1.2.3 Types of breathing

By way of expanding of the chest breathing is divided into several types: costal, abdominal and mixed

Illustration 4 Types of breathing in singing

Costal breathing can be of three kinds: clavicular, upper costal breathing, and lower coastal one. The first two varieties the clavicular and the upper costal one - belong to the non-rational ways of breathing. During the clavicular and the upper costal extension of the rib cage the amount of air required for maintaining of optimal subglottic pressure is limited. More rational is the third kind, the lower costal breath that takes a lot more air. Delivery of air is even and satisfactory for singing in this type of breathing, but not sufficient, since the respiratory motion is still rather limited due to rigidity of the rib walls.

When breathing develops muscle strength, regulating the phonational exhalation, much less, and the volume of inhaled air is the same as with the lower costal breath. However, the respiratory movements become more plastic.

More rational is the combination of abdominal and lower costal breathing, the so-called "costal-abdominal" breathing, which is often incorrectly called diaphragmatic. Except saving muscle strength, it delivers a considerable amount of air, as well as flexibility of respiratory movements.

It had been proved long ago that the costal-abdominal breathing is the most rational for phonation, especially in its specific manifestations: singing and scenic speaking. This type of breathing flexibly adapts to the conditions of phonation and may be changed at any time, according to the desired pitch and strength of tone, genre variety as well as to the intent of the singer in reaching a certain emotional expression in his performance. The physiologists have no strict division of types of breathing.

Vocal practice has countless types of individual breathing included in these above-defined types that transform into each other. These "classical" types of breathing are nothing but a classification support.

Thus, the science has confirmed the point of view that there is no well-defined type of singing breath. More and more researchers say that there should be individual kinds of singing breath in terms of the most economical use of muscle power, basing on costal-thoracic type, providing the optimal amount of inhaled air.

Singing focuses all the respiratory activity, regardless of types of breath, exclusively on creation and maintenance of the necessary subglottic pressure, providing power and pitch, vocal technique and timbre, as well as expression based on the intention of the singer. All these factors influence the tone of laryngeal (laryngeal) sphincter, which regulates subglottic pressure.

Some singers intending to get a better quality of voice sound resort to using excessive subglottic pressure due to overuse of the abdominal and chest muscles. In such cases, they gain too much air and can easily suffocate. In addition, according to the experts, constant deep inhales while singing affect the elasticity of lung tissue, expanding the alveoli and lead to emphysema. In such pathological changes in the respiratory apparatus the quality phonation becomes impossible.

Special studies have proved that a relatively small amount of air (a moderate inhalation) can provide the duration of phonational expiration of 15-20 seconds. This time is sufficient to fulfil the longest musical phrase.

A deep breath can be obtained mainly due to the diaphragm, which leads to high subglottic pressure. The tone of closing in the vocal folds is very strong, although it also depends on the strength of the singer�s throat muscles. In the phase of exhale the muscle activity of the abdomen extends to the lumbar and sacral nerve roots using the pelvic diaphragm and the muscles of the perineum.

Subglottic pressure required in singing is achieved and maintained during a quick inhale. Basing on the experience gained in the course of training, the singer takes an amount of air, which seems to be enough for the appropriate strength and duration of produced tones. Then the glottis closes and creates the pressure appropriate for the contraction, which the singer must maintain throughout the duration of the musical phrase, i.e. sing with breath support.

Illustration 4. Types of breathing in singing

A - purely abdominal (diaphragmatic) type of breathing, in which the chest is fixed, breath is done with lowering of the diaphragm and with the abdomen bulging forward.

B - phrenic type (lower costal-diaphragmatic or costal-abdominal) that includes mostly the abdominal breathing. Except the diaphragm, the lower part of the chest also takes part, the diaphragm is stretched.

C - phrenic II (costal-diaphragmatic or costal-abdominal) type of breathing, during inspiration the chest wall and the diaphragm are equally involved.

D - purely thoracic type of breathing (costal), during inhalation the diaphragm virtually takes no part and the abdomen is retracted.