Kashu-do (歌手道): Baby Steps!

I have the great gift of spending 12 days with my son, one of the few situations in which singing does not come to mind.  Although I have so much I wish to share, my writing in the next week will be spotty. I already write a less frequently because teaching activities have increased considerably the past few months.  I hope you will indulge me the time it takes to find new balance as I experience growth in my teaching and singing.

I will try to deals with a couple of related subjects in this short post.  Matias, my friend from Argentina wrote to ask about falsetto in Pavarotti and Kraus in response to the blog on falsetto.

Quickly, Alfredo Kraus said he could not produce a falsetto.  I would say it is an slight exaggeration. Kraus’ voice was coordinated modally throughout, albeit lighter and more pressed as he got older. I recommend early Kraus, including the early renditions of Celeste Aida and Non piangere Liu.  Not appropriate repertoire for such a light voice but completely convincing technically. Kraus’ high modal singing means that he could have produced a full closure falsetto much higher in the range. But this kind of singing was not necessary for him, and so he never developed it. Anyone is capable of falsetto if he choses to develop it. Same is true of females singers and flute voice.

Matias also wonders if both Pavarotti and Kraus were so properly coordinated from childhood that their voices developed in a coordinated fashion. We less coordinated ones who have had to use falsetto or extreme light mechanism to develop the CT over time may find it hard to understand how someone can develop high notes without using extreme coordinations.  I would think that Pavarotti must have experimented with falsetto-like coordination. His sopracuti (above C5) tended to be more falsetto-like.

It is also easy to confuse falsetto with a quiet modal coordination. This is the mode I would recommend: a well-coordinated modal production that may not yet be strong enough to handle strong breath pressure. I developed my top in this way. The high C I posted here a month or so ago came from that kind of practice. This has given me much better coordination up to C5 in full voice.  The quieter voice ( not so quiet anymore) that takes me up as high as G5 occasionally is inching closer and closer to full voice. I am finding a fuller and fuller light voice that permits me to sing considerably high repertoire. But this coordination does not last as long. It used to last a couple of minutes, now I can use it for 30 minutes. It helps me find greater efficiency when I sing what feels like my full voice. At the end of a practice  a week ago, I sang Ah la paterna mano from Verdi’s Macbeth and shared it with one of my students who has also successfully made the transition to tenor from baritone.  I did not feel it fully represented where I am now, but my student felt it was a considerable step forward and that the blog family deserves to hear that step. So without excuses, here is the clip. I give myself a pitch occasionally to make sure I am still on, since I sing a cappella.  Thank you all for your encouragement through all the steps so far. I am now able to listen to myself and be proud of how far I have come. Sometimes, I feel the final levels of strength and coordination are one step away, but it is better to concentrate on the fact that one single baby step has been taken and simply rejoice on that.

JRL20100712Paterna Mano.mp3

Finally, I should announce to all my Scandanavian friends that I will be teaching in Gothenburg, Sweden on July 29-31 after a idyllic retreat with some of my students in Tjörn and then in Stockholm from July 31 to August 13. I will also attend some of the sessions of PAS 5, The 5th International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, in Stockholm, August 10-13.  I hope to see many of you there.

© 07/16/2010

One thought on “Kashu-do (歌手道): Baby Steps!

Add yours

  1. Thanks for your response Jean!

    I think it's motivating to see how other people work their voices cause that keeps us in the right track and we can relate to their experiences and learn from them!

    Un abrazo desde Argentina!


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