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as a singer, i have been struggling with a problem for almost a year now. The sound of my voice has changed. Quite suddenly, after a laryngitis in Feb 2016. It used to be a warm, slightly breathy sound that i liked. Now it takes a lot of effort to get the same sound, especially when singing more powerfully and in a higher pitch. Additionally i suffer from severe vocal fatigue (burning pain around the larynx after only a couple minutes of talking or even singing a line or two). It feels as if there is less space in the larynx area. I always had to force my muscles there a bit to get rid of a mildly twangy sound, but now the twangy sound is much worse. I have to force my muscles in a certain way to create more space and find the old sound of my voice. This is very fatiguing. I have a lump in my throat sensation, too.

ENT saw nothing wrong with my voice or throat after the laryngitis had healed but the symtoms stayed.

Vocal therapist gave up when i told her even the lax/vox exercise caused pain and fatigue.

Manual / crafta therapist noticed a lot of tension in my neck / throat / upper back but after a couple sessions loosening this up, the vocal fatigue or the changed sound are still there.

Anyone any thoughts on this?

I am heartbroken over this. I have not been able to sing almost a year (and i am a singer songwriter) and still have not found out what causes this or how to tackle this problem that has been affecting every area of my life.

I am a 32 y/o woman. Could it just be my voice getting older / changing sound and do i have to live with it? Could it be caused by a mourning process i am going through at the moment?

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The answer to almost all of your questions is "yes, probably." It may take a long time for your vokes to fully recover from laryngitis; the stress of mourning can affect stuff, and so on.

It's always a good idea to consult a specialist (medical, not just a general ENT person but one who regularly works with pro singers) if for no other reason than to rule out physical damage to your vocal cords.

You didn't state specifically whether you've stopped singing, so I'll point out the obvious: try no singing, no humming, and as little talking as possible for a month or two and see if some healing occurs.

  • I agree with your conclusion. It seems like a classic "Doctor! It hurts when I do this!" scenario. – General Nuisance Dec 24 '16 at 15:33
  • Thank you so much for your response Carl! I have been to a different ENT doctors and one was also a vocal therapist. Several times they've looked at my vocal chords with a camera through my nose as they asked me to make sounds. They could see nothing wrong. No nodules or whatsoever. They also vibrated fine. The manual therapist checked my gag reflex which looked normal which proved there's no vocal paralysis either. The last option was muscle issues, tension whatever. I really hoped the manual therapist could help. Now i can't think of anything that could be the cause of my change of voice. – Rogue84 Dec 24 '16 at 15:48
  • And yes, i have stopped singing because it sounds bad and it hurts, so i can't enjoy it anymore. I try every once in a while whether it's getting any better. Sometimes it sounds and feels better. But most of the time, the same issues.. – Rogue84 Dec 24 '16 at 15:51
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An interesting question, and I can understand your frustration. To answer your question, I feel the need to explain a few things of which you may or may not be aware. Through reading each of them, I think you'll find the answer to your question.


Aging

As you age, your vocal folds relax (losing their initial elasticity). As a result, not only will your voice continue to get lower in range, but you'll have to continue training your voice to compensate. Your voice will continue to change throughout your life and this is normal for everyone.

Breathy (Aspirate) Singing

"Breathy" singing, while popular (and emphasized with editing), may have been something you could control when you were younger, the production of this sound is especially difficult the higher / louder you try to sing (you're asking your voice to do opposite things here). Breathy is easier when you're singing quiet and lower. Trying to sing high, loud, and breathy is asking for trouble.

Vocal Fatigue

You should rest for a while. A week at least with little or no talking. Professional vocalists, when they go on "vocal rest" don't talk at all. If you're serious about your voice, you need a completely silent vocal rest for at least a week. Drink tons of water to help your voice repair and hydrate the folds.

Given that your illness caused a lot of swelling / damage, I think it would be best if you re-started from the beginning; pretending that you're a new singer. When you do sing again, sing for a few minutes only, and as you re-learn proper technique / production, you can gradually increasing your time spent singing as your stamina and technique improves.

Singing songs you wrote in your early 20's that really high / out of your range will cause fatigue very quickly. You will find throughout your life that you will likely need to change the keys of your songs to accommodate your voice as your voice ages and matures.

Good luck.

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