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Vocal Anatomy The Journey Begins Singing involves the control and manipulation of numerous muscles. These muscles are accustomed to doing their own thing. We are about to embark on a wonderful journey as we become acquainted with the muscles of the larynx, and the respiratory system.

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vocal anatomy

Vocal Anatomy

The Journey Begins

slide2

Singing involves the control and manipulation of numerous muscles. These muscles are accustomed to doing their own thing. We are about to embark on a wonderful journey as we become acquainted with the muscles of the larynx, and the respiratory system.

Let the journey begin…

slide3

Back View of the Larynx

Cartilages that make up the larynx, viewed from the back.

Epiglottis

Thyroid Cartilage

Arytenoid Cartilages

Cricoid Cartilage

Tracheal Rings

slide4

Back View of the Larynx

Cartilages that make up the larynx, viewed from the back.

Epiglottis

The epiglottis is a leaf-shaped cartilage that moves up and down to cover the opening of the trachea when food or liquid is swallowed. It keeps you from choking by directing particles down the esophagus instead of the trachea. It moves out of the way while breathing, speaking or singing so that air can move freely up and down the trachea.

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Back View of the Larynx

Cartilages that make up the larynx, viewed from the back.

Thyroid Cartilage

The thyroid cartilage is also known as the Adam’s apple. It is a large V-shaped cartilage that houses and protects the vocal cords and the opening to the trachea. The vocal cords attach to the thyroid cartilage at the front of the neck, just under the epiglottis.

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Back View of the Larynx

Cartilages that make up the larynx, viewed from the back.

Arytenoid Cartilages

Arytenoid cartilages are pyramid-shaped. The thyroarytenoid muscles/vocal cords are attached to each cartilage at the back of the throat. They glide along the cricoid.

These cartilages move together and apart thousands of times per second, pulling the vocal cords together over the trachea so air can cause vibrations used in speech and singing.

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Back View of the Larynx

Cartilages that make up the larynx, viewed from the back.

Cricoid Cartilage

The cricoid cartilage is shaped like a signet ring, with the signet at the back of the throat and the shaft of the ring at the front of the throat. It forms the top of the trachea.

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Back View of the Larynx

Check your knowledge of the larynx cartilages. Starting at the top, try to name the cartilages. Left click with the mouse to see if you are correct.

Epiglottis

Thyroid Cartilage

Arytenoid Cartilages

Cricoid Cartilage

Tracheal Rings

Woo Hoo!

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Muscles and Cartilages of the Larynx

There are five groups of muscles in the larynx, including the vocal cords. They are all named for the cartilages to which they are attached. Many vocal exercises are designed to teach the singer how to manipulate and control the muscles used in singing.

Thyroarytenoid Muscles

Vocal Cords

Thyroid

Cartilage

Cricoid

Cartilage

Arytenoid Cartilages

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Muscles of the Larynx

Notice the vocal cords, or vocal folds, are actually the inside edges of the thyroarytenoid muscles. When they are pulled together over the air passage, air causes vibrations that we recognize as speech or singing.

Thyroarytenoid Muscles

Vocal Cords

Note: Muscles other than the thyroarytenoids move the arytenoid cartilages and other cartilages involved in the vocal process. We are only concerned with the thyroarytenoid muscles at this time.

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Muscles and Cartilages of the Larynx

Check your knowledge of the larynx muscles and cartilages.

Starting at the top, try to name the cartilages and muscles.

Left click with the mouse to see if you are correct.

Thyroarytenoid Muscles

Vocal Cords

Thyroid

Cartilage

Cricoid

Cartilage

Arytenoid Cartilages

Way to Go!

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Respiratory System

The windpipe, or trachea, is made up of a series of cartilaginous rings resembling a vacuum hose. The trachea subdivides into two bronchi, one bronchus for each lung. The bronchi further divide into numerous bronchioles, through which oxygen passes into the lungs. The lungs are spongy membranous tissue. They are not muscle. Inhalation occurs when the diaphragm contracts and flattens, pulling the lungs downward so that air rushes into the vacuum.

Nasal Cavity

Soft Palate

Larynx

Bronchus

Bronchiole

Lung

Diaphragm

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Respiratory System

Check your knowledge of the respiratory system.

Starting at the top, try to name the cartilages and muscles.

Left click with the mouse to see if you are correct.

Nasal Cavity

Soft Palate

Larynx

Bronchus

Bronchiole

Lung

Diaphragm

Alright!

slide14

Bones and Muscles of Respiration

The ribs are connected by the intercostal muscles. The external intercostal muscles cover the outside of the ribcage. The internal intercostal muscles cover the inside of the ribcage. They aid in the expansion of the ribs during inhalation and help to expel the air by pulling the ribs together.

Clavicle

Sternum

External Intercostal Muscles

Internal Intercostal Muscles

Ribs

slide15

Bones and Muscles of Respiration

Check your knowledge of the bones and muscles of respiration.

Starting at the top, try to name the bones and muscles.

Left click with the mouse to see if you are correct.

Clavicle

Sternum

External Intercostal Muscles

Internal Intercostal Muscles

Ribs

You’ve Done It!

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Credits

All illustrations were taken from our text:

Schmidt J., Basics of Singing, fifth edition, published by Schirmer, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc., 2003.

Click to return to Vocal Adventure Homepage.