Archive for February, 2012

Vocal Resolution & Continuing Development

February 20, 2012

I believe now, after another year, my voice has finally jelled to where it was intended to be at my current age.  Perhaps it was always a coloratura soprano.  But finally, I am embracing the sound as mine and letting go of the more dramatic repertoire that I used to sing.

Finally, what used to be my natural speaking spacing in the mouth which spontaneously became the singing position slightly more open – that’s the correct spacing now.  So now when I sing spontaneously and naturally I don’t do anything special.  It’s that now I no  longer have the imperious thundering sound I used to have.  My voice  is now a cross between a flute and a clarinet in sound with an easy working range from the F above middle C to the F# above high C, with an easy tessitura most comfortable from the A below high C to the high C.  The top F is reserved for the high Mozart things like Queen of the Night, Madame, Herz, and cadence points for the leggiera Italian wing., i.e. Lucia, Sonambula, Marie in Daughter, Lakme, Mireille, Zerbinetta and Adele etc. and whatever display pieces that sit correctly, or the Gliere concerto, Mozart concert arias and oratorio.  It is not a small voice, but it is pure and soars with little or no effort.

The only problem I have yet to deal with is my moderate COPD.  When there are many allergies about, I have to steam on and off during a session so my airways are open enough and clear of crud to support the sound (and so there is no mucous rattling when I sing).  I am finding that my beginning ballet pointe work has a corolation to the cadencial top notes that have to be so precisely managed to be good.  That plus a clear day with my lungs and I really can sing well.

Eventually the longer I sing I can carefully manage the notes from middle C to the first F and get a reasonable amount of sound.  But those notes were never my most convincing sounds as a dramatic voice, and now they are proportionately in line to the rest of the sound and weak by comparison.

How did I get here?  Clearly I had been taught to make big sound with the tongue depressing the larynx.  Add to that a change in athsma meds that dried everything out, the voice collapsed.  I rebuilt my sound by singing where I had voice – the G or A above middle C.  I sang a lot of soft sounds with a loose E vowel and made sure I was singing just on the edge of my cords in the middle (i.e. falsetto) with a nearly closed mouth.  I drank copious amounts of full milk and ate full cloves of raw garlic (the full milk coated the cords and airways and kept me from having an athsma attack and garlic got any crud out of my airways plus opened my airways generally).  I got off all athsma meds and then in time reintroduced  only Advair 100/50 – in HALF DOSAGE per day.  That, plus steaming, and vocalizing as I crossed the bridge in the morning in time slowly brought the voice back.  Initially I could only phonate less than two octaves.  Now I manage two and a half octaves full out……. but the sound is still a correct pure head coloratura soprano.  It took over 3 years to get my now rather reliable voice back – albeit, a different voice, but one that has been described to me as “glorious”, moreover well-produced and sung with.

How long can I still sing? – no way to tell – but I will vocalize every day until I die most likely because my voice is my main emotional expression – and so I must sing.

I hope the above  gives at least some of you hope who are going through a vocal crises.  It will take work and focus but if you have not completely damaged your voice physicially (i.e. nodes, polyps etc.), you can bring it back.  So don’t give up.