NATS Chat with Dr. Ingo Titze - October 2, 2011

This is the transcript from the October 2, 2011 NATS Chat with Dr. Ingo Titze of The National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) with host Dr. Kari Ragan, Puget Sound Chapter NATS member. Please join us for future chats.

Kari Ragan: Welcome all newcomers! So happy you've found us here on Facebook. Welcome Dr. Titze and Madeline (who will be typing for him).

Ingo Titze: Hello all! Fire away!

Kari Ragan: We are honored to have Dr. Titze with us tonight. I hope you all have questions ready! :)

Tara Rising: Hi Dr. Titze, I am wondering if you have any typical approaches to different types of singers that you find are most effective?? For instance, opera versus pop... In terms of voice therapy, that is?

Karin Titze Cox: Is everyone using straws and why?

Ingo Titze: I would say in all cases it is important to find the "mixed voice" first, and to be firmly grounded in that

David Sabella-Mills: DR. Titze. The Spt Issue of JOS has an article on Female Pharyngeal voice. Does this information agree with your findings on the high contemporary female belt, or differ?

Rachel Day Velarde What's the latest on the Vocal Tract Reactance front?

Kari Ragan: Wow- David-going right to it! Love it.

Craig Tompkins I'd like to hear a little more about the occluded vocal tract therapies. I couldn't make it to SLC this summer.

Karin Titze Cox: what is pharyngeal voice?

Ingo Titze: I don't know what the definition of Pharyngeal voice is

Craig Tompkins Karin, it's best described as the "witches" voice!

Ingo Titze: In what style of singing is it used?

Heather Nelson: Could you please define the "mixed voice?" I've been reading lately that it's not possible to actually "mix" the registers in a purely physiological sense, but rather, it's a product of psychoacoustics.

David Sabella-Mills: Pharyngeal resonance, used in Contemporary soinging

Ingo Titze: Mixed Voice: has to do with vocal fold adduction, the bottom of the vocal fold is adducted half-way. It is not dominated by TA contraction, and also not dominated by CT contraction.

David Sabella-Mills: When you say half way...
do you mean posterior to anterior?

Patti Blankenship-Mortier: What is an example of a classical singer using mix. I understand it from a MT or pop perspective

Ingo Titze: Mixed voice is best obtained when we practice with semi-occluded vocal tracts such as lip trills, tongue trills, humming, and using flow-resistant straws.

David Sabella-Mills: is this because of the build up of supra-glattal pressure in these techniques?

Jared Schwartz: is a mixed voice possible without development of BOTH the head voice and chest voice?

Ingo Titze: (Anterior to posterior) I mean inferior to superior adduction, or bottom to top.

Heather Nelson: Is mixed voice limited to a particular frequency range, or can you achieve that on any pitch, as long as the folds aren't fully adducted?

Ingo Titze: Classical singer using mixed...virtually all classical singers use mixed voice or mixed register. In particular, in the range from E4 toC5, males as well as females
Yes, mixed register can be achieved in virtually all pitches.

Heather Nelson: Thank you. Interesting, I've always felt that my high notes were a mix of head and chest (I am a dramatic soprano)

Ingo Titze: Mixed voice lies exactly between head and chest voice, and the feel should always be that you are half-way between chest voice and falsetto.

Tara Rising: Is there a danger in going to falsetto with this technique, though, esp. in regards to female high voice? the straw technique...

Craig Tompkins How much of what we hear as mixed voice is vocal fold dependent and how much is resonance based?

David Sabella-Mills: With recent research are we now considering mix to be a mixture of registration AND resonance, and not a mixture of purely registrative qualities?

Ingo Titze: Yes, there is always a chance that the balance is not maintained and that we drift more towards falsetto or more towards chest. Therein lies the importance in the technique, it must always maintain balance so that you get the feel that you can go in both directions.

Heather Nelson: In regards to David's question, is mixed voice a register all it's own?

David Sabella-Mills: And to further my question, can we consider that the VT reactance has a lot to do with acquiring a mix sound?

Ingo Titze: Mixed voice can be reinforced with vocal tract resonance and again the semi-occluded vocal tract techniques help to do that. They produce an inertance effect that helps the vocal folds in sustaining their vibration.

