This portion of the website is designed to complement the lectures given by me,
Paul Manley at the Royal Academy of Music 2007.
It covers almost every aspect of anatomy and physiology of voice,
breath and respiration that a student of voice might find useful,
both in their career as a singer and if they become voice tutors.
It is hoped that this website will become a life-long resource for
is divided into 7 sections. I hope that you have fun and that
you find it as fascinating and informative as it was for me whilst
I was creating it.
How do we
is a passive, involuntary activity. Air moves in and out of the
thorax due to pressure changes. When the diaphragm, the major
muscle of respiration, is stimulated, it contracts and moves
downward. At the same time, the external intercostals move the
rib cage up and out. The chest wall and pleura move out, pulling
the pleura and the lung with it. As the volume within the thoracic
cavity increases, the pressure within the lung decreases. Intrapulmonary
pressure is now lower than atmospheric pressure; thus air flows
into the lung — inhalation.
the diaphragm returns to its normal, relaxed state, the intercostal
muscles also relax and the chest wall moves in.
The lungs, with natural elastic recoil,
pull inward as well and air flows out of the lungs — exhalation.
The lungs should never completely collapse for there is always a small
amount of air, called residual volume, in them.
The muscles of respiration:
Quiet breathing (primary muscles): diaphragm, external
intercostals, elastic recoil of lung tissue surface tension
and gravity on the internal intercostal muscles.
(secondary or accessory muscles): sternomastoid, scalenes,
pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, serratus
posterior, superior upper iliocostalis, abdominals: external
oblique, internal oblique, rectus abdominus, lower iliocostalis,
lower longissimus, serratus posterior inferior, quadratus lumborum
and latissimus dorsi.