Basics of vocal pedagogy Lecture course – 2
Topic 3. Scientific concepts of the activity of the vocal apparatus in singing.
A) Myoelastic and neurochronactic theories
as a single concept
With the advent of the art of solo singing, vocal pedagogy developed empirically – by accumulating knowledge in the field of the nature of the singing voice. Based on the experience of performing practice at one time or another, the principles and techniques for the development of singing voice, the system of vocal education and upbringing were established. Knowledge of the mechanisms of the vocal apparatus was established on the basis of the result of its activity: the tonal qualities of a singing sound that were determined by ear. It is well known that modern vocal pedagogy still does not have a coherent theory of singing voice and its use in performance, which would determine the methodology of educating professional singers.
One of the reasons for the dominance of the historically established empirical method of teaching is that until the middle of the 19th century, science could not explain the singing voice phenomenon on the anatomy, physiology, and acoustics of the vocal apparatus. The community of vocal pedagogy and related sciences at the present stage nevertheless led to the creation of the theory of solo singing.
D.L. Aspelund pointed out the contradictions in this area: hobbies “the narrow natural science substantiation of the singing process affected the understanding of the singing voice only as a physical phenomenon divorced from the formative influence of music. … theorists search for some ideal of singing sound, regardless of the style of music, language. ” This main contradiction has not been fully overcome to this day. Related sciences cannot replace the theory of vocal pedagogy. Quite the contrary, the theory of vocal pedagogy should combine natural science knowledge about the mechanisms of voice formation with musicology – the history and theory of opera, choral art.
The first information about the vocal apparatus appears at the Greek physician Hippocrates. He knew that when the respiratory throat was damaged, the voice ceases to sound. Therefore, the source of the voice is the upper respiratory tract.
The Roman physician Galen (2nd century AD) examined the anatomy of the throat and gave definitions to the main cartilage of the larynx – thyroid and cricoid. He compared the action of the vocal folds with the action of the reeds of the pipe, discovered the narrowing of the glottis during sound and its expansion during breathing. In the writings of Galen there are correct observations about the importance of breathing power for the sound of the singer’s voice, about some differences in voice formation in singing and oratory.
The structure and functions of the larynx and Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1512) did not ignore. He gave the first correct image of the muscles and ligaments of the larynx involved in voice formation, indicated the diversity of their actions. In addition, during the Renaissance, musical harmonious sounds corresponding to vowels and non-musical sounds corresponding to consonants were known in the human voice, for the formation of which it is necessary to create an obstacle to the exhaled air by the joint work of the lips, tongue and other organs of articulation.
In the XVII-XVIII centuries, the influence of the endocrine glands on the formation of the singing voice was noted. This relationship became the cause of castration of boys with good voices, which retained the characteristic pitch and volume of children in combination with the strength of the respiratory organs of an adult. The era of castrato singers in opera and choral art – the Belcanto era – lasted more than two hundred years. For the last castrate singer, Welluti wrote the works of J. Rossini and J. Meyerbeer. Meyerbeer opera Crusader in Egypt was created for Welluti in 1824 (Venice).
At the end of the 18th century, attempts were made to examine the physiology of the vocal apparatus. French vocal teacher Berard (1710-1772) published the work “L’art de chant” (1755), where the length and thickness of the vocal folds are noted for the first time as the reason for the difference in singing voices, the vibration of the larynx folds by analogy with the violin strings (in this case a stream of air exhaled under a certain pressure). The book (1756) of another Frenchman Blanchet was similar. The physiologist Morgagni (1682-1771) noted the difference between true and false vocal folds.
The idea of the activity of the vocal folds in singing expanded in the 19th century. In 1839, the German physiologist I. Müller set up experiments with an artificial larynx into which rubber membranes were inserted. The experiments showed that the pitch produced by the isolated larynx of a person can be varied in two ways: by the force of tension of the vocal folds at constant air pressure and by the force of the subglottic air pressure with constant tension of the ligaments. Since that time, the larynx of a person began to be considered as an elastic membrane-like system that is capable of generating sound vibrations.
The famous vocal teacher M. Garcia-son (1805-1908) invented a laryngoscope (laryngeal mirror), thanks to which he first observed the work of vocal folds in singing.