TRAINING SOPRANO VOICES RICHARD MILLER PDF
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There are several other common names for the passaggio. This break is a sudden gap in sound which occurs when the thyroarytenoid muscles suddenly decrease their activity and the cricothyroid muscles begin to function. A skillful transition of this muscular activity is one of the marks of the trained singer. As Miller states, "Register terminology should be carefully chosen. The interaction may cause frequency and amplitude jumps when the fundamental frequency of the oscillation or a harmonics crosses through a formant.
The occurrence of such jumps depends on the cross-sectional area of the epilarynx, which couples the larynx to the downstream vocal tract, and is facilitated by a narrower area. Voice Specialist Ingo Titze explains, "Register changes may occur voluntarily or involuntarily. Classical voice training aims to provide the singer with the tools necessary to move through the passaggi so that the transition between registers sounds seamless and will be unrecognizable to the audience.
In his many books on developing the different male and female voice types, Richard Miller gives many exercises for developing the registers and the transitions between them. Male voices[ edit ] In Richard Miller's The Structure of Singing: System and Art in Vocal Technique, Miller identifies the male vocal passaggi as follows:  The primo passaggio The secondo passaggio The zona di passaggio The primo passaggio is the first register transition.
In the male voice Miller indicates that this passaggio occurs between the lower middle register, which is a mixture of predominantly chest voice and some head voice, and the upper middle register, which is a mixture of predominantly head voice and some chest voice.
As James Stark notes in Bel Canto : A History of Vocal Pedagogy, "Richard Miller, who visited numerous Italian voice studios, describes male voices as having a primo passaggio and a secondo passaggio, with a zona di passaggio between them.
However, he cites not published literature regarding this theory, and most written sources discuss only one passaggio in male voices The most often discussed passaggio in published works is what Miller calls the secondo passaggio, which lies between the upper middle voice and the head voice. British and American art songs are generally fully within her territory. Although rigid rules of the older German Fach system are increasingly ignored in the contemporary performance world where all voices must be of significant size , lyric voices should exercise care when moving into a neighboring heavier category, several of which are now considered.
Spinto It is not only the heroines of Verdi and Puccini and their nineteenth-century verismo contemporaries who are called on to sing passionately and powerfully the literature that belongs to the spinto. Mozart's Vitellia La demenza di Tito and both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira Don Giovanni , despite current tendencies to cast the latter character as a flaming sex-mad lyric, are best suited to the spinto.
Minnie Lafanciulla del west, Puccini , Cio-Cio-San Madama Butterfly, Puccini —who needs both dramatic vocalism and sustaining capabilities in high tessitura but who for visual reasons is sometimes sung by a coloratura— Floria Tosca, Puccini , Angelica Suor Angelica, Puccini , and Lady Billows Albert Herring, Britten all exhibit qualities that make their inclusion in the spinto category logical. The Strauss Ariadne Ariadne aufNaxos , Salome Salome , Arabella Arabella and Chrysothemis Ekktra and the Boito Margherita Mefistofele are ideal for the spinto soprano, as are most of the verismo soprano roles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Soprano assignments in such concert works as the Verdi Requiem, Mendelssohn's Elijah, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony can also be well handled by the spinto. Questions arise as to who ought to sing Handel arias. Complete performances of most Handelian operas currently are seldom undertaken. It cannot be taken for granted that because they come from the Late Baroque, dramatic Handelian soprano arias are suited for soubrettes and lyric sopranos. A large number of the Handelian arias demand a soprano voice of sumptuous dimension.
For example, "Let the Bright Seraphim", in which the voice competes with trumpet, is not for a lyric soprano, let alone for a soubrette.
Fortunately, Handel provides an equal amount of appropriate material for both light and dramatic soprano voices. Light soprano voices should not usurp the many dramatic Handelian arias that are included in popular collections. Categories of the Female Voice 11 Jugendlichdramatisch In the German theater, many roles of both the Italian and the German literatures are performed by a category of soprano known in Germany as the Jugendlichdramatisch young dramatic.
