Swelling tests*

Vocal tasks that reveal the vocal phenomenology of mucosal disturbances such as vocal nodules, vocal polyps, vocal cysts (see epidermoid cyst and mucus retention cyst), and so forth. These tasks incorporate high frequency (pitch), very low intensity (loudness), and sometimes rapid onset/offset of the voice. The two swelling tests used at Bastian Voice Institute almost exclusively are the first phrase of “Happy Birthday,” and a five-note descending staccato. In both cases the individual should produce the voice in a tiny “boy soprano pianissimo” kind of production; this tiny dynamic is insisted on because getting even a little louder tends to conceal the problem. Women should focus on the C5-C6 octave. Signs of swelling test positivity include onset delay, breathiness that gets worse as one ascends the scale, and loss of expected upper range, as understood by a singing voice qualified clinician. Note that a small gap between the vocal folds can also cause onset delay and breathiness, but differences in performance between the two can help to indicate whether the problem is swelling, or gap.

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