Ingo Titze: Is mixed voice a register on it's own?...that has been debated for many decades if not centuries. I like to think of it simply as the mix between the two primary laryngeal registers.

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: I agree, my students love it as well, and it has been particularly helpful with those who are dealing with the menopausal voice

Ingo Titze: Vocal tract reactance is inertance multiplied by frequency, so when we mention reactance, it is really the same as inertance, with a scale factor.

David Sabella-Mills: is it possible to "mix" registrations"? i thought function was influenced by VT shape (source /Filter theory)

Craig Tompkins My music theatre students love the straw, especially when one register is significantly stronger than the other.

Rachel Brager Goldenberg: Is there a positive expiratory pressure effect when we use semi-occulsion techniques?

Ingo Titze: I appreciate the report that it is helpful with theatre singers as well.

David Sabella-Mills: is the straw used vertically (blowing out) or Horizontally( under tongue)

Jeremy Sortore: Wondering what the primary benefits of the straw are vs other semi-occluded techniques (hums, buzzes, etc.)

Ingo Titze: There will be a positive pressure in the vocal tract when you semi-occlude it at the lips. This net positive pressure helps to keep the vocal folds slightly separated so that there is not a strong collision between the vocal folds. That in an of itself is beneficial and allows one to use full lungs pressure and a full range of pitches without incurring any injury.

Craig Tompkins I use both but for different reasons. Blowing out is what I was referring to :)

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: Under tongue - tongue tension, blowing through, mix

Ingo Titze: What do you meanby "blowing out"?

David Sabella-Mills: singing through

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: Yes

Craig Tompkins Thanks David!

David Sabella-Mills: not under tongue for tension

Ingo Titze: I am sorry, singing through what?

Valerie White Williams: I am not familiar with the straw technique but I do use humming extensively in my studio.

Craig Tompkins Singing through the straw.

Christina Thompson Howell: Just posted a video of Dr. Titze explaining straw phonation on the group page

David Sabella-Mills: through the straw

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: ooing through the straw

Karin Titze Cox: I was taught an under the tongue technique for belt and tongue placement is that what you mean

Timothy Marshall Ballard:


Ingo Titze: Oh, I see. I find that at the beginning it seems a little bit confining to sing a full song through the straw, but once you get used to the feeling of the back pressure and that it really helps the vocal folds to continue to vibrate, it is possibe to sing the melody of virtually every song that you would normally sing with the mouth open.

Craig Tompkins Karin - I use that if there is excessive tongue tension, but I also hold the tongue with a piece of gauze to give it a stretch.

David Sabella-Mills: yes, I agree, if needed
Thank you all

Ingo Titze: Have we cleared up the question about pulling the tongue out with gauze?

Nancy Bos: I have found the straw phonation helps with nearly every breathy-voiced middle-school girl who comes through the door.

David Sabella-Mills: is this not recommended for excessive tension

Patti Blankenship-Mortier: I purchased the very large smoothie straws and the regular and use them alternately. Do you find the larger straw is better for the beginner?

Tara Rising: yes, I'm also curious about how to treat tongue tension...

Jeremy Sortore: Wondering what the benefits of straw phonation are vs other semi-occluded techniques (hums, buzzes, etc.)

David Sabella-Mills: clarity on definition please....
inertance= reactance?

Thomas Dickinson: How does the straw differ from a well rounded closed [u] vowel?

Craig Tompkins I like the gauze technique for bassitis - when the tongue gets bunched up in the back of the mouth.

David Sabella-Mills: inertance of breath pressure or standing wave?

Ingo Titze: Yes, often the larger straw works best in the beginning just to feel comfortable with the back pressure feeling. I've also found that females prefer a slightly larger straw than males. The reason for this is that their glottal resistance is a little bit lower and we try to match the glottal resistance with the straw resistance.

Patti Blankenship-Mortier: Thanks so much

Christina Thompson Howell: I have seen you recommend a coffee stirrer but I find those impossible to sing through!

Ingo Titze: the order of severity of occlusion is as follows:

Jeremy Sortore: Very interesting gender difference

Kari Ragan: Should everyone progress to a small stir straw or is that not necessary?

