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Bel Canto

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forgivendays
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Hey, I was reading about Bel Canto and somethings really intrigued me. In Bel Canto you DON'T direct your voice towards the soft palate. Instead you direct it towards the hard palate and teeth for more resonance.

Is that just a different way of picturing things? It all seems pretty close to me and you're of course still using the hard palate when directing your voice towards the soft palate. I'm just wondering if I should direct it more towards the hard palate because that would make more sense.

Also another interesting stage in Bel Canto is called "the mask". I think it's basically just using your sinus cavities for resonance. Is that the same as the CVT basic principle of always having some twang in your tone?

You can read about it here: http://thebelcantotechnique.now-here-this.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=35

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now this is interesting. ken tamplin academy uses Bel Canto techniques. But i never thought about the soft/hard palate thingy. when i do it, i direct my voice to the soft palate. ken doesnt say this, but why i did that was because of Jaime Vendera's book. that's where i thought it should be done...

also i would like to know from the experts here, what are the different sensations we can feel when directing it to the soft or hard palate?

any changes in amount of air? a little more support?

thanks

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Morid, Darkclaw: In Bel Canto, as taught over the centuries, the idea of 'placement' or 'direction' of the tone was not a concept used by teachers. That did not show up until the 20th Century.

Earlier Bel Canto teachers were far more interested in the shaping of vowels, legato, passaggio, articulation, dynamics, expression and the 'blending of the registers'.

In the 20th Century, a whole group of 'placement' schools of thought were developed. The idea of 'mask' placement, and others gained some popularity, and entire books were written with this-or-that singer/teacher's ideas about what a singer feels. Perhaps the most highly developed and specific of these was Lilli Lehmann's 'How to Sing', which had detailed diagrams of the locations of vibrations to be expected on each note.

While these sensations are very often in one or another place, its not reasonable to expect that everybody, singing any particular note, will feel the same thing. A singer cannot 'direct' or 'put' the tone anywhere without first causing it via vocal function. The sensations are the result of the vocalism, not its cause. However, it is perfectly reasonable for an individual singer, once function is established, to use these sensations as biofeedback and reminder of how their own voice feels when well-produced. For many people, these sensations become a key part of their technique awareness.

With all of that in mind, the sensations that a given singer may have on a particular note/dynamic/tonequality/registration/breathbalance/vowel combination will vary singer to singer, and in any given singer based on the particulars of those 6 characteristics. Among those, the aspects of singing which cause energetic high frequencies in the voice will increase the liklihood of sensations in distinct locations identifiable for the singers whose awareness is open to them.

I think it useful to also say 1 thing very clearly: The sensation of vibrations in parts of the head or chest do not cause tone quality... they are the result of it. Specifically, vibrations in the sinuses, bridge of the nose, 'space above or on the palate' (hard or soft), behind the front teeth, dome of the head, in or on the skull... all these result from the activities of the vocal organs and the resonances of the vocal tract.

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I've had nights when I've hit this right, and there was hardly any sensation. No stress, no "gripping" just free flowing notes and a much higher range. I could tell they were above the SP by the lack of sensation anywhere else and also the ease with which the voice worked. I've only had that with a few gigs, but man is it the coolest thing ever.

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billy, you're lucky. till now i cant remember any kind of feeling when i'm singing it right. i know there are moments when i sing 'correctly', but the feeling is forgettable. now adding placement into the picture, finding the placement is like finding the right hay in a haystack, when actually its just, there.

now that kind steven explained placement.. i hope this could make my finding the hay easier..

seems like almost everyday i'm learning something new about singing.. and to think singing is just opening your mouth. -_-

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I've had nights when I've hit this right, and there was hardly any sensation. No stress, no "gripping" just free flowing notes and a much higher range. I could tell they were above the SP by the lack of sensation anywhere else and also the ease with which the voice worked. I've only had that with a few gigs, but man is it the coolest thing ever.

billy, i totally relate to this.

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Hmm... interesting. I've learned a technique based on Bel Canto in the past and I was taught to direct the air just above the top teeth while raising the soft palate. The air should glide across the hard palate for better resonance. This works really well on the lower notes; you'll get nice free flowing air with a natural vibrato as a result. However, from my experience, as I move into head voice, I find that directing the air toward my soft palate has made things easier. It would sound headier, but it's also easier to produce. I'm not sure why though...

