Last month a discussion broke out, so to speak, about instrumental “vocalizing” versus singing. I had an interesting, unplanned, and undesired chance to show how different spoken vocalization is from sung not long after, thanks to an upper respiratory virus.
So, the first weekend in May I drove to Itchy Paw Falls for Peter Grant’s citizenship party. I was in the throes of a nasty head cold, with serious laryngitis. The crud had been afflicting me for almost two weeks at that point, and I was nursing cough lozenges by the bushel. So off I set, driving south. I cued up music, and Aaron Copeland came up. What the heck, I was feeling better than usual, so I tried to sing along with “Zion’s Walls.”
Seriously, no air would go through my throat when I tried to sing. I could breathe normally if I returned to speaking register, but the instant I shifted to singing? Nothing. My throat closed completely, to the point that I got light-headed while trying to force the air through. Since I was going 70 MPH on the highway at the time I ended the experiment.
However, it was a fascinating lesson in how different the parts of the vocal mechanism can be. I still sounded hoarse when speaking, and it was another week before I could sing.
And if you think “Zion’s Walls” sounds very much like “The Promise of Living,” well….