The choir and the art of singing well – Part 2
• Knowledge of the Functions of the Resonance Chambers: These include the nose, the chest, the mouth, the sinus (the opening in the head connected with the nose organ), the throat and the larynx (voice box).
• Breathing and Breath Control: Breath Control is the control of the escaping breath and supporting its pressure of escape.
Proper breathing and management of the breath is very important as far as singing is concerned. The first thing that comes to mind when breathing is mentioned in music or in singing is the lungs.
All musical/speech sounds are produced during exhalation, and without enough breath in the lungs, it is difficult to sing well.
The lungs are pear shaped, being widest at the bottom and narrowest at the top. Consequently, when breathing in, that is, inhaling, one should breathe as deep down as possible.
To fill them completely, one has to concentrate on the base of the lungs – not the upper chest.
The shoulders should not move, but the abdomen must expand. Raising the shoulders is a sign that the narrow top of the lungs is being used.
For singing, refilling the lungs completely gives one distinct advantages – the ability to sing longer phrases and greater control for high notes, low notes, soft, loud, tone colouring, flexibility, vibrato, straight tone (non-vibrato), clear tone and singing smoothly through the registers.
The abdomen is the control room of breathing. When a deep breath is taken, the chest raises and the abdomen expands.
As the breath is used to sustain a sound, the chest should gradually fall and the abdomen gradually resumes its normal position.
The number one killer of the voice is pushing air too forcefully through the vocal cords, forcing them open or causing the throat to squeeze.
There are points to watch when inhaling: (i) slow and deep when there is plenty of time. (ii) In a slow breath, breathe through nostrils, and (iii) during performance, breathing must be quick and silent, that is, through mouth and nostrils, and as deep as possible in the time.
A quick breath through the nostrils is out of the question because it would be audible. Therefore, nostril breathing alone is very rarely possible during actual performance. It is recommended that one breathes in through the open mouth and nose for the following reasons:
• One cannot take as quick and deep a breath through the nose alone.
• A quick nose breath is usually facially unattractive, noisy and distracts from the performance.
• Taking a breath through the mouth and nose together opens the resonating passage, preparing them for the free flow of sound.
You may now try some exercises in breath control. Remember when inhaling, it must be as deep as possible, that is, air must fill the lungs completely.
Your shoulders should not be raised; rather your abdomen should expand downwards and outwards.
When breathing out, it is inwards and upward. Use a note in the middle of the compass, say G. To begin with, sustain for 5 beats. Then increase the length of the sustained tone to 9, then 13, then 17, then 21 beats and even as far as you can go.
3. Knowledge of Articulators and Articulation (Pronunciation): Eight positions of Articulation identified include:
• Bilabial: Sounds produced with both lips.
• Labiodentals: Sounds produced with lower lip with teeth.
• Dental: Sounds produced with the tip of the tongue and both upper and lower teeth.
• Alveolar: Sounds produced with the tongue on the alveolar ridge.
• Palate-Alveolar or Fronto-Palatal: Sounds produced with the front of the tongue on the hard palate.
• Palatal: Sounds produced by the gliding of the tongue on the hard palate.
• Velar: Sounds produced at the velum or soft palate.
• Glottal: Sounds produced at the glottis.
These positions help in pronouncing words well and clearly in music. Every word must be heard clearly.
Very Rev. Dr. Isaac Udoh (KCW, JP), Conference Music Coordinator, Methodist Church Nigeria/a Knight of Charles Wesley, and a Presbyter in Methodist Church Nigeria presiding English Service at Groves Memorial Methodist Cathedral, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Ekpene Diocese. Currently, Head, Department of Music, University of Uyo, Uyo. email@example.com 08037800907
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