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The Psychology of Singing A Rational Method of Voice Culture Based on a Scientific Analysis of All Systems, Ancient and Modern   By: (1871-1918)

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A Rational Method of Voice Culture based on a Scientific Analysis of all Systems, Ancient and Modern



New York 1922 All rights reserved

Copyright, 1908, by the MacMillan Company. New York Boston Chicago Atlanta San Francisco MacMillan & Co., Limited London Bombay Calcutta Melbourne The Macmillan Co. of Canada, Ltd. Toronto

Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1908. Norwood Press: Berwick & Smith Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

To My Mother



A peculiar gap exists between the accepted theoretical basis of instruction in singing and the actual methods of vocal teachers. Judging by the number of scientific treatises on the voice, the academic observer would be led to believe that a coherent Science of Voice Culture has been evolved. Modern methods of instruction in singing are presumed to embody a system of exact and infallible rules for the management of the voice. Teachers of singing in all the musical centers of Europe and America claim to follow a definite plan in the training of voices, based on established scientific principles. But a practical acquaintance with the modern art of Voice Culture reveals the fact that the laws of tone production deduced from the scientific investigation of the voice do not furnish a satisfactory basis for a method of training voices.

Throughout the entire vocal profession, among singers, teachers, and students alike, there is a general feeling of the insufficiency of present knowledge of the voice. The problem of the correct management of the vocal organs has not been finally and definitely solved. Voice Culture has not been reduced to an exact science. Vocal teachers are not in possession of an infallible method of training voices. Students of singing find great difficulty in learning how to use their voices. Voice Culture is generally recognized as entitled to a position among the exact sciences; but something remains to be done before it can assume that position.

There must be some definite reason for the failure of theoretical investigation to produce a satisfactory Science of Voice Culture. This cannot be due to any present lack of understanding of the vocal mechanism on the part of scientific students of the subject. The anatomy and physiology of the vocal organs have been exhaustively studied by a vast number of highly trained experts. So far as the muscular operations of tone production are concerned, and the laws of acoustics bearing on the vocal action, no new discovery can well be expected. But in this very fact, the exhaustive attention paid to the mechanical operations of the voice, is seen the incompleteness of Vocal Science. Attention has been turned exclusively to the mechanical features of tone production, and in consequence many important facts bearing on the voice have been overlooked.

In spite of the general acceptance of the doctrines of Vocal Science, tone production has not really been studied from the purely scientific standpoint. The use of the word "science" presupposes the careful observation and study of all facts and phenomena bearing in any way on the subject investigated. Viewed in this light, the scientific study of the voice is at once seen to be incomplete. True, the use of the voice is a muscular operation, and a knowledge of the muscular structure of the vocal organs is necessary to an understanding of the voice. But this knowledge alone is not sufficient. Like every other voluntary muscular operation, tone production is subject to the psychological laws of control and guidance. Psychology is therefore of equal importance with anatomy and acoustics as an element of Vocal Science.

There is also another line along which all previous investigation of the voice is singularly incomplete. An immense fund of information about the vocal action is obtained by attentive listening to voices, and in no other way... Continue reading book >>

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