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C

V

V

hapter 10

I

BR

ibrato

A

TO

A

ND TR

E

MO

LO

The

absolute whisper is produced when the resonance cavities are

shaped

for the vowel and the vocal cords are so far separated that they

do

not come into vibration. There is, therefore, no variable fundamental

present,

air

is ex

so that the pitch of the absolute whisper cannot be altered. The

pelled from the lungs and, passing out in a stream, brings the air

the shaped cavities into vibration, thereby producing the vowel sound.

in

A

s soon as the intensity rises above a whisper, phonation starts;

the

glottis

begins to close. A

t very low intensities, under proper technical

conditions, the vocal cords are still relatively widely separated. Under

these

circumstances the breath ex

pulsion is very high, and considerable

work

must be done by the singer to maintain the breath pressure and

phonate with the resonance cavities held in their proper "

set."

A

further increase in intensity augments the tension on the muscles

of

both the larynx

and the pharynx

, and narrows, and nally closes, the slit

of

the glottis. A

t a certain point of intensity, muscular fatigue would result,

were

this tension on the muscles of the pharynx

and larynx

to be held con-

stant

and the breath pressure maintained. This intensity varies with di er-

ent

voices. I

t might be termed the mezzo-piano of any given voice which

free and in correct adj

is

ustment. I

t is important to note that even this

intensity is not so very soft—

indeed it may be considerably louder than

F

the

.F

. of the same singer were he to be using a throaty technic.

W

of

hen this point at which the vocal muscular system (i.e., the muscles

the thorax

, larynx

and pharynx

) would fatigue, if it were held in

constant tension, is reached, the vibrato action begins to come into play;

and

this action increases in amplitude as the intensity rises. Under

proper

conditions the vibrato swing can become very great, so that,

while

given

the max

imum intensity of sound which can be produced by any

vocal apparatus is x

ed, a sense of increased loudness or emotion

may

be conveyed by means of a greater swing of the vibrato.

Let

"

it be perfectly clear, then, that the nature of the vibrato is an

on"

and "

o "

nerve impulse to the entire muscular system which actuates

the

voice. I

n other words, the vibrato is, from the physiological stand-

point,

a vibration on a tension. The nerve impulses should, under proper

conditions, be applied, at one and the same instant, to the muscles of

the

16

larynx

7

, pharynx

and thorax

, released and reapplied, etc., very rapidly.

and the same instant, to the muscles of the 16 larynx 7 , pharynx and thorax

There

under

is, of course, a de nite limit to the freq

uency of the vibrato and,

normal conditions, there is a normal speed. A

n increased freq

of

vibrato is used for the trill and for the high speed running of musical

gures—

scales, chromatic scales, cadenzas, etc.

uency

The

vibrato freq

uency, (i.e., the number of "

on"

and "

o "

impulses

per

second) is probably never found to be too rapid in the case of a

true

vibrato. I

t is often too slow when the technic is faulty. A

n ideal

vibrato

freq

uency is about 6

-6

.2 per second. The freq

found

for a high B at, sung forte, on a record of C

aruso'

uency 6

.2 was

s voice. The fre-

q

R

so

uency of the vibrato should be the same at all pitches.

eadings of the vibrato freq

uency and, probably, the pitch variation

found are reliable, but no other characteristic tak

en from records is of

any

I

fact

real value in obtaining q

uantitative data.

n the past a great many such readings have been tak

en despite the

that but few unaccompanied tones appeared on the records of the

great

singers. I

t is impossible to obtain su cient data from the records

of

the voice of any given singer to mak

e such an investigation of real

value,

even if the other factors which render such readings unreliable

were

not present.

I

n an investigation of the vibrato it is necessary that the singer, in

person,

should produce a series of tones of varying pitches and intensities,

and

that these tones should be sung under acoustical conditions which

can

be de nitely check

ed. F

urthermore, the apparatus used must be

highly

sensitive.

The

investigator must also realize that a successful singer does not

necessarily use his voice well—

success may be due to other causes. A

even

sing,

the greatest artists vary, to a mark

ed degree, with each tone they

and the investigator must, therefore, be in a position to give a

de

nite criticism of each particular tone sung, from the standpoint of

gain,

registration and resonance adj

ustment as well as vibrato. F

urthermore,

he

must be able to distinguish, de nitely, between the true vibrato, the

vibrato

which has some of the characteristics of the tremolo, and the

tremolo. A

s will be shown later, these phenomena can easily be confused.

