Why do so many people teach manipulation as a way to learn to control the voice? How is it that people do not even know that they are pushing and forcing when they sing and in many cases are being taught to do that as part of learning vocal skills? Why are we living in a time when loud for loud’s sake is the most common way people sing followed by incredibly soft, noisy or breathy singing? These modes don’t communicate anything. How is it that all vocalists are encouraged to sound alike instead of finding a unique way to sing?
Why do composers get away with writing for singers without a gram of knowledge of what a human voice does and does not do? Why do they get accolades and commissions when they really have no interest in writing to allow the voices of individual singers to be at their best?
So much of our present moment music is influenced by rock and pop, including rap and other percussive styles. Listening to a 1950s musical is jarring in that it lets one remember what it was like when singing was beautiful and was deeply connected to the human condition. That kind of singing is almost totally gone.
Sentimentality is considered by most educated musicians and artists as something to be avoided. That’s too bad, as “sentiment” is another word for feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia. It is related to sentience which connotes, in modern Western philosophy, the ability to experience sensations. In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care. I think vocal music could use a little bit more simple human “sentiment” through a willingness to experience sentimentality, and a little less electronic distortion, exaggeration and harshness.
I have recently been shopping, hearing music in the background. Repetitive, simplistic, numbing, machine-like with a heavy thumping base. Working in an environment like that, particularly if the music is loud, is harmful to your psychological and mental well-being.
I am no prude. I am not against any music or musical form, but mindless, dull music, written to lull people into a state of catatonic stupor is not a good thing and someone (many someones) need to discuss that. Music has emotional implications and carries the power to effect people at a deeper-than-conscious level. Regardless of the style, music written without regard to emotions or to the throat and voice of the singer is of limited value. It could even be harmful.
Manipulation is a cheap trick. It produces instant results and long-term problems. It is a way for teachers to look good in the moment without being held accountable in the future. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it. In fact, discernment is absolutely necessary and you can’t get that in a hot-minute or even a luke warm week!
Question everything. Why not? Questions are a way to probe and test, to dig deeper and seek answers. Do not accept anyone’s word for something until you have looked into what they do, how they do it and why. It’s your voice, your body and your artistry. Don’t sell them out to make a Faustian bargain!
If you want to squeeze your throat to get instant “results” or if you want to sit on your larynx to “always keep it low”, ask yourself why you would want to do that. If you want to make your voice do something it really doesn’t want to do and if you make awkward movements and ugly sounds in order to force it past it’s comfort zone, ask yourself why you would want to do that. If you think you are limited and you need to do extreme stuff to go past those limitations, ask yourself why. WHY?