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Voice Growth: First More Range, Then Get Darker (46)

Here is how a well-trained voice will grow:

A picture showing how to stretch the voice longer and wider over the years.
Vocal growth is a process that unfolds over years of training and provides the singer with a healthy, big voice.

Your voice will become darker and louder on its own if you do these exercises right!

Vocal-Stretch for Vocal Growth

First high, then wide; That is how a voice grows!

A picture showing the thyroid cartilage and the vocal cords from above, indicating firstly the range stretch and then the wideness stretch for vocal growth.

This article is about how to train the voice so that it grows bigger and broader over time. It's like with all muscle exercises for your entire body: it's a process of a few months, up to a few years to truly grow your voice. Vocal growth is not immediate when you start exercising. Both your muscles, as well as your connective tissue, will grow and become stronger over time. Please notice: I'm only looking at the connective tissue growth in this article. I will address muscle mass growth in a later article.

Connective Tissue Growth

Voba pulling on the skin of his fore arm.

Let's start with an example: if you took a part of your skin and pulled on it every day for five minutes, three times a day over an extended period of time, the tissue at that spot would change. The body would add tissue to the part that is constantly stretched. The connective tissue there would become thicker and stronger so that it doesn't tear when stretched. This process is initiated by nerves that send signals to your brain indicating an increased demand on the strength of the tissue. The brain then initiates the body adding some tissue to make this spot more durable in order to withstand more.

The same thing happens with the vocal cords. When you always stretch the vocal cords, your nerves will send signals to the brain indicating that the tissue of your vocal cords is under continuous distress. Your brain reacts to that by signalling to the cells in your vocal cords to add more tissue. Whatever tissue is under continuous duress, it changes, it becomes thicker, it becomes harder, so that it doesn't tear.

Now, that does not mean that you should ever push yourself to the point where anything in your body tears! You need to apply a gentle stretch that does not go over your bodily limits, but only approaches these limits. Approaching your limit (instead of going over it!) will put your tissue in enough distress for your body to start adding tissue over time. That's how your vocal cords get thicker! And with your vocal cords getting thicker, your sound will get thicker as well.

Here is how that's done in practice: the higher a sound you create, the longer you need to pull your vocal cords.

A picture series of 3 pics, the first showing the vocal cords producing a low note, the second showing them produce a middle note and the last one showing the vocal cords being stretched very long to produce a high note.
Low: The thickness of the Vocal Cords in their resting position. Middle: The Vocal Cords being stretched to a tone heigth that allows them to fully close. High: The Vocal Cords being stretched to a tone heigth that stretches them so thin that they don't meet in the middle anymore.

The higher you go, the longer your vocal cords are being stretched. When the vocal cords are being stretched, they get thinner in the middle. It's like a rubber band that you stretch: the more you stretch it, the more it becomes thinner in the middle.

A picture showing the vocal cords in not-stretched resting position and in a stretched state, where there is a little space in between them, because of the stretch they experience.
Like a rubber band the vocal cords become thinner in the middle when you stretch them.

The same thing happens with the vocal cords: you have two vocal cords in your throat. If you stretch them, they become thinner in the middle and then they don't touch anymore. So, naturally, your voice will thin out when you go high in a healthy manner.

However, if you continuously pull your vocal cords to the greatest length that you can pull them to healthily, they will start to become thicker. And what you can do in order to facilitate that process more effectively is to simultaneously start stretching your vocal cords into a second dimension: width!

A picture showing how the voice get's thicker from stretching it into the width dimension on the highest possible note to produce legitimately and comfortably.
This is how your voice get's thicker through your vocal stretches.

- Pic 1 represents the highest note that your vocal cords can pull while still closing. Let's say this is a C4 - the Middle C (European System: C1... Many men can only legitimately pull their voice to that C when starting off, as many women can only pull to E4/E1 just above that C).

