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How Beginner Should Practice Messa Di Voce

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Hey all,

This is relative to me but I'm sure lot of beginners have the same problem. Singing from pianissimo to forte or "soft" to "loud" and then back to soft.

Now I am talking about the true MDV in which the old school used. It is not a fancy trick it is literally something I one day hope to have mastery over because it is heavily required for my style.

This is what Manuel Garcia has to say on this subject:

Relative to the MDV exercise; "The messa di voce must not be performed at the beginning of training. It is most difficult to swell a note passing smoothly from head voice to chest voice . At first it may be necessary to cut this exercise in half, to swell a tone in one breath, and diminish it with a new breath. But once it has been mastered it is of great use with the upper passaggio tones of E - G." (From: Hints On Singing by Manuel Garcia)

This is what Richard Miller has to say on the subject:

Relative to the MDV exercise: "Attempts to achieve the highly controlled Messa di voce must wait for general technical stability. Only the singer who has fundamentals of vocal technique well in hand should attempt these vocalises." (From: Structure of Singing by Richard Miller)

This is what Cornelius Reid has to say on this subject:

Relative to the MDV exercise: ""The Messa di voce lends itself better than others as vehicles for affecting a solution to the problem at hand. In learning to swell and diminish, it is evident that a single tone best serves this purpose. No other musical figure will do as well." (From: The Free Voice A Guide to Natural Singing by Cornelius Reid)

I have a bunch of questions about this. Firstly, why do all these vocal scientist/teachers not recommend to start off the full swelling of tone to diminishing of tone. Secondly, singing has not really progressed much in the last few years if there are little to NO videos of people executing a messa di voce from head to chest and back to head voice. Therefore: if that is the primary goal can we still use this exercise to gain control, finesse, and registral stability. Thirdly, which vowel sequence would work best for this exercise.

What I am asking for is an effective "modified" messa di voce that a beginner can practice to not only protect the voice from yelling/straining/losing focus but maybe even help promote registral balance. The world's greatest teachers and fastly progressing students are on this forum. Is there a way in which to use the messa di voce to promote registral balance of the voice? Even if it has to be broken up into parts and vowels and so on. What is the ideal sequence? Why have so few students of singing mastered this technique?

Thanks for your time folks!

- JayMC

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Don't practice it higher than you can smoothly after a few attempts (note, your range limit for doing this exercise correctly will be way lower than youd expect, even as low as A3 for a beginner) If you flip on more than two attempts in a row you need to go back down a semitone and rework the coordination within that until it is perfect then move up to the next pitch. Takes ridiculous patience and focus, and the result usually isnt super alazing. Definitely definitely definitely not a beginners exercise. Getting a feel for it is great but don't bother doing it daily, only on long sessions.

Also from what I've heard of your voice I agree with Phil you have a lot of more basic stuff you need to take care of first.

You can also work messa di voce top down especially as a crescendo you start on head voice and gradually torque up the chest musculature but you're not ready for that either

Work on strengthening your cord closure Jay, with ONE teacher, for a few months, and then you might be able to get more than a small trace of benefit from this exercise

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Jay could practice by doing a five tone scale and gradually increase volume to the top not and then back down and also by starting loud and going up the scale soft. And by counting each number of the scale <1 2 3 4 5> and going ><. Those are volume markers and by starting 5 4 3 2 1.

Easy way to start crescendo decrescendos.

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This is actually a similar issue I've been having with Jaime Vendera's version of Messa Di Voce (He calls it the "Transcending Tone").

Should I do the same thing you guys all recommended?

It seems like his exercise is similar to the one mentioned here but then again Jaime says that you first start at a low falsetto and then steadily add support/volume going through falsetto, mixed voice, and then finally what he calls "Full voice". Its a little bit confusing to me because how can you be in full chest voice around E5? There has to be a mix at that point in your range otherwise it would sound incredibly strained...

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This is actually a similar issue I've been having with Jaime Vendera's version of Messa Di Voce (He calls it the "Transcending Tone").

Should I do the same thing you guys all recommended?

It seems like his exercise is similar to the one mentioned here but then again Jaime says that you first start at a low falsetto and then steadily add support/volume going through falsetto, mixed voice, and then finally what he calls "Full voice". Its a little bit confusing to me because how can you be in full chest voice around E5? There has to be a mix at that point in your range otherwise it would sound incredibly strained...

Maybe by full voice he just means as powerfully as you can produce. That's a common definition for full voice - you're not holding back any musculature you're giving it all you have without straining and if it's an E5 then it doesn't mean it will be chest dominant it will just be the chestiest head voice you can produce

And then anything between that and falsetto would be considered a mixed voice by Jaime.

I don't have the book this is just my guess at how he views it based on the demonstrations I've heard from him and such.

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Jay could practice by doing a five tone scale and gradually increase volume to the top not and then back down and also by starting loud and going up the scale soft. And by counting each number of the scale <1 2 3 4 5> and going ><. Those are volume markers and by starting 5 4 3 2 1.

Easy way to start crescendo decrescendos.

Good idea Dan.

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I this is a lot of great suggestions. All smart ideas. My take on it would be, Train Messa di Voce, but remember, right now make vocal fold compression into your onset package the top priority. We train a "messa di voce" onset in TVS that actually seems like it might be exactly what you need. At least it will help you.

Traditionally, "messa di voce" means to increase in dynamic volume, I believe. It is assumed you already have compression in the traditional definition. My use of the term, for the lack of possibly a better term, refers to a "swell" in dynamics and the engagement of your intrinsic musculature that you need to sound full in the head voice. Namely, balance of twang compression (vibratory mechanism), sub-glottal pressure (respiration) and vowel (formant tuning).

Getting to the point, train a work flow to engage your "Intrinsic Anchoring Set". This is the Intrinsic Anchoring Work Flow or also referred to in the TVS onset groupings as, the "Messa Di Voce" Onset. The sequential work flow trains as follows:

- Cue for the note. (For men, around F#4 - B4 is a good range to singercize in).

- Establish Placement with an open glottis position. (get windy, falsetto, etc...).

- Engage a very isolated quack vocal mode compression. (Phonate a highly compressed, quacky, thin, laser-like "Meeeeee"... a highly compressed "ee"... do not let the constrictor muscles pull up or grab you when you do this.)

- Shape the embouchure, dampen the larynx, and tune to the vowel... and hold for 6-10 seconds.

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