I love this study. It caught my eye because it was something that I was aware of. Humming is used in voice training and voice rehabilitation, something I’ve used on myself and with others. When I use humming as a vocal warm up there’s a ‘feeling of relaxation’. This study looks at why.
When starting a vocal warmup you’re not going to start with a belt. (Although, my next door neighbour starts the day with a high pitched, belted cackle.) For most people easing into your singing routine will start with a gentle onset and progressively moving to higher and louder sounds. These researchers looked at the effects of humming to increase volume and the benefits it has on your voice.
Vocal sounds are created when the vocal folds come together which then create sound waves. The more times they come together the more sound waves so the higher the pitch. Increasing volume means increasing the height of the sound waves. This starts with creating air pressure under the vocal folds.
Hitting the vocal folds together too hard, too often with too much air pressure may result in damage to the mucosal tissue or rather the vocal fold tissue. Which may lead to a string of vocal problems like swelling and voice loss.
These researchers have found that humming is a perfect way to warm up your voice. Humming gently and slowly increasing the loudness will allow your vocal folds to come together gently and ensuring the air pressure underneath the vocal folds is adequate. Leaving you with voice ready to take on the big complex world of being loud, emotive and persuasive.
The researchers also noted that humming has a loudness limit. You can’t get too loud when you hum. So when you feel you’ve reached your hum limit you can change to your next warm up technique.
And what does all this mean? The best way to start your day is to start your day with a hum.
If you have questions, comments or ideas. Please feel free to let me know. There’s so much more at The Masters of Voice.
My unending gratitude to these researchers.
Humming Facilitates a Gradual Increase in Vocal Intensity by Alleviating the Enhancement of Vocal Fold Contact and Supraglottic Constriction. Tom De Hoop, Makoto Ogawa, Toshihiko Iwahashi, Masanori Umatani, Kiyohito Hosokawa, Cheiri Kato, and Hidenori Inohara, Suita, and Osaka, Japan and Groningen, The Netherlands. Journal of Voice 2021.