O

ne last point with regard to deductions drawn from records: The

intensity range recorded is so limited that the singer is most unlik

ely

to

he

produce his voice normally. I

f he is an ex

perienced recording artist

will probably never sing very loud or very soft tones. F

or this reason,

it

is unlik

ely that any tone which is so soft as to be without vibrato will

appear

on the record, despite the fact that when the tone is pianissimo

the

vibrato should be practically absent. A

s a result of the "

on"

and

"

o "

vibrato impulse, the intensity of the tone varies periodically (about

6

-6

.2 times per second), and the degree of this intensity variation is

dependent upon the loudness of the tone being phonated. A

t normal

intensity this variation seems to be about 3-6

latest

readings tak

en in the laboratories of E

decibels, according to the

lectrical R

esearch Products,

I

nc. I

t is evident that this intensity variation must be accompanied by a

uctuation of pitch, because the "

on"

and "

o "

nerve impulses are applied

to

the laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles as well as to the muscles of the

thorax

. This pitch change is far greater than one would imagine. F

or

instance, C

aruso'

s vibrato shows a pitch variation of a semitone—

in other

greater than one would imagine. F or instance, C aruso' s vibrato shows a pitch variation
greater than one would imagine. F or instance, C aruso' s vibrato shows a pitch variation

words, when this supremely great artist sang a full, high tone he was

producing an interval change eq

ual to that of a semitone trill.

The

pitch change of the vibrato can, however, be so greatly increased

that,

in the case of an ex

treme fortissimo, an interval of no less than three

semitones has been recorded on the oscillograph. (S

iilH

H

im-

ee F

ig. 33.)

F

W

E

ig. 33—

A

coustic S

pectrometer R

eading of the V

ibrato of a

ell-produced V

oice S

inging F

ortissimo

ach dot (or line) indicates an interval of a q

uarter of a tone. Note that

about

six

dots are involved in the vibrato (the pitch variation is about one

and

a half whole tones).

The

ex

seems

traordinary feature of this phenomenon is that the ear hardly

to detect any de nite pitch change at all.

O

ne would imagine that an alternating pitch change of one to three

semitones would e ect the ear unpleasantly, especially in view of the

fact

freq

that there is no harmonic relationship between the high and low

uencies of the vibrato. But here we come to one of those interesting

psychological factors with which we are so often faced in our study of

the

human voice. E

very great voice of which we have any record has

always

had a vibrato. I

n fact, it is not humanly possible for a singer to

hold

the tension for the proper adj

ustments of the larynx

, pharynx

thorax

for a full, free tone without this physical release of the "

on"

and

and

"

o "

application of the nerve impulse. Thus, if he attempts to hold a full

tone

without vibrato, the entire resonance system will actually collapse.

Because

every great voice has always had a vibrato, the ear has come

to

associate the vibrato with a well-produced tone. Therefore it not only

accepts

this pitch change, but rej

ects the tone which is steady, because

such

a tone is always associated with a throaty technic and, hence, an

unpleasant q

uality.

The

intensity vibrato varies from zero at pianissimo to about 10 decibels

at

fortissimo. A

t mezzo-forte, it is about 5 decibels. (S

ee F

ig. 34 A

The

human voice di ers from a mechanical sound-producing apparatus

inasmuch as the break

-down of any one part of the system will bring

about

a change in the functioning of other parts of the apparatus;

with

the

The

mechanical instrument, it will merely cause distortion or total collapse.

actual e ect of the vibrato, from the standpoint of the listener,

.)

it will merely cause distortion or total collapse. actual e ect of the vibrato, from the
it will merely cause distortion or total collapse. actual e ect of the vibrato, from the
it will merely cause distortion or total collapse. actual e ect of the vibrato, from the
it will merely cause distortion or total collapse. actual e ect of the vibrato, from the

the

rise in intensity. I

f the nerve impulses to the larynx

, pharynx

and

thorax

are not in phase, the high freq

uency point of the vibrato may

occur

at the point of low intensity. This is particularly true in the case

of

very loud tone. O

a

ne would imagine that this phase relation would be

vital factor in good q

a

uality, but, while further investigation is necessary

before any de nite statement can be made, in actual practice this shifting

of

the high freq

uency point does not seem to a ect the q

in

any mark

ed degree.

/^

-^

--Y

/w^~^

^

uality of the tone

F

A

ig. 34—

H

igh S

peed Level-recordings of the V

ibrato

This shows a reading of the intensity vibrato of a well-produced voice

singing forte. Note the evenness of the vibrato. The space between the hori-

zontal lines is 10 d.b. Note that the vibrato variation is about half this space,

i.e., 5 d.b.

B—

This shows a reading of the crescendo on the vibrato of a well-produced

voice.

The

accompanying tracing was registered on the high speed level-recorder

at

the Bell Telephone Laboratories. The tone high F

f, sung by a baritone whose

technic was good, was started softly and swelled to fortissimo.

