I have question about a nearly-unheard of oktavism technique. It is similar in nature to subharmonics. Apparently there is a technique where you "swallow your larynx" and depress is a very large amount using muscles almost never used for singing. Then, once it is extremely depressed, you can sing notes 2-3 steps lower than your usual low. I've been told by multiple people the oktavist of the Kovcheg ensemble, Pavel Myakotin uses it for notes between B1 and D2.

I've also been told some operatic singers, in addition to some Bassos, use it.

Does anyone know anything about this? I'm interested in it very much.

4 Answers 4


If someone told you that, they told you incorrectly, I can and do sing into basso profundo range, and that's not a correct procedure. First, irregardless of what you sing, you never activate the digastric (Swallowing muscles of your throat ) when you sing, that's poor singing technique. What's actually happening is a harmonic, it's literally the reverse of what happens when a guitarist lightly touches a guitar string and causes the note to ring out at a much higher octave.
With octavists, most of them use harmonics in singing, it's pretty obvious when it's being done as the singer with have a REALLY reedy sound to their voice. The technique involve doesn't involve swallowing, it's a type of vocal fry (I'm not kidding, I actually can do this!). It's effortless and the note produced is pretty loud as well!

There's a youtube video online that explains this better than I can, but I'll try. Sing your most comfortable note, but don't sing it too loudly, then go into fry. If this is done correctly, you'll be singing the same note one octave lower.
Check out youtube for the term "basso profundo" and you'll hear this being done, any time the singer sounds reedy, he's using harmonics!


The technique described in another answer is called subharmonics and is not what the OP was asking about.

Pavel uses subharmonics on notes below B1 however he is said to use a kind of "forceful strohbass" for notes between E2 and B1 according to a fellow Oktavist who performs with him and the Kovcheg ensemble.

What exactly is meant by that I do not know, it's a bit of a mystery what technique he uses between his subharmonic register and chest register.

I think it's unlikely he's "swallowing his larynx" as the OP puts it, it could be as simple as employing a well supported chest-fry mixture but whatever it is, it's unusually powerful for a natural bass-baritone like Myakotin and it ISN'T subharmonics.

His subharmonic notes are much more relaxed than what goes on in the E2 - B1 area.


I can tell you as someone that does sing can sing as a Basso Profundo that you never use your swalling (digrastic) muscles ever. It's a technique similar to singing in fry. If you're not sure what fry is, listen to any interview by Harry Belafonte, he literally speaks in Fry. He's generating two frequencies at the same time.

With the technique I use, you sing a note one octave higher than where you want to sing to, and go into vocal fry, at first, it sounds pretty bad and it's no where near where you want to be. You're never "swallowing the larynx" nor anything even close. You simply slide into fry. It takes a while to learn, but once you learn it, you can singer not only lower, but in that particular style, you're low notes are louder although you're not trying to make the notes louder, nor are you straining or forcing the note.

Bottom line, never use the swallowing muscles in singing, ever!

That said, I kinda understand the explanation, in away, the sound is being produced a bit differently than is typical and the air is pulled in rather than breathed out, so I get why that description is used, but it's a pretty bad way to describe it!


I suggest, from what I have heard, that he uses his ventricular vocal folds in a similar style as in undertone singing/throat singing, not to be confused with overtone singing. It activates the ventricular folds which resonate an octave lower than the sung pitch of the regular folds, but because of their own physical properties, they don't resonate nearly as far down the range as you're regular folds go like with strohbass subharmonics (although an octave higher). I have to add that I'm a music pedagogy student and in no way qualified to this statement, it is just a suggestion to what might be happening, then again, I am not a professional, so take this with a grain of salt. It does explain why he uses it only between B1 and D2, since the range of throat singing is very limited when you started learning. For example, my voice usually extends down to C#2, sometimes the subharmonics reach D#1, but my throat singing is stuck between A1 and C#2 while the outer notes are extremely uncomfortable to hit and require a lot of effort to maintain. I'm not a trained singer.

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