Tuesday, December 19, 2006

singing in the wind

Today as I was vocalizing on the walk to work, I happened upon two thoughts which I think are going to be instrumental (foreshadowing alert: this is an unintended pun) in my technique moving forward:

  1. "No sensation in the throat" is a complete and utter misnomer. Of course there is sensation. There are vibrations, you can feel it! (Just put your hand against your throat next time you sing). Also, this isn't a bad thing as muscles should be engaged (it's the only way anything is going to happen); it's more that the throat most likely shouldn't be engaged as a volitional actor in the process of phonation. Speaking, for instance, doesn't require specific, conscious activations to start (engage vocal cords at X tension, cricothyroids at this position, etc.) but to say that *nothing* happens in the throat has caused me some serious cognitive dissonance. I should remind myself of my crew coach in college ("don't groan; you're wasting energy") and the sports commentators talking about Dan what's-his-face at whichever-Olympics in the sprint event for the decathalon ("see how he tightens his face? sprint-specializers' faces are always loose at this level, and as they run, you can see in slow motion how the muscles and skin bounce freely and without tension; dan is wasting a lot of energy by tightening muscles that do not help him run in any way shape or form").

  2. I had the sudden epiphany that (because, for as long as I can remember, I've played the violin (and my parents contend that I tell funny stories about how I got my first violin)) all this time in my singing, I've focused either technically on the "fingering" analogue or the expression of the music to the exclusion of the "bowing" analogue of singing. To wit, I'm concerned (and rightly so, but overdoing is not so good either) with "placing the notes in my voice and setting things up" like I would fingerings along the fingerboard of a violin that I'm not playing as much attention as hewing that together with the bowing or the breath or other parts of that analogue. Sure, I've been told to death that I need to pay attention to my breathing, but actually thinking of it as bowing immediately helped hew together my singing technique in a fundamental way. Score.

Now time to make all of this second nature (and try and ditch the habit of bowing along with my right hand as I imagine my breathing/singing as a violin bowing pattern).

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