This piece of apparatus registers, with great accuracy and at high speed,

every intensity variation. The reader will notice the de nite increase in the

intensity variation of the vibrato as the tone is swelled.

This increase in the amplitude of the vibrato produces the e ect of a far

greater augmentation of the intensity than actually occurs. The rise in intensity

of this particular tone appeared to be very great, while the actual increase in

intensity—

the mean between the high and low point of the vibrato at fortissimo

as compared with the more or less even intensity of the soft part of the tone

which

was practically without vibrato—

was relatively slight.

I

t has been believed by certain investigators that the vibrato is switched on

lik

high

e an organ-stop and does not vary with intensity. R

eadings traced by the

speed level-recorder de nitely prove the fallacy of this contention and show

that

I

the amplitude of the vibrato is the main factor in intensity regulation.

f the vibrato is irregular, too slow, has too great a pitch change, or

vibrato is the main factor in intensity regulation. f the vibrato is irregular, too slow, has

O

of

f all the misconceptions about the human voice, even in the writings

famous musical critics, and some scientists, the confusion between

vibrato

and tremolo is one of the most strik

ing. The vibrato is a vital

concomitant of good singing. The tremolo is a lamentable fault.

W

hat is the nature of the tremolo?

I

t consists primarily of a utter on

constriction, i.e., a utter of the tongue. O

nly a throaty singer has a

tremolo. S

uch a singer, especially if he persists in doing a great deal of

soft

singing, will progressively increase the tension on the constrictor

muscles. A

s he continues to abuse his voice, this tetanic uttering may

spread

from the tongue, which will be seen to move in and out with

the

tremolo action, to the j

aw, which will also come into sympathetic

tetanic

action.

This

tetanic movement which causes the tremolo is generally of higher

freq

recent

uency than is the vibrato movement and, according to our more

work

, has a freq

uency of 7 to 11 utters per second. The absolute

tremolo

*

Lf

is without intensity variation. (S

ee F

ig. 35.)

y

i

F

ig. 35—

A

H

igh S

peed Level-recorder Tracing of an A

Tremolo—

Badly Produced V

oice

Note

that no intensity variation is indicated.

The

vibrato shows an intensity characteristic which is absent in the

tremolo.

bsolute

I

nasmuch as the muscles of the thorax

are not involved in the tremolo

action,

one would ex

these oscillograms.

in

pect the intensity variation to be absent, as indicated

The

tremolo is ex

tremely common, and is a most inj

urious technical

fault. Teachers who "

build on the soft,"

"

place the voice in the head,"

neglect

the lower register with women and the falsetto with men, and

those

who force their pupils to atten and groove the tongue and hold it

pressed

against the lower teeth, will (provided that the pupil is con-

scientious) very often induce this inj

urious tetanic vibration of the

epiglottis, tongue and nally the j

aw.

The

vibrato consists of a periodically applied nerve impulse to all

muscles

used in phonation, while the tremolo is merely an inj

urious,

tetanic

uttering of the walls of the resonance cavities. O

f course, where

there

is a tremolo, tension on the constrictor muscles of the throat always

occurs,

so that the mouth becomes the resonator of the tone, and pharyn-

geal

with

resonance adj

ustment is impossible. The tremolo occurs eq

ually

soft and loud tones, while the vibrato appears only at M.P. for the

given

voice and then augments as the intensity increases.

171

loud tones, while the vibrato appears only at M.P. for the given voice and then augments
loud tones, while the vibrato appears only at M.P. for the given voice and then augments
loud tones, while the vibrato appears only at M.P. for the given voice and then augments

R

emember that when the vibrato is absent, the q

uality of the tone

is

always unpleasant. The training of the vibrato is, therefore, of the

utmost importance.

 
 

The

tremolo action occurs only when the throat is closed, i.e., when

the

technic is throaty. The true vibrato is in e ect a uctuation on open-

ing

tension and occurs only when opening tension has been established.

This means that an advanced stage in the technical development has

 

been reached. A

t this stage the tremolo has necessarily been eliminated.

 

The

teacher must not attempt to develop the vibrato before this stage

has

been reached. I

f any attempt is made to develop a vibrato from an

absolute tremolo, the e ect will be merely to engender an unpleasant

 

wobble in the voice.

There is, however, a type of vocal movement which is between the

vibrato and the tremolo, despite the fact that the true vibrato and the

absolute tremolo are entirely di erent phenomena. This "

tremolo vibrato"

movement is far more vigorous than the insipid tongue tremolo of the

 

typical radio singer."

