I didn't know that!! Issue #1

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This is the 1st of a series of posts for "I didn't know that". It will introduce some simple but astonishing facts about singing


Issue #1:Simple facts about breathing

● Pressure in the lungs can be maintained at pressures as high as 6kPa, which is like shouting for help in a life-threatening position.

● Pressure in the trachea is nearly the same as pressure in the lungs.

● Pressure above the glottis, which is the major constriction of the airway, is nearly zero until air escapes through the nasal port.

● The larynx normally offers a gentle resistance to the airflow, which is kept constant by varying the glottis closure, an action done autonomically by the nervous system.

● Lung volume at a low level activity is only 10-15% of the vital capacity. For strenuous activity it can go up to 50%. Singing long phrases may take all the reserve volume of the lungs.

● When the vocal folds are adducted for singing or speaking, there is greater resistance to the airflow. Then more lung pressure is necessary to expel the air in a reasonable amount of time.

● As the pitch goes up, the cords become stiffer and require more lung pressure to maintain the same amplitude. To do this the back and chest muscles must be invoked.

● For a catch breath, a very short inhalation time is necessary. This means there should be no major constrictions in the vocal tract. Take the air through the nose and mouth.

● In inhalation the abdominals and intercostals must relax quickly.

● The outward bulge of the stomach region means that the diaphragm is lowering.

● To achieve constant lung pressure, which means a constant air flow, is not a simple motor task. When a specific musical pattern such as crescendo is demanded, it is even more difficult. Different body postures also affect the balance of muscular activity.