Craig Tompkins Does the length of the straw make any difference?

Karin Titze Cox: is that due to a post glottal gap common in females?

Ingo Titze: Thin (stirring straw), bilabial fricative, larger straw, lip trills and tongue trills, humming, and finally, closed vowels (ooo and oh). I practice them in that order in order to feel warmed up enough to let all of the sound escape with vowels such as "ah" and "eh" and "aw"

Jeremy Sortore: Very helpful. Thank you.

Ellie Seligmann: thank you. Would you stick Doscher's "standing wave" in there anywhere?

Ingo Titze: The effect is greatest when the occlusion is the narrowest. But it is not necessarily wise to always begin with the most extreme occlusion. It depends on how warmed-up you are.
As far as the length is concerned, it is of much less significance than the diameter.

David Sabella-Mills: yes, Ellie, that goes to my question - Inertance of Breath pressure or standing wave?

Ingo Titze: As I understand Doscher's standing wave, she promoted covering the mouth with the hand and feeling the back pressure in that manner. I never spoke with Barabara Doscher personally, so this is all second-hand information. However, if there was some air escape through the hands, then it would be another useful semi-occlusion.

Brian Gill: the air does not escape through the hand, only the nose

Jeremy Sortore: Seems similar to a hum with more space/jaw opening.
From my experience of the exercise.

Ingo Titze: There are two effects from semi-occluded vocal tract techniques. The first effect is the steady back pressure throughout the entire oral and pharyngeal cavity. That pressure spreads the vocal folds apart to avoid excessive collision and keeps the amplitude of vibration small.

Rachel Day Velarde Is the Doscher standing wave then comparable to the Bernard Coffin technique of singing behind the hand, as outlined in is "Overtones of Bel Canto?"

Ingo Titze: The second effect is an acoustic one, which depends on the inertance of the combined straw with the vocal tract. This inertance lowers the phonation threshold pressure and assists the vocal folds in their self-sustained vibration.

Karin Titze Cox: Why the hand? if it goes through the nose. Why not just a mmm? is it for tactile vibratory sensation?

David Sabella-Mills: yes, thank you. that's what I thought

Brian Gill: Rachel, Doscher got the idea from Berton Coffin

Rachel Day Velarde Ah! I'm more familiar with the Coffin (from Shirlee Emmons)

Ingo Titze: I am not sure what Bernard Coffin said about singing behind the hand, I do know however that he promotes matching harmonics with formants in the vocal tract with his famous diagrams.

Ellie Seligmann: I have found it tremendously useful in my own singing.

Brian Gill: It's different from a hum as there needs to be a specific vowel articulated by the tongue and the mouth is opened to the degree it will be opened when singing

Ellie Seligmann: It's almost a "magic fix"!

Ingo Titze: If you prefer to use a hum as a semi-occlusion, I see no need to use the hand. Just close the mouth and hum.

Jeremy Sortore: Well put, Brian.

Ingo Titze: Yes, but the vowel wll be completely changed if the hand covers the mouth.

Brian Gill: I also believe (needs to be studied) that the velum is lower with a hum as compared with the standing wave that has the thought of the vowel/more specific tongue position
It's more about the position of the tongue than the sound of the vowel...naturally you won't hear the vowel

Ingo Titze: Absolutely, the minute you produce a hum, the velum must go down so that both sound and air go through the nose.

Marilyn Taylor: I rediscovered a paper I wrote which included some of those very (Coffin) exercises. However, I remember some of them asking for a very small opening in the front--- as in the 'cuperto' method advocated in the Swedish-Italian school. I have found these particularly helpful lately with 'yodels' and the male voice.

David Sabella-Mills: The small opening in the front - would we say that is 2nd formant tuning. al Pavarotti?

Ingo Titze: Could you enlighten us a little more on the 'cuperto' method?
raising hte 2nd format to boost the 3rd-5th harmonics?

Kari Ragan: I was interested to learn about LOX VOX this summer at the NCVS Symposium. DO you find that to be = in benefit to straw phonation Dr. Titze?