F

or this reason it is often possible to change the

former into a true vibrato. This process is often q

uite a simple one. A

s

soon as pharyngeal resonance adj

ustment has been established, the

teacher should, in most cases, be able to co-ordinate, without much di -

culty, the muscular actions of the thorax

, larynx

and tongue in their

proper phase and amplitude relations for the true vibrato. The hundred

 

percent

light, soft tremolo must always be entirely eliminated and the

tongue

action reversed, before any serious attempt can be made to de-

velop a true vibrato.

 

W hen the voice is "

dead"

steady, the process of developing a vibrato

may or may not be a di cult one. I

n some cases, when the concept of

 

what constitutes a beautiful tone is lack

ing, the process is ex

tremely

arduous. W

hen the pupil has been subj

ected to inj

urious teaching meth-

ods, he may have developed the habit of holding a steady tension on the

 

muscles of the thorax

(especially on the ex

piratory muscles) to such a

degree that he has become virtually muscle-bound. Under such circum-

 

stances, the process of engendering the concept of a free movement of

the muscles of the thorax

is indeed di cult. The very untalented beginner

is

sometimes found in a muscle-bound condition. Under normal circum-

stances,

however, where the pupil has a certain degree of talent for

singing,

this vibrato concept is easily attained. A

ctually the movement

of

the diaphragm which actuates the vibrato is of very small amplitude,

but

it can be de nitely sensed.

A

s soon as the necessary stage in the technical development has been

reached, it is absolutely essential that work

on the vibrato should be

 
the technical development has been reached, it is absolutely essential that work on the vibrato should
the technical development has been reached, it is absolutely essential that work on the vibrato should

volves

a vibration on a tension of the muscles of the thorax

, which move-

ment—

though slight—

can actually be felt. W

hen this shak

e can be

performed vigorously and smoothly, it is often possible for the singer to

speed

it up and thus change it into the semi-re ex

ed vibrato action.

S

ometimes the vibrato may be developed from a slow wobble which is

actuated by the muscles of the thorax

.

I

f the wobble is slow, the pitch

change

is very wide. W

hen it is speeded up to the desired freq

uency

(6

per second), the pitch change should become normal (about a semi-

tone) and the sensation of the vibrato movement should be ex

perienced.

F

aulty methods of inspiration inhibit the vibrato action. This is par-

ticularly

true of the pupil who in ates his chest and brings tension to

bear

on the muscles of the upper ribs. A

proper inspiration is accom-

plished

primarily through the in ation of the lower part of the lungs,

which

engenders tension on the muscles of the diaphragm and the lower

ribs. I

t is these muscles which move for the vibrato. F

or this reason

anyone

who, through faulty teaching methods, or because of bad habit,

ates and raises his chest, must be carefully instructed in the proper

in

method

of inspiration. I

before

the tone is attack

f the muscles of the thorax

are held in tension

ed, the vibrato action is inhibited. The vibrato

action

must be initiated at the moment of attack

and must persist as long

as

W

to

the singer continues to phonate.

hen a correct vibrato has been attained, the acq

uisition of the ability

encompass all speed work

, legato singing, and even the trill, becomes

q

uite a simple matter, which, in the last analysis, is dependent solely

upon

the singer'

s ear. By ear is meant the ability to conceive, as a single,

co-ordinated, muscle-controlling unit, groups of tones (musical phrases),

each

tone with its own pitch, q

uality, intensity and duration.

O

ne of the most vicious practices of the singer whose technic is faulty,

slurring. The underlying principle of singing is the production of musi-

is

cal

tones, and more than this, musical gures and phrases. A

musical

gure is a small group of notes. O

ne or more of these groups comprise a

melody. The musical phrase (the end of the phrase is always mark

with

a cadence) generally consists of a far wider group of notes. W

ed

hether

be the single note or the group of notes forming the musical gure

it

or

the phrase, each note has in itself a de nite pitch or freq

uency, ex

for

the vibrato variation. W

hen playing the piano, one can only strik

cept

e

the

k

eys, and although it is possible to strik

e a wrong k

ey, it is not possible

to

play between the k

eys. I

n other words, each time a k

ey on a piano is

struck

cannot

, a sound of x

ed pitch or freq

uency is emitted, and this freq

be progressively modi ed, i.e., either sharped or atted.

uency

The

the

singer, in company with the violinist, etc., is, unhappily, not in

same fortunate circumstances as the pianist or the performer on any

k

other

eyed instrument. H

e can slur. H

e can at any moment, especially

when

changing pitch, slide from one tone to the nex

t instead of changing

the

pitch without intermediate noises. I

t is, of course, apparent, from

from one tone to the nex t instead of changing the pitch without intermediate noises. I

A ll badly taught singers slur, as do practically all beginners. Badly trained

singers,

however, are generally the worst o enders in this direction. I

the

case of a singer whose high tones are incorrectly produced and out

n

of

resonance adj

ustment, the struggle involved in the attempt to produce

these

tones engenders, in his subconscious mind, a sense of fear, or

inhibition. S

uch inhibition inevitably results in slurring. There is only one

way

in which slurring can be eliminated—

by means of the vibrato. Lack

of

vibrato always causes slurring.

