Archive for February, 2010

Old Italian teachers often refer to a term called giro. It means to turn around or make a circle. What has that to do with singing?

The feeling of the sound going high up in the head to resonate in the cavities there instead of in the mouth belongs to the technique of classical singing. That is what giro is about. Singers learn to use their pharynx as a resonator. The soft palate is one of the movable parts of our ”tube” ie. the length of the resonating chambers from the lips down to the larynx. In pop singing and CCM the singer´s voice sounds more speechlike whereas the operatic quality requires more roundness and overtones. These can be achieved by lifting the soft palate and directing the sound waves more towards the back. Some teachers refer to the feeling saying the sound should go ”up and over”. Others on the other hand claim that the voice cannot be directed anywhere.

In my opinion, all these concepts can be useful. If we want a round and mellow tone the sound should definitely not be pushed straight out of the mouth or even into the masque for that matter (see my previous article about the masque!). If we have the surprise feeling together with an inner smile the soft palate lifts gently. In my experience many singers overdo the lift and thereby cause the soft palate to stiffen instead, even sometimes engaging the throat constrictor muscles without perhaps noticing. That would give a strained and unpleasant sound and feeling. It could be helpful to just relax the pharynx and slightly lean backwards inside. And then the tricky part:  do not let the tongue go back! Because if you do, the sound will certainly be muffled and lack clarity.

So, how to combine the feeling of space in the back and a forward sound in the masque?  It all comes together with the inner smile and feeling the smell of a rose simultaneously, thus connecting the cavities from behind the nose to the pharynx. This is good phonation. Yet, we also have to have clear diction (articulation). So, make sure that the tongue stays forward, perhaps in the ng –position and make the consonant sounds only with the tip of the tongue and lips using small movements. And keep your body at all times connected to the sound, of course!

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