Vocal cords or lower nasal-pharynx

There’s a lot of discussion about singers tiring their vocal cords.  I’m unable to determine whether I tire mine, but do believe I tire my lower nasal pharynx (lower than the soft pallet) when I sing highs.   I don’t even know what tired vocal cords feel like.

What does tired vocal cords feel like and what does tiring of lower nasal-pharynx feel like?



2 Responses to “Vocal cords or lower nasal-pharynx”

  1. rsussuma Says:

    Hey! The signs of tired vocal folds are hoarseness and catching at the beginning of the tone (tone doesn’t start right away). This is just from general fatigue or prolonged singing. What one needs to watch out for are sensations of a tickle in the throat, need to cough after singing, or a scratch feeling in your throat…these are signs of vocal fold trauma. If you feel tickle, cough or scratch you should stop what you are doing so your vocal folds can recover.

    The sensation you are feeling in your lower naso-pharynx is due to using the supra glottal muscles (larynx lifter muscles) above the larynx. When singing high these muscles engage to lift the larynx and shorten the vocal tract. This is a good thing, but perhaps you aren’t as toned in those muscles as you could be yet, so you feel some fatigue. You can condition these muscles to get stronger…

    It’s important to make the distinction between muscle ache and vocal fold trauma. Muscle ache will never injure your voice but trauma will!


  2. ronws Says:

    “When singing high these muscles engage to lift the larynx and shorten the vocal tract. ”
    I’m so glad that someone else understands this. It is about the acoustics. A higher note requires a shorter vibrating body at a higher vibration coupled with a smaller resonating space. That is why I most often liken the voice to a guitar string. It may be inaccurate but the effect is the same. Part of making a smaller resonating space is making it physically smaller. And, like a guitar, getting it to resonate in a specific area small enough to reinforce that note. But the raising and lowering of the larynx is not huge. Mostly, a fraction of an inch.

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