The past few weeks since my last post have been absolutely crazy. One should never underestimate the various finales that accompany the end of a graduate degree.
In the background since I have not been writing (on this blog anyway, I have written several rather long papers for school), I have been exploring my new “tenor-hood”. My opera focus so far has been on Rossini, Donizetti and Mozart almost exclusively. For songs, I have bought the same song books that I had before in higher keys. And it’s been working just fine. However, within my own personal craziness, I have a fear that I am like the Emperor of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and my tenor-hood is like his proud nakedness. Of course, no innocent children have come along to pop this bubble yet, so I continue. I wonder if anyone who changes voice type experiences similar doubts. Please let me know if you do!
Because of this shift, I have now come to know and fear my own passaggio. I had never experienced it before as a baritone because I never sang high enough! The only time I really sang notes within it were on my highest notes G and Ab. I never felt like I could really lay into them and sing loudly. And that’s why. My passaggio is pretty high.
For those of you who don’t know, the passaggio is the “passageway” between registers in voices. In the way I think about it (and along with breathing register talk tends to be very controversial amongst singers and pedagogues) men have one main passaggio area while women tend to have several. It is, at first, very difficult to work with it because certain vowels work very poorly within it, and it is hard to sing loudly within it. It also feels like it may be ready to crack if the poor singer does not move very carefully through it. So the singer must abandon a certain amount of fear to even begin dealing with it because otherwise it’s too nerve wracking.
So, the main point that I want to get across is that I am writing again and that this change to tenor is occupying a great deal of my thoughts on singing. Thus it will be mentioned quite a bit on here, especially as I become more adept at moving through my passaggio and I find things to share that may help other singers.
I have also graduated and have my Masters of Music degree. Pretty cool. :)
Here’s a video with Rockwell Blake singing an aria that I am currently working on. There is some of that awful digital video delay, but if it bothers you, just close your eyes and listen.This guy is just awesome, and I hope you enjoy it!
I know I’m just a singer singer but nonetheless I take (took) it all very seriously and when I found out I had a strong lower register I felt liberated, so maybe with time you’ll feel the liberation. The passagio fascinates me and always has so it’s good to read your thoughts on it, which is in layman’s terms called the ‘break’, very scary yet many times I have it figured out, mostly when I’m not anticipating and dreading it.
Ian Sidden says
Yes, there is a sense of liberation in using my extended range. I agree with that entirely.
And for the most part I don’t dread the break unless I spend a lot of time within it. I have been singing “Una furtiva lagrima” a lot lately, and the aria is challenging because it hovers around and within the passaggio. That’s when it gets tricky because if one is not careful, that kind of singing can become very tiring very quickly even if a piece never takes you very high.
By the way, all singers (and non-singers!) are welcome to give their opinions and experiences. :)
How about just a word of congratulations on the achievement of your degree and a wish for a bright and melodic future?
Oh, passaggi. With the whole reflux thing going on, my passaggi became way bigger and way more pronounced…especially my lower one. The upper one was solved just by not collapsing the ribs. The lower one, I had to work a bit with how high to carry chest and how low to carry head. I was adding a ton of tension I didn’t know I was adding and it was making things a lot more difficult than they had to be. It’s still definitely weaker than the rest of my range, but, it is MUCH improved, in just this short time I’ve been working with it.
Ian Sidden says
I’m glad to hear that it’s feeling stronger since you’ve been working on it.
This is an older post but I’ll still ask; are there women singers who claim to never pay attention to their passaggio? Both Alfredo Kraus and Rockwell Blake (two of my favorite singers) claim to hardy pay attention to it. I personally do have to pay attention or the results are awful. But I do wonder, do women ever say that?
I never used to really notice my passaggi, before I got sick…so, I can understand singers who say that. However, I think it is important to pay attention to them, in order to not approach them incorrectly and, eventually, have negative consequences popping up.