I came across this study via Jamie Read and have been a little bemused by it ever since. I wonder what your thoughts are if any? The study below (link to study included) was designed to test a 3D-visualisation software programme called MIMICS. It used high resolution computer tomography to visualize the laryngeal cartilages and resonance spaces of 10 professional female singers. Although the objective of the study was to discover the efficacy if MIMICS, the results are potentially quite far reaching. As with all of these studies, the size of the sample was acknowledged as a potential problem.
10 professional singers sang the /a/ as in Caro mio ben and were scanned using HRCT. They all sang in a supine position and sang at three different pitches. The study showed the elongation of the vocal folds to be caused by a backward tilt of the cricoid plate. It is a very complex article and I do not profess to understand it all but I was surprised by the emphasis on the cricoid cartilage as the elongator rather than the thyroid cartilage. There is also mention of different types cricothyroid joints that impact on the degree of movement. Those with type A CTJ (well defined) experienced an 8 -10% elongation. Those with a type B and C CTJ (less defined) experienced only 4% elongation. Hold your breath because he comes the mind blower ‘we conclude that the extent of elongation of the vocal fold depends on the type of the CTJ and does not seem to be linear over two octaves.’

This study claims that it is the first study to visualize the movement of the arytenoid cartilage and cricoid cartilage during singing.

Does this mean that it’s the cricoid cartilage that is responsible for elongation and not the thyroid cartilage? Do some people have superior CTJ joints that allow greater vocal flexibility?

Three-dimensional Imaging in High-resolution Computer Tomography of Singers’ Larynges – A Pilot Study
Alexandra Vorik, Fabian Intereffer, Salmone Zwicky, Julia Schiwowa, Silke Potthast and Claudio Storck

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