The Death of the Big Voice (part 1)
Consider this post the thesis statement of a longer topic I will be exploring over the next few months. This sentiment above can easily be taken out of context and misunderstood, so I want to be certain that all angles have been addressed. Hence, this first post is just to lay out the basic situation.
Here is the text I posted on Instagram earlier this week:
How many voices have I seen halted/misdirected/or ruined because they were misclassified?
"Bigness" can manifest in different timbral pictures. Bigness is about density of sound. It's about the size of the cords, and the ability to retain thyroarytenoid participation in a balanced manner throughout the range.
Bigness is NOT
Big voices can be darker or brighter in timbre.
Learning to recognize a big voice is the first step, and then, allowing that voice to keep it's nature, while maintaining balance is of utmost necessity.
Often, teachers think lightening a voice is a safe practice to protect the young vocal organs from strain, but it can be deadly for a larger instrument. The singer who is developing technique and orientation of their instrument does not kinesthetically understand "lightening" yet, because they cannot achieve that coordination. So, instead, they deliver a light "aesthetic" to please the teacher's ears, but instead, are pulling up on their larynx and not fully closing the cords. This can have disastrous results in that the singer destroys the balance of their muscular coordination, and creates numerous compensatory mechanisms. They also never develop technically. . .
Then, the singer is labelled "not good enough"
Opportunities pass them by.
Often, the singer will quit at this point.
Or, they will search for answers.
Sometimes they find the answers, but sometimes not. And their beautiful, big voice stays hidden under years of falsification.
If you are in school or in your early 20s (or any age for that matter!) and the light repertoire feels uncomfortable, don't ignore this feeling- question your teacher!! And furthermore, if you are having excessive difficulty with technique when your colleagues are developing smoothly, go get a second opinion. (and maybe a third).
Don't wait. You owe it to yourself.
I thought this may confuse my audience, considering how often I discuss the importance of exercising the light mechanism of the voice. How can these two ideas co-exist?
I then added this comment to my post...
And just to clarify…. Learning to lighten the registration while maintaining laryngeal is so important, but is a process and is not as simple as “lightening-up”!
In the end, it is all about balance. And balance requires cognitive dissonance, which is not something a lot of us like to sit with, but is essential if great singing is to be attained.
So, start with the idea that a sound should be both DARK and LIGHT. It should be DEEP and BRILLIANT. It should be both WARM and PENETRATING. These concepts are diametrically opposed to each other in theory, but create the recipe for superbly stellar singing.
Much more to come on this topic, but I wanted to open the can of worms now.....