If only it were that easy!  The miracle that occurs when breath becomes sound has never really been fully understood. I remember one of my last voice teachers volunteering to have Bell labs put cameras down his throat to try and see just when the miracle occurs!  But we do know this.  Breath becomes sound and the way we make that happen is to breathe!  Catch this!  From a marvelous book no longer in print, The Singing Voice.  " . . expelled breath, rushes ino the versatile larynx. At the same time, solely by direction of the brain, wedge-shaped folds within the larynx (vocal cords) dart out from either side and all but block the passage of breath up to the mouth.  Such is the pressure of the air that the ligaments are forced to give way in all or part of their length and a puff of air escapes through.  In what is known as the "Bernoulli effect" the ligaments immediately resume their former position until the pressure of the air rising from below once again forces through a minute puff.  This breath, chopped up at an incredible rate of speed, becomes sound."  He goes on to remind us that a well-trained singer can stand before a candle flame, and having taken a deep inhalation of air will expel it in the form of lovely sound that doesn't move the flame because it is no longer breath  The breath has been transformed into a singing voice.  Beyond a doubt, a miracle.

We don't think much about breathing to live. Unless we are ill.  But breathing to sing is something else.  Gather eight voice teachers in a room and you will have eight people unable to agree on how best to do this.  Sadly, one of my last voice teachers and I almost parted company over this issue of how to breathel  He was a supporter of abdominal breathing, which for me was death.  He would compare it to trying to hold a beach ball under water and all I felt in doing this, was choked.  This was one of the best teachers in N.Y. at the time, and someone who put my voice together after the birth of my son forever changed it. (More on that another time!) But he could not teach me how to breathe and we nearly came to blows about it!  Finally, I knew I would just have to find my own way, and I set out to find it. 

I will leave you here this time, saying only that a book written by Jerome Hines which was a series of interviews with the great singers of his day about how they sang, changed my life forever.  The essays were in alphabetical order, as they were all equally famous, and I didn't have to go any further than Alicia Albanese!  The first singer in the book to describe her methods and the last I would ever need.  She held my answer!  In imitation of how she described taking her breath I found the support and freedon I had been longing for.  And it wasn't till much later that I learned that this breathing technique had a name!  And that it was probably the way the famed castrati of the impossible, long breath, breathed. . .the way many famous singers breathed throughout history.  And now my way.  I know. . .I haven't named it. But I will. Next time.


08/16/2012 6:52pm

I appreciated your comments about finding your own breath. I think it is good to be exposed to so many options and then to be able to find one's own place in the body in which to create the sound of music.


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