Large lyric soprano voices may also be cast as Senta. The Marschallin Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss is ideal for the Jugendlichdramatisch, even though a dramatic soprano is thought to be more appropriate by some conductors. Although the singer may, in fact, be a young developing dramatic soprano, the Jugendlichdramatisch category does not refer to age and does not exclude the mature performer.
Dramatic The most ample of all soprano voices is that of the dramatic soprano. She must have great sustaining power, exhibiting both depth and brilliance of timbre as well as an imposing physical presence. Known in the German theater as the Hochdramatisch, she should be able to sing the role of Santuzza Cavalleria rusticana, Mascagni —although it is equally suited to the spinto and the Zwischenfachsdngerin—Elisabeth Tannhduser, Wagner — which is more frequently given to the Jugendlichdramatisch—and most Wagnerian soprano roles, including the Brunnhildes, as well as to take on such duties as Frau Die Frau ohne Schatten, Strauss , Elektra Elektra, Strauss , and Turandot Turandot, Puccini.
Zwischenfachsangerin The Zwischenfachsdngerin has a large voice with good command of low range and is most comfortable in dramatic roles that, while requiring relatively high tessitura, evade exposure of the very top of the voice for extended periods of time.
She is "between categories. Possessing the weight and color of the dramatic soprano, she can manage much of the same literature as the dramatic, but her most comfortable performance range is closer to that of the mezzo-soprano.
Although this volume is devoted to training soprano voices, the kinship between soprano and mezzo-soprano categories, as the well as more distantly removed rare contralto voice, must be briefly considered. They regard the large mezzo-soprano voice as a dramatic soprano with a short top range.
For them, the Zwischenfachsangerin and the dramatic mezzo-soprano are but subcategories of the dramatic soprano. This is too limited a viewpoint, because it does not take sufficiently into account divergent timbres nor the location of registration events that characterize categories of the female voice. The dramatic mezzo-soprano often sings as high as and no lower than the dramatic soprano, but her timbre displays depth and the darker colors associated with tragedy, intrigue, jealousy, revenge, or outright evil intention.
The role of Carmen itself is unique, with its emphasis on charisma, physical presence, carnality, and acting ability. Because the demands of the role go beyond mere vocalism, it has been performed by a wide variety of singers, both mezzo-sopranos and sopranos.
However, if the color of her voice is to match Carmen's tragic, erratic behavior, the singer cast as Carmen is ideally a dramatic mezzo-soprano.
Soprano sound simply is inappropriate to Carmen, especially in the card scene and the final scene. A similar mistake is to cast a light, lyric mezzo-soprano as Carmen. The role of Gluck's Orpheus, when not preempted by a countertenor or tenor, belongs to the dramatic mezzo-soprano, not the lyric mezzo-soprano. Because much of the lied and melodic literature lies in middle voice, both the lyric mezzo-soprano and the dramatic mezzo-soprano find there a wealth of programmable material.
Lyric Mezzo-Soprano Coloratura Mezzo-Soprano Another category of mezzo-soprano claims some of the world's greatest vocal writing: the mezzo-soprano lirico.
A number of the best female opera roles from the nineteenth century are found in her domain. She is sometimes required to have greater flexibility than any other category of singer except the coloratura soprano and the tenore di grazia. For that reason she is designated by some sources as a mezzosoprano coloratura. She must also play Hosenrollen trouser roles , and may frequently be cast as confidante, mother, nurse, or friend of the soprano. She has much of the rich vocal timbre of the dramatic mezzo-soprano and a rangy instrument, but without sufficient power and decibels to sing the more dramatic Categories of the Female Voice 13 roles.
Roles such as Suzuki Madama Butterfly, Puccini , Flora La traviata,Verdi , and Emilia Otello, Verdi , being neither patently dramatic nor lyric, are generic mezzo-soprano material as well. The mezzo-soprano categories are mentioned here because of their musical, vocal, and dramatic importance, but they are not the subject of this book.
