Jump to content

Proof that vocal classifications are a waste of time!

Rate this topic


AboveTenor
 Share

Recommended Posts

Looks like historical revisionism.

Fachs or voice types were rooted in choral singing. Solo voice singing really came about with the italian art songs and operas that loosely became associated with Bel Canto.

I'm not sure how this summation of some things said at a conference proves that classifications are unnecessary. Especially in the days of opera before electronic amplification. Voices really do have different weights, even in the same range. And a voice would be chosen depending on the requirements of the role.

The reason for fachs or types in choral arrangement was precisely because one was dealing with, essentially, a vocal chamber group, as it were. Someone to sing low notes, some one to sing high notes, someone to carry the main melody of the libretto. I'm not convinced that classifications have no use. Even though I totally agree that someone who might classically be a bass or baritone can sing notes that are normally in the tenor range. I have not known of many tenors that could sing "baritone" or "bass," though it is said that, one time, Caruso sang a bass role when the cast singer developed a sudden vocal malady. But there is no recording of that performance to truly appraise it as a well rounded basso performance. All we have is the adulatory descriptions from people who were admittedly gushing fans for Caruso. To a few of them, who's books I have read, there is absolutely nothing Caruso could have ever done wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like the article says, in the early days tenors only sang in falsetto. Over time, this changed as composers wanted a different kind of sound - a full head voice. Some of these tenors couldn't even hit the High C in the configuration that was now being required.

So the point that I was trying to make is that people should stop worrying if they are a tenor or a baritone. Since the basis of classifying a tenor has changed, what really defines a tenor anyway?

Now I'm not saying that voices do not vary in weight or timbre, each one is unique with different colors and tones. The same goes for range.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For example, all of my teachers have told me that I'm a baritone. But according to the famous vocal pedagogy pioneer, Richard Miller, I am a tenor because my chest voice breaks at F4.

As a college student studying the voice, I see a lot of vocal discrimination go on especially against the lower voice parts. Ironically, most of the baritones in my school sound a lot better than the couple tenors we have. Probably because most of the tenors should probably be singing baritone, and the baritones should really be singing tenor. Since they would not train me as a tenor, I chose to study as a countertenor. I really did not want to be a baritone like everybody else, not that there is anything wrong with that.

Honestly, I'm starting to believe that voice types are really just tessituras. So now if someone asks if I sing so and so I usually reply: "No, I sing so and so. I am a singer."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vocal fach matters for interpretational purposes.

For example: a baritone could sing a certain high pitched song, could hit all the notes perfectly, but due to his thicker chords, the volume output at those pitches would be too high to naturally flow with the feeling of the song. The beter choice would be a lyric tenor for instance. It's not a question which notes you can sing, both baritone and tenor can hit pretty much 85% of the same notes give or take, it's a question of where does the voice naturally want to sit and which voice is best for which piece.

In that regard, fachs are useful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They may train you as a tenor eventually. Most of the good tenors start as baritones. The ones that start as tenors usually either just have very high voices or started singing at an earlier age. That's the impression I'm getting at my school. I don't think voice classifications are useless at all. Singing up to C5 is hard work for almost anyone. While in theory, anybody can do it, in practice there are voices that are better suited for it. Also, tenors cannot sing bass. Not the way that a bass can sing bass. No dice. As for the baritone, it's usually more timbre related. And some baritones can actually sing bass. Most male singers can sing in the baritone tessitura (It was a bit high for me starting out but now I've got it.) With an 18 year old freshman voice, you do not know what it is going to sound like in five or even two years. Placing a possible tenor as a baritone is often just a way to play it safe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that you are one fach or another simply because of your passaggio note. Especially since the passaggio can seem to shift depending on what vowel sound is used.

Second, I have never read in my studies, though not connected with the conference notes that you linked, that tenors of old always sang in falsetto. Though, granted, up until the time of Wagner or even large ochestras, much lyric singing was in a chamber group setting in small opera houses where not a lot of vocal volume was needed or desired. In fact, it seemed, florid singing thrived in these quieter settings and many was the advocate of florid bel canto totally dismayed at the era of Wagner and the heavier voice types that were needed to be heard above the din of an orchestra of large, loud instruments.

At least, that's my redneck interpretation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Daniel, I'm referring to as high as I can take my chest voice without flipping into falsetto. I am pretty well trained and can bridge into my head voice without much of a noticable break. My voice really doesn't break until around a G5. Although when I was 15 or 16 (I'm 22 now), I used to be able to go past Soprano High C.

Ron, that's what I said. Apparently, I'm not a tenor because my passagio doesn't begin at a G#. Even though most tenors start mixing earlier at an E4.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ya I agree with point #4 and #5. You can't just tell someone they are a certain class without finding their entire range, at which point you do figure that out, not accommodating your range with too low or high passages would just be counter productive to the highest ordinal number. If it's not in your range, your gonna struggle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My voice really doesn't break until around a G5. Although when I was 15 or 16 (I'm 22 now), I used to be able to go past Soprano High C.

At D5 and above, even for tenors, there is a tonal shift because the resonating spaces for those notes are so small, there is not enough room to resonate the harmonics that make different vowel sounds. Ergo, the vowels tend to sound the same, above that, including at G5. It's not so much a passaggio as it is that tonal shift I was talking about. And that's not just my redneck idea. I read that from someone who knows a lot more than I do. I see it as different than the "1st passaggio."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like to think of voice classification as more of an issue of comparing one's own stronger/weaker points to each other rather than to another singer's.

For example, in the original key, Don't Stop Believing ends its phrases on B4's and has an occasional C#5. I'd consider myself a natural baritone and I can sing the song perfectly fine in the original key (after some extensive training I've done to sing well in the upper register). However, in my opinion, it sounds better for my voice if I transcribe it two semitones lower. Again, doesn't mean that I can't or shouldn't sing it in the original key. It just means that it can be even better if I take it just a tad lower.

Note again that this is a comparison I'm doing solely with myself. I'm not comparing my voice to Steve Perry's. Steve Perry can sing the song better than I (or anyone else for that matter) can in any key. But given that his voice type is a tenor, it's not surprising that his optimal key is a little higher than my optimal key.

I absolutely believe there are talented basses and baritones out there who can sing High C's just as well, if not better, than many tenors. But it probably won't be the pitch that they personally sound best on.

Also remember that voice classification isn't an exact science. You can't do a blood test to determine if one is a baritone or a tenor. Every voice has its own unique characteristics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...