Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Passaggio Continued

EVERYTHING must be "on the breath". For me that mean I must control howmuch air is coming out and how much pressure. I'm sure others willexplain it differently, but for me that's what works. Next you must make certain that when you "cover" the voice you shouldnot let the tongue get in the way. This is what happens many times. Thetongue must stay a bit forward so it does not close off the throat. Thecolumn of air must remain open and relaxed. Have you ever taken a bite of something like hot mashed potatoes? Youknow the feeling of what happens toward the back of your mouth? Wellit's sort of like yawning but you never really complete the yawn. Whenthe hot food is on your tongue, the roof of your mouth tries to get outof the way and the tongue tries to get away from the heat by moving downa bit. When I do it correctly, I feel like I've created a small cavernin my mouth. Also, you want to be sure to NOT lose focus in all of this. Don't letthe voice go "back" in the throat. Keep the focus in the "mask", notreally nasal but I feel like I'm blowing a trumpet from between my eyes. I know, I know, ....this may sound strange, but believe me, it works.I've had several baritones who had this problem and after a few timescorrecting their placement they were able to sing through the passaggiomuch easier. Also, remember that the top part of your voice will not be a dark andheavy as the lower. The "chest" voice will always feel heavier and ofcourse resonate more in the chest area but the "head" voice will alwaysneed to be a bit lighter and brighter with more of a ping to it. I feel even if your voice is a heavy voice, you should let the weightjust be there naturally. This is the danger of covering the voice toomuch. It sounds good in your head, but not good outside your body. When I worked on my passaggio years ago, I would sing low mezzo typeexercises and try to keep that "falsetto" type sound all through thephrase. I can still tell if I'm not lined up properly by just singingthrough the break area and adjusting. Many times I don't need to warm upthe top if I work the middle easily. You know, it might help if you let us know what arias you're singing andwhere the problems occur in those aria. Also, what type of voice do youfeel you have? Do you study with a teacher? What kind of exercises doyou do? What are your goals for singing? I know this is quick but I hope it may help a little. There are many on this list that can help you. Just remember, this takestime to work through. Always be relaxed and go for the "feeling", notthe sound in your head. Earl

I agree very much with Earl and Marc. I hope by throwing in my own perspective I don't just make things more confusing.I had a terrible time with the passagio. I'm a high lyric baritone and I was able to do some tenor repertoire. I found that the images people gave me of the beginning of the yawn, squeezing the vowel, etc. all made sense AFTER I learned how to do it.Two things I had to get over to get it right: (1) I had to make some sounds I just plain didn't like on those E-F-F# notes in order to sound good on G and above and (2) in thinking of "squeezing" or narrowing the vowel through the passagio, there's a terrific temptation to tense the jaw, mouth and throat. Some people may be able to sing through that kind of tension, but it never, never helps. You have to find a way to create the right vowel without tension in your mouth or face.I understand Earl's comment about not losing focus, but frankly I did have to go through a period where it felt like those transitional notes were doing just what everyone tells you not to - i.e., going back into the throat - in order to get them right. For some people, like me, creating that opening by lifting the soft palate gives the sensation that the sound is also going back. It's temporary and you adjust, but don't be so afraid of it.I also had to feel like the E-F# notes were tight, thin and nasal while I was learning this. It's also temporary - once you've got the "shifting" down you can round them out in a way that isn't harmful.The concept of a trumpet blowing through your eyes is what I feel like on the high notes once I'm through the passagio. When that happens, the actual sound that's routed back to your ear is different in character, which may well account for the notion that it should sound or feel "stuffy" to you.Main thing - patience and belief that you'll get it. It will happen. Don't give up.Max

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