Square Peg In A Round Hole

If all you know of the singing voice is “breath support” and “resonance” and you force all styles of music and all human sound into that mode, you are doing yourself and anyone who studies with you a disservice.

Breath support is about being able to take a deep breath quietly and easily and depends a great deal on postural stance or “carriage” of the body. Use of the breath during a sung sound depends on coordinated use of the ribs and abs over time, particularly when the lungs are more than 50% empty, as the air pressure (subglottic pressure) drops rapidly at that point and the sound would simply die out if the ab/rib coordination didn’t work well to keep it strong. Many muscles are involved in having this process work well, but they have to be worked on through the body — through stretching, through movement, through yoga, through conscious awareness of physical response. You can do this without knowing a thing about singing.

“Resonance” (a favorite word in the profession) is about the EFFECT caused by the production of a pitch at a volume (intensity) both of which can be measured objectively. The configuration of the mouth and throat, including the tongue, lips and jaw, amplify the resonanting frequencies of the vocal tract either efficiently or not. If you make a sound, it has “resonance” or it would be inaudible.

If you sing classical music without a microphone you need to have your voice be heard in the auditorium while a full orchestra is playing. This is possible because the average pitch range is in the 900 Hz area and the voice can generate a cluster of energy between 2800 and 3200 Hz that soars over the orchestra and makes the voice audible. A loud decibel level helps, too, but it is possible to sing without maximum volume and still be heard if the orchestra isn’t playing at fortissimo.

If you sing any CCM style you will be electronically amplified. The electronics will pass your voice through equipment that will enhance it and make it as loud as necessary for it to carry over whatever is accompanying it, even if that “it” is a heavy metal band. Many rock singers have little to no “resonance enhancement” but they have great careers. Do you think Mick Jagger is busy with harmonic/formant tuning? Do you think that Elvis had that in mind when he sang “Blue Suede Shoes”?

Yes, daily, maybe even hourly, people who teach singing are going to push belting through their classical protocol because that is what they were taught and that is what they know. Despite the fact that this sound quality has nothing at all to do with European music that grew out of the Renaissance in the courts of the Royals and the Aristocracy or for use by the Church, teachers are going to make it so that belting has to fit into the same set of parameters as classical music because they do not know what else to do. They do not know how to make the sound and without that knowledge you are stuck with what you have been told or have read.

If they approached belting as if it had its own validity and its own parameters, and if they investigated them to see what they were, leaving their “classical training” and the mindset that goes along with it behind , they might discover that absolutely none of what they apply to opera, oratorio, art songs, chamber music, or orchestral solos would apply. This attitude, that it somehow helps or adds to understanding by describing one thing by something else unrelated refuses to go away. Let’s learn about Ethnic Cultures by comparing them to Western Civilization and see which one is better!!! Not.

The terms used in CCM styles came from the MUSIC BUSINESS. They did not originate in academia, nor in opera houses, and they did not come from classical music. The terms were coined by the artists and were descriptive, not scientific, in nature.

To understand music theater “mix” as needing “better breath support” in order to be freely done, is to be confused. To label belting as hyper-function because you are trying to belt with your larynx lowered and find it difficult, is to be confused. To try to put all belting into one box, where it is always the same and the artists are all doing the same thing, is to say that David Daniels and Jonas Kaufmann are doing the same thing because they are both classical tenors. Saying this last sentence to an experienced classical singer would cause a titter of sorry amusement. Saying, however, that Angela Lansbury and Idina Menzel were singing a belt sound the same way because they were both belters on Broadway would be the same kind of statement. Wrong and sadly so.

Breath support, breath management, breath control, appoggia, breath flow, breath pressure, breath conservation, breath movement………………………

Masque resonance, head resonance, head voice, forward placement, nasal resonance, bone conduction of the sinuses, between your eyebrows, up and over, down from the top…………………….

Vocal folds, throat/mouth/lips/jaw, full lungs, belly muscle pressure, pitches, vowels, vibrato, consonants, communication.

Really, do you need to push a square peg through that round hole yet again?

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