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Hmm... interesting. I've learned a technique based on Bel Canto in the past and I was taught to direct the air just above the top teeth while raising the soft palate. The air should glide across the hard palate for better resonance. This works really well on the lower notes; you'll get nice free flowing air with a natural vibrato as a result. However, from my experience, as I move into head voice, I find that directing the air toward my soft palate has made things easier. It would sound headier, but it's also easier to produce. I'm not sure why though...

steve fraser can correct me, but that ease you're taking about is probably singer's formant which gives you that "ring" sound.

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Hi again... I messed around with my voice trying to get tone from directing the voice, didn't work. Maybe I'm not explaining it right, but thanks Steven that made perfect sense.

Morid: I thought of something to add. There are very good acoustical reasons for singers feeling things. If someone has those feelings, they can be very useful to them and to the teacher. So, when a student says to me, after singing a particularly good note, 'I felt vibration in such-and-such a location', we will explore that experience, and see if it can be duplicated by attempting to sing the same note with the same vocal production, vowel-concept, etc.

As I mentioned, these things show up because the singing is being done in a particular way, and especially are associated with strong high-frequency harmonics that result when the phonation and the resonance adjustments get aligned. The individual's discovery of the sensations that go with their own good tone is real progress, because it means that the singer has additional physical feed-back of what sensations to expect when their singing is good. The teacher and singer can then work their way outward to include more notes and vowels into this newly-discovered vocalism.

That is why placement pedagogy can work fine. I have no problem with it, as long as the teacher and student know that its like the speedometer, not the gas pedal.

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The term Bel Canto has never really been completely defined through the centuries. I think its important to point out what some of the truth behind this over-used term, "Bel Canto".

Here is the definition of Bel Canto according to Wikipedia... It does not mean, "The ancient traditional vocal techniques that were tried and true and past the test through the centuries, therefore, it must be really important and and better...". No, thats not what Bel Canto REALLY means. You will note the BOLDing I point out below:

***

Bel canto (Bel-Canto) (Italian, "beautiful singing"), along with a number of similar constructions ("bellezze del canto"/"bell’arte del canto"), is an Italian opera term. It has several different meanings and is subject to a wide array of interpretations.[1]

The earliest use of the term "bel canto" occurred in late 17th-century Italy, when it was applied to a sophisticated model of singing that was evolving there among practitioners of operatic and sacred music. The term did not become fairly widely used, however, until the middle of the next century, which was the heyday of opera seria, the static but technically challenging da capo aria, and the now-extinct castrato voice.

In the mid-19th century, bel canto gained a more specific meaning when it was employed to distinguish what by now had developed into the traditional Italian vocal model from more forceful, less ingratiating styles of singing. (This is the definition most people are trying to refer to..., but read on...). These newer styles of singing had arisen as a result of 19th-century operas growing increasingly dramatic, pitting performers against louder and denser orchestral accompaniments in bigger theatres. Nonetheless, "neither musical nor general dictionaries saw fit to attempt [a] definition [of bel canto] until after 1900". The term remains vague and ambiguous in the 21st century and is often used nostalgically to evoke a lost singing tradition.[2]

***

So, when you hear someone say, "Im Bel Canto"... they may legitimately believe they are, but that is because they erroneously have concluded that it means "The traditional Classical method that stood the test of time". But thats not really what Bel Canto means... in the worst use of the term, some people will use the term for marketing purposes. It goes something like this, "I want you to believe that I teach an ancient traditional voice technique that is tried and true...and perhaps I believe that I do... but Im also perfectly aware that the term conjures up visions of "legitimacy" because it refers to something "Classical" and that makes it sound more "legit".... but even though wikipedia and experts cant really agree on what it means, ... it doesnt matter, because the consumer will assume that it must be better because it sounds like its from the Classical tradition and many people think, if its from the Classical tradition, it must be more legit".

This doesnt mean a great teacher like Ken Tamplin, who calls himself Bel Canto, isnt a great teacher, he is... I know him personally, he is a great guy and teacher... , it just suggests that maybe the term "Bel Canto" should not be used so loosely because when you really do the research, you realize, the meaning is nebulous.