Contralto The true contralto is rare. Her operatic assignments are less frequent than the roles she so readily meets in the oratorio literature.
Many roles originally written for castrato are appropriate to the contralto. A host of maids, nurses, and street women belong to her.
The contralto's redemption, morally and vocally, lies in the oratorio literature of Bach, Handel, and Mendelssohn, in the Baroque solo cantata, and in the lied and art-song literatures. The contralto is mentioned here in passing in order to complete the list of vocal categories found within the female vocal world. Her special technical needs are not addressed in this work. Not only opera and oratorio literature are considered in what follows; attention is directed to song literature as well.
However, it is in the operatic literature that traditional Fach designations are most viable. This is the case because much of the song literature lies in a more limited range than does the operatic literature, and because vocal stamina and orchestral competition, significant aspects of opera and oratorio writing, are not as crucial to much of the song literature. In addition, much of the song literature can be performed in transposition, which is seldom the case with the opera and oratorio literatures.
Indeed, an argument could be made that professional Fach categorization is chiefly restricted to the opera theater. Above all, it is not the duty of the singing teacher to attempt Fach determination in the early stages of voice instruction. After the singer has achieved basic technical proficiency—has established vocal freedom—her voice itself will determine the Fach, Some teachers attempt to apply the professional Germanic Fach system to North 14 Training Soprano Voices American college-age singers as though it were the prime aspect of voice pedagogy.
The early discovery of registration events in a young female voice can be helpful in determining the eventual Fach categorization and in avoiding initial false technical and repertoire expectations. However, trying to determine the exact Fach for a singer of university age, female or male, mostly represents misdirected emphasis.
Only when maturity and training have arrived at professional performance levels is final Fach determination justifiable. With that important rubric in mind, a look at registration events in female voices is appropriate. Specific technical exercises vocalises , most of them already in the domain of voice pedagogy, have been selected to enable the singer to accomplish tasks encountered in the performance literature for voice.
In addition, numerous examples of superb vocalization material taken directly from the several categories of soprano literature are incorporated into daily systematic technical work. It is essential that brief literature excerpts supplement technical exercises. Basic breath management, phonetic articulation, and resonance balancing must be established before a singer turns extensive attention to the registers of the singing voice.
However, an awareness of the events of registration is essential to the achievement of equalization for all regions of the soprano vocal scale, especially extreme lower- and upper-range extensions. See chapter 10 for specific exercises that deal with registration and scale equalization in all registers of soprano voices.
In most voice pedagogies, register terminology is based on empirical sensations related to sympathetic vibration as opposed to actual resonation perceived in various parts of the body—for example, in the chest, in the head, and as a mixture between chest and head.
Although empirically useful, traditional chest-mixture-head registration vocabulary does not correspond to verifiable resonator function. Identifiable physical and acoustic factors determine the location of register events.
Research on laryngeal structure and function supports the supposition that the range and timbre of an individual voice is in large part determined by the construction of the larynx itself particularly the length and thickness of the vibrating vocal folds [vocal cords] , by the relationship of the larynx to adjacent structures, and by the length and configuration of the vocal tract.
The vocal tract is the resonator tube that extends from the laryngeal lips to the external lips and includes the buccal, pharyngeal, and nasal cavities; the latter are involved only in nasal continuants and foreign-language nasal vowels. The vocal tract resonator tube serves as an acoustic filtering device for the laryngeally generated sound. See fig. Other factors that indirectly contribute to voice classification and quality are thoracic dimension size of the chest and the interplay of the musculatures of the pectoral, epigastric, and abdominal areas.
Although one cannot determine voice category by external appearances, certain physical structures tend to produce specific vocal types. Sagittal section of the vocal tract and part of the head.
By permission. Based solely on the fundamental pitch the listener hears, it cannot be determined whether the barker is Lassie or Laddie. By the profundity of its bark, a normal-sized collie, a large Newfoundland, or a Saint Bernard exhibits relatively large laryngeal dimensions and capacious body structure.