- Pic 2 represents a note that stretches the vocal cords so long that their mass does not meet in the middle anymore. Let's say that is the E4, the E above the Middle C. An important detail to consider: Firstly, you have to accept that at a certain range, your body can't close your rima glottidis (the space between the vocal cords) neatly, because your vocal cords are just stretched so thin that they don't meet anymore. Acceptance is important because only when you accept that and don't try to rescue the sound, then your body will give the signal to the brain to grow and increase your connective tissue.

- Pic 3 shows how the singer then starts to stretch their vocal cords on the highest few notes that they can comfortably reach into the second dimension: into the width, to make the voice darker and broader.

- Pic 4: If done over an extended period (several months), this double stretch will lead to the vocal cords adding more connective tissue to them, making the vocal cords thicker.

A picture showing a representation of the vocal cords being pulled wide and then becoming thicker to accommodate the new pull.
If you keep pulling your vocal cords wide on their highest comfortable note, they will become thicker over time.

I represented the stretch in Pic 3 with the red edges and the vocal cords adding mass with the replacement of these red edges through blue “vocal cord mass”.

- Pic 5: Furthermore, this leads to the singer being able to pull the vocal cords to the new height (to E4 in our example), with them still closing, because they have more material now and start to thin out later in the stretching process. When the new thickness of the vocal cords is well established, you repeat the process a bit higher.

A picture series showing a representation of the vocal cords going through the process of stretching the vocal cords into the length and into the width dimension on the next vocal height.
Start the process anew on the next tone-heigth.

- Pic 1: Now the highest note that you can reach while your vocal cords still close is E4 (E1 in European terms).

- Pic 2: When you try to stretch your vocal cords to the next higher C (C5/C2), your vocal cords are stretched so thin that they don't meet anymore.

- Pic 3: So you go back to E4 and work on broadening and darkening your sound.

- Pic 4: Over several months, your body will add more tissue to your vocal cords, and they will get thicker.

- Pic 5: This leads to your vocal cords closing nicely on the C5/C2. Then the process starts again:

A picture series showing the vocal cords thickening process on the next 2 vocal heights.
You keep on repeating that process until you reach a total vocal range of 4 octaves.

- Pic 1: So, your vocal cords can be pulled up to C5 now and still close pretty neatly.

- Pic 2: Now they thin out when you try to reach the E5.

- Pic 3 & 4: Therefore, you repeat the process of widening your sound on the C5 until your vocal cords amass so much material again that they become thicker and your sound becomes very rich on that C.

- Pic 5: After a few months of doing that, you will be able to reach the E5 with pretty well-closing vocal cords, and you'll start working on broadening and darkening your E5 (Pic 6 & 7).

I hope this gives you a nice overview of how your voice can grow to easily accommodate higher and higher vocal ranges with an open and rich sound.

A picture showing the thickened vocal cords after amassing connective tissue over a period of 3 to 5 years, comparing the vocal cords in their stretched and un-stretched new thickness with the original thickness of the vocal cords, before starting the training.
After 3-5 Years of Vocal Training the Vocal Cords have gotten much thicker than when the singer started the training. With the thickness of the vocal cords comes an increased volume, since more mass has the tendency to be louder when sounding.

Another important fact to mention is that the thicker your vocal cords become, the richer and thicker your voice will sound, and it will also become louder. After dedicating a considerable amount of time to increasing the connective tissue of your vocal cords through stretching, they will be considerably thicker than when you first started your training. This means that your voice will automatically become louder because more mass can create louder sounds. (... as an elephant is louder than a humming bird...) It is a common misconception that you need to use chest voice to achieve a richer, louder sound for your voice. Classical female opera singers for example develop very loud voices over years of training without using chest voice. Head voice can produce the desired effect beautifully with the right stretches over the right time period!

Get an idea of the sound of your vocal-growth over time in this video:

A picture with a link to the corresponding YouTube video to this article.

Disclaimer: Please note that all the methods described in this article work only if you avoid using harmful methods to increase your vocal range, such as aliquote division

Picture Sources

2nd picture in the article: Wikimedia

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