Voice Training and Therapy With a Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract: Rationale and Scientific Underpinnings Purpose Voice therapy with a semi-occluded vocal tract has a long history. The use of lip trills, tongue trills, bilabial fricatives, humming, and phonation into tubes or straws has been hailed by clinicians, singing teachers, and voice coaches as efficacious for training and rehabilitation. Little has been done, however, to ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2006
Voice Training and Therapy With a Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract: Rationale and Scientific Underpinnings
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ingo R. Titze
    The University of Iowa, Iowa City, and National Center for Voice and Speech, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, CO
  • Contact author: Ingo R. Titze, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204-5319. Email: ititze@dcpa.org
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Voice Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2006
Voice Training and Therapy With a Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract: Rationale and Scientific Underpinnings
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 448-459. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/035)
History: Received April 27, 2005 , Accepted August 22, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 448-459. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/035)
History: Received April 27, 2005; Accepted August 22, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 90

Purpose Voice therapy with a semi-occluded vocal tract has a long history. The use of lip trills, tongue trills, bilabial fricatives, humming, and phonation into tubes or straws has been hailed by clinicians, singing teachers, and voice coaches as efficacious for training and rehabilitation. Little has been done, however, to provide the scientific underpinnings. The purpose of the study was to investigate the underlying physical principles behind the training and therapy approaches that use semi-occluded vocal tract shapes.

Method Computer simulation, with a self-oscillating vocal fold model and a 44 section vocal tract, was used to elucidate source–filter interactions for lip and epilarynx tube semi-occlusions.

Results A semi-occlusion in the front of the vocal tract (at the lips) heightens source–tract interaction by raising the mean supraglottal and intraglottal pressures. Impedance matching by vocal fold adduction and epilarynx tube narrowing can then make the voice more efficient and more economic (in terms of tissue collision).

Conclusion The efficacious effects of a lip semi-occlusion can also be realized for nonoccluded vocal tracts by a combination of vocal fold adduction and epilarynx tube adjustments. It is reasoned that therapy approaches are designed to match the glottal impedance to the input impedance of the vocal tract.

Acknowledgments
Funding for this work was provided by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC04224-05.
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