By contrast, if the phonating animals are of a miniature breed, both male and female have high-pitched yapping barks. Schematic cross-section of the vocal fold showing body, transition, and cover.
The dashed line and upper arrow display the sliding motion that is postulated to occur between cover and body.
The possibility of a vertical force on the cover is indicated by the arrow at the bottom, b Frontal section of a human vocal fold at the midpoint of the membranous portion, schematically presented. From Kenneth N. Stevens and Minoru Hirano, eds. Yet it is chiefly physical factors that determine the subdivisions within the general soprano category. A cursory discussion of the structure of the vocal folds and of the mechanism that produces pitch change is crucial for a modest but essential understanding as to why registration of the singing voice is largely determined at the level of the larynx.
As indicated in figure 2.
Graduated registration timbres are chiefly determined by degrees of activity among these components, which include the epithelium, the lamina propria, and the vocalis muscle the body of the vocal fold. The edge of the vocal fold is sometimes called the vocal ligament. The adjustable space between the vocal folds is termed the glottis, which flexibly alters during inspiration and phonation. Examination of the total female singing scale, from the lowest to the highest regions, shows that changes in the fundamental frequency as the pitch rises are the result of vocal-fold tensing, a procedure of elongation and thinning; conversely, lower fundamental frequencies involve a relaxing, shortening, and thickening of the folds.
The cricothyroid muscles, which comprise the pars recta upright part and the pars obliqua diagonal part , attach to the cricoid cartilage in front and can alter the distance between the thyroid and cricoid cartilages, thereby stretching the vocal folds longitudinally. The upper window of figure 2.
Upper window: Schematic view ofhyoid bone, thyroid cartilage, cricothyroid pars recta [upright part] and pars oblique [diagonal part] , cricoid cartilage, and several tracheal rings. Lower window: Excised human larynx, showing the epiglottis, the horns of the thyroid cartilage, the thyroid notch, the pars recta and pars oblique of the cricothyroid, and the upper part of the trachea. Redrawn from Willard R. Zemlin, ed. Registration Events in Female Voices 19 paired cricothyroid muscles between the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage; the lower window shows their position in an excised larynx.
Cricothyroid activity is largely responsible for determining alterations in length and mass of the vocal folds themselves: the cricothyroid muscles, by contraction, draw the anterior part of the cricoid cartilage and the thyroid cartilage closer together, an action that lengthens, stretches, and thins the vocal folds see figs. The vocal folds will tense if the arytenoids remain fixed. Elevation of the cricoid cartilage or forward and downward movements of the thyroid cartilage affect pitch, intensity, and voice quality.
Therefore, the nature of these actions is vital in executing high range in singing, especially at and above the secondo passaggio. A singer cannot consciously control the cricothyroid muscles, nor any other muscle group of the larynx, in isolation from the total laryngeal mechanism.
Singing techniques that attempt to manage separate muscles of the larynx are not productive. Laryngeal photographs of three professional singers during performance—soprano a , soprano b , and soprano c —are shown in figure 2. In the top series of photos, vocal-fold abduction glottal opening during inhalation occurs; in the bottom series, the vocal folds of each soprano display adduction glottal approximation for phonation. The flexible fiberscope and the stroboscope were used to examine the three sopranos as they sang.
In each photo, the epiglottis occupies the bottom region, the base of the tongue the top. The high-lying ridges that run from the epiglottis to the arytenoids are the aryepiglottic folds.
Piriform sinuses are seen as dark depressions at the sides of the aryepiglottic folds. The false vocal folds, lying above the true vocal folds, are clearly visible. Although the angle of the camera and its proximity to the folds may distort some aspects of physiology, the pictures attest to the individuality of laryngeal construction, especially as regards the size and shape of the arytenoids.
