An Interesting Experiment

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.”

Not happening.

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….

6 thoughts on “An Interesting Experiment

  1. Interesting. A number of times when I had laryngitis, I could sing or chant something reasonably well in my normal register. Enough to be understood, anyway. Voice and vocal response are odd things, sometimes shaped by training or by differing nerve responses.

    OK, the obvious response is that the basses are never quiet. Got that coming, I expect. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Wow, I knew you weren’t feeling ‘good’, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. And no, passing out while driving is NOT a good thing. Just sayin’

  3. *hugs* Glad you’re feeling better now, and thanks for coming down! We appreciated seeing you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Bodies are weird. And yeah, I’ve had sore throats where I noticed even my speaking was dropping… I couldn’t do “ohone voice” at work, and had to settle for “normal speaking voice”. (They’re different, as per training; phone voice enunciates every syllable more clearly, drops almost all accent, and is in a different register. It’s very useful when speaking with overseas folks whose english consists of about 75 words, and conversation is full of pauses to use google translate.) I definitely couldn’t sing at all!

    • .. couldn’t do “phone voice.” I turned off autocorrect, and it shows.

  4. One of the oddest singing experiences I had was back 20 years ago when I sang Barbershop with a chorus. I sang tenor (which would be first tenor in traditional TTBB arrangements but usually sung with more falsetto). On the way to the competition I was talking with a buddy in my
    (rather loud) car. On arriving I found my voice was totally shot but for a little bit of my low range (C below Middle C and down) and part of my high range (G above middle C to B flat above middle C). The high notes were not available in falsetto but ONLY in full voice. Luckily one of the songs we performed had the G and the other the high A flat in their tags (endings)that needed to be full voice. The rest of the time I was lip syncing and doing the visual presentation parts of the two songs as best I could ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments are closed.