Sorry if you felt my comment complicated things. That was not the intent. I have always felt that a good functioning voice can work independent of style. The original comment did imply that a singer could sing all types and styles of music simply because they had good function, and that they should be equally good at all of them. I was simply pointing out that that is not exactly true. If you are not effective at singing a given style, even if you have good function, you will not succeed singing that style. I am sorry, but that is plain and simple. That is all I was really saying. I also do not agree that Bjorling’s band music would pass on the Broadway stage. But what would pass then is quite different than what will pass now. Styles really have changed that much. It is true that good function would make you better sounding singing in whatever you sing, but it doesn’t guarantee the ability to excel in all fields. Knowing that fact does not complicate anything. That was all I was trying to clarify as that fact was not stated.
The complete comment can be found here: http://vocalwisdom.com/wjq
Bea, your comments are always correct and welcome. By saying you’re “complicating things”, I don’t mean for others. I mean your interpretation of what I said, for yourself. And I’m sure others did and will continue to as well. It is normal for us to complicate matters. I’m sorry if I didn’t explain everything as thoroughly as you may have liked. I was answering a specific question that an individual asked, and trying to do it in a reasonable number of words. And if one person has a question it might be of interest to others.
I can’t try to cover all possibilities for every person reading. That is impossible. I can only answer the question as best I can. I am not perfect. And try as I do, I can’t foresee every possible misunderstanding that may come up.
And I take offense to your saying that my writing is too academic and that a person needs a degree to understand what I’m saying. That is laughable to me. Have you read how other voice people write? TA this and CT that. Names of muscles and cartilages and spectral graphs and measurements that have absolutely no benefit for the singer. (I deliberately avoid all of that unnecessary stuff because it doesn’t help anyone except the anatomist. You certainly can’t be thinking about that when you are trying to sing) You don’t need a degree, people just need to be willing to think a little more deeply, and from a different perspective, than normal. And a degree certainly won’t help with that. This IS how I talk to friends about the voice.
We’ve been through this all before. Understanding must be earned by each individual. NO ONE CAN GIVE IT TO YOU. I want to emphasize that point. There is no point in me trying to do more than is possible. Complete understanding can’t come from the written word. Writing can only point to what we’re talking about. Each of us needs to spend the time and energy to go into these things and figure them out. Again, I can’t give it to anyone. So I don’t try to. Because I know the futility of that.
I have said before, and will say it over and over, I am not trying to teach anyone the whole of everything through my writing. This is not meant to be an exhaustive treatise on the functioning of the voice and how to sing. If you want to write that, be my guest. I am just trying to show people that there is a way to make sense of things, even if it is elusive and difficult.
I can only give a taste of what we’re talking about through writing. Not because I’m holding something back or keeping a secret. I try to say everything I know. But we just can’t learn this by reading it, because it can’t be communicated completely that way. If someone wants to get the complete picture they need to figure it out themselves. Ideally we have the guidance of someone who already understands to help us on the journey. I am available to do that with people who meet with me personally. I can explain and demonstrate, guide their attempts and help to discover new coordination.
But I can’t do this effectively through writing. No one can, no matter what anyone thinks. Learning to sing is much like learning to ride a bike. At least in principle. It is governed by learning a sense of balance while keeping certain physical things working together. I don’t know of anyone that learned to ride a bike by reading about it. They had to get on the bike and try to figure it out through the feel of doing it.
They could be helped by reading some instructions. Learn where to put the feet and hands. Where to sit. How the machine is designed to work. Maybe be warned of some possibilities of what to expect, to a certain degree. But they will still need to go through the process of teaching themselves through trial and error. They will need to get on the bike and try to ride it, and fall down! They will most likely benefit greatly by having someone help them by steadying the bike until they get the feel of how to balance. But they will still need to fall down as many times as it takes to develop the coordination to stay up. Even though we want to avoid painful experiences, we learn by falling down. Both literally and figuratively.