Despite apparent dissimilarities, all three larynges are normal. When the laryngologist examines a patient with the laryngoscope the laryngeal mirror , he or she sees a reverse image of the vocal folds, as indicated by the five smaller pictures of figure 2. The figure's three uppermost images represent a quiet breathing, b deep breathing, and c normal phonation. The lower section indicates d a form of whispering and e incomplete closure. A schematic illustration beneath each of the five figures displays the position of the arytenoids when the folds are a at rest, as in quiet breathing, b in complete abduction, and c in adduction; the schemas of a , b , and c show the movement of the arytenoids for these maneuvers.
Although comparable laryngeal muscle action occurs in both female and male phonations, there are basic physical differences between male and female larynges. Left: The hyoid bone and cartilages of the larynx. Right: Muscles of the larynx. Significantly, then, the vibrating mass is considerably less in females than in males. Further, the entire vocal-tract length, which according to Titze is "the primary determinant for uniform scaling of formant frequencies," differs on an average of Registration Events in Female Voices 21 FIGURE 2.
Continued percent between genders. It should be noted that differences exist not only between genders, but also among generic categories of male and female voices. The classic division of the singing scale into three registers, chest, mixed, and head, is deeply rooted in the terminology of the four major Western European schools of singing: English, French, German, and Italian.
While there are varying viewpoints on register locations and their relevance to voice technique, three-register terminology flourishes wherever the art of singing is seriously pursued. There are teachers of singing, mostly in North America, who deny the existence of registers.
A series of diagrams showing different positions of the vocal folds and the arytenoid cartilages. From ijih Brit ed. Saunders, ].
Still others make additional subdivisions among the three classically designated registers. The degree of vocal ligament vibration, or, conversely, the extent to which the vocalis muscle is involved, influences timbre nuances, among the "head," "mixed " and "chest" registers. As mixed timbre increases in the direction of heavier chest function, the role of the vocalis muscle the more internal segment of the vocal fold grows; the opposite occurs as the singer leaves chest timbre for mixed voice and head voice.
The cricothyroids contract as pitch ascends, offering greater resistance to the thyroarytenoids. The long soprano middle range exhibits a dynamic muscle equilibrium between chest and head functions. In head timbre, action is centered more on the elongated vocal ligament itself.
Stroboscopic views of vocal-fold abduction and adduction from three professional sopranos during singing. Beyond F'g, at pitches ranging through C6 high C or C'6, lies the distinct head voice. Although these identifiable regions of timbre are traditional, it is possible to carry head voice downward throughout most of the scale.
The passaggi of the singing voice are not necessarily related to keyboard pitches. The upper passaggio of a light soprano voice may be exactly at F'5 or may lean toward G5, while in the heavier soprano voice it may be located on the low side of F'S, almost at F5.
As Figure 2. A soprano particularly if she has a relatively large instrument may be aware of the progressive registration action that marks entry into her upper middle range Cfl5-FN5. Because she experiences gradual differences in sympathetic vibration and in energy levels between C'5 and F'5, she may assume that her upper passaggio lies FIGURE 2.
Five laryngoscopic views of the vocal folds, with a schematic diagram beneath each: a quiet breathing, b deep inhalation, c normal phonation, d a form of whispering, and e incomplete closure.
From E. Pernkopf, Atlas der topographischen und angewandten Anatomie des Menschen, ed. Ferner, vol. Passaggi and register zones in female voices. However, it is at F'5 where most sopranos encounter a more discernible shift in energization and vowel modification. Some techniques of singing are built on the conscious separation of registers, independently carrying chest, then head, throughout the scale. In register-separation systems, the singer strives to develop the "heavy mechanism" greater vocalis muscle dependence , purposely disconnecting it from the "light mechanism" vocal ligament focus by carrying the heavier timbre as far as possible into the upper range.
According to this premise, the two "mechanisms" will then be reunited at some future moment. However, register unification that produces an even scale is physiologically not achievable through register violation. The pedagogic aim should be to unite the registers, not to separate them. Despite the fact that register separation techniques are potentially damaging to healthy functioning of the voice, register violation is considered acceptable, even desirable, in some popular and ethnic singing styles.