The

the

slur may be de ned as a smooth slide in freq

uency, whereas, when

technic is correct, changes of pitch are accomplished by means of the

vibrato

mechanism which enables the singer to climb up or down the scale

in

steps.

During

phonation, whether on one tone or over a series of tones, the

beat

of the vibrato should continue uninterrupted, unless a consonant

intervenes. I

t is this vibrato movement which allows the voice to move

from

from

tone to tone without slurring, stopping or j

erk

ing. The transition

one tone to another must tak

e place in the space of one vibrato.

During

the "

o "

cles

are relatively relax

cords

to tak

e the ex

phase of the vibrato, the laryngeal and pharyngeal mus-

ed, and the nex

t "

act tension for the nex

on"

impulse allows the vocal

t tone while the muscles which

actuate the tongue tak

e on their tension, and "

system for the nex

t tone in all its characteristics. A

position"

the resonance

s the singer moves up

rising musical gure, the vibrato impulse which raises the pitch and

a

intensity must be augmented.

I

this

t is possible to obtain ex

act adj

ustments and avoid slurring only when

movement on the vibrato is inculcated. The ex

act shaping of the

resonance cavities depends upon the mental concept of pitch, timbre

and

are

intensity, and the muscles can only respond to this concept if they

in what might be termed a "

uid"

condition. The vibrato maintains

all

O

the muscles used in phonation in this "

uid,"

or moving, condition.

ne of the most vital phases of singing is perfection of time and

rhythm. W

hen the voice is produced properly, the regularity of the vibrato

nearly mechanically perfect. H

is

ence, the singer with a proper vibrato

becomes a sort of human metronome. E

ach note in a musical phrase has

certain time spot. The minimum length of time a well-produced tone

a

can

be held is one vibrato—

about a six

th of a second. I

t can also be

held

any length of time which is a whole number times one vibrato. I

cannot

be held for part of one vibrato. The time between tones is x

t

ed

irrespective of the tempo—

it is one vibrato. Thus, in singing a musical

phrase, each note in the music, according to its value, is held for one,

it is one vibrato. Thus, in singing a musical phrase, each note in the music, according

he has no time-gauge for the value of each tone, and he will, therefore,

inevitably slur, because he is uncertain as to the ex

he

to change the pitch.

is

act moment at which

I

t is transparent that, if a singer slurs from one tone to another, the

resonance adj

ustment must be faulty for one or both of the tones. I

were

to hold the adj

ustment for the rst tone, the second tone, which

f he

should

speak

have a di erent adj

ustment, would be out of adj

ustment. Generally

ing, however, the singer who slurs will not hold the adj

ustment of

the

his

lower tone, but will actually go into constriction as he pushes or forces

voice up the scale.

The

trill also is dependent upon the vibrato action. I

t is virtually a

speeded-up, ex

aggerated vibrato, which has been re ex

ed—

"

re ex

ed"

because, while the speed of the vibrato can, within certain limits, be

regulated, the speed of the trill is x

ed for a given voice. I

t is probable

that

both the laryngeal and the pharyngeal movements are greater in

proportion to the movement of the thorax

for the trill than for the vibrato.

Unfortunately, imitations of vibrato runs and trills can be made with

the

and

tremolo. The resultant e ect is a sq

a tremor for the trill.

ueak

y, little run-up for the scale,

O

V

a

"

ne point regarding vibrato and tremolo must be emphasized.

irtually every pupil starts with either some form of tremolo, or with

dead-steady"

tone. O

nly a well-produced voice has a true vibrato.

W

hen the "

dead-steady"

tone, which is always more or less throaty,

has

been completely "

opened up,"

the vibrato nearly always appears

spontaneously. I

f it does not do so, it is a relatively simple matter

for

the pupil to bring it into action. A

ctually there is seldom, if ever,

any

di culty with the vibrato with voices which have been really

"

opened up."

