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Getting in tune to the sounds of exertion

December 18, 2006

Re: "Those Gym Grunts Have a Purpose" [Dec. 11]: Thank you for your interesting and informative article. As a professor of music at UC Irvine, I would, however, like to point out a couple of things:

Vocal "chords" should actually be spelled "cords." However, most vocal experts now use the term "vocal folds," which actually gives a more accurate description of them.

Also, while screaming certainly can lead to the development of "calluses or lesions," only incorrect or abusive singing does so. If this were not the case, you would not have opera singers (such as Placido Domingo) singing with ease and longevity, performing three- to four-hour operas without amplification, for 45 years, so far.

It is usually singers who perform contemporary/popular-culture music who tend to abuse their voices and damage them.

ROBIN BUCK

Irvine

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You quote Belisa Vranich, sports psychologist for Gold's Gym, as saying, "When you think about grunting, you tend to think about King Kong, moving furniture and sex. . . . Most [women] will say that grunting is disgusting."

Except when they give birth. Low-pitched, sustained grunts actually hasten the baby through the birth canal as the mother pushes.

PATRICE KYGER

Free Union, Va.

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I really enjoyed Janet Cromley's article on grunting in the gym. But I'm surprised she didn't mention the karate "kiai," or spirit shout. Proper technique in most martial arts requires a sharp, guttural yell at the moment a person executes a kick, punch or other technique.

This tightens the abdominal muscles so that they're protected from an opponent striking back; forces an exhale during the moment of peak exertion of the muscles; psychs up the person delivering it; and psyches out the opponent.

Most martial arts instructors will actually scold students who are too quiet!

SUSAN AVALLON

Los Angeles

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