Brian Gill: I do believe the degree of velo-pharyngeal opening is of the utmost importance when using these tools

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: I'd love a copy of that paper, Marilyn

Marilyn Taylor: Check with but essentially, small opening in the front, larger in the back (meaning finding room internally)

Jared Schwartz:

Ingo Titze: With the use of water in a glass and emersing the straw into the water, a larger flow resistance will be produced. I see no obvious advantage in using that technique as opposed to a thinner straw with more flow resistance.

Kari Ragan: Thank you for that great clarification. I've been wondering since July!

Jeremy Sortore: Is that what is meant by "lox vox" (straw in water?)

Christina Thompson Howell: Unless you only have one size straw

Ingo Titze: Thank you for that elaboration on 'cuperto.' I am a strong believer in the technique of reducing lip opening and widening in the pharynx for both males and females in the range of C4-C5.

Marilyn Taylor: for young students, seems as if the smaller straw (coffee stirrer) invites undue inward pressure. Have to watch them carefully.

Christina Thompson Howell: Dr. Titze do you have any advice for how to achieve this widening of the pharynx?

Ingo Titze: I dont know if that is what "lox vox" means, but my understanding from last summer's discussions that this technique involves bubbling air into a container with water. But I could be wrong,

Katy Peterson: How is cuperto useful for MT & CCM styles which usually utilize a larger mouth opening?

Ingo Titze: The widening of the pharynx is achieved by anticipation of a yawn but at the same time, keeping the mouth only moderately open.

Christina Thompson Howell: Do you have any advice for encouraging a student to sustain this yawn feeling during the tone?

Ingo Titze: I would say that 'cuperto' is not useful for MT & CCM styles where the second harmonic needs to be strong as in a 'call' or a 'belt.' The mouth shape is mega-phone like, instead of 'inverted mega-phone' like.

Karin Titze Cox: I found the yawn feeling with the straw also keeps the larynx low and maintains a long vocal tract.

Ingo Titze: I am not sure I can add anything to sustained the yawn feeling during a tone.

Marilyn Taylor: Makes sense to me, and I thank you--- I would only teach 'legit MT'-- and I'm unsure what CCM means?

Ingo Titze: I agree with Karin.

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: Contemporary Commercial music

Ingo Titze: Are there any more unanswered questions?

Patti Blankenship-Mortier: When using the straw phonation I have often asked for a vibration or kazoo feeling, am I wrong, should they just sing and not think?

Matthew Hoch: Has the NCVS considered doing some distance education courses a la NYSTA?

Heather Nelson: Dr. Titze, I'm in the first semester of my PhD in vocal pedagogy at KU, and I'm looking for research topics. Any suggestions?

David Sabella-Mills: However, in the high contemporary belt (above c5) the occlusion could be considered in the pharynx, yes? Aiding the rise of both formant frequencies? Yes?

Ingo Titze: You are not wrong, the kazoo feeling is exactly right, In fact you can use a kazoo and it does not require much thinking.

Rachel Brager Goldenberg: It occurs to me that when you sing through a straw, the vocal tract is lengthened...doesn't this also lower all the formants? Does this have an effect?

David Sabella-Mills: good question rachel

Sally Collyer: Dr Titze, are there any tutorials on the acoustics of of VT inertance? I and some of my Australian colleagues are struggling to understand linear vs non-linear 'situations'.

Ingo Titze: We have debated giving long distance courses over several years, and may move in that direction. However, we have found the summer vocology institute to be so stimulating because of the direct contact that all participants have daily with each other that we have not tried to alter this approach yet.

David Sabella-Mills: Please consider using WebEx for long distance courses

Sally Collyer: And 2nd request: a tutorial on the formula you recently published in JSLHR on VF mass as a poor correlate of F0?

Ingo Titze: Whoever is interested in research questions, send us an email and we can discuss that in a bit more detail.

Carmen Schmidt: Thank you for the clarification about the "moderate opening" of the mouth during the yawn. I was always told to have the idea of the beginning of the yawn, but that wasn't clear enough for me. I will use this clearer definition with my own students.

Heather Nelson: Thank you. What email address should I use?