E

limination of Tremolo

The

elimination of the tremolo is, then, one of the rst problems

to

be work

ed out in training the voice. The tremolo generally

emanates from a lack

of development of the genio-glossus muscle

and

ex

cessive tension on the antagonistic tongue muscles, also from

relax

ation of the genio-hyoid muscle, from a tetanic q

uiver of the

j

aw, or from a combination of these causes. The tongue instrument

and

the lifting of the hyoid bone are of great value in check

ing the

tremolo, but where it is seated in the j

aw, the complete opening of

this

with

member should eliminate it. Tremolo is nearly always associated

the lock

, or middle, position of the j

aw, although it can occur

when

the j

aw is closed, or nearly closed.

175

the lock , or middle, position of the j aw, although it can occur when the

V

iolent Tremolos

S

ometimes the tremolo action is so pronounced that it involves

the

entire suspension of the larynx

. Under such circumstances all

the

manipulations which can be employed should be brought to

bear

on the elimination of this shock

ing wobble, which may have

a

pitch ex

cursion of a fth or even more.

There

is also a violent tremolo which seems to be seated in the

larynx

and is probably a result of ex

cessive tension on the thyro-

arytenoid muscles. This tremolo is the result of a virulent form of

muscular mix

ed registration and is eliminated as soon as pure regis-

tration

has been established.

Q

I

uality, V

oice Movement and R

eproduction

n regard to singing on the radio and for the records and movies,

there

is not very much to be said here. Power is not a factor in

reproduction, because the amount of energy delivered to the am-

er depends upon the setting of the input control, which is

pli

regulated according to the loudness of the singer'

s voice. W

e are,

therefore, only reproducing pitch, vowel, movement and, of course,

consonants.

Q

uality, i.e., pleasant or unpleasant q

uality, does not depend

primarily upon the spectrum, but rather upon pitch and intensity

movements in time. I

t is possible that changes of spectrum may occur

during

the vibrato cycle, but further research is necessary before

anything more can be said on this subj

ect. The fact remains, how-

ever,

that if the movement is regular, of the proper freq

uency, i.e.,

six

the

a second, and of the proper amplitude for the intensity, and if

middle pitch of the vibrato is constant (i.e., the pitch is cen-

tered

properly) the q

uality is pleasing. Now, unfortunately, a gentle

tremolo

is very regular and, provided that the voice is not pushed,

the

middle pitch of this movement may be relatively constant. This

why the radio crooner sounds rather nice, provided that he never

is

attempts to sing out loud. O

f course, if he does try to do so, the

laryngeal muscles do not hold and the arytenoid cartilages "

give,"

with

the result that the pitch starts to wander, and the q

becomes de nitely unpleasant.

uality

176

" give," with the result that the pitch starts to wander, and the q becomes de
" give," with the result that the pitch starts to wander, and the q becomes de

Di

erence of V

ibrato from Tremolo

The

this

singer whose voice is throaty and has a tremolo maintains

utter in his voice all the time he is singing. I

t is more or less

constant over his entire—

very limited—

intensity range. The singer

whose voice is produced properly, however, has virtually no move-

ment

at pianissimo. A

s he swells the tone, the vibrato starts to

appear. A

t M.F

. it is about a semitone. A

t fortissimo it may be as

much

as a whole tone. F

or all normal, full, free singing the pitch

ex

cursion of the vibrato is almost ex

actly a semitone, while the

intensity ex

cursion is from three to ve decibels. F

or ex

tremely loud

ects the pitch ex

e

cursion may be as much as three semitones. (S

ee

F

V

W

ig. 33.)

ibrato in R

eproduction

ith the old acoustical method of recording, when there was no

ampli er and no input control, the singer had to regulate the loud-

ness himself by moving into or away from the horn. Because the

intensity range which could be recorded was very limited, it was

necessary for him to become highly pro cient in these movements.

Nevertheless, this procedure made it impossible for the vibrato to

be reproduced faithfully.

I n order that the amplitude of the vibrato may be faithfully repro-

duced, it is essential that the intensity should not be monitored.

Thus, if the singer moved closer to the horn for a soft tone, the

reproduced sound was far louder in the intensity scale than he was

actually

singing. H

ence, every time he moved towards the horn,

the

tone which was reproduced had too little vibrato for its in-

tensity. I

nversely, when he moved away from the horn, the intensity

was

very much reduced. Therefore, the amplitude of the vibrato

was

too wide for the loudness of the tone when it was reproduced.

I

t was, of course, impossible for him to avoid these movements,

towards

and away from the horn, because if he had remained sta-

tionary,

and far enough away from it not to overcut the groove for

his

by

loudest tones, the soft tones would have been entirely submerged

surface noise, and therefore inaudible.

