The Use of Chest Voice in African-American Religious Singing

Robert T. Townsend


Chest resonance is used during singing events in most African-American churches. Actually, it is the way of singing for most folk singing. I remember the presentation by a Russian professor demonstrating the folk singing of his country during a graduate seminar. The singers used their chest voices while singing folk songs from their country. Also, many tribes of West and South Africa continue to sing using their chest voices. For example, Roderic Knight (1984) described the use of chest voice by the female singers of the Manding people in West Africa. He stated that the singers used a vocal technique involving the tightening of the
pharyngeal muscles at the back of the tongue, which restricts the upward motion of the larynx (Knight, 1984; p 74).

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