The title is clearly to be sung to the tune of “Conjunction Junction.”
And I’m here to tell you that constriction is no fiction. In fact, it is the fourth wall of the singing house: managed constriction.
CVI calls it controlled constriction.
This is what we’re talking about:
Wrapping around our pharynx are three constrictor muscles that help us to swallow. Thanks constrictors. (Image from CVI)
They protect the vocal folds in times of strain (lifting something heavy) or in intense expressions of emotion or fear.
Constrictors also help us to shape the pharynx/vocal tract into myriad shapes that create all kinds of sound colors.
They can also completely screw our singing when we don’t know how to manage them.
I believe the feeling of the relaxed constrictor muscles is the “open throat” sensation that many bel canto teachers describe.
This image/sensation is a wonderful help to many singers, but it can also lead to other problems like lack of twang or added rigidity when singers try to muscularly open the throat.
You can’t really open it, you can only relax it/keep it from constricting.
When constriction is unmanaged, the vocal folds attempt to stretch longer in order to vibrate a higher frequency, but the attempted stretch is squeezed by the swallow-muscles.
And here is what’s super tricky about this. Like I said above, constrictors naturally engage when we express intense emotion; think crying or yelling from fright.
When we sing, we are moving a lot of emotional energy through the throat. It is counterintuitive to let the muscles there relax.
Imagine being brought to the point of ugly-cry but completely relaxing the pharynx muscles. Feels weird.
Singing freely feels this way, and when you habituate the feeling it becomes familiar.
It’s strange to have the dynamic support athletically moving all of this breath and vibration through a relaxed throat.
It’s kind of like your throat is pretending it had botox and is saying, “I’m so angry, but my forehead isn’t even participating. ”