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Building Strong Voices: Twelve Different Ways!

Building Strong Voices: Twelve Different Ways!

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Building Strong Voices: Twelve Different Ways!

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  1. Building Strong Voices: Twelve Different Ways! Stephen F. Austin Associate Professor of Voice College of Music University of North Texas

  2. Source for this discussion: Stephen F. Austin, “Building Strong Voices: Twelve Different Ways.” Choral Journal, Dec. 07 & Jan. 08

  3. The Mechanism

  4. Target for training: • Respiration • Breathing and Support • ‘Appoggio’ • Articulation • Resonance • Vowels and consonants AND • Phonation • How to make sound!

  5. Premise #1 Teachers have been successfully building voices for several centuries and many have recorded their ideas for posterity. - Few of these are commonly available today

  6. Premise #2 Voice science has helped us understand the way the voice works and therefore has given us a means of judging the effectiveness of traditional methods.

  7. Premise #3 Most 18th c and 19th c methods focused on training the larynx as the primary component of the vocal instrument.

  8. Premise #4 The concept of ‘pure vowel’ has always been a primary tenet of historical methods.

  9. Premise #5 The concept of voce chiusa represents to singing what chiaroscuro means to all art forms: a balance of brightness AND darkness.

  10. Building block exercises Sostenuto Portamento Legato Other Interval Studies Onset Register Studies

  11. Building block exercises Stable Laryngeal Posture Jaw position Velocity Other articulations: aspirato, marcatto Breath management Posture

  12. Rationale: All are strongly emphasized in the historical literature Each is a part of a progressive methodical approach to training the voice Among all musical instruments, Voice training has historically been woefully inconsistent in providing singers the benefit of a logical progressive method for training

  13. 1. Sostenuto Almost all historical treatises begin with the simplest of all gestures: the sustained tone.

  14. 1. Sostenuto “It will prove to be of great help to a pupil who has a weak and limited voice, whether it be soprano or contralto. He must exercise with a solfeggio with sustained notes in his daily study. The result will be further assured if such solfeggio is kept within the limit which the voice permits at that time. It must be suggested to those who are confronted by these conditions, to increase the volume of their voices each day little by little, directing them thus, with the aid of art and continuous exercise, until they become vigorous and sonorous.” Mancini, Practical Reflections on the Art of Singing, 1774

  15. 1. Sostenuto • Isometric exercises for the intrinsic laryngeal muscles • Coordinates breath with onset • Simplicity allows focus on • Vowel • Posture • Respiration

  16. Cinti-Damoreau (1830)

  17. Frederick W. Root (1873)

  18. 1. Sostenuto “Many habituate themselves to a distorted position so thoroughly, that it seems natural, possibly easy, to them. If the face is not perfectly at repose, if the forehead is wrinkled, the nostrils dilated, or the mouth drawn into a position not used in speaking, it is an unerring indication that there is distortion in the throat. To rid yourself of wrong habits in this respect, or to prove that there are none, try this:

  19. 1. Sostenuto Fill the lungs; let the countenance assume an expression of repose; relax the muscles of the throat; open the mouth well; place the tongue as above directed; then exhale slowly and steadily, at first without producing a tone, but after two or three seconds allow the vocal cords to vibrate, watching carefully to see that there be no change of position. Repeat this process several times, at first making the tone very soft; then, if successful in retaining the right position of all the members, exhale a little faster, making a louder tone. It is often of assistance to watch this process with a looking-glass.”Frederick Root,School of Singing, 1873

  20. 1. Sostenuto “Where voice technique is founded on systematically acquired skills, sostenuto fills its role as a builder of the instrument. Sustaining power will increase vocal stamina and ensure vocal health.” Richard Miller, The Structure of Singing, 1989

  21. 2. Portamento: Usually introduced after sustained tones Usually preceded the teaching of legato Was considered an essential tool in vocal culture Singer cannot sing legato without portamento

  22. 2. Portamento “Thereupon he should teach him the art of slurring from one note to another and of dragging the voice smoothly in a pleasant manner on the vowels, while proceeding from high to low. Because these skills, so important to elegance in singing, cannot be taught merely by solmizing, they are often utterly neglected by the inexperienced teacher.”Pier Francesco Tosi: Opinionidi’ cantoriantiche e moderni (1723) He went on to say that without a good portamento, “all other diligence falls short”.

  23. 2. Portamento “By this portamento of the voice is meant nothing but a passing, tying the voice, from one note to the next with perfect proportion and union, as much in ascending as descending.” “… he ought to have him pass to the study of the portamento of the voice, and instruct him well therein, this being one of the principle parts of vocal singing.” Giambattista Mancini: Practical Reflections on the Art of Singing (1774)

  24. 2. Portamento Garcia: “the portamento will help equalize the registers, the timbres, and the force of the voice.” Manuel Garcia, The Complete Treatise on the Art of Singing, 1847 Stockhausen: “In the larger intervals the question of registers has to be considered. There is all the more reason not to pass it over, as the portamento itself tends to blend the registers.” “…it is only by the portamento that the singer gets his breathing and voice apparatus under full control.” Julius Stockhausen, A Method of Singing,1872

  25. 2. Portamento How is it to be performed? Garcia stated that air pressure was to remain ‘equal and continuous’ and that there are ‘gradual changes of tension on the lips of the glottis.’

