Messa di Voce Studio

Goals 1) Discovery of own voice; potential range, size and quality 2) Conditioning of voice to allow it to respond automatically, consistently and on demand 3) Ability to sing an EFFORTLESS legato line 4) Ability to sustain long phrases 5) Ability to execute coloratura 6) Gain freedom of articulation 7) AVOID DAMAGE – learn principles of vocal health/therapy 8) Be your own teacher whenever you are on your own

VOCAL DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION AND BUILDING BLOCKS A Brief Outline 1) The most important concept I advocate is the use of registration phenomena to develop the voice so as to maximize; a) Resonance – Characteristic that impacts sound quality and “carrying or projecting power" of the voice b) Range – The overall extension of all the notes the singer can sing efficiently, freely and comfortably, also referred to as vocal compass. In a properly developed voice, it should easily surpass 2 octaves of notes that are usable for performance, and while vocalizing, at least 2.5 to 3 or more should be expected. c) Stamina – Ability to endure demanding and prolonged singing sessions without vocal damage, loss of sound quality or fatigue. d) Dynamic range & control – A singer should be able to sing through a wide range of dynamic levels (degrees of loudness and softness) over the complete performing compass (range.) e) Agility – Ability to sing coloratura accurately and effectively. (see also the section on Practice Goals and Patterns further along) 2) The most well known and most important registers, as described by Oren Brown in his book Discover Your Voice: a) Modal/heavy/low/chest - I'll refer to it most frequently as Heavy Mechanism (HeM). It's associated with the qualities of the speaking voice, lower notes, power, "bite" in the tone and naturally occurring vibrato. b) Falsetto/light/high/head - I'll refer to it most frequently as Light Mechanism (LiM). It's associated with softness, high pitched sounds, high notes, and sometimes a breathy and "wimpy" sound quality. Often described as a "white sound/voice". When isolated, it lacks power and resists the use of vibrato. 3) When a tone created under dominance of the LiM gains characteristics of the Lower Register, it is no longer a pure or detached falsetto. Such a note gradually becomes a full voiced, coordinated head voice capable of blending with the Low Register to create a Unified Voice capable of Performing, with ease and "freedom," over more than two octaves! 4) Some deny the existence of any registers or argue the existence of more than the previous two. 5) Still others will "accept" 2 or even just 1 for men but any number from 3 to 5+ for women! This has little basis physiologically. The insistence on reinforcing radical differences in terms of number of registers or basic technique between the sexes or voice types is should be questioned. 6) These “so called” differences are not natural but actually “created” instead, by faulty technique and the expectations of the individuals, as well as the voice teaching “establishment,” in an attempt to produce preconceived sound qualities and cater to “vocal/singing styles.” a) Physiologically speaking (according to voice scientists), both sexes have been found to have two primary registers, but are actually capable to access up to four (4) registers. These additional register’s have also been viewed as extensions of the 2 primary registers, “zones” or “lifts” and are frequently named as follows; i) Stroh bass/vocal fry –lowest part of “chest” or below it ii) Whistle/Flute - highest extension of “falsetto”/head voice or above it 7) These "Registers" or "Voices," in spite of the popularity of these associations, have little to do with the chest or the head, as far as the muscular actions responsible for them are concerned. What is actually happening is a delicate balance of two basic sets of opposing muscles that work to approximate and "stretch" the vocal folds (HeM) and to "thin out" the vibrating edges of these vocal folds (LiM.) Of course, ALLOWING the space to be available for proper amplification will make each note find a “place” were it can “grow”, creating the phenomenon that we call resonance/squillo. But resonance can only work at its best if the previous process mentioned above is correct. When that happens, we will hear a beautiful “head voice” and or “chest voice” (physiologically speaking it's really oropharingeal) as required. 8) As a matter fact, these associations are based on physical sensations caused by resonance-induced sensations in the face and skull, and parasynthetic vibrations in the upper thorax. These sensations, felt in lower range tones with plenty of HeM, produce what is known as "Chest Voice", and it is what causes the well known vibrations in the upper chest. These vibrations are actually just a "side effect", not capable to or responsible of contributing significantly to tone production! (The actual sound output is produced low in the oropharynx.) 9) What is missing from this picture are Resonance Adjustments! Many have confused these with the actual registers discussed before. We'll simplify by lumping them in four groups ( Cornelius Reid's books offer a practical and quite usable way of classifying these, but little help on terms of how to actually apply corrective actions, in my opinion); a) Pressed or constricted - Pushing larynx down or more commonly up. Tongue is usually tense and pulled back, causing both tension and partial blockage of the vocal track. Avoid like the plague! b) Open Throated – Healthier. It favors lower range and “chesty” sounds that seem darker and bigger. c) Frontal (Mask) – Healthier. It favors higher range and “headier” sounds that seem brighter and more penetrating. d) Balanced - Optimal! It combines the best of b) & c) above and most importantly, avoids the harmful consequences of a). More challenging to "find" but definitely worth the effort. 10) The biggest problem by far remains the much feared “BREAK”, where the two main registers meet and will create the phenomenon of notes cracking as the singer tries to sing through this area. 11) The actual location, if we refrain from manipulations, is approximately between E4 and F4, just above Middle C (C4), for most males (women have similar events but location varies, … ADD TO THIS)! a) The singer with deficient technique will resort to many unhealthy, and mostly quite excessive efforts and difficult tricks to prevent the voice from cracking. i) Males will typically "push up" with LM till the voice can't take it any more. ii) It is very common for tenors and even higher baritones to "hit the ceiling" at around A or A flat above Middle C (C4). Heavier voices might not be able to even approach the E4/F4 using this approach, and if they do it is with substantial effort! iii) These problems are caused because the singer has failed to integrate both LM and HM with a blended registration, in other words, trying to use only one register ( good old “chest”)! iv) The Cure is to build up a Platform, ''a Bridge" of carefully cultivated, blended notes covering the area called by some the "Greater Passaggio" (GP.) The Break will lay about midway through it. B3 to G4 is a good starting point. The goal is to make these notes sound like one voice even though there is a slight difference in sensation in each half step of the vocal range. v) To achieve this we will need to; (1) Fortify LiM and make it overlap most, if not all, of the performance range. (2) Restrain and retrain HeM encouraging participation while preventing overuse where it should not dominate - in the higher range! 12) A step by step view of how a resonant, supported and blended tone (one with participation of both high and low vocal mechanisms) can be created or “found” is described below. It will only work after the HM has been sufficiently strengthened.

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