Michael,
Thank you for your very interesting comments about phonation. I’ve never heard it discussed before. I studied voice for four years in my twenties, but neither of my teachers mentioned it. They concentrated on breath. Your judgment about Jussi’s singing is exactly right. His singing is so easy. I’d always thought it was a product of having tremendous breath support and holding the tone in place. I saw a late 1990s Richard Tucker gala on DVD last night. Ruth Ann Swenson and Richard Leech sang the second Manon duet. You could see Leech struggling to place his high notes. He got them, but only through great effort. Jussi never did that.

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You are part of the great majority of singers who were only taught about the breath and not educated on the way our brain controls the larynx through the nervous system. You mention Leech, he struggled because he wasn’t mentally stimulating his larynx to activate. When you do that the muscles around and in the larynx flex to stabilize the larynx and the vocal cords have enough strength to resist the balanced breath pressure to produce a complete vibration. Then the cords are flexible to tune the pitch accurately without effort. This is what gives the impression of complete security, especially in the high voice. In a way it is holding the tone in place. But you think the tone at the larynx so it stays stable and doesn’t leak unvocalized breath. This is where breath control is important, not letting the breath through as breath but only in the puffs of vibration. Many people believe the flow of breath keeps the tone afloat like it is a cloud on the wind. This kind of function will break down the voice and make it wobble.

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