Monday, September 27, 2010

Pushing the voice

What is "pushing the voice"? We hear the term over and over and seldom do we hear an explanation. "Pushing the voice" is when a singer pushes too much breath pressure through the larynx. The result is vocal fatigue through "over-blowing the cords". As Caruso said, "we need very little air to sing" and he was right. (See articles on breath and breathe management.) Men are especially strong in their upper body and often they use too much of this strength which "over-compresses" the breath. The result is a "blowing out of the vocal cords". The soft palate usually drops and you have a situation which some call "barking".

After observing this particular Baritone for a period, I discovered that he sang dramatically by "pushing too much breath at the consonants". This meant that he was constantly "blowing out the cords" to be dramatic in the text. This was especially present in recitative. Kirsten Flagstad said that she sang from her back muscles to the ring in her voice. She felt as though she had no throat. Notice in this rehearsal photo with Edwin McArthur, Flagstad is leaning forward (Italian appaggio) with the back rib cage open.) When singing dramatically, the back muscles must "bounce outward" at the consonants as in a laugh reflex. This is especially true in recitative or accented notes. The back muscles "hold back the breath pressure" in order for the singer to express dramatically without "pushing" or "over-blowing the cords". I learned this concept after much analysis of different singers. I found that often the most dramatically talented singers "pushed" their voices more often. Part of this is a result of oneÕs "performing energy" or "personality". Their "dramatic reflex" is not connected to the back muscles. If one "feels the lumbars" as a singer is performing dramatically in a correct way, the muscles will "bounce" at the consonants or accented notes of the phrase. We must remember that in "pure legato singing" that the back muscles "resist the breath pressure" in a smooth and consistent way without this "bouncing action". The vocal cords can only take so much pressure before vocal fatigue comes into play. Vocal longevity is dependent upon healthy, intelligent singing. Correct "body connection" is a must in order for this craft to develop in the singer. A singer must learn the natural "body response" in "dramatic passages" as well as "pure legato passages". Drama does not have to sabotage technique. The two can work together to form a professional musical performance.

Indians tend to push their voice when they try to sound more British, thereby appearing to be all lame and unnatural.


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