Science project

Can most people tell if a singer sings from the diaphragm or from the throat?

Research Questions:

When a person sings, their voice is distinguished from normal speech by both rhythm and tonality. You might have heard some people suggest “singing from the diaphragm” instead of the throat. Well, what does that actually mean? The answer lies mostly in breathing technique. The diaphragm functions in respiration. When you learn how to control your breathing when you sing, you not only hold notes longer, but your tone will be richer and more controlled. But can most people tell when we sing from our diaphragms?


  • One male and one female volunteer professional singer (who can sing from both diaphragm and throat and interchange between both with ease)
  • A singing/voice “plan” to give to your singers
  • 10-20 test subjects
  • Pens/pencils and paper for your test subjects

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Create a singing/voice plan for your singer to follow. This is simply a sheet of paper telling when the singer should use their throat and when they should use their diaphragm on a certain note. For example you can say this: G# with diaphragm - A with throat - C with throat
  2. Seat your test subjects in front of the singer.
  3. As your singer sings, you should have your test subjects guess whether they are using their diaphragms or their throats for the particular note. Have your test subjects write this down.
  4. Do the above for both your male and female professional volunteer singer.
  5. At the end of the testing period, see the average number of correct guesses.

Terms/Concepts: Diaphragm; Singing; Breathing Technique; Respiration; Voice; Tone; Rhythm


  • Wikipedia's Thoracic diaphragm page
  • Falkner, Keith, ed (1983). VoiceYehudi Menuhin music guides. London: MacDonald Young. pp. 26. 
  • Vennard, William (1967). Singing: the mechanism and the technic. New York: Carl Fischer. 
Author: Sofia PC
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