The Five Senses In Singing – Smell

Welcome to our series, The Five Senses In Singing! For the next five weeks, we will be examining how the five senses – sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch, are all related to singing!




The human ability to smell is the hardest sense to relate to the area of singing, because olfactory perception is not actually directly linked to singing. The nasal cavity however, is an essential aspect of the singing process, and one that is often discounted.

Singers need to have a keen awareness of the physiological processes that are involved in singing, including the vocal folds, the tongue, and the palates, but an understanding of the nasal cavity, and its involvement in singing is fundamental to the production of good sound. This blog post is only intended to provide a brief, and simplified outline of one of the anatomical processes involved in singing, focusing specifically on the nasal cavity.

vocal anatomy

In classical singing, the nasal cavity is considered an important resonance chamber, along with the oral cavities, and sinus cavities. The nasal cavity allows sound to resonate in order to amplify the sound a singer produces. In order to achieve the greatest resonance with the nasal cavity, the soft palate must be lifted, and widened in order to facilitate resonance with the oral pharynx.

For those interested in further exploration of the anatomy of singing, researchers at the University of Toronto created a great resource called Anatomia, which can be used to explore the anatomy of the head and neck in great detail.

* There is a great deal of misinformation available about the anatomy of singing. Singers should be discerning when choosing resources about singing, and the anatomy of singing.


Can you think of other reasons why smell, or the nasal cavity might be important in singing? Tell us in the comments below!

= Calgary Children's Choir



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