It is sad that operatic singers mistake the craft of singing for the more popular form of self-expression which is pop music. In Opera, the singer must train his vocal function into an instrument, whereas in pop music, the performer is basically expressing himself, through sound. The operatic performer must never, while performing, stand in the way of the composers wish. This can be expressed in other ways to clarify: The singer must not FEEL the emotions that the music is already expressing. The singers job is to allow the instrument, his/her voice, to be totally unaffected by emotions, i.e “sound effects”, because that will cause damage to the vocal membranes. Emotional actions inside the throat causes cramps and puts the voice in a very sensitive state. If a singer is at the same time using a strong appoggio, effective for operatic singing, the voice is slowly destroyed.
The only way to protect the vocal instrument while using a classic “appoggio” is to be cool and controlled, and not tense and emotional.
The music is supposed to achieve the emotions, not the singers inside. And the voice is not supposed to “demonstrate” the emotions of the singer, it must “communicate”, which is done by technique, not by “demonstration” of your own inner emotions.
You can clarify this by allowing someone to stand on stage and try to conjure up the emotions of extreme sadness. This causes small cramps in the throat, tightness in the chest and the tear canals well up. All this is detrimental to singing, but by no means effective as a way of communicating sorrow to 2500 people, some of them 100 meters away, and often times across the sound barrier of 90 instruments or more. To demonstrate this emotion by shouting out “i’m sooo saaaad” is just hysterical. It requires extreme control to make it effective.
I appreciate these anonymous comments. They make some important points. I have talked about this as well in my article about Emotions (http://www.vocalwisdom.com/emotions.htm) The one part of these comments that I don’t completely agree with, or think they leave out, is their point of the singer needing to have no emotions. I agree that the singer must not be feeling the emotions of the character, that must be left to the music and text to communicate. But if the singer is feeling no emotions they are at risk of being filled with their own emotions of fear and nervousness.
What I teach and try to do is make a habit, right from the beginning of training, of the singer filling themselves with the emotion of love and joy for the act of singing. Singing, in its natural state, is an expression of joy that is filled with enthusiasm and celebration energy. It is like laughing or cheering at a party, only through music. Singing also requires a great deal of energy to fulfill the demands required. The most natural source of that energy is positive emotions of inspiration, joyfulness, enthusiasm, love. But I do agree with the commenter that these emotions need to be calm or cool in comparison to the heated emotions that the music might be expressing or a character might have. These heated emotions have a negative influence on the parts of the body involved with singing. The other, more loving emotions have a very positive influence on the body, and through experiencing them becomes the most effective way of creating those conditions ideal for singing.
Some of those conditions are a buoyant chest and rib cage. This avoids the problem of a collapsed condition which impairs breathing function. A hollow and open throat, providing good resonance and free phonation. Good flexible upright posture without stiffness which allows the body to function freely in response to our desire to sing. And as I already mentioned, abundant energy to feed the voice while singing. These conditions, when experienced, make the singing act much more committed and effective. Which is ultimately what we are all after.
pop singers can also do the slow and inisious damage to the chords by identifying technique with emotion, not to mention people who screamat sports events,or at political rallies. The voice is an autonomous instrument, like any other physical organ, and functions on its own terms, as does the liver , the heart,and the rest, all of which can be damaged by the emotions directly or indirectly. An upset stomach is often causd by too strong emotions. What as artists we have to do is intesify our emtions, and carfefully experience them along side our vocal'Portrait' of them that we are painting with the vocal tones.Just as the two vocal registers are joined but not bound together, the refined expression of emotion should be experienced simultaneously with the refined expression of vocal sound. Then we'll have something of surpassing beauty as well as philosophical value. An artist can't spill his guts on stage, but creates through skill the symbol of intense exploding emotions.
Moreover, thorough identification with a role, as practiced by Callas and Nijinski, can lead to mental illness, and personality problems, like your everyday neurotic or compulsives. Art is an exercise in overcoming the sufferings of everyday life,enabling one to learn from them. The denial or suppression of negative emotion that we see with such fequency in modern society causes a split in consciousness rather than the reconciliation of opposites that allows for a creative state of mind.
Your very important point showing how raw , narcissistic emotion subtly and tenaciously damages the voice, (and makes a mockery of real technique)is well taken.
It is as though the singer thus affected, has become so inflated with pride over his superior technique that he became his own vocal self- undoing.
The second compline of Christmas in the gregorian chant cautions: BE SOBER and watchful, for our adversary, the devil lurks behind every corner…..