Archives par mot-clé : sound column

voice and air column

When focusing on relaxation flowing down your rear back, starting from the end of your natural (and non-forced) inhaling, your air column – or better, your sound column – must be felt as deep as possible, in order to reach its stable position, as though you were sitting on the radiating vibration, which then excites another column, a physical one this time, your cervical/vertebral spine.


In correct emission, the larynx is lined up against the cervical spine which, excited by the vibrations transmitted to the larynx by the vocal cords, starts to sing of its own accord.

Under these circumstances, the larynx is excited exactly as the strings of a violin. It is the strings that vibrate and the violin that sings. When the posture of the singer is well aligned, his larynx excites the vertebral column just as if it were that little piece of wood inside the violin that is called the “soul“ of the violin. Its purpose is to carry sound from the anterior plate to the posterior plate.  We want to make a column of sound, resonant over and under the glottis, not a column of air, as myth would have it.


(…) But it is one thing to talk about a column of air with all the ideas that are usually associated to it : the push, the pressure, tension on the cords, etc.., but a column of sound is something altogether different.

The latter implies relaxation, a measured and tranquil expenditure, being on the lookout for tension, to reduce effort, to avoid pressure.


Alfred Tomatis, The Ear And The Voice
(translated by Roberta Prada and Pierre Sollier)

the air column

The inner vibration of the instrumentist, whether he is a wind player or not – as you can figure out in Dominique Hoppenot‘s Inner Violin / Le violon intérieur -, expands in the air column, from the sound source to his vocal cords, up to his embouchure, then gets amplified by his instrument.

You can live through this slender inner space – rather named “column of sound“ by Alfred Tomatis in The Ear And The Voice – by relaxing your abdomen muscles, focussing on your natural breathing process, which makes you forget about your embouchure while enhancing your verticality and the deep rooting of the air column, like a tree trunk which would be embodied by your lower limbs.


The air column vibrates and recycles like the water jet at the center of the basin.

You should always internalize yourself, this way, stretching the sound out is appropriate, but doing so, just focus on the sound only, and keep your vertical standing up, together with your body opening.

When you sing, your body does open up, and it should always behave this way, we name it “sitting on the air“.

Robert Pichaureau
(translated by Guy Robert)


The idea is that the movements of the vocal cords be utilized for the artistic purposes of shaping a sound.

David LiebmanDeveloping a Personal Saxophone Sound

voice and breathing

When you watch yourself breathing naturally, releasing your lower back rearwardly to avoid unnecessary tensions, you become aware of the connection between your body and the ground, embodied by your lower members, like a trunk linked to its roots.

Then, while relaxing down to the base of the sound column, your inner vibration takes off from your heels, and you certainly do not push, consuming then as little air as possible and thus developing a rich sound spectrum.


I used to consider the broad breathing process, coming without any pushing.


You should actually concentrate on your self-letting go.

(adapted by Guy Robert)


Such a correctly emitted sound rebalances breathing on a non-pushing mode.

(adapted by Guy Robert)


Part of vocal training is learning to breathe so that the exhalation coordinates with the activity of the larynx. Once we acquire excellent listening, the mechanisms that regulate the larynx, pharynx, tongue, lips, etc…, must be implemented and the vocal apparatus must function perfectly.

When all that is mastered, singing indeed seems to be simply a matter of breathing.


With breathing exercises as with exercises for the larynx, you will need patience. Acquiring exceptional mastery over the breath is a long and serious learning process. You need to acquire ample, calm breathing. Never work over tension or fatigue. Short sessions through the day will yield better results than one long session.

Once the respiratory mechanism is well regulated, you have to integrate it with all the other proprioceptice sensations specific to singing.


With training, only the diaphragm takes part in respiration for singing. The thoracic muscles remain in relaxed extension so the ribs stay open and cannot exert too much pressure. In fact, it is not easy to consciously direct the movements of the diaphragm to retain the air and make it flow over the vocal cords without ever pushing. (…) The thorax, as expanded as possible and relatively immobile without being locked, assures phonation.

Everyone has a different way of describing this. Gigli told me that he let his belly “fall to the ground “ to breathe and maintained the same feeling as long as the breath steam lasted. That way, the abdominal muscles do not interfere with the diaphragm.


Singers must be taught to act judiciously on the exhalation.


What happens in normal respiration ?


You have to take in a comfortable amount of air, no more. Then you distribute that air with minimum pressure, as if caressing the vocal cords. This excites the spinal column so that it starts to sing.


Again, you are reminded that everything lies on the effort necessary to avoid stress.

(adapted by Guy Robert)


Singing well brings about the rediscovery of true respiration, calm and unstressed, with a natural physiological rhythm. The diaphragm is liberated, autonomous, not locked in expansion.


Certainly all these movements and gestures are equally muscular. But they respond to a set of muscles that are the antagonistic push muscles, the flexors.


Alfred Tomatis, The Ear And The Voice
(translated by Roberta Prada and Pierre Sollier)

piano and posture

If you are a standing-up player, your playing position should embody your actual rooting, making your vertical sound column deeply flow into the ground. In order to assess this verticality, you may picture yourself as being seated on your pelvis, centered on your sound source : so downward-packed, locked on your heels and forgetting about the upper part of your body, your vibration easily takes off.

Such an attitude is also relevant to the piano player, who can picture his virtual verticality down to his heels, while being physically sitting on his stool, delving his feet into the ground.


(…) two other ideas occupied the representatives of the anatomic-physiological school : weight playing and relaxation (…)


{ In 1905, Rudolf Maria Breithaupt (1873-1945) published Die Natürliche Klaviertechnik. }

Breithaupt, a fervent proponent of this idea, proclaimed that the most important principle of technique was a loose and heavy arm (…) In the third edition of the same book he wrote that the ultimate ideal of artistic performance is “predominance of the spirit over the body, liberation from the material, the overcoming of the pull of gravity : only a fine sense of balance is left from the latter… It goes without saying that in the cases of greatest speed the weight seems almost eliminated.“


George Kochevitsky, The Art Of Piano Playing