Singing - How To Sing 29-31

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Like the auxiliary verbs " will" and
" have," a, e, and oo are auxiliary vowels,
of whose aid we are constantly compelled to
avail ourselves. It will perhaps sound ex-
aggerated when I present an example of this,
but as a matter of fact pronunciation is
consummated in this way; only, it must not
become noticeable. The method seems singu-
lar, but its object is to prevent the leaving
of any empty resonance space, and to obviate
any interruptions that could affect the per-
fection of the tone.

For example, when I wish to sing the
word " Fraulein," I must first, and before all
else, think of the pitch of the tone, before I
attack the/. With the/, the tone must be there
already, before I have pronounced it; to pass


from the/to the r I must summon to my aid
the auxiliary vowel oo, in order to prevent the


tongue should not drop down behind,
but should complete the vibrations thus, *
in a straight line. (See plate.)

formation of any unvocalized interstices in
the sound. The r must not now drop off, but
must in turn be joined to the oo, while the

It is very interesting to note how much
a word can gain or lose in fulness and beauty
of tone. Without the use of auxiliary vowels
no connection of the resonance in words can
be effected; there is then no beautiful tone
in singing, only a kind of hacking. Since it
must be quite imperceptible, the use of aux-
iliary vowels must be very artistically man-
aged, and is best practised in the beginning
very slowly on single tones and words, then
proceeding with great care to two tones, two


syllables, and so on. In this way the pupil
learns to hear. But he must learn to hear
very slowly and for a long time, until there
is no failure of vibration in the tone and
word, and it is all so impressed upon his mem-
ory that it can never be lost. The auxiliary
vowels must always be present, but the lis-
tener should be able to hear, from the assist-
ance of the oo, only the warmth and nobility
of the tone, from the a and e only the carry-
ing power and brilliancy of it.



K, I, m, n, p, s, and r at the end of a word
or syllable must be made resonant by joining
to the end of the word or syllable a rather
audible e (eh); for instance, Wandel e, Gretel",

A thing that no one teaches any longer, or
knows or is able to do, a thing that only Betz
and I knew, and with me will probably dis-
appear entirely, is the dividing and ending
of syllables that must be effected under cer-
tain conditions. It may have originated with
the Italian school.

I was taught it especially upon double con-
sonants. "When two come together, they
must be divided; the first, as in Him-mel,
being sounded dull, and without resonance,
the syllable and tone being kept as nasal as



possible, the lips closed, and a pause being
made between the two syllables; not till then
is the second syllable pronounced, with a new
formation of the second consonant.

And this is done, not only in case of a
doubling of one consonant, but whenever two
consonants come together to close the syl-
lable ; for instance, win-ter, dring-en, kling-en,
bind-en; in these the nasal sound plays a
specially important part.

The tediousness of singing without proper
separation of the syllables is not appreciated
till it has been learned how to divide the con-
sonants. The nasal close of itself brings a
new color into the singing, which must be
taken into account; and moreover, the word
is much more clearly intelligible, especially in
large auditoriums, where an appreciable length
of time is needed for it to reach the listener.
By the nasal close, also, an uninterrupted
connection is assured between the consonant
and the tone, even if the latter has to cease,
apparently, for an instant.


I teach all my pupils thus. But since
most of them consider it something unheard
of to be forced to pronounce in this way, they
very rarely bring it to the artistic perfection
which alone can make it effective. Except
from Betz, I have never heard it from any
one. After me no one will teach it any more.
I shall probably be the last one. A pity!



The practical study of singing is best begun
with single sustained tones, and with prepa-
ration on the sound of ah alone, mingled with
o and oo. A position as if one were about to
yawn helps the tongue to lie in the right

In order not to weary young voices too
much, it is best to begin in the middle range,
going upward first, by semitones, and then,
starting again with the same tone, going
downward. All other exercises begin in the
lower range and go upward.

The pupil must first be able to make a
single tone good, and judge it correctly, before
he should be allowed to proceed to a second.
Later, single syllables or words can be used
as exercises for this.



The position of the mouth and tongue must
be watched in the mirror. The vowel ah
must be mingled with o and oo, and care must
be taken that the breath is forced strongly
against the chest, and felt attacking here
and on the palate at the same time. Begin
piano, make a long crescendo, and gradually
return and end on a well-controlled piano.
My feeling at the attack is as shown in the

At the same instant that I force the breath
against the chest, I place the tone under its
highest point on the palate, and let the over-
tones soar above the palate — the two united
in one thought. Only in the lowest range
can the overtones, and in the highest range
the undertones (resonance of the head cavities
and of the palate), be dispensed with.

With me the throat never comes into con-
sideration ; I feel absolutely nothing of it,
at most only the breath gently streaming
through it. A tone should never be forced;
never press the breath against the resonating


chambers, but only against the chest; and
neveR hold it back. The organs should not
be cramped, but should be allowed to per-
form their functions elastically.

The contraction of the muscles should
never exceed their power to relax. A tone
must always be sung, whether strong or soft,
with an easy, conscious power. Further, be-
fore all things, sing always with due regard
to the pitch.

In this way the control of the ear is exer-
cised over the pitch, strength, and duration
of the tone, and over the singer's strength
and weakness, of which we are often forced
to make a virtue. In short, one learns to
recognize and to produce a perfect tone.

In all exercises go as low and as high
as the voice will allow without straining,
and always make little pauses to rest between
them, even if you are not tired, in order to
be all the fresher for the next one. With a
certain amount of skill and steady purpose
the voice increases its compass, and takes the



proper range, easiest to it by nature. The
pupil can see then how greatly the com-
pass of a voice can be extended. For
amateurs it is not necessary; but it is for
every one who practises the profession of a
singer in public.

For a second exercise, sing connectedly
two half-tones, slowly, on one or two vowels,
bridging them with the auxiliary vowels and
the y as the support of the tongue, etc.

Every tone must seek its best results
from all the organs concerned in its produc-
tion; must possess power, brilliancy, and
mellowness in order to be able to produce,
before leaving each tone, the propagation
form for the next tone, ascending as well as
descending, and make it certain.

No exercise should be dropped till every
vibration of every tone has clearly approved
itself to the ear, not only of the teacher,
but also of the pupil, as perfect.

It takes a long time to reach the full
consciousness of a tone. After it has passed


the lips it must be diffused outside, before it
can come to the consciousness of the listener
as well as to that of the singer himself. So
practise singing slowly and hearing slowly.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III