The appointment calendar of today's laryngologist who deals with the singing voice is heavily weighted with pop singers the "untrained professional voice" who carry chest voice well into upper range.
Classical singers who have been taught to separate the vocal registers also develop segmented ranges and an inability to achieve a graduated musical scale. Laryngeal damage caused by register-separation maneuvers makes future register unification difficult; one set of muscle responses has won a permanent victory over the other.
Attempting to maintain the mass of the vocal folds while stretching their length during pitch elevation invites imbalances among internal and external laryngeal musculatures, causing hyperfunction excessive activity in one muscle group and hypofunction insufficient activity in another.
In traditional voice pedagogy, this kind of heavy timbre is pejoratively described as "carrying up chest voice. They are dependent on the graduated adjust- Registration Events in Female Voices 27 ments of the laryngeal muscles and on resonator responses to those actions.
Understanding their mechanical source helps the soprano to avoid unhealthy registration practices. These four female timbres can best be described in the traditional terms of voice pedagogy: 1. The deeper, interior portion of the vocal fold, the vocalis muscle, relaxes with the shortening of the vocal folds.
See figs. When a female chooses some form of chest-head mixture, inasmuch as the vocalis muscle is relaxed, greater longitudinal tension can take place in the vocal ligament itself, thereby raising the fundamental pitch. The vocal folds elongate as the cricothyroids contract. Mixed voice is a constantly flexible dance between these functions. In head voice, as vocal-fold elongation takes place, vibration is concentrated to a greater extent on the vocal ligament.
Laryngeal action and resonator shaping contribute to the registration of the singing voice. Registers are experienced by the performer as vibratory sensations located in the chest or head. However, trying to place the voice in the chest or head is counterproductive to dynamic as opposed to static laryngeal action.
Airflow turned into tone by the vibrating larynx cannot be directed to some particular part of the resonator system. Above Cg or C'6, another timbre, called flageolet, is identifiable. A further extension of head voice, flageolet is a quality somewhat distinguishable from the rest of head voice. Many sopranos can produce flageolet in extreme regions of the scale, not infrequently as high as G7, A''-,, or even a semitone or two beyond. In rare cases, flageolet is operative up to C8 and increasingly rarely slightly beyond.
It is mostly laryngeal size and structure that determine the limitations of this upper-range extension: the smaller the instrument, the greater the probability of demonstrating extreme flageolet function.
Mezzo-soprano and contralto registration pivotal events occur at lower points in the scale, so flageolet technique is a lesser option, especially for the contralto [see fig.
Because of the nature of professional performance literature for the soprano, she often must sing in an extended portion of her upper range.
In the early phase of vocal training she may encounter difficulty in this region, because the graduated tensing thinning and elongation of the vocal folds noticeably increases with ascending 28 Training Soprano Voices pitch, requiring greater skill and additional breath energy. At a certain point in the mounting scale, as fundamental pitch rises and breath energy increases, cricothyroid muscle activity reaches its structural limit. After the lengthening process for pitch determination has reached its physical boundaries, additional semitones may be accomplished through increasing vocalfold tension.
However, this latter maneuver is to be avoided, because the inner elastic tissues of the vocal folds are not constructed to sustain stressful action over long periods of time without damage.
Damping also termed dampening , which produces the flageolet voice, assists in avoiding excessive vocal-fold stress as the head voice of the soprano is extended upward to its fullest vocal-fold extension.
Damping effects a decrease in the scope of vocal-fold movement: only the fold's anterior is set into rapid vibration. See chapter 10 for a series of practical exercises. In summary, it is the relationship of vocalis-muscle tension to passive tension in the vocal ligament that produces the subtle changes involved in transitions among chest, mixed, head and flageolet timbres.
