In my years of teaching I’ve found most singers are aware that the vocal cords create the sound for us as singers. But, little else is understood about the process. Also, very few singers have seen the vocal cords in action.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be even more. Below is a video of 4 vocalists – a bass, tenor, alto and soprano – singing Kyrie (“Hear Us and Have Mercy”). To get this video, each of the singers had to be scoped while singing.
Scoping is a process used by doctors to observe and discover any malfunctions in the voice. Here, it’s used for educational purposes to help us better understand how the voice works.
Warning: The video begins with the camera being fed up the singer’s nose, then down into the throat area. This is how the scoping process works. This is the only way we could witness the vocal cords in action without obstructing the mouth.
While you watch the video below, consider the delicate balance of resistance of airflow (the cords coming together and vibrating) and release of airflow (the air freely passing through the vocal cords). This is how we create sound. It’s fascinating how the voice works!
Anyway, hopefully this sheds some light on singing process. And, makes your vocal anatomy a bit more tangible.