Thursday, November 07, 2013

Lloyd William Hansen - Arturo Melocchi

Another teacher who taught a lowered larynx was the Italian, Arturo Melocchi, the teacher of Mario Del Monaco.  You can hear some of his teaching on these youtube videos.  There is some question about who is being taught but I listed the names that are provided with the videos.

Teaching Mario Del Monaco (?)
Melocchi teaching Mario Del Monaco

Teaching Limarillo (?)
Arturo Melocchi teaching Limarilli

Singing with a lowered larynx increases the length of the vocal tract.  The vocal tract is all of the space from the vocal folds up into the pharynx (back of the throat) and the buccal cavity (mouth)  and ending at the facial lips. The vocal tract is the primary resonator of the human voice.  The vocal tract acts as a filter that modifies and amplifies the sound made by the vocal folds.  In doing so it will obviously increase some of the harmonics of the sung tone and suppress others. Usually about 5 harmonics are amplified, the rest are reduced in strength. Three harmonics are the most crucial; the lowest and next to the lowest harmonic that is amplified determines the vowel that is being sung.  The third harmonic is very high and gives the singer the sound tat will carry of the orchestra.  It is called the Singers Formant.

The first two harmonics that are amplified are different for each vowel.  For example the vowel "ee" as in 'feel' has a very low first harmonic and a very high second harmonic.  To sing or say "ee" one must raise the back of the tongue so it is possible to feel its edges touch the back upper molars and the front of the tongue is at or near the lower velar ridge just below the lower front teeth.  This forward action of the tongue takes it out of the back of the mouth so that the space behind the raised middle section of the tongue is very large,  It also creates a very small space in front of the tongue 'hump'.  The back space resonates a lower harmonic, the front space resonates a high harmonic.  These spaces are called "formants" because they 'form' the sound of the vowel. If you lower the raised mid portion of the tongue (the hump) down to its normal at rest position, the back of the tongue will return to the aback of the mouth. Even at rest there is a slightly raised middle section of the tongue.  This configuration creates a moderate space behind the tongue middle section and an almost equally moderate space in front for the tongue middle section.  Each of these spaces resonate medium high harmonics and produce the vowel "ah"  So we say that the "ee" vowel has a low first formant and a high second formant.  The "ah" vowel has a first formant that is in the middle of the harmonic spectrum and a second formant that is just slightly higher than the first formant.

After all that explanation how does this relate to singing with a lowered larynx?  If the larynx is low the longer back of the vocal tract (pharynx and back of the mouth) will resonate a lower harmonic.  Lower harmonics give the voice its darker quality.  The lower the harmonic the darker the voice quality. That is why Del Monaco sounded that way.  It is also why Kaufmann sounds that way.  Singing on the yawn is nothing more than keeping the pharynx wide and the larynx low.

The reverse is also true.  If you raise the larynx there is less space in the pharynx and back of the mouth and the singer emphasizes higher harmonics of the sung tone.  Most Rossini tenors do this.  A bright lyric tone quality is the result.  It is also a technique used almost universally by belters in Broadway or pops singing when the song gets into the top of the C4 octave.  It gives the voice that high almost shouted quality.

Is it safe to sing with a lowered larynx?  It is if it is done correctly.  One of the two most obvious ways is to push the larynx back and down with the back of the tongue.  This adds great tension to the voice and will likely shorten the singing life of the voice.

The other and preferred way is to use the strapping muscles that tie the larynx downward to the top of the collarbone and top of the rib cage.  The larynx is suspended between these muscles and another set of muscles that connect the larynx to the jaw (mandible). The singer must learn to relax the muscles holding the larynx up and activating the muscles the pull the larynx down.  Since we have little sense of the action of these muscle it is often effective to use natural body movements or functions to learn how to do this.  That is the reason that "singing on the yawn" is often taught.

Lloyd W. Hanson<>

On Nov 6, 2013, at 3:15 PM, Alan Goldhammer 

I posted a comment to this on Albert's blog.  I've been studying for the past 20 years with a teacher who studied with Todd Duncan who in addition to being a great singer was an outstanding teacher as well.  Duncan taught pretty much the same technique as Zajick describes in John's post (I cannot ascribe a date to when he began teaching so I don't know whether he predates Stanley or not).  Physiologically, the larynx naturally descends upon inhalation (which should resemble the beginning of a yawn) and you should not try to do anything other than let it descend.  The tongue should be resting relaxed upon the salivary glands and away from the bottom teeth.  Clearly there's a lot of other stuff that also needs to go on but those are the things that need to begin.


Head held high .... I pimp my blog

Zajick once revealed in a live masterclass that she was taught a technique that utilized a few Stanley exercises, but said that the bulk of her technique was based on Vidal. When asked about the method used by  Stanley she said that it was good for opening up the voice, but a steady  diet and without temperance with other methods, it had a tendency to  make people eventually sound like steam whistles, and that the basic  premise that she didn't like was the idea of fixing the tongue and larynx  so rigidly. She believed that a larynx should be low because it is  was relaxed and of it's own accord rather than because it is put  there in a rigid manner.

I know this doesn't answer you question, but it offers a little  insight into the Stanley method. I for one would welcome a discussion on  this for which people like Stefan and Albert would have interesting material to contribute to the discussion, as well as anyone else who may have some information. Lo Monaco is credited with the "Lowered  larynx" technique, he may have added things. Zajick said that her teacher  had studied with Cornelius Reid before studying with Vidal. Cornelius Reid was a  student of Stanley, so how much is Stanley, how much is Lo monaco, and how much  is Reid is hard to say.

I am curious about the Vidals and their connection to  the Garcia legacy.
John Rahbeck

In a message dated 11/6/2013 10:44:03 A.M. Pacific Standard Time

Albert  wrote, "[Kaufmann] used the technique pioneered by an American, Douglas  Stanley who was very influential across Europe, but especially in Germany.  Kaufmann changed his voice with the very last living student who had actually  worked directly with Stanley. Stanley's method was controversial and still  enrages pedagogues who insist that it ruins more voices than it helps  (Hildegard Behrens was taught the Stanley method by Jerome Lo Monaco, who had  also worked with Stanley himself, her badly tuned shrieking speaks for itself  -- it certainly doesn't sing.)"

But according to Mike Silverman in The  Huffington Post (“German Tenor Stars in ‘Die Walkuere’ at Met,” April 14,  2011), beginning in 1995 Kaufmann studied with an American baritone living in  Germany, Michael Rhodes, a pupil of Giuseppe De Luca. According to Silverman,  Rhodes said that De Luca taught him to maintain the position of a yawn while  singing. To judge from what another De Luca pupil, Charles Redding, told me,  De Luca was no Stanleyite.

Can Albert or anyone provide detail about  the alleged connection between Kaufmann and Stanley?

I have interviewed  about 100 celebrity singers, most of them Europeans, some of them German or  active in Germany. The interviews typically have included discussions of vocal  technique. None of the Europeans had heard of Stanley or his voice-teacher  disciples Cornelius Reid, Tommy Lo Monaco and Jerry Lo Monaco. Thus I'd  appreciate if Albert or someone would detail which European singers were  influenced by Stanley.


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