Soprano & Voice Teacher, North York, Toronto, (Don Mills & Sheppard)


I'd like to share on this blog things that inspired me (relating to music, singing & vocal pedagogy) - hopefully they will inspire you too! Frequency - about once a month. You are welcome to leave your comments and suggestions or e-mail me.

I will also publish in this blog events and performances and you are also welcome to visit my official website or voice studio website. Happy reading and singing!

~ Miriam

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Voice Capabilities

The human voice has such a wide range of capabilities. Some say that if a person can mimic the sounds of all animals - they can sing ANYTHING (I have the cow, sheep and fish more or less under control, so I'm on my way!).
I'd like to share with you a few examples of singers and composers who extended the conservative definition of vocal production.
First - the lovely Cathy Berberian who composed and performed Stripsody.

If you can't view the video, click here.
(and thanks to Rony Weiser who sang it recently and reminded me of this wonderful singer!)

There are other interesting interpretations, for example view Diana Gamet; she also explains nicely about the piece before singing it.

The range and variety of sounds produced by Yma Sumac:

If you can't view the video, click here.

Another interesting piece that shows her exceptional vocal range and colors (but not so many "special effects" of the voice) can be found here. I wonder what would have happened had she became a classical singer - which fach category would she fall into...

An interesting study has been done by composer Michael Edward Edgerton. I wouldn't try those effects without close guidance of someone who knows what they are doing, as I think some of the vocal effects could be imitated in a way that may cause vocal damage. The composer assured me that:
"...this piece is the result of very focused training - so the parts that have the loud aggressive tones are produced through high air flow with a very relaxed glottis. So, in this case, there is no damage being done to the system. If the singer starts to apply excessive tension, then problems will begin to appear..."

If you can't view the video, click here.

Overtone singing, sometimes called "throat singing" is a method when a singer sings quite low in his/her range, usually on one pitch, and then a very high whistle-like unrelated melody is created simultaneously. At first I did not believe it is possible, until I heard the breath and how both "voices" stopped at the exact same moment. Click here to view a video demonstrating the different techniques of overtone singing (nose, upper jaw, chest, etc.)
It is easier to hear the overtones in the following video:

If you can't view the video, click here.
Here is an explanation on how to "throat sing". I didn't really try it, but if you are curious - you can try. I do not know if it harms the vocal chords or not - so proceed with caution!

I don't like it. At all. And even though I would not encourage anyone to go and scream - it would not be right to not include that kind of possibility of voice production in this post. I do find Melissa Cross interesting. She's a vocal instructor who specializes in teaching "screaming". And maybe, just maybe, this could be done without damage. I like her because of her energy and passion, because her own voice sounds clear and healthy (at least when she speaks), because they say about her that she "screams" softly, which probably means less or no damage. I am not too impressed with many of her students' vocal production, but they may have been worse before they came to her...

If you can't view the video, click here.

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