  26. 2. Portamento

  27. 2. Portamento

  28. 2. Portamento

  29. 3. Legato Chi non lega, non canta! “To sing legato is to pass from one tone to another clearly, suddenly, spontaneously, without interrupting the flow of sound, or allowing it to slur through any intermediate tones.” Garcia, Complete Treatise on the Art of Singing, 57

  30. 3. Legato Air is continuous Joins all the tones together Intonation must be perfect Value, force, and timbre must be perfectly even “one can scarcely attain this end with less than a year and a half of diligent study.” Garcia, Pg 57 “The smooth vocalization is the most frequently used of all; therefore, it needs no sign to indicate it, the students should always be on guard against slurring, marking, or singing in staccato any passages no so indicated.” Garcia, Pg. 58

  31. 4. Other interval studies • Traditional method books contained many varied forms of interval studies: • ear training • Accuracy • Helps unify the voice

  32. 4. Other interval studies

  33. 4. Other interval studies

  34. 4. Other interval studies

  35. 5. Onset Initiation of the tone is a critical factor in voice quality There are widely different opinions about how to begin the tone Much of the confusion is the result of misunderstanding and terminology Certain: breathiness in the voice is a common fault with young singers and aspirated onsets guarantee that they will stay that way

  36. 5. Onset “Hold the body straight, quiet, upright on the two legs, removed from any point of support; open the mouth, not in the form of the oval 0, but by letting the lower jaw fall away from the upper by its own weight, the corners of the mouth drawn back slightly. This movement, which holds the lips softly pressed against the teeth, opens the mouth in the correct proportion and finds it an agreeable form.” Manuel Garcia, Complete Treatise On the Art of Singing, Part 1, Translated and edited by Donald Paschke (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), 41-42.

  37. 5. Onset “Hold the tongue relaxed and immobile (without lifting it either by its root or by its tip); finally, separate the base of the pillars and soften the entire throat. In this position, inhale slowly and for a long time. After you are thus prepared, and when the lungs are full of air, without stiffening either the phonator or any part of the body, but calmly and easily, attack the tones very distinctly with a light stroke of the glottis on a very clear [a] vowel. That [a] will be taken well at the bottom of the throat in order that no obstacle may be opposed to the emission of the sound. In these conditions the tone should come out with ring and with roundness.” Manuel Garcia, Complete Treatise On the Art of Singing, Part 1, Translated and edited by Donald Paschke (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), 41-42.

  38. 5. Onset “One must guard against confusing the stroke of the glottis with the stroke of the chest (coup de poitrine), which resembles a cough, or the effort of expelling something which is obstructing the throat.” Manuel Garcia, Complete Treatise On the Art of Singing, Part 1, Translated and edited by Donald Paschke (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), 42.

  39. 5. Onset • In spite of Garcia’s caution: • Many misinterpreted his meaning • Misapplied the principle • Perhaps some voices were injured by the misapplication of his intent • This haunted him his whole career Austin, Stephen F. The Attack on the Coup de la glotte.Journal of Singing. Vol. 61, No. 5. May/June 2005. Pg 521.

  40. 5. Onset

  41. 5. Onset ‘uh-oh’

  42. 6. Register Studies Long history of confusion No agreement on a definition No agreement on how many there are No agreement on what to call them We do not understand the focus that was applied on the registers in our historical documents

  43. 6. Register Studies “By the word register we understand a series of consecutive and homogenous tones going from low to high, produced by the development of the same mechanical principle, and whose nature differs essentially from another series of tones equally consecutive and homogenous produced by another mechanical principle.” Manuel Garcia, Complete Treatise On the Art of Singing, Part 1, Translated and edited by Donald Paschke (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), xli.

  44. 6. Register Studies (cont.) “All the tones belonging to the same register are consequently of the same nature, whatever may be the modification of timbre or of force to which one subjects them.” Manuel Garcia, Complete Treatise On the Art of Singing, Part 1,Translated and edited by Donald Paschke (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), xli.

  45. 6. Register Studies

  46. Minoru Hirano ,“Regulation of Register, Pitch and Intensity of Voice”.Folia Phoniatrica, Vol. 22, Pp. 1-20, 1970.

  47. Ingo Titze, Principles of Voice Production. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Pg. 262, 1994.

  48. Minoru Hirano, “Vocal Mechanisms in Singing: Laryngological and Phoniatric Aspects”. Journal of Voice, Vol. 2, No. 1, Pp. 51-69. 1988.

  49. Minoru Hirano, “Vocal Mechanisms in Singing: Laryngological and Phoniatric Aspects”. Journal of Voice, Vol. 2, No. 1, Pp. 51-69. 1988.