Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy by James Stark

By James Stark

In this good documented and hugely readable e-book, James Stark offers a background of vocal pedagogy from the start of the bel canto culture of solo making a song within the past due 16th and early 17th centuries to the current. utilizing a nineteenth-century treatise by means of Manuel Garcia as his aspect of reference, Stark analyses the various resources that debate making a song innovations and selects a couple of basic vocal 'problems' for distinct research. He additionally offers information from a chain of laboratory experiments conducted to illustrate the options of bel canto.

The dialogue bargains largely with such subject matters because the emergence of virtuoso making a song, the castrato phenomenon, nationwide adjustments in making a song types, controversies concerning the perennial decline within the artwork of making a song, and the so-called secrets and techniques of bel canto.

Stark bargains a brand new definition of bel canto which reconciles old and medical descriptions of fine making a song. His is a clean and profound dialogue of concerns vital to all singers and voice teachers.

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Sample text

At these meetings war was declared upon all followers of our method, and the artists’ minds were worked upon passionately until they really believed that their way of using the voice was perilous. It was decided that vocal cords must be prevented from closing suddenly. This was the turning-point that brought about an error cultivated ever since ... This was the starting point of a new religion, but it did not stop there. It spread like a prairie fire, and all the ignoramuses, glad to find a new gospel at last, preached the pernicious discovery from the North Pole to the South.

At issue is the larger question of relaxation versus the controlled balance between muscles. It was laryngologist Emil Froeschels, in 1943, who introduced the terms hyperfunction for excessive force of the muscles of the larynx and vocal tract, and hypofunction for muscular exhaustion and the condition of paratetic hoarseness (Froeschels 1943, 63). Friedrich S. Brodnitz, a well-known medical specialist in vocal disorders, linked vocal hyperfunction to tenseness in the vocal organs caused by the tensions of modern life.

He found that the triangular glottal shape that he had earlier associated with breathy voice did not in fact occur. ’ On the other hand, when the firm closure of the arytenoids brought the vocal processes into deep contact, a full and vibrant sound was created. This deep contact was critical to firm glottal closure. Said Garcia: ‘This deep contact, which continues even after the apophoses [vocal processes] no longer partake in the vibrations, gives a deep tension to the membranes, increases the depth of their contact, and, as a necessary consequence, augments the resistance they present to the air’ (Garcia 1855, 408; Large 1980a, 125).

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