The Low Mandible Maneuver and Its Resonential Implications for Elite Singers

Published:October 13, 2015DOI:


      Many elite singers appear to frequently drop the posterior mandible while singing to optimize resonance production. This study investigated the physiology of the Low Mandible Maneuver (LMM) through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound (US), and spectrographic analysis.
      The study of elite singers has been hampered by the paucity of internal imagery. We have attempted to address this problem by using portable US equipment that we could transport to the homes, studios, or dressing rooms of such ranking singers. With the US and acoustic data gathered in fairly brief sessions, we were able to ascertain the resonance gains garnered from the technique's use.
      The study featured two phases: I—MRI study of the maneuver and its physiological effect on surrounding structures (in collaboration of the Medical University of Graz, Austria) and II—US investigation that studied tongue shape during the maneuver.
      The LMM has significant ramifications for resonance production by enabling a concomitantly lowered larynx and increased resonance space in the pharyngeal and oral cavities. Measurements of the LMM ranged between 0.7 and 3.1 cm and showed a boost in the first harmonics as well as an enhancement in the singers formant. Its use also has a rather significant effect on the tongue shapes required for all sung phonemes. The advantage of using US for this study was the ability to produce real-time videos of the singer in action and then, through the use of stop action, precisely study both individual phoneme production and phoneme-to-phoneme transitions during the LMM.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Voice
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Sundberg J.
        Articulatory interpretation of the “singing formant”.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 1974; 55: 838-844
        • Titze I.R.
        Acoustic Interpretation of Resonant Voice.
        J Voice. 2001; 15: 519-528
        • Raphael Bonnie N.
        • Scherer R.
        Voice modifications of stage actors: acoustic analyses.
        J Voice. 1987; 1: 83-87
        • Sundberg J.
        • Lã Filipa M.B.
        • Gill Brian P.
        Professional male singers' formant tuning strategies for the vowel /a/.
        Logoped Phoniatr Vocol. 2011; 36: 156-167
        • Sundberg J.
        Articulatory configuration on pitch in classically trained soprano singers.
        J Voice. 2009; 23: 546-551
        • Echternach M.
        • Sundberg J.
        • Arndt S.
        • Breyer T.
        • Markl M.
        • Schumacher M.
        • Richter B.
        Vocal tract and register changes analysed by real-time MRI in male professional singers—a pilot study.
        Logoped Phoniatr Vocol. 2008; 33: 67-73
        • Echternach M.
        Vocal tract in female registers—a dynamic real-time MRI study.
        J Voice. 2010; 24: 133-139
        • Sundberg J.
        The Science of the Singing Voice.
        Nothern Illinois University Press, DesKalb, Illinois1988
        • Oliveira Barrichelo V.M.
        • Heuer R.J.
        • Dean C.M.
        • Sataloff R.T.
        Comparison of singer's formant, speaker's ring, and LTA spectrum among classical singers and untrained normal speakers.
        J Voice. 2001; 15: 344-350
        • Smith C.G.
        • Finnegan E.M.
        • Karnell M.P.
        Resonant voice: spectral and nasendoscopic analysis.
        J Voice. 2005; 19: 607-622
      1. Nair G. Acoustics and physiology of singer's consonants—a little explored area. Paper Presented at the 2nd Physiology and Acoustics of Singing Conference, Denver, 2004.

        • Traser L.
        • Burdumy M.
        • Richter B.
        • Vicari M.
        • Echternach M.
        The effect of supine and upright position on vocal tract configurations during singing—a comparative study in professional tenors.
        J Voice. 2013; 27: 141-148
        • Stone M.
        • STock G.
        • Bunin K.
        • Kumar K.
        • Epstein M.
        Comparison of speech production in upright and supine position.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 2007; 122: 532-541
        • Okeson J.P.
        Management of Temporomandibular Disorders and Occlusion.
        6th ed. Mosby, St. Louis, MO2008
        • Sundberg J.
        • Skoog J.
        Dependance of jaw opening on pitch and vowel in singers.
        J Voice. 1997; 11: 301-306
        • Story B.H.
        • Titze I.R.
        • Hoffman E.A.
        The relationship of vocal tract shape to three voice qualities.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 2001; 109: 1651-1667
        • Garcia M.
        Hints of Singing (B. Garcia, trans.).
        Edward Schuberth Co, NY1894
        • Appelman D.R.
        The Science of Vocal Pedagogy, Theory and Application.
        Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN1967
        • Vennard W.
        Singing. The Mechanics and the Technic.
        rev. and greatly enlarged ed. Carl Fischer, New York, NY1967
      2. Nair G. Consonant resonance and the highly skilled singer—a study in physio acoustics. Paper Presented at the 7th International Voice Symposium on Care and Cure of the Professional Voice, Austria, Aug. 8th 2006.

        • Nair G.
        The Craft of Singing.
        Plural Publishing, San Diego, CA2007
        • Stone M.
        A guide to analyzing tongue motion from ultrasound images.
        Clin Linguist Phon. 2005; 19: 455-502
        • Li M.
        • Kambhamettu C.
        • Stone M.
        Automatic contour tracking in ultrasound images.
        Clin Linguist Phon. 2005; 19: 545-554
        • Sataloff R.T.
        3rd ed. Professional Voice. The Science and Art of Clinical Care. Vo. 1. Plural Publishing, San Diego, CA, Oxford, UK2005
        • Titze I.R.
        Why do classically trained singers widen their throat?.
        J Sing. 2012; 69: 177-178
        • Singh S.
        • Kent R.
        Illustrated Dictionary of Speech-Language Pathology.
        Singular Publishing, San Diego, CA2000
        • Nair G.
        Voice—Tradition and Technology.
        Singular Publishing, San Diego, CA1999