The

old records, therefore, do not show the proper amplitude

of

the vibrato for the intensity being sung. This e ect was aggra-

vated

because of the ex

tremely high surface noise. F

urthermore,

the

softer tones were then, inevitably far too loud in comparison

with

the louder ones. F

or this reason, the records of the voices of

the great singers of the past often show what seems to be too little

movement for the relative intensity of the tone being sung. This

177

of the past often show what seems to be too little movement for the relative intensity
of the past often show what seems to be too little movement for the relative intensity
of the past often show what seems to be too little movement for the relative intensity

especially true of women and is strik

is

ingly ex

empli ed on the

records

of E

mmy Destinn, probably the greatest woman singer ever

heard.

V

Great

oices R

elatively S

teady

A

great voice is generally far steadier than a throaty one, and a

perceptible vibrato movement occurs only when the intensity rises

above

pianissimo. V

irtually every singer today has much too much

movement, and this is especially true at low intensity. The basic

tone

should not be a wobble. W

hen the technic is good, it is rm and

the

pitch is absolutely de ned.

These

facts must be borne in mind when listening to the record-

ings

of the great singers of the past, because these records were all

made

rather

by the old acoustical method. Their voices are apt to sound

dead. This was most emphatically not true in life—

then-

vibrato

control was ex

cellent. I

n listening to these records, the dis-

tortion

of the vibrato, as well as the failure to reproduce the higher

freq

uencies, and the irregular speed of the turntable in the record-

ing

mechanism, must be tak

en into account. Nevertheless, the in-

telligent

listener should be able to detect the incredible di erence

between the voices of such singers as C

aruso, Destinn, Melba, K

S

Lunn,

ammarco, etc., and those of the best singers of today.

The

reader should listen, for ex

ample, for the precision of intona-

irk

tion,

the perfection of attack

, the continuity of the musical line, the

de

nition of intensity for each tone in a musical phrase, the vibrato-

by

regulated intensity control, the legitimate, open pianissimo, the

rhythmic phrasing and the ow and movement of the voice from tone

to

tone. The most strik

ing di erence lies perhaps in the lack

of slur

the ow and movement of the voice from tone to tone. The most strik ing di
the ow and movement of the voice from tone to tone. The most strik ing di
the ow and movement of the voice from tone to tone. The most strik ing di

control, all runs can be made legitimately and without di culty.

The singer who uses a throaty tremolo should not be allowed to

attempt runs until she has learned how to sing.

Pianissimo S

inging

There has been a great deal of discussion about pianissimo sing-

ing. No pupil should sing softly until pharyngeal resonance adj

ust-

ment is completely established. There is nothing so technically

destructive as illegitimate, soft singing. The throaty singer can

sq

ueeze o the tone with his neck

and tongue muscles with con-

summate ease. I

t is far easier for him to sing a soft than a loud tone.

The inverse is true when the voice is "

opened up"

not throaty.

This is not only because the control of intensity should be a function

of the laryngeal muscles, not of the neck

and tongue muscles, but

also because there is virtually no vibrato in a soft tone, and a tone

sung without the muscular release of the vibrato action demands a

de nitely augmented muscular e ort and control. I

n decreasing the

intensity the balance of arytenoid to thyroid tension becomes

greater and the glottis opens slightly, so that the breath ex

pulsion

becomes higher.*

I

n order that the breath pressure may be main-

tained against a less closed valve (glottis), the tension on the breath-

ing muscles must be augmented. F

urthermore, because the

against a less closed valve (glottis), the tension on the breath- ing muscles must be augmented.
against a less closed valve (glottis), the tension on the breath- ing muscles must be augmented.
against a less closed valve (glottis), the tension on the breath- ing muscles must be augmented.
against a less closed valve (glottis), the tension on the breath- ing muscles must be augmented.

veys

many intensely poignant interpretive e ects. I

t is, however,

something of a tour de force. The e ort req

uired to sing an entire

song

pianissimo is at least as great as it would be to sing it trans-

posed

up four semitones. E

ven the greatest singer is unlik

be

able

to maintain this level of tension throughout a recital.

ely to

C

I

onstriction Particularly Destructive to Great V

oices

t is well to point out that the result is far more deadly when a

great,

really "

open,"

voice than when a partly "

open"

voice goes

into

constriction. H

ighly developed, opening muscles are balanced

by

developed antagonistic muscles. F

or this reason, when an "

open"

voice

produces a throaty tone, it is ex

tremely throaty. This is why

great voice is so very rapidly destroyed by incompetent teaching.

a

Teachers of today who "

shut o "

their pupil'

s voices deliberately,

unk

nowingly can destroy great, contemporary, natural voices before

they

have had time to develop. O

nly mediocre voices survive such

training. I

f C

aruso'

s voice had gone into constriction it would have

been

completely eliminated. I

f E

mmy Destinn had fallen into the

hands

of a teacher who eliminated her lower register and made her

"

focus"

her voice in the "

masq

ue"

she never would have sung at all.

