of your voicebox in doing so.

The difference in your male and female pitch will probably be less than an octave apart, so pitch isn't that big a deal in itself. You have to understand pitch in order to find the right resonance. Resonance is the key. And the key to resonance is voicebox control. So let's start there.

This lesson has exercises to help you feel the muscles surrounding your voicebox. Do these in your regular voice.

Exercise 6A

Yawn.

When you yawn you use the muscles to open your throat way up. Try concentrating on how the throat muscles feel when you're yawning.

Exercise 6B

Clear your throat.

As you do a bunch of "ahems" in a row, think about how that feels to use the muscles in your throat. What you are doing is constricting your voicebox to a very narrow passage. Then air forced through pushes out any phlegm. Icky but illustrative of one common way you control your voicebox.

Exercise 6C

Get a loogie up.

Yeah, it's a disgusting guy thing, but it's a perfect way to undertand a variation of the throat clear. You don't actually have to do it-- just imitate the sound. A throat clear or cough moves phlegm up just high enough that it can be dealth with by swallowing. In order to force the phlegm higher into your mouth, you have to constrict your throat differently. You'll notics as you do it that the muscles constrict in a higher part of your throat than they do when you clear your throat.

Exercise 6D

Now do them back to back.

  1. Throat clear-- lower voicebox.
  2. Loogie sound-- upper voicebox.

OK, we're done with the gross stuff. Kinda.

Exercise 6E

Do a Darth Vader impression.

This is a lot like 6D, but it's easier for some to understand. The breathing sounds they added to the Darth Vader voiceover is something most people can imitate. The "breathing in" sound can be done by constricting your voicebox but keeping it open. The "breathing out" sound involves constricting just the top part of your voicebox.

Exercise 6F

Gargling

OK, now that you know how to go back and forth between contracting the top and bottom of your voicebox, try it with gargling. Get a mouthful of water. Gargle and make an "ahhhh" noise. Feel the muscles? Garling involves constricting the top part of the voicebox.


7. Breathing

Besides throat shape, the other component of resonance is breathing. You don't want your voice to sound pinched.

Sit up straight (or stand) and push your chest out. Take as deep a breath as you can through your nose. That's the posture you want when you practice.

While we're breathing, I'm going to give you one of the essential tips I know.

Exercise 7A

Blow through your mouth like you're cooling a spoonful of scalding hot soup. The air is cool because your mouth is shaped to make the air expell quickly.

Exercise 7B

Now breathe into your hands like you're trying to warm them in a cold day. The breath comes out warm because it's from deep in the diaphragm and passes through your open throat. It's sort of a long "H" sound, right? "H-h-h-h-h-h-h-h"

Do this several more times-- breathe with your throat open like this. Think about how the muscles feel. Commit it to memory. I feel this is absolutely the most important thing to understand in order to find your voice.

Exercise 7C

Make this H-h-h-h-h-h-h sound while silently saying "wow." Move your mouth in a really overexaggerated way. This causes you to constrict your throat when you say the "o" in the middle. Hear the difference in the breath?

Exercise 7D

Now breathe out in the same hand-warming way quickly and forcefully. It should sound like when someone is frustrated about something, and they let out an annoyed sigh. Do this a few times, but don't make yourself light-headed! :)

Exercise 7E

Now, do that same annoyed sigh sound, but use your voice, too. It should sound like "HHHAAH." Try doing it in a lower note, then doing it in a higher note.

Now we are ready to find your female voice!

Next up: Finding your range

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