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What You Need to Know About Phonation

Phonation is an important term to know as either a singer or a speaker. Simply put, phonation is the act of making a sound. This is done using vocal cords, breathing, and other muscles in your body. Understanding what phonation is, can help you to become a better singer or speaker. Here is what you need to know about phonation.

Our vocal cords

When someone sings or talks, they are using their vocal cords. Vocal cords are located at the back of the throat and are protected by the larynx. The larynx is responsible for the production of sounds and located above the windpipe. Between the vocal folds is the glottis, which is what opens and closes while breathing, swallowing, or making any type of sound. When a person sings or talks, the vocal cords vibrate open and shut 440 times per second. This is very fast and invisible to the naked eye.

Related: Singing with Your Diaphragm

Tips for better phonation

A man speaking in front of a crowd

Learning what you need to know about phonation can help you become a better singer and speaker. Most people do not run out of breath when talking casually with a friend or family member. Before saying a sentence, your mind and body know how much air to take in to finish that sentence. The same should be true for singing. Singing should feel natural.

Some other ways to help with phonation in singing are to keep notes sounding smooth and connected. This is otherwise known as legato. Another tip for better phonation when singing is to avoid any unnecessary H sounds. These sounds require a lot more air and will result in you running out of breath faster while singing. Many people make these H sounds while singing without realizing it. Next time you are singing a song, try to hear if you make any unnecessary H sounds yourself. Unless the lyrics have the letter H, you should not hear that sound. Not only does it require more air, but it will make your voice sound too breathy instead of clear.

Sources

https://mci.archpitt.org/music/Voice_Lesson_5_Phonation.pdf

https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/experts/rebecca/phonation/