It has been the conventional wisdom for nearly 2000 years that the origin of the voice is the vocal cords (more correctly called vocal folds) in the throat. But it was this emphasis on the throat in vocal training that had caused White to lose his voice, and his recovery started when he started to focus on producing his voice ‘above the tongue’.
White reasoned that while the vocal folds were a part of the voice, their physical characteristics meant they could not be its origin, and looked for structures in the head that could produce sound. He decided the obvious candidates were the head sinuses, the interlinked air-filled spaces in the skull around the nose and eyes. These could act as resonators, producing and amplifying the voice.
After many years of detailed research White came to the conclusion that the vocal folds simply act like a valve that affects the behaviour of the column of air that travels up the windpipe from the lungs as you breathe out: below the vocal folds the air particles in the column are moving smoothly, while above the vocal folds they are active in the way necessary to produce sound. All further development of this sound (not yet a voice), takes place in the cavities of the head. This was the basis of what we now call White’s Technique.
Current thinking is that the voice is probably produced by the complex integrated activity of the various components of the ‘vocal tract’, which is made up of the organs and air spaces extending from the lungs to the head sinuses. But in practice that doesn’t affect how the White’s Technique is taught. White’s Technique is, and always will be, a remarkably safe and effective method for developing, protecting and healing the voice..
So where DOES the voice come from?