Fundamentals of Vocal Pedagogy Lecture Course – 1
Topic 1. Introduction to the specialty.
Vocal pedagogy is a branch of knowledge about the nature of the singing voice and the use of its capabilities in musical performing practice, the science of training and educating a professional singer. In different eras of musical art, there were different views on the nature of the singing voice and the problem of its use in performance. Depending on these views, musical and aesthetic tastes, a theoretical and methodical model of vocal art was built, singing training and upbringing of the singer were carried out. The problem of using the nature of the singing voice in musical performance is the main one in vocal pedagogy as a science.
The art of solo singing owes its birth to the appearance of the opera in 1600. Choral art is much older in age. However, they are united by almost the same problems of vocal pedagogy, methodology and performing practice. The art of solo singing and choral performing culture are interconnected.
The history of vocal performance (opera, choral) reveals the evolution of views, the process of formation of the theory of vocal pedagogy in accordance with singing practice, the change in vocal and methodological settings. The main laws, principles, and methods of solo singing were revealed thanks to the rapid development of the opera. Then the innovations found there were introduced into the field of choral performance. Knowledge of the history of vocal performance, the evolution of vocal and pedagogical views is an important part of the preparation of a choir conductor.
The vocal professionalism of the choirmaster is the basis of his practical activity. In the process of vocal work with the choir, he has to solve vocal and pedagogical problems, acting as a teacher of solo singing. And these are problems of sound formation and the timbre of the voice, patterns of the vocal apparatus in singing (breathing, larynx, pharynx, mouth, soft palate, tongue …). According to the famous Russian choir conductor Igor Agafonnikov, the choirmaster must have a well-developed “vocal ear” with which he can tune the choir “to the only inherent tone in his collective”. Moreover, the choirmaster in working with the choir is obliged to show in voice the desired reading of the choral part, moreover in different tessitures and characters, improving the art of vocal education of the choir with his own finds, discoveries.
Until the beginning of the 19th century, vocal pedagogy developed empirically, through the accumulation of practical experience and observations. Since the mid-19th century, vocal pedagogy has borrowed the knowledge of related sciences that study the singing voice – anatomical physiology, acoustics, and later – psychology, the doctrine of higher nervous activity, which explain the activity of the vocal apparatus and which must be taken into account in the performing and pedagogical practice of the choirmaster. Due to the prevalence of empiricism, many vocal and pedagogical attitudes are controversial, especially with regard to the register nature of the singing voice. There are two or three registers, or more? How are they used in modern opera and choral performance and how were they used in past musical eras?
The purpose of this course is to acquaint with the theory of singing voice, its use in vocal and performing practice; the history of the development of vocal pedagogy as a science and vocal performing styles, depending on the solution to the problem of using the nature of the singing voice in opera and choral music of different eras; to provide knowledge of related sciences studying the art of solo singing, and methods of vocal education. In the past, the problem of using a singing voice had a strong impact on the composer process. Composers often obeyed the requirements of singers of the 18th century classical Belcanto era, which was justified by the singing technology of that time, the need to overcome the high level of register transition established by castrati singers, mainly castranes-sopranists. Hence the vocal style of works (opera, choral) was formed due to the interaction of composer creativity, vocal pedagogy and vocal performance practice, their synthesis.
In this regard, the objectives of this course: according to the theory of the singing voice, consider the fundamental principles of the development of the singer’s voice material, the structure of the singing range (two- and three-sectional, matching or not matching the double-register nature of the voice); consider the classification of singing voices and its evolution; to analyze the methods and techniques of singing education; master the material on the history of vocal pedagogy (the main vocal and methodical treatises of past eras); to analyze and identify the vocal stylistics of choral music in a historical aspect; find out the patterns of the vocal apparatus in singing and study the basic scientific concepts of its activity (myoelastic, neurochronactic, acoustic).