Hung up on Rossini

Weekly Teaching Tip – Oct 14, 2019
by Teri Stock

The “hung up on Rossini” exercise is a resonant, semi-occluded tract exercise on a 1 1/2 scale octave pattern. The hu of the hung with an aspirate and the schwa help to stabilize the larynx during multiple repetitions and balances the ng and higher pitches which will raise the larynx slightly. Negotiating vocal registers requires a delicate coordination and balance between air, flow, laryngeal muscle, lung pressure, airflow and resonance strategy.

The resonant ng allows the singer to experience a very resonant nasopharyngeal sound and its effect on the vocal tract on multiple pitches and feel the benefits of semi-occlusion at the same time. The scale is usually begun in modal or chest register, moves through mix register and ends in falsetto or head-dominant mix depending on the singer. The scale pattern allows the singer to move quickly through different registers and impedes the singer’s brain’s tendency to help the pitch as they ascend higher in their range.  It also challenges the singer as the longer scale requires some breath management skill especially as the exercise progresses higher in the range.The word hung and the scale pattern benefits assist in the singer’s successful execution achieving resonant consistent sound while moving through the registers.

After a proper body warmup, including some neck and shoulder stretches, a reminder of breathing, including some abdominal release, and some  semi-occluded exercises involving straw or lip trill introducing the Rossini scale pattern, the facilitator would say the word hung holding the ng to emphasize the buzz in the face it creates. The singer would then repeat the spoken hung at a comfortable pitch imitating the facilitator.

This is a good time to make sure the singer is executing the ng correctly, with the tongue raising in the back to the velum but the front of the tongue staying relaxed and forward. The facilitator and singer would then play with the ng exploring some pitch glides and feeling comfortable with the feeling.

The facilitator should give a brief explanation to the singer of how this sound may feel small but it will help them maximize their “power” efficiency by increasing intensity in their sound. The facilitator should then demonstrate the exercise at pitches that would demonstrate their passagio.

For instance a female teaching a male should demonstrate in a range comfortable for her so the male singer here and imitates the subtle shifts in the voice. A male teaching a woman should do the same. After the demonstration the sing should say the hung again. The singer will release the abdomen, inhale  and begin the exercise. A good starting pitch is G3 for women and Bb2 for men. The hung should be sung by the singer going immediately to the t ng and ascend the octave and a half scale pattern previously introduced. Ascend chromatically in one-half step intervals until the highest comfortable pitch is reached .

The facilitator should monitor to make sure that external laryngeal muscles are not engaging and the back of the tongue is not over engaging. Having the singer put their thumb under their chin is a good way to teach self-monitoring. The exercise is then repeated in descending half steps until the original pitch is reached. The facilitator can decide to descend longer in the range if they feel the singer would benefit. If the singer has been successful in demonstrating on the hung along the facilitator can add a vowel on the descending part of the Rosinni scale. For example Hung-(i) Hung (a) , etc.

Scientific Justification

Anatomically by phonating hung the back of the  tongue raises to the top of the top of hypo-pharynx, raising the larynx, shortening the vocal tract and creating a semi-occlusion. As the exercise ascends in pitch, the TA muscle starts to relax incrementally as the CT muscle starts to activate incrementally and stretch the vocal folds  thereby increasing their vibratory frequency corresponding with an increase in pitch’. These muscles work in tandem throughout the exercise , relaxing and or activating depending on the pitch. This is best shown by the accompanying graph .(Figure 10.1)

The shape of the vocal folds change as this muscle action occurs  and the in turn the Vibratory pattern and mucosal wave changes.(See Picture 2 showing change in vocal folds moving from heavy to light mechanisms labeled as M1 and M2) In modal or chest the vibration is in the Body of the vocal fold. As the pitch increases it will shift incrementally to the cover of the vocal folds.

Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology 31(1):3-14 · February 2006

Because of the impedance created in the vocal tract by the hung and the resulting inertance the glottis will respond by matching the impedance which will in turn narrow the epilarynx. This shape of the vocal tract with a narrowed pharynx and narrow epilarynx will raise the first formant and lower the second formant, creating a ring like quality to the voice. The inertance from the impedance  puts less pressure on the vocal folds. As the folds open, the positive pressure in the vocal tract pushes the folds farther apart. As the folds close, the negative pressure in the vocal tract above pulls them together even more. When the positive and negative pressures of the vocal tract line up with the opening and closing of the vocal folds, it becomes like giving a person a boost on a swing at the exact right moment, making the vocal folds a self-sustaining oscillator.

Who Could Benefit from this exercise:

  1. Those who need assistance in smoother passagio transitions
  2. Those who need more Glottal closure
  3. Those who need less glottal compression
  4. Those who want more ring in the voice
  5. Those who need help off loading weight or TA dominance in the voice. It assists in transitioning through the passage while keeping good glottal adduction
  6. This poor kid :

Explanation of the exercise in layman terms

  1. Say hung for the student and emphasize the ng. Have the student repeat and mimic your demonstration.
  2. Now say hung with your student and explore the ng feeling. Make adjustments to the tongue if necessary. Explain that on this exercise they may feel shifts in registers and a feeling that the sound is too little or light. Tell them it is normal and ask them to concentrate on keeping the airflow steady and the dynamics the same.   Let the teacher be their ears.
  3. Demonstrate the exercise in a comfortable pitch for yourself and explain why, if it’s da different pitch than your student. Replay the scale starting on the pitch you have chosen for your student. For women I usually start the scale on a G3 and for males Bb.
  4. Prepare the student for singing by directing the student to relax the abdomen and pelvic floor and inhale
  5. Sing hung moving immediately to the ng which will be sustained over the duration of the scale pattern. Move in one half step increments until you have reached the highest comfortable pitch for the singer. Then descend in the same pattern until you have arrived at the starting pitch. You may want to descend to a lower pitch than the one on which you began.
  6. As women move higher into their range it may be beneficial for them to contract their pelvic floor as they approach the highest notes.
  7. If the singer has demonstrated competency in the exercise you can add a vowel to the descending scale. (I) is a good chose to start because there is less of a dramatic shift from the ng. You can progress through other vowels.


  1. The tongue may have a tendency to pull back. Make sure the front of the tongue stays forward and perhaps have them stick it out over the lips as they ascend in pitch.
  2. You may have the student monitor under their chin and make sure they do not feel a bulge under their chin. If it is bulging first remind them the sound may feel little and that is okay. Remind them that we create pitch horizontally and not vertically. If that is not working try having them stick out their tongue as they ascend it pitch. If that is not successful have them do a one octave arpeggio top down started on the highest note on the scale giving them problems and keeping the hung. If that does not work. Have them say hung again and begin the exercise again a few notes lower than the last scale pattern.

3. Some students just have a hard time with this exercise. I will usually switch to a ning ning then move to a ning(i) on ning (a) on the same scale pattern and address the tongue separately.

To increase difficulty the singer could add a sustain on the first descending pitch of the scale after a vowel has been added.

Principles of Voice Production  by Ingo Titze

Vocology by Ingo Titze, Kittie Verdolini Abbott

Randomized Controlled Trial of Two Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Voice Therapy Protocol by Mara R. Kapsner-SmithEric J. Hunter,a,c Kimberly KirkhamKarin Cox, and Ingo R. TitzeEric J. HunterKimberly KirkhamKarin Cox, and Ingo R. Titze

Acoustic Interaction Between the Glottal Source and the Vocal Tract  by Martin Rothenberg Syracuse University ,Syracuse, NY, USA

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