Monday, November 07, 2005

Sing "On the Breath"

All singing is "on the breath" and the breath is supported by the abdominal muscles, not by the back muscles. In fact, strong abdominal muscles help protect the back against strain. So there are no singers who sing "off the breath" or who fail to support with the abdominal muscles. But there are degrees of support resulting in throats which seem relaxed or tight and strained. Those who have observed infants crying will see the very direct connection between vocal sounds and "stomach" muscles. People have noticed that babies can cry for hours and never get hoarse. Their throats are relaxed and their stomach muscles are operating automatically to push the breath up and out.Men generally cannot achieve the same floating sound in the upper register that we hear from some women. Men have to cover their high notes and this induces a degree of pressure and tension which some women can avoid. Singers such as Gigli (Mi par dudir ancora) and Gedda (Magische note), however, had well developed piano or head voices and could produce a floating sound on high notes. Gigli in particular retained a very relaxed sound throughout his range at all times and seemed to be singing with very little effort. This effect was achieved through full relaxation of the throat and excellent breath support. The most important factor in the physical production of the singing voice is breath support and such support is based on strong muscles used properly. With strong breath support, vocalists can achieve most of what is required; without it, good singing is impossible. Other factors, physical and intellectual, come into play, but voice is breath. I think the expression goes "cantare e respire," an oversimplification that nevertheless makes an important point.Jake Drake

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