What do nodes feel like by Paul Montes

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What do nodes feel like by Paul Montes

I stopped singing for about a year because I started smoking a lot and there was always stuff in my throat. I’m cutting down on the smoking and getting my voice back slowly but surely.
Unfortunately, my falsetto isn’t really coming back with it. It used to be an alright falsetto, but now I can’t use it to sing quietly. When I attempt any notes at low volumes, nothing but air comes out…and suddenly as i increase the volume it just kicks in as a note. Is that a node? How do i fix that? It definitely did not used to do that.

What do nodes feel like by Frith Trezevant

Hi Paul

It’s good that you’re cutting down on your smoking.  Stopping altogether would be another good move.  Apart from the very dangerous effects of cigarette smoke on your general health, there are some specific things that happen in the vocal tract when it’s exposed to smoke, including smokey environments (passive smoking).

If you are still smoking or exposing yourself to smoke, you may have swollen vocal folds.  The vocal folds have a complex, 5 layer structure.  That’s why we don’t usually call them vocal cords any more.  Between the top layer of specialised mucus and the next layer of the fold there is a space, called Reinke’s space.  The mucosal layer flows over this in a beautiful wave-like motion when you are singing.  In smokers, Reinke’s space fills with fluid and the mucosal wave can’t move so well.  The folds swell up and don’t meet together as cleanly along their edges, and this accounts for some of the effects that you notice in smokers’ voices – a certain roughness in the sound.

The mucosal layer is a delicate balance of gel and fluid, and is affected adversely by smoke.  It dries out, becoming sticky instead of mobile and elastic.

When we produce falsetto voice, it is only the mucosal layer that is actually vibrating.  The vocal fold underneath it stiffens.  If the mucosal layer has been dried out by the effects of smoke, and if the folds themselves are also swollen, it may affect your ability to create falsetto.

If you are at all worried about your voice, you should seek the advice of a medically trained person – your local voice clinic would be a good place to start.  Breathy voice can be a sign of nodules but lots of vocal disorders can present with breathy tone.

I hope this has been of some use.

Best wishes


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