Resonance Basics


Resonance EpicentreWaking up the feeling of vibration that we commonly call “resonance” in voice work could begin in any number of places. Typically, a Linklater voice warm-up would start with warming up the “channel resonantors,” which refers to energizing the breath “channel”, and focusing the vibrations in the chest, mouth, teeth in order to develop and enhance a sensation of resonance in that area. We’ll get to that eventually (at which point I’ll add a link to this post), but for today, we’re going to focus on the sensation of vibration in the mouth and face.

Humming into EEE

The musical sound pattern we’ll use for this exercise is the descending triad, , sol-mi-do.

Descending Triad - G E C

You can hear this pattern here:

Facial ResonatorBegin by humming along with the pattern, on a sustained /m/ sound. Your lips should be together, with your jaw relaxed. Follow along with the recording, and if the notes get a little too high, feel free to switch into headtone, or falsetto for men. Can you feel the vibrations in your face? You’re trying to notice the tingling buzz on your lips and in the bones of your face. What can you do to enhance that buzziness? Explore moving your lips very gently, to see if that makes any difference. Now make small, delicate movements of the top of your tongue, narrowing the space between the top of your tongue and the roof of your mouth as you hum. Does that change the feeling of buzziness in your face, the roof of your mouth, your teeth or your lips?

It’s important to engage in this with enough breath energy to get a significant vibration feeling on your lips. If you’re too delicate, you won’t make enough sound to get the kind of sensation we’re after. Once you have a good sense of the vibrations gathering on your lips, you want to allow your lips to come open into the “EE” sound on the last note of the triad, so you say “mmmm-mmmm-Meeee” on each one. Once you’ve done that through the recording, try doing “me, me, me” on the pattern, saying “me” on each note of the triad.

Finally, you want to try to say this “EE” sound all the way through the pattern, with “ME-EE-EE.” With each time through, see if you can find more vibrations, and more awareness of the buzziness of your voice.

Once you’ve done each of these steps, try speaking some text you know, maybe a poem, a song lyric, or a bit of a monologue. See if you can get the same feeling of vibration on your face while you’re speaking. It’s ok for the exercise to let the words feel different from the way you normally speak. Take time to allow yourself to feel buzzy through the words.


NEXT STEP: Articulator Basics

Eric Armstrong is the voiceguy. Eric is a dialect, voice, speech and text coach based in Toronto, Canada, where he normally teaches full-time at York University’s Dept. of Theatre. Eric has been teaching voice for the actor full-time since 1994, and has taught in Canada and the US, at the University of Windsor, Brandeis University, Roosevelt University, Canada's National Voice Intensive and York University. He has worked for nationally and internationally recognized companies such as Crow’s Theatre, Volcano, SoulPepper, & Canadian Stage in Toronto, and The Court Theatre and Steppenwolf in Chicago. Eric holds a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) in Theatre Performance, and an MFA from York University (Toronto) in Acting. His mentors were David Smukler (York, Canada’s National Voice Intensive) and Andrew Wade (Royal Shakespeare Company). He has also studied at the Drama Studio, London, and Il Stage Internazzionale di Commedia dell’Arte in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He’s a long time member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, where he has served on the board, as a conference planner, photo editor for the Voice and Speech Review, Founding Director of Technology and Internet Services, and has written numerous peer-reviewed articles, essays and reviews for the VASTA Newsletter, the VASTA Voice, and The Voice and Speech Review.

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