Ability to use the colors of registration stems from habituated tonal concepts originating in the musicianly mind, not from conscious attempts at direct mechanical control. As an acoustic filtering device, the vocal tract from the glottis to the lips reacts to the altering laryngeal source with corresponding resonance responses see chapters 6,7, and 8.
Vocal registration, then, is neither solely laryngeal nor purely supraglottic, but both. It is also dependent on subglottic pressure and airflow ratios, subjects to be discussed later. The classification of voices and the literature to be selected for them in performance are largely dependent on the size of the vocal instrument and on the points in the musical scale at which registration events for that particular voice category occur.
Registration undergirds vocal instruction in all of its dimensions. Knowledge of the basic physiology of vocal registration must guide the pedagogue throughout both early and advanced instruction. It should be reiterated that wise pedagogy does not introduce the specifics of registration to the student at an early stage.
The question as to when voice study should begin must now be disposed of before turning to practical measures for achieving a solid vocal technique. As SOON there is an interest in singing. The larynx undergoes changes at puberty. It might seem logical to delay singing instruction until after that event. However, if a child wishes to sing, that child will sing. At any age, no matter how young, she can be helped to better voice production if breath management is efficient, vowels are clearly defined, and laryngeal tensions are eliminated.
The problem in teaching a child to sing is not that the prepubescent larynx is fragile but that the demands put on it may be inadvertently excessive. Children should not be expected to sing in the same ranges, with the same intensity, or for the same periods of time as adults. If a child is taught according to sensible physiologic and acoustic principles, her early years of training will contribute to a favorable instructional continuum, and she will move quickly forward as a young adult singer.
A number of highly successful performers have sung extensively during early childhood. But the nature of instruction given a child is crucial. Many adult singers suffer from malfunctional habits ingrained by inexpert voice instruction they received during childhood. Some persons who as children participated in popular children's choirs later have had difficulty in managing the adult singing voice. It is not improbable that success or failure for a number of singers can be attributed, at least in part, to the way they were asked to produce vocal sound as children.
As with the male larynx, the larynx of the female continues to undergo mutation after puberty, but far less radically. It is logical for females to begin private voice study around age fourteen. By then, as well as exhibiting better vocal stability than most adolescent males, many female adolescents show a greater level of general maturity. If a youngster adheres to several basic principles, there is no reason for her not to sing during pubertal change unless she experiences discomfort.
Those principles are that i. Evidence regarding later effects of early vocal training on both adult female and male students is hard to establish, because regardless of when they began to sing, some singers exhibit inherent vocal talent and stamina, while others do not. The young person will benefit if good vocal production is induced and if general musicianship is developed.
One reason for encouraging voice lessons as soon as age fourteen is that the performance urge is often present at that age, and because opportunities abound for unmonitored vocal activities that are patently injurious to young female voices. Some of these take place in popular ensembles and "show choirs," some in self-generated teenage troupes modeled on lucrative but vocally destructive pop-music styles.
It is well known that young persons—and some not so young—with limited or no vocal training can overnight become stars in the entertainment world. Their success may not be based on inherent vocal beauty, skill, or unusual musical talent, but on popmusic market criteria. Teen-age women often get involved in contemporary gospel or emotive religious choruses, activities that often rely on heavy vocalis-muscle participation.
Even if a sturdy larynx has been able to minimize the effects of early vocal abuse, time lost in correcting ingrained malfunction is a serious impediment to later development.
Those who deal with the classically trained singing voice are sometimes accused of elitism. But it is not just the desire to accomplish a technique surpassing the normal ability of nonprofessional voice users that drives historic voice pedagogy. Classic voice technique is based on a centuries-old artistic canon of the Western world stemming from ancient Greece: beauty, strength, and health.
These criteria are absent from many pop and ethnic styles of singing. By reducing the incidence of detrimental vocal-fold activity, harmful practices found in many pop-vocal idioms can be diminished. Teachers of nonclassical styles often teach performers who are aware that they have voice problems but who do not want to turn out sounding like opera singers.
