Thursday, December 02, 2010


I am still enjoying browsing through English, French, German and Italian Techniques of Singing by Richard Miller. He doesn't talk about the Russian school because that isn't part of his experience, a perfectly valid reason.

I was preparing to argue about constantly citing Manuel Garcia II about the lowered larynx--he was against--because, well, wasn't he a bit early for that? Isn't lowered larynx more a feature of late Verdi, verismo and Wagner? How could he...? Then it turns out he lived for 101 years, until 1906. On my side of the argument is that his treatises date from the 1840s, before singing with a lowered larynx became so popular. When I even think about singing, my throat opens and my larynx goes DOWN. Because that's how I was taught. I was probably taught in the Italian technique. When I go to Italy, I hear lowered larynx all over the place. No one says that's what they're doing, but nevertheless it is.

Here in Sacramento we have two prominent voice teachers. One teaches all her students to sing with a lowered larynx, and the other likes the larynx raised. No one just lets it float around in the throat. Sigh. Mr. Miller pretends that that's what everyone does. Mind you, absolutely no one overtly discusses larynx position. It's always inferred by other instructions. In my training it was called a "low yawn." Yawning makes the larynx go down.

Yawn. I meant that talking about technique is boring and sleep inducing. Actually it's rather fascinating, and what makes it fascinating is that there is no apparent correlation between what voice teachers say and what they want you to do.  They just suddenly say, "That's it!"

I like the book. Who would have guessed that the English were trying to eliminate upper partials? Or that Placido Domingo would probably have remained a baritone if he had studied in France? I guess you have to have been through the wringer of being forced to read technique books to even know what he's talking about.

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