The thyroid cartilage is the largest cartilage of your larynx.
It has a U-shaped form and sits in your throat with the tip – the valley of the U – in front and the mountains of the U at the sides. It is connected to the other bones and cartilages in your throat that make up your larynx via muscles, connective tissue, and membranes.
The difference between cartilages and bones in your body is that cartilages are softer, so they bend more easily. The thyroid cartilage can, therefore, not only be flexible in its upwards-downwards movement, as described in this article; but it can also be bent either inwards or it can be bent outwards.
The vocal cords (vocal ligament) attach at the interior tip of your thyroid cartilage in front and at the arytenoid cartilages in the back. They sit inside the thyroid cartilage.
Many people push the thyroid cartilage together so that the vocal cords get closer together and then they can clip off parts of their vocal cords. That clipping off of the vocal cords is called "Aliquote Division" and will be discussed in a follow-up article called "Introduction: Range".
What I am teaching all my students is the opposite: to pull the thyroid cartilage wider so that the vocal cords are pulled apart from one another. This movement prohibits the vocal cords from creating an aliquote division and – as a side effect – makes the sound of the voice rounder and fuller.
The easiest way to learn how to do that is through imitating the sound of someone who can control the wideness of their thyroid cartilage while producing sound. Therefore, I have created this video wherein I demonstrate the sound that pulling the Thyroid Cartilage wide creates:
In the video above, I describe the 3 stages of the Thyroid Cartilage for the exercise:
1 – Relaxed
2 – Wide
3 – Wide & Yawned
Stage 1 is the thyroid cartilage in resting position with the vowel "E". In that stage, you don't try to do anything with the thyroid cartilage. You just leave it wherever it is. Your tongue, however, should touch the upper molar teeth at the right and left of your mouth, creating the vowel "E".
The 2nd stage is to pull the Thyroid Cartilage wide.
Stage number 3 is to have pulled the Thyroid Cartilage wide and on top of that activating the Sterno-Thyroid Muscle (the yawning muscle) in order to pull the thyroid cartilage downwards. So you pull your thyroid cartilage wide and low simultaneously.
The three steps are cumulative. And you do them with a vowel so that you can clearly hear the differences in the sounds.
One last important thing!
Do this exercise always with a soft voice! No sharp sounds!
Sharp sounds can:
A) Make you use pressure in order to create the different sounds,
B) Make it less clear if your thyroid cartilage really widens, and
C) Make it more difficult for you to actually pull the thyroid cartilage wide.
Therefore, use a very soft voice. That's very important!
This exercise will help you prevent clipping off your vocal cords because when your thyroid cartilage is pulled wide, the vocal cords are pulled slightly apart, and they can't really clip off in that "pulled apart" state.
Additionally, it makes your sound broader, but not necessarily classical. If you have a song where you want a round and full sound but don't want to sound classical, just pull your thyroid cartilage wide without pulling it too low. Your sound will be round and smooth!
Furthermore, with chest voice, the ability to pull your thyroid cartilage wide is crucial as it adds the desired broadness to the sharp, edgy sound of your pure chest voice.
Being able to pull the thyroid cartilage wide will help you with your vocal health, vocal development, and will also assist you in producing certain sounds that make your voice sound smoother and rounder.
This information will hopefully bring you joy, healthiness, happiness, and the discovery of new sounds. Have fun trying it out!