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sotto voce

The Syntax of Voice Technique


concern coordinating the breath quiring consummate coordination of
process, vocal fold vibration, and the all its parts. Reiteration of syntacti-
filtering effect of the resonator tract. cal maneuvers leads to permanent
Voice pedagogy can be thought of behavior in performance.
as a form of syntax. Although we Mention was made that some ped-
generally associate the word with agogics are more complex than nec-
grammatical construction, syntax essary. Simplification, not complica-
occurs in all learning processes. It is tion, should be the goal of all
best described as the ability to devise teaching. It is unnecessary to invent
and follow complex programs of ac- functions (unfortunately the case in
tion, making use of either tools, some pedagogics that do not follow
signs, words, and physical coordina- the historic international school of
tion, or all of them. Dictionary def- singing) for any of the three major
Richard Miller initions of syntax include: 'to put contributors to phonation: breath,
together," "to put in order," "a con- larynx, resonator.
nected system or order," "an orderly Why contrive abdominal muscle
Written questions that teachers and
performers have submitted for discus- arrangement," and "harmonious ad- groups that do not exist? Why main-
sion at sessions devoted to systematic justment of parts or elements." tain that functions of the larynx can
voice technique are wide ranging, often A singer must put together those be improved through the introduc-
penetrating the very heart of voice ped- elements that produce a dependable tion of noncontrollable local rnaneu-
agogy. Sotto voce continues to consid- adjustment that will meet the spe- vers? Why invent resonance spaces
er some of them. cific tasks of singing. Singing tasks and domes that are not discoverable?
go far beyond the requirements of It is far easier, far simpler, and far
Question: other forms of phonation. Tech- faster to present recognizable physi-
It has been stated that many pro- nique in every field of endeavor de- cal and acoustic facts about the
moted approaches to singing tech- pends on a connected system or singing voice, and it is far more hon-
nique are overly complex. You ap- structure, For that reason, a system- est. The syntax of artistic singing is
pear to advocate simplification of atic approach to voice pedagogy is most quickly built on a structure of
voice pedagogy by coordinating just appealing because, without a struc- accurate information, not on a sys-
three factors: breath, larynx, and res- tured learning system (an orderly tem of invented structures and imag-
onators. In general—not in specific arrangement), there seldom can be ined controls.
pedagogic terms—how would you a harmonious adjustment of the
describe your own concept of this parts and elements that produce the Among Richard Miller's many activities
process? singing instrument. and honors are: Internationally acclaimed
Each of those elements—in this masterci asses; recurrent engagements in
Comment: case, the motor, the vibrator, and the Austria, Australia, Canada, England,
This is a big question. There is no resonator—must be put together in a France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway,
Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, 38 US
doubt that cultivated singing de- harmonious adjustment. Any action
states. Voice research in Belgium, the
pends on complex patterned se- that goes beyond the most primitive Czech Republic, England, Finland,
quences. The questioner is correct gesture requires complex program- France, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands,
that in the judgment of this writer, ming, achieved through repetition. Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland.
the most important matter in the Singing is certainly one of the high- Distinguished international opera, orato-
area of voice technique is that rec- est forms of physical, mental, spiri- rio, and recital career. Tenor soloist with
ommended learning patterns should tual, and communicative activity, re- Knappertsbusch, Ackermann, Ludwig, Se-

J.,_-1 -1 50.s41044. 2001 49


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CtA 2001 N.,4 Td
Richard Miller

bastian, Slat kin, Lane, Szcll, Boulez, etc. mance, Oberlin Conservatory. Internation- in Europe, Asia, South America, USA, and
Pedagogy/performance texts: English, al adjudicator at primary competitions. in major young-artist programs.
French, German and Italian Techniques Students contracted at major opera houses
of Singing (Scarecrow, 1977, revised
1997), The Structure of Singing
(Schirmer Books, 1986) [French Ministry
of Culture La Structure du Chant (1990)1,
Training Tenor Voices (Schirmer Books,
1993), On the Art of Singing (Oxford
VoçalRey .net
University Press, 1996), Singing Schu-
FaI
Oc4a4'
mann: An Interpretive Guide for Per-
formers (Oxford University Press, 1999),
Training Soprano Voices (Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 2000). Editor, Liszt: 25 French
and Italian Songs, Liszt: 22 German
Songs, High/Low (International Music.
1998); 120 professional journal articles.
Chevalier/OfficierL'ordre des arts et des
cD . a! rIInhl. 1I iIl WciI % *whim 1W iiu
lcttres (French Ministry of Culture hon-
orary); Doctor of Humane Letters; Oto- ca ixit ow ow rr
laryngology Adjunct Staff; Cleveland Clin- Mcw*hS6& H!Mwa .1 &2 Th.idS bca1s
ic; Collegium. Medicorum. Theatri;
American Academy; Prof/Director, Vocal
Arts Center; Wheeler Professor of Perfor- www4voca Ire pne t

Boston Universit VOCAL PERFORMANCE AND CHORAL CONDUCTING-'


y
School
for the Arts

B.M.. NI.M.. l).M.A.. Artist Diploma. and Opera Institute • M.M. and l).M.A. in Choral Conducting

VOICE FACULTY OPERA PROGRAMS more information, contact:


Sarah Arneson Phyllis Curtin, J School for the Arts, School of Music
800/643-4796 or 617/353-3341
Penelope Bitzas A ,'tistic Advisor
sfamusic@bu.edu uitbu.edtUSFA/
Claudia Catania Sharon Daniels,
Sharon Daniels Director of Opera Programs For information on summer vocal programs
Phyllis Hoffman William Lumpkin, for high school students at Tanglewood,
in conjunction with the Boston Symphony
Joanna Levy Music Director
Orchestra's Tanglewood Music Center, call
Joy McIntyre Allison Voth, 800/643-4796 or 617/353-3386.
Susan Ormoin Principal Coach
Cynthia Plumb,
Amy Schneider &
Director of Admissions
William Sharp A roster of
John Daverio,
visiting directors Director. School of Music ^ 1 , .11:1 ];:.
CHORAL CONDUCTING and artists/teachers
Ann Howard Jones
In tt/Ual o1I/k)rtun:t1.
afflrrnu/tve ac/ton ins/sirthon
A RTS
Music Theater Arts Visual Arts

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