Monday, November 07, 2005

Placement and Support

One of the definitions of "forced" tone or pushedsinging is that it goes off the breath. Or, moreexactly, the voice leaves a balanced position in breathsupport. You can do a lot with a voice and for along time, if it is properly supported; we all knowthe moment when it happens, and how it feels andsounds, but I can think of a hundred examples of singers who burned up voices because they wentoff adequate support to the breath. You can hear it:the tone becomes shallow, labored, forced, evenyelled - that is when breath support is inadequate.Sometimes a top professional singer will go througha period of problems with support, and then regainit (depending on technique or age), or just quit. G.Farrar is often cited as someone who retired early(age 40) because of a loss of a good supported tone-300 Butterflies will do it - a lyric voice forced off thebreath for a long time. Dessay's recent bouts of vocalcord nodes/surgeries probably reflect this; Steber'spremature withdrawal from opera related (in part) to the loss of muscle health needed to support thetone. It happens. I think "support" and "on thebreath" are two of the most frequently applied technical terms or concerns of voice teachers andcoaches. I once asked Harshaw, what are the basicelements of singing? She said, two: Placement and Support. I think later diStefano had trouble in bothdepartments. jim/sfe

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