Tonight in voice class we all ran through abbreviated, one-minute versions of our presentations and it was really interesting to see how much everyone improved. It's fun to see what a difference a week or two can make, and it's also fun just to be paying attention to the subtleties of speech that we're not usually aware of. I think I did rather better myself, and I certainly got some good feedback, though it's hard for me to really tell how I sound when I'm also concentrating on the actual content of what I'm saying. But I've been practicing a bit and I guess it shows. The way I practiced was to start with just singing in my car, with the sing-along playlist on my iPod. It's a lot easier to notice resonance and vibration when singing because the sounds are more sustained, and it's easier for me to relax and make a bigger sound when I'm in my car and singing along with something. So I did that for a while and just started paying attention to any vibrations I could feel in my chest and head. And then when I went back to practicing what I was going to say, it was easier to get that feeling in my speech as well. So that was good.
One thing I was a bit disappointed with tonight though, was when I asked the professor about pitch production. I'm really curious about the actual mechanism that changes pitch, and I was expecting to learn about it in the class, just like learning about diaphragms and resonating areas and all that, but unfortunately she doesn't really know the details of how it works. One of the medical people in the class explained a bit about the vocal cord setup, which was good, but one big thing I want to know about is what affects vocal range, and she couldn't tell me that. I understand some stuff about vocal chords -- like changing the tension to change the pitch -- because it's just like musical instruments. But I don't understand how something like testosterone would make men's voices lower (I've never put testosterone on my fiddle to play lower notes). And there must be something else that affects vocal ranges across different people, since I assume most people's vocal chords are approximately the same size and tension. I guess I'm going to have to go get a book on this or something.
Knowing more about the vocal chords would probably help with figuring out more about Tuvan throat singing, too. Especially with the subharmonics, which I don't know how to do at all (I can kind of do the overtones a bit, but that's an entirely different technique).