You want to know the truth? 300-400 years ago, singers didnt have TVS, CVT, Estill, an unlimited amount of books, DVDs, websites and forums to refer to on how to learn vocal technique. The truth is, the vocal techniques that are taught TODAY are the best vocal techniques that have ever been taught in the history of man-kind. You put a modern opera singer next to someone a couple hundred years ago and its my guess that the modern singer would sing circles around that ancient singer. Often we like to think that things that are old, were better for some reason... its our nature to be nostalgic and think that there was a better time... In my opinion, when it comes to singing technique and understanding of how the voice works and new innovative training systems, scales, vocal modes, etc... is far greater than the past. And they didnt have Steve Fraser either!! :D

I hope this gives you some perspectives on "Bel Canto". But I do admit, it really sounds neat.

PS:

When CVT is referring to twang, it has nothing to do with "Bel Canto". All the vocal schools of merit today, that are truly innovating, are teaching twang or "twang-like" concepts with a different name. You will definately fill your head with twang pedagogy in my school as well as Ken Tamplin, The Estillians, Jaime Vendera, James Lugo and on and on... No one corners the market on Twang.

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Hey, I checked out Ed's web site and he looks like a good teacher... very nice web site. Im not trying to take any merit from this gentleman's teachings, Im sure he is great. Just trying to point out that the term "Bel Canto" needs to be dealt with, with scrutiny.

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One of my favorite singers, Myles Kennedy, says he uses Bel Canto so I was curious. But yeah the only teacher I could find used "Bel Canto" to market himself. I've learned much more from everybody on here.

one of mine too..and seems like such a nice guy.

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In addition, I think we have many more good singers today and not just because the population of the world has increased, if singers were to be described as a percentage of the population. As Robert pointed out, the general public not only has access to more materials but is, in general, more literate than people of the 17th century and there are more literate people, per capita, at least in developed countries. In addition, singing lessons are cheaper and more plentiful than those times of the past. And it is a buyer's market. One style doesn't suit you, try another, all from the comfort of your own chair or house.

In addition to that is the solid scientific research of just the last past 3 decades or so, so amazingly represented by Steven in this forum. And that is in addition to his experience as a "classically" trained singer and teacher, as well as researcher.

At the very least, we could match singers of old and for longer periods of our life by refining our singing techniques.

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okay when imagining the inverted triangle and thinking up or down at low or high notes, - which has helped me a TON! - I am just wondering exactly where the bottom and top point of this triangle are supposed to be located within the mask? In my minds eye ;) so to speak, the bottom is along the eyebrow area, point somewhere below the nose. And I'm assuming the mask is at the front of the skull, (approximately parallel to the line of the face) not further into the hard palatte area?

am i overthinking this?

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okay when imagining the inverted triangle and thinking up or down at low or high notes, - which has helped me a TON! - I am just wondering exactly where the bottom and top point of this triangle are supposed to be located within the mask? In my minds eye ;) so to speak, the bottom is along the eyebrow area, point somewhere below the nose. And I'm assuming the mask is at the front of the skull, (approximately parallel to the line of the face) not further into the hard palatte area?

am i overthinking this?

maybe, just regard the mask area as the area covered by the "lone ranger's" mask.

remember the lone ranger?

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I was going to be a snot and say my resonance is behind my right ear but for me, mostly in the soft palate for most of the range and behind my eyeballs for the highest stuff.

I really do feel mine in my right ear more than my left sometimes. Were you kidding? lol. and I did some really buzzy humming and hurt my right eye once too. I had to stop for the rest of the day.

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Videohere, yea I remember the lone ranger - and Tonto ;) ronws and wildcat, thanks for the replies too, higher notes for me too, at the bridge of my nose or higher if i get into "whistle"....was curious as if i move the" image" of the mask up and down, towards the plane of the face, or back, while singing, the results do differ....Guess i gotta figure out what sound i like best? and what feels free but coordinated :)

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I think feel is important. Geoff Tate sings by feel. Sometimes, my feel has thrown me off or maybe my ear is "tired." I was working on "Here I go Again" by Whitesnake last night. There's a high note on the phrase "here I go" just before the bridge. It felt good and right when I did it but, in playback, I'm a whole tone higher than I should be. I had thought of posting that just to see if I was hearing it correctly but a few playbacks and I thought, yes, definitely too high, not just sharp but a whole tone high. But the note felt good when I did it. So, I have to correct that note and memorize the feeling.

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