Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More Passaggio Advice

The male throat tends to close or choke at a certain point as the singer goes up the scale. (Young, untrained tenors at E natural or F.) The untrained or amateur singer may cope with this tendency by widening the mouth from side to side or by going into head voice or falsetto. The trained singer begins covering at that point when he can no longer sing a good "open" tone. We sing the middle range "open", so when we can no longer do that comfortably, we have hit the beginning of the upper register, the first note of the passaggio, and the first note that needs to be "covered." The only way most people can learn the technique of covering is by learning to recognize the sound of a covered tone from recordings or live performances and by working with a coach or teacher. I have covered my high notes for years and still am not sure exactly what the physical mechanism is.Covering should be thought of as the opposite of singing an open tone. I do not mean singing with an open or relaxed throat because all tones should be sung with an open throat and little or no tension. When you reach the end of the middle range, reject the natural inclination to widen the mouth side to side or go into falsetto. Instead of doing this, keep the mouth in the same position which was used in singing an open tone--say E natural for a tenor or C for a bass--and increase breath support. Yes, covering is all about breath support. If you try to cover without sufficient breath support, your throat will tighten and hurt you. Do not do any singing which hurts. if you cannot sing an F sharp without feeling like you are choking or grinding your cords, do not attempt that note for the time being.Some vowels automatically activate a tendency to cover: i in vita, e in meta, and perhaps o in ombra. Some voice training proceeds by having the singer sing scales on the Italian i vowel, but this requires lots of breath support.My advice is to concentrate on strengthening your breath support by doing sit-ups (but not within 24 hours of singing) and especially by doing aerobic exercises shortly before singing. Without good breath support, you cannot cover tones properly. 95% of singing as a physical activity is based on breath support. Listen to good tenors who cover (Corelli, Tucker, Caruso, Gigli, etc.) and learn to distinguish a covered tone from an open tone. Try to imitate the darker, more intense sound of the covered F or F sharp as sung by these tenors.Samurai

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