A Recapitulation Of The Points You Have Studied
Over time, some students lose sight of the object of these lessons. They forget the main facts, the real reasons for these lessons, hence a restatement of the object of these lessons is given.
Please read this lesson very carefully, a make frequent reference to former lessons when points are mentioned that are not perfectly clear. You are sure to agree that this recapitulation is very helpful when studied closely.
THE PERFECT VOICE
The purpose of these lessons is to demonstrate and prove that a perfect voice, that is, a voice which will meet all demands of volume, beauty and compass, can be attained only when the instrument which produces it – THE VOCAL ORGAN – is perfect in all its parts.
A vocal organ that is imperfect cannot be made perfect through the mere action of singing or speaking, because in speaking or singing, the various parts of the instrument can only do what they are THEN capable of doing. As a rule, an imperfect vocal organ is defective only in one part, but because of this one deficiency the action of the whole is affected, and all parts are thereby weakened.
The mere singing of scales or reciting of passages from memory cannot develop the voice to any great degree, in fact, it usually has the opposite effect. Why? For this reason: The singer does not know in what particular part of his vocal organ the weakness lies. He may sing very well up to a certain note, usually to F on the fifth line, after that the tones becomes hard, shard, or shrill, or faint, breathy and thin. In the first instance he supposes that he is making too much effort, which is true. He is told by his teacher to relax, to loosen, to make no effort whatever. If he succeeds in doing this the result is a thin tone of no volume, and one devoid of character. And if he continues using a tone of this kind, even the tones which were originally full and strong will soon become thin and weak also.
All excessive effort used in singing, expect mental effort, is destructive, for it interferes with and retards the free action of the vocal organ. If the singer has to make any perceptible effort of breath or throat action to reach a certain note or a certain effect, he may be sure that his vocal organ is more or less weak, for when the vocal organ is proportionately strong in all its parts, then all tones and shades come with the utmost ease, requiring only mental effort to produce them.
The part of the vocal organ which decides the volume, beauty, compass and most of the shading and articulation, is the tongue. The tongue sets into action the entire vocal mechanism. It is the only part that can contract with perfect ease and rapidity. Its muscles are attached in front to a firm, inflexible bone, the chin, and at the other end, the rear, to the freely moving larynx and to other muscles. The tongue lies between the hard and soft palates above, and the larynx below, and works on the principle of leverage, trying to draw the palate and larynx toward each other. Now, in just the degree that the tongue possesses strength, can it awaken the force or the dormant strength in the other parts of the vocal organ, because no muscle can exert greater power than is supplied by the resistance against which it acts and reacts.
To illustrate: lift a book from the table and notice how little force is exerted, how little your muscles contract. Then lift a chair and note how much more power your muscles exert. Next, let a friend sit on the chair and then try to lift it. Here you find a resistance that calls forth the utmost of which your muscles are capable. From this simple experiment you can learn a valuable lesson in the law of resistance. In lifting the book, you met with very little resistance, hence you exerted very little muscular power; lifting the chair called forth much more power. But it was the third experiment that really proved the power you possessed, that showed you what you were capable or incapable of doing.
The lesson is this: the vocal chords can be contracted so that they remain thin and attenuated, in which case the tone is also thin and the compass small, or they can be made thick and tense, in which case the tones will be strong and the compass large. How this is done and what mechanism Nature has provided for doing it has been shown in previous lessons.
Again, to give forth sound, the vocal chords must be stretched as are the strings of other instruments. Nature has made two provisions for stretching the vocal chords; one is internal, within the larynx and entirely automatic, the other is external, making use of the muscles which connect the larynx to the collar bone, the tongue and the head. The external stretching is voluntary and is due almost entirely to the activity of the tongue. When the vocal chords are permitted to remain thin, the resistance to be overcome is very little, and the power within the larynx is usually sufficient to stretch them. But the tones, in such a case, will be thin. The tones may be sweet and pretty and sufficient in strength to meet the demands of the less ambitious, but since they lack volume they are without pathos and character, and are utterly unsuited to public performance or even to the more pretentious private singing and speaking.
But when the vocal chords enlarge in size and contract strongly, the resistance which has to be overcome in stretching them is very great, so that unusual power in the external, voluntary muscles is required. This external chord-stretching power is possessed principally by the great singers and orators. But, as one may acquire a great piano technique, so one may develop the mechanism which will produce as good a voice as the greatest singers and orators possess. Technique, whether in playing an instrument, or in using the human voice, is, in the main, strength the muscular development under control. All that is needed is to know how to develop the right muscles and then train them persistently.
So far the laws of physiology and anatomy, as they apply to the vocal organ have been given. Also much of the laws of vocal mechanics. They physiology and anatomy of the breath-supplying organ will be given very soon.
A most important part, and one entirely new is presented to you in this lesson. It is an explanation of the “Laws of Physics and Sound” as related to the human voice.
This subject is purely theoretical. In itself, alone, it will not help you to improve your voice. The theoretical parts of the lessons were written for the purpose of explaining and proving this discovery. To do this, it has been necessary to state technical facts, to separate and show the specific action and purpose of the DIFFERENT muscles, cartilages and bones that make up the vocal organism. In doing this, we have, as far as possible, avoided technical expressions that the student might easier understand at a reading, that which the expert and the physiologist spent a lifetime in acquiring.
To state that such and such things are so, while true, is not sufficient, for it does not prove the case. What has been shown is the true cause of strong and weak, of perfect and imperfect voices. The flaw has been located that limits the power and beauty of the human voice. This discovery has been subjected to every law of physics, anatomy and mechanics, and have been proven mathematically correct. Furthermore, it has been proven to be infallible in practice in countless student tests.
Before a defect can be remedied, we must find it. In the case of the human voice, both the defect and the remedy have been found, and now every voice may be developed to the utmost of which it is capable. These lessons reveal the defect in a way that all who read with care will recognize. While every student should read these explanations and become acquainted with his/her own vocal organ and its defects, there is no claim that the voice can be corrected merely by reading them. The exercises will do that.
Knowledge is power. When the student knows what must be done and how to do it, he has only to PERSEVERE in the doing to accomplish his greatest desires.