Beautiful Singing: What It is and How to Do It

Implications of the new interactivity (chaos) paradigm in physics

During the Voice Symposium in Philadelphia in June 1993 over an informal breakfast of street-vendor bagels, a group of voice scientists and teachers, including Barry Bounous, Ronald Scherer, George Shirley, Johan Sundberg, Ingo Titze, and the author of this article, discussed the possibility of collecting all of the pieces of vocal physics and research most relevant to beautiful singing into one relatively simple, holistic picture. For example, one of the concepts favorably considered by the group was the centrality to vocal beauty of getting all the forces of the body to maintain optimally "floppy" vocal folds throughout singing. During the near decade since that meeting, the major paradigm shift in vocal physics from linear to interactive, and the discovery of other important pieces in the beautiful singing puzzle such as the tracheal tug by the diaphragm and tracheal resonance interactivity with the vocal folds have prompted this attempt to draw together that holistic picture of what the scientists are now able to tell us about beautiful singing.

This chapter is a reprint of the article of the same title printed in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Singing (see:, Journal of Singing Index, Robison, Beautiful Singing, 2001). However, for the book the language has been revised to be more accessible to the lay singer.

It is a lengthy, in-depth article about the physics of singing, and doesn't lend itself to being read on a website (plus, we're hoping you'll buy the book).

The pivotal concept in chapter 12 is the notion of tracheal resonance. This idea is briefly discussed in the article "The Hidden Factor In Really Beautiful Singing", in the Singing Beautifully section of this website.