– If you’ve ever needed to sing for longer than five minutes at a time, you know how important
vocal efficiency is. You don’t need to sing four sets a night, five nights a week, to benefit
from singing techniques that help you to sing longer and stronger. Today’s topic is so important
to every modern vocalist that it’s one of the very first things I teach a student singer. What is it? Let’s find out. – [Woman] Sound check. Check one, check two. (upbeat instrumental music) – Hello everyone, welcome
back to Voice Essentials. If you are new here, good day. My name is Dr. Dan and
I’m a contemporary singing voice specialist. It’s my great privilege in
life to help you realize the full potential of your singing voice. Today we are going to be learning about the all important skill of vocal twang. I’ve talked about the
techniques of twang before, but today I want to go a step further and give you some excellent exercises designed to help you achieve
your best vocal twang ever. But first, what is twang? Well the term twang was
first used by Jo Estill, the founder of the Estill Method. In the Estill Method,
twang is a voice quality distinguished by its
bright and brassy tonality. Gillyanne Kayes, a
singing voice specialist based in the UK, further qualifies twang as being characterized by a tightened aryepiglottic sphincter
with high larynx and tongue. The thyroid can be tilted or neutral, allowing for a thinner or
thicker vocal fold mass. The tightening of the aryepiglottis tends to increase resistance
in the vocal folds, so it is important not to drive breath in this voice quality. Okay, so let’s unpack
some of those big words. The aryepiglottic sphincter is the muscle that runs around the
edge of the epiglottis, a leaf shaped cartilage that
sits above your trachea, and it’s kind of like a trap door that protects the opening of your larynx and down into your lungs. The aryepiglottic sphincter, what many vocal pedagoges
affectionately refer to as the twanger, has the ability to bring the epiglottitis into a halfway close. When the twanger is half closed, it creates a narrowing of the space immediately above the vocal folds and it’s in this space that
the clear focused resonance of twang is added into the sound. – [Woman] Sound check. (upbeat instrumental music) I mentioned earlier that twang is one of the most important
foundational skills a student singer can
learn because it helps to create vocal track shapes
that are highly efficient. The efficiency of twang is so high that research has shown
that some users of twang can achieve up to 600% more
volume with no extra effort. Now that’s some payoff, but
for most contemporary singers who use microphones, an increase of 600% is completely unnecessary
because their volume, for the most part, is primarily reinforced by amplification, so
let’s just say we’re happy to settle for 300% increase. Well on a scale of efficiency, you can learn to reduce your effort below your original baseline of output. Essentially the clear
focused resonance of twang helps your voice to work
smarter, not harder. Now you may have noted in
the Gillyanne Kayes quote we read earlier that a
key attribute of twang is the necessary reduction of air pressure flowing through the larynx. In fact, during the early 2000s, many singing teachers shunned twang because their student
voices were constricting with twang activities. The cause of constriction in twang is not the mechanical
configuration of twang, but moreover the inability
of the student singer to intentionally reduce the air pressure to a significantly lesser flow rate. So as we step through
the two twang exercises I’ve got for you today, I want
you to continuously monitor your sense of air pressure,
and with the reduction of air pressure comes a
decrease in physical sensation, what we call kinesthetic awareness. Now in fact you may even
feel like you’re not using enough air. If this is you, good. Twang should feel easy and
balanced in the throat, not tight and constricted. Also, one last thing before
we start the activities. Twang is not nasality. Let me say it again,
twang is not nasality. It’s added to the sound
before the choice is made as to whether the sound will be directed through your nasal cavity
or through the mouth, and herein lies another
big benefit of twang. You can shape the tonality of twang. Nasal sounds are fixed because
you can’t actually alter the shape of your nasal cavity, but because the clear
focused resonance of twang can travel through the mouth, it is able to be further developed by the flexible spaces of
the pharynx and oral cavity, so with all of this in mind, let’s get into the exercises, but before we start, please take a moment to hit the thumbs up button
if you’re looking forward to practically using your twanger. – [Woman] Sound check. (upbeat instrumental music) – One of the common denominators in both of today’s twang exercises is the use of an NG sound, as in ng. The reason we use NG is that voice science has taught us that when
we produce an NG sound, it activates the aryepiglottic
sphincter, the twanger, so you don’t have to do much more than apply the right
amount of air pressure to the NG and you’re away. The first activity uses the NG sound across a simple three
note scale, like this. ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Let’s do it together starting on a D3. Ladies you can start an octave higher, or maybe on a C4, up there. ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Remember not to push too much air pressure through the sound. Let’s do a few of those together. Guys, we’re back down here on a D3. ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Don’t push. ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Keep everything nice and balanced. ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Couple more. ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Did you notice that as we
traveled higher in your range, there was a temptation to push harder? Again, resist that temptation
and keep the pressure even and balanced. Now if you’re looking for
a fun backing to work with, you can download the exercise track on my training CD, Dr.
Dan’s Voice Essentials, from my website. I’ve left a link in the
description section below. You can also use the
link that just popped up onto the screen up there. Now let’s look at the second exercise, and heads up, this one’s
slightly more unusual. Let me do it for you
as a complete sentence and then we’ll break into
it in bite sized pieces. Have a listen. I’ll start it on an F3. ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) Okay, so let’s break it into
bite sized pieces to start. Just have a listen to it with an NG followed by the single vowel. ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) You can hear the clear
focused resonance of the twang continuing through the
center of the vowel, which is predominantly
running through my mouth. I’m using the NG to activate the twanger and to get that core resonance that then is maintained through the vowel. Have a listen to the rest of the vowels and listen for that
clear focused resonance through the core of the time. ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) ♫ Sing (makes NG sound) Now notice on the oh and the ew, I’m shaping my lips forward,
like the bell of a trumpet. ♫ Sing oh ♫ Sing ew Another thing to notice is that on the E and the I vowel, I’m having
to adjust my air pressure ever so more slightly just to ensure that it doesn’t want to constrict because the E and the
I are far more narrow than the other vowel shapes. So let’s do a few of them together. I’m going to start. You’ll, at home, you’ll go
through them individually in, as like I just did, but then with the exercise
CD, should you choose to download the track,
you put it into a sentence and the sentence again, sounds like. This is what we’re going
to do is do a single time then we’re going to go up in a few steps and semi tones, and then we’ll continue. So it will go. ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) One more. ♫ Sing (makes vowel sounds) Ooh, did you hear on
that O, just on that one, I got a little bit of a sound in there. That’s because I didn’t adjust correctly for the air pressure and
so I got a little bit of a constricted tone there. I want you to avoid
that, and in my practice I’m obviously going to go back and work on that particular vowel shape. As always, learning twang
and the air pressure balance required for good, healthy twang takes time to develop,
so be sure to practice the activities regularly as a part of your overall vocal development. I cannot stress enough
how important twang is to the contemporary singer, so please make sure you work
the skill into your voice for the full benefits of a
clear, focused resonance. I hope you’ve enjoyed our
technical workout today. If you’re new to Voice Essentials, then please take a moment
to subscribe to the channel. I release new videos every week designed to develop your voice
and improve your sound, and I would love for you to
join our ever growing community of singers from across the
globe who just like you want to realize the full
potential of their singing voice. I’ll see you in the next
Voice Essentials video. I’m Dr. Dan, sing well.