Archives for November 2013

Alternative singing styles can be perfectly healthy

Recently I had the pleasure of working with a brilliant woman enjoying a successful singing career as an avante-garde performer with trademark vocal acrobatics and multiphonics.  Through experimentation, she taught herself to produce different tones simultaneously.  Once you listen to her unusual vocal style, you may assume misuse generated her referral.  Not so.  And I am certainly in no place to advise her to discontinue a performance style she is passionate about and has never left a shred of vocal pathology.  On the contrary, I was grateful to learn from her skill to share with other vocalists how to safely produce tones some may classify as screaming.  I have seen these produced in unhealthy manners with devastating after effects, namely hemorrhaging and vocal cord scarring.  A singing sample and her laryngeal videostroboscopy are provided below.  There two aspects of her endoscopy you may find intriguing.  First, her vocal cords are in pristine condition.  They are pearly white and exhibit healthy edges.  The edges of the vocal cords are generally where a pathology would arise from overuse due to repeated forceful closure.  Secondly, when I ask her to reproduce simultaneous pitches, you will notice she elicits two vibrations in different quadrants of the vocal cords.  Generally, we see one vibratory collision involving the entire true vocal cord.  I was grateful for this opportunity to work with such an energetic performer and explore the technical skill of her vocal style.  -Erin Walsh