Kashudo (歌手道): The Pitfalls of the "Open Throat," "Lowered Larynx" and Such…

I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to the pitfalls of the “Open Throat,” “Lowered Larynx” theories. A student/colleague of mine recently said categorically that the open throat is rooted in dysfunction (I am paraphrasing). He is certainly not wrong. The excesses of “Open Throat” and sensations of space, etc, are legendary. But as always I would not reduce the ideas of the open throat completely to ridicule.

There are two issues that come to my mind relative to the “Open Throat” issue. And they are both relative.
1. The relationship between a high laryngeal position and, balanced laryngeal position, and a low laryngeal position as a direct consequence of variations in fold posture.
2. A use of laryngeal positioning for “coloring” the voice (i.e. seeking different timbres, i.e. varying resonance adjustments while maintaining a relatively stable fold posture. Relative to our purposes, this would be darkening the voice artificially or “depressing the larynx” with the back of the tongue.
We have already established in previous post a relationship between pressed phonation, shallow fold depth and a high larynx. The converse is also true that loose phonation (given a specific pitch) will be directly proportional to thicker deeper fold posturing and a lower larynx.
In the end, what is required is a “middle” position. Let us consider situation 1: low larynx as a consequence of loose phonation/deep fold posturing. I suppose that if excessive sub-glottal pressure causes the larynx to rise, low pressure when the tone is breathy would reduce pressure below the glottis and cause a laryngeal depression. This has been my experience as a baritone. The resultant sound is warm, hollow and lacking in presence. If we remember my old recording of “Di Provenza”, that I posted some time ago:

Verdi Di Provenza.mp3

One can find the sound attractive, warm, but recordings can be deceiving. If we compare my “loose”, heavier sound, to the well focused voice of Ettore Bastianini, then we have a good barometer, for Bastianini had a naturally darker voice, while mine was a hollow darkness that sacrificed efficiency for color:
Now consider the second situation! A balanced voice that is artificially colored. This is the case of the depressed larynx. Let us consider three performances on a continuum! Giuseppe Giacomini and then Corelli in two modes. One more covered and one more open. All three versions are muscularly balanced, at the glottal level to my ears, which is why the register rotations occur in the same place. However we can hear a slight darkening in Corelli’s first clip and a considerable darkening in Giacomini’s

It is a relative thing. It is possible to take the open throat too far as I did in my recording of “Di Provenza” but it might still be called “aperta”. However it loses closure and therefore lacks presence. In the case of the depressed larynx as in the Giacomini clip and to a much smaller extent the first Corelli clip, we would have to assign the term “voce ingolata” or “swallowed voice.” In the case of Di Stefano, his approach is called “voce spalancata” or “wide open”!

© 10/17/2009