C

The

and

ontrol of I

ntensity

fully-trained voice can sing at virtually any level of intensity,

can gradually swell the tone from pianissimo to fortissimo and

then

decresendo to pianissimo again on a perfectly even line with-

out

any transition of q

uality, and without, at any time, going into con-

striction. The singers of today generally have a loud voice (not very

loud) and a mezza voce, which is merely a trick

of sq

ueak

ing, in

absolute constriction, in a more or less mix

ed register. These two

methods of production are unrelated and such singers are unable

to

swell the tone without a pronounced q

uality transition. They

never

sing a legitimate, pianissimo tone. They merely "

chok

e the

tone

o "

with their tongues and neck

s. This, most emphatically, is

not

singing pianissimo. Many of the most successful singers of today

go

through entire recitals with this neck

technic. Let it be emphasized again: I

-controlled, mezza-voce

t is a fact that it is impossible

for

anyone to sing a legitimate pianissimo tone unless he can sing

an

absolutely open fortissimo tone, at least four semitones higher.

The

comment of a critic who states that a singer'

s mezza voce is

beautiful, but that he forces his voice when he sings loudly is absurd.

H

180

is mezza voce must be completely throaty. The loud tones, derived

forces his voice when he sings loudly is absurd. H 180 is mezza voce must be
forces his voice when he sings loudly is absurd. H 180 is mezza voce must be
forces his voice when he sings loudly is absurd. H 180 is mezza voce must be
forces his voice when he sings loudly is absurd. H 180 is mezza voce must be
forces his voice when he sings loudly is absurd. H 180 is mezza voce must be

from

this technic, are obj

ectionable to the ear because the registra-

tion

becomes very mix

ed and the throatiness becomes apparent,

even

to the uninitiated, at the higher intensity level.

W

hen the voice is "

opened up"

and registered properly, it is not

cult for the pupil to produce pianissimo tones. A

di

ll he has to

learn

to do is to stop the vibrato and "

hold,"

or work

, harder, in-

creasing the work

by about the same amount that would be de-

manded for the production of a tone four semitones higher than

the

one he is singing.

Legitimate control of intensity depends, then, upon pure, devel-

oped,

balanced registration, ability to "

hold"

pharyngeal resonance

adj

ustment at all intensities, and upon control over the amplitude

of

the vibrato.

F

alsetto and V

ibrato (Male)

Because

the falsetto, in the man'

s voice, is pianissimo, or softer,

over

most of his singing range, the vibrato should always be vir-

tually

absent from this register. I

t should always be sung without

any

the

movement at all below about high B. Thus, in "

going through

falsetto,"

the falsetto tone should be sung rmly without any

movement whatever, ex

cept for the very high tones. Most beginners

sing

their falsetto tones with a de nite tremolo action. This tremolo

must

be eliminated, or the lower-register tone, derived from such

falsetto tone, will be throaty and will have a very pronounced

a

tremolo. A

ll mix

ed-falsetto singers use a de nite, and often a pro-

nounced, tremolo action at all times, or a "

dead"

steady tone. The

tremolo

mak

es a mix

ed-falsetto tone sound more lik

e a real tone,

especially in reproduction. A

high

D does not sound lik

properly-produced falsetto tone below

e real singing when it is unco-ordinated

with

the lower register. W

hen it does, it is throaty, has a tremolo

and

is not legitimate singing at all. Under such conditions it is

always

mix

ed and has an irritatingly e eminate sound.

F

alsetto and V

ibrato (F

emale)

The

woman'

s falsetto should have no movement for the low

tones,

but because she sings an octave higher than a man, she will

sing

legitimately in the falsetto register at about middle B, at M.P.

Therefore, at this pitch, some vibrato is desirable. A

bove this pitch

de nite vibrato should be present and its amplitude should depend

a

upon

the loudness of the tone. I

t should not be too pronounced,

unless

a very full tone is sung, and such a tone would not be sung

the falsetto below about F

in

#, on the top line of the treble clef.

16

1

tone is sung, and such a tone would not be sung the falsetto below about F
tone is sung, and such a tone would not be sung the falsetto below about F
tone is sung, and such a tone would not be sung the falsetto below about F

A

gain—

most voices have far too much movement. O

ur principal

problem with regard to movement lies in the elimination of tremolo

and

in the cutting down of ex

cessive vibrato. I

n most cases the

vibrato

tension

appears more or less automatically as soon as real "

has been established.

opening"

182

cases the vibrato tension appears more or less automatically as soon as real " has been