The voice instructor's task is not to denigrate the worth of a popular idiom, nor even to attempt to change the student's repertory, but to find ways to minimize injurious practices.
Pop singers may never arrive at timbres considered appropriate to classical singing styles nor is that their aim , but by improving breath management, laryngeal response, and resonance balance, they can approach safer vocal production.
Because professional voice training is largely directed to the art song, the Lied, the melodic, the oratorio, and the opera, this book deals mainly with those literatures.
Training Soprano Voices
Particularly on the North American continent, young singers who want to have professional careers generally enroll at age eighteen in a university school of music or a conservatory of music. This happens less frequently in Europe, where serious voice study often commences a few years later, at the completion of university study. Making a Beginning 31 But the beginning soprano is not always an early teen-ager or young adult. In both Europe and North America, the noninstitutional teacher has students who discover a midlife or even later interest in voice study.
How does one approach their differing chronological circumstances? Physical aging varies immensely, particularly with regard to the vocal instrument and to what it has undergone by way of healthy activity, misuse, or abuse. A woman of thirty-five will have certain advantages over her studio mate of eighteen. But if she has previously sung only for pleasure, she will probably have to contend with layers of acquired bad vocal habits.
She may also find it difficult to be a beginner among younger beginners. Regardless of age, everyone has the right to sing. But the mature singer will require as much time to learn to sing as does the younger woman. For a thirty-five-year-old soprano to begin voice study in the hope of singing professionally is impractical; a professional performance goal is unrealistic for the older beginner. What of the aging voice?
A number of teachers find rewarding work in instructing the elderly. Skillful singing at a professional level is seldom accomplished by anyone within the period of a few years. Just as it is difficult to cite a concert pianist who began the study of piano at age thirty-five or a violinist of note who started late in adulthood, so is it with the singer. Indeed, by their mid-twenties, most professional singers have already begun their careers at some level—in preprofessional training programs or engagements.
Avocational as opposed to vocational goals ought to be clear to both teacher and student. The private voice teacher must be prepared to deal with the entire gamut of age and to sort out the students' intentions. The task of the teacher of singing is to diagnose what is amiss and to prescribe corrective measures in precise language.
Without specificity of language, only hit-or-miss information can be delivered to the student. The functions of the tripartite vocal instrument motor, vibrator, and resonator are interdependent and cannot be isolated from each other. Yet all discernible interruptions of good voice function fit into one of these areas, and each must be separately addressed.
Numerous exercises that make up a long-range comprehensive technical system are proposed for the alleviation of specific problems. It is not intended that all of the exercises of one area be accomplished before turning to the next. To allow for assimilation by mind and body, a few patterns from each segment, including those based on passages from the literature, should be practiced equally.
While alternating one technical area with another, the whole system is eventually to be covered.
Breath management is the essential foundation for all skillful vocalism. The traditional term "support" is avoided here because it can have many meanings, depending on the pedagogic system.
Breath management for singing is best achieved by preserving a "noble" position that permits interplay among the muscles of the upper chest, the ribcage area, and the anterolateral abdominal wall. Voice pedagogy of the historic Italian school which largely formed the basis of professional vocalism in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, and which continues to flourish among most premier singers today and modern scientific investigation both lend support to the notion that breath is the power source for the singing voice.
The internationally recognized appoggio from appoggiare, to lean against, to be in contact with is a form of breath-management coordination that must be learned if the singer is to unite energy and freedom for successfully meeting the tasks of professional vocalism. The term breath energy refers to the results of appoggio coordination.A host of maids, nurses, and street women belong to her. But diaphragmatic action is often misunderstood.
Although, as has been seen, the origin of these muscles is in the region of the pelvis, their insertions fibrous endings extend upward into the torso as high as the fifth rib, that is, to the origin of the nipple. Left: The hyoid bone and cartilages of the larynx. By permission. After establishing good posture, with the hands still in the same position on the torso, the singer repeats, with mouth closed, a series of rapid "hm-hm-hm-hm-hm!
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