I feel singing is much the same, but much more difficult. Mostly because we don’t have thousands of opinions about how people should ride a bike that contradict each-other. The way to use the voice is clouded by all of these opinions about how you should sound. I am trying to present the truth of the matter as I have learned through research of past understanding and my own experience of trial and error. Learning from my mistakes. I can’t save anyone from the same process of struggle. But hopefully I can shorten the process to understanding.
The basic point I was trying to convey in my original answer was that with a well-functioning voice a singer should be able to express any music that THEY FEEL a desire to express. I think you, in your own head, put in the part that every singer should be able to sing every style equally well. I was saying ANY ONE singer, not EVERY one, should feel it is possible to sing their one or two (or more) chosen styles of music, whatever they might be, with a healthy function. It should be obvious that no one should expect to be able to sing EVERY style of music equally well. (And I certainly didn’t say anything about guaranteeing success at every style. Poor function could guarantee failure, but good function still doesn’t guarantee anything) But that is not because of function, that is because no one is equally exposed to, and equally in tune with, every style of music. You are correct, that is plain and simple. So much so that I thought that was obvious. Obviously not.
I intentionally did not use any examples in my original answer. Both for space considerations and I didn’t feel it was helpful. I didn’t want to give the impression of more opinions of who to copy. I wanted to keep things simple and about the individual who asked the question. Not about who or what he should sound like. That was the whole point of what I was saying. Bea brought up examples and I responded to them. And even though I have no objection (except the one using JB) to the points being made by the examples, they are still opinions. And I did not want to introduce that kind of opinion in this particular case.
See, the reason I disagree with my example of Jussi Bjorling’s “Erik Odde” recordings (have you actually heard them. They are not widely available and are different than the Swedish folk songs, which are sung in the normal Jussi B. manner) is because I’m not talking about the exact singing he is doing. That is done in the context of that circumstance. You can’t take the exact singing and extrapolate it to some other piece of music, like might be done with audio editing. There would be instinctive differences in how the singer responds to different music that would result in different singing.
So we can’t say that a singer would not have a different reaction to a different set of circumstances and different music. But the nature in which they make the voice work could still be based on the same principles – Using the larynx instinctively to say a vowel and a pitch. (Is that too academic. Seems like terms that even my 2 yr old could comprehend.) Other things happen, like resonance through the air-way and feeding the vibration of the vocal cords by the air pressure from the breathing system. But at the level of intensity we are talking about (not operatic) for non-classical singing the instinctive response is sufficient. But only if they are stimulated.
You ask about Charlotte Church. Personally, I don’t think she did sound beautiful. Obviously many people did who bought her recordings. But I doubt those people are reading my blog. I am not trying to explain to the “average listener” why her function was poor. I am explaining things to people who already are starting to notice that on their own. That is why they find me in the first place. They are already noticing these things on their own and looking for information to help figure that out.
I assume people who find me are intelligent and up to the challenge we each are faced with. Good function is simple but definitely not easy to figure out. Most true things in life are like that. That is why we live in an unequal world. I can’t change that fact. I can only try to help as many people as I can. If someone can’t understand what I say they can write to me with a question to clarify a point. They are also welcome to look elsewhere. I can’t control that.
I deeply appreciate the people who read my writing and who ask me to help them figure out their voice. Unfortunately I won’t be able to help every person. That is just how things work. So I have to do what I can with what I have to offer. Perhaps that isn’t good enough for you, based on your comments.
I have read your suggestions. How do you know I haven’t considered those things already and chose to do things as I have? I don’t feel it is your place to tell me how I should be doing things on my blog. Even if it is meant to be helpful. If you have a question about something I have said that is not clear, then please ask. That is always welcome as your comments always have been. But if you have opinions on how I do things and how they should be done better, without knowing what is possible in this context, then perhaps you should do that yourself.
Now I am the one saying I’m sorry if this sounds harsh. (I’m sure my tone of irritation is coming through) I am interested in what wasn’t clear. I am not interested in your opinions of how you would do things better than I have done them. I hope this doesn’t cause you to go away. And perhaps this shouldn’t have been said publicly. But your comments were public, so I feel my response should be as well. I value your experience and your support of my web site for these couple years. Please know that. Thank you.