The Pharynx is the main resonating chamber for the voice. The term Throat generally refers to the Pharynx. It is located behind the Mouth and Nasal cavity and above the Esophagus. It is part of both the Respiratory and Digestive Systems, acting as a passage for both air and food during normal daily behavior.
The Pharynx is made up of three parts:
The Oropharynx, and
All three are critical to the healthy functioning of the voice. During vocalizing the Pharynx serves the purpose of amplifying the sound waves produced by the vibrating of the Vocal Folds in the Larynx.
The Laryngopharynx is the first space that the Larynx opens into. It extends from the Larynx itself up to the Oropharynx behind the mouth. The Laryngopharynx is actually behind the Larynx and is defined by the form of the Epiglottis. It is directly above the Esophagus and serves as the junction of the Pharynx and Esophagus. The Laryngopharynx is somewhat fixed in size, although the effectiveness of it as a resonator can be impaired by the rising of the Larynx. It is important for conditioning the primary vibrations of the Vocal Folds and is the location of Laryngeal Resonance.
The Oropahrynx acts as the primary resonator for vocal sounds. Vowels tend to be most closely associated with this space. It is defined as the Pharyngeal space behind the mouth from the Epiglottis to the Soft Palate. It exists mostly behind the Tongue and is defined almost completely by soft tissue. The flexibility of this section of the Pharynx makes it effective for differentiating Vowels, but can also be a source of problems for the vocalist because of the potential for constriction and inefficient forms. This is exemplified by the natural act of swallowing, which closes the Pharynx in order to force food and liquid down the Esophagus. This is the area referred to in the statement “keep an open throat” and is the location of Throat Resonance.
The Nasopharynx is the highest part of the Pharynx. It exists above the mouth and behind the nose. It is the largest open space of the three Pharyngeal areas and is the most fixed. This means it is unable to close, making it an ideal resonator. The Eustachian tubes open into the Nasopharynx, making it the path connecting our vocal sound to the ear internally. This area is referred to as the “ng” resonator from the sensation of resonance that results from the “ng” vocal sound found in words with that spelling, like “sing” and “hung”. It is also referred to as the Head Resonator.