Sally Collyer: Thank you! (We'll try not to inundate you.)

Ingo Titze: Yes, you're absolutely correct that in he super belt above C5, there will be narrowing in the pharynx and in the epilarynx tube so that the entire vocal tract assumes a trumpet shape and this will raise the first formant to an extreme values so that the second harmonic can remain reinforced up to these high pitches. thank you

Heather Nelson: What do you see as the biggest faux pas voice teachers make in teaching their students? What myths prevail that we should drive out immediately?

Ingo Titze: Kitty Verdolini and I will introduce our latest book called "Vocology: The science and practice of voice habilitation" by the end of the year. It contains several chapters on vocal tract inertance, reactance, and various related topics.

Ingo Titze: Watch for it on the website.

Craig Tompkins How does one coax the pharynx and epi-larynx tube to narrow without causing undue constriction?

Ingo Titze: email research question to

David Sabella-Mills: Pharyngeal voice techniques that was for Craig's quest

David Sabella-Mills: in JOS this issue

Ingo Titze: Faux pas: What worked for the teacher does not necessarily work for the student. Learning to sing is a careful lining up of many components for optimum results this lining up varies from person to person and is literally a long-term exploration.

Ingo Titze: Epi-laryngeal constriction: That is the $64,000 question. To date, we have no direct way of training the muscles. We can only go by the sound that we perceive. So it is unfortunately still rather indirect.

Patti Blankenship-Mortier: Just wanted to say Dr. Titze that "If I were a Rich Man" in SLC this summer was a huge highlight. You are such an amazing man and so humble.

Kari Ragan: We cannot thank Dr. Titze enough for his generosity tonight.

Katy Peterson: Yes, uncountable thanks!

Valerie White Williams: Yes, thank you, Dr. Titze!

Karen Wicklund: Sorry I was in so late. Glad to have you here Dr. Titze

Kari Ragan: Also, wonderful to see so many newcomers this evening. I hope you will join us next month for Dr. Al Merati, noted laryngologist as we discuss the aging voice. That will be back at

Heather Nelson: Thank you so much!

Ingo Titze: Thank you all very much for this exciting discussion and very important questions.

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: Thank you!

Trish Causey: Thank you!!!

Carmen Olivia: Thank you, Dr. Titze!

Nedra Gaskill Thank you all!

Leischen Moore Thank you, Dr. Titze!

Rachel Brager Goldenberg: Thank you!

Kari Ragan: Thank-you Madeline for being Dr. Titze's assistant tonight!

Edrie Means Weekly A million thanks!!!

Ellie Seligmann: Thank you, Dr. Titze!

David Sabella-Mills: thank you goodnight

Craig Tompkins Thank you!

Marilyn Taylor: now-- main page and signing on? I'm lucky I got here...

Timothy Marshall Ballard: Thank you very much!

Jamie Jacobson thank you, Dr. Titze! Great information tonight. I'm going to make sure I have a solid collection of straws in my studio. :)(

Nancy Bos: Thank you, Dr. Titze

Sharon Buck Thanks Dr. Titze and Kari!

Carmen Olivia Dr. Titze, you are such an inspiration to young, aspiring voice pathologists like myself. Thank you again for you time and dedication to the field.

Valerie White Williams: Yes, three cheers for Kari!

Kari Ragan: Make certain to sign a YES on the NATS Chat page so we can account for your attendance please.

Trish Causey: Thank you, NATS, for putting this on. Thank you, Dr. Titze for sharing your knowledge!

Ingo Titze: Madeleine and I also what to thank Kari for setting up this exciting chat. Yes, thank you very much.

Patti Blankenship-Mortier: Thanks Kari

Rachel Day Velarde Thank you so much Dr. Titze. You are inspirational in your constant drive to give singers and teachers more knowledge about what's going on in this "invisible instrument" of ours.

Kari Ragan: Look forward to future chats! Good-night all!

Rachel Day Velarde Good night Kari!
Good night all!! Thanks Kari!

Carmen Olivia Goodnight, Kari!

Ingo Titze: Goodbye!

Barbara DeMaio Caprilli: Good night! Thanks for a great chat!
Thanks to all for a stimulations discussion.