One of the most important aspects of learning to sing with cavita‘ or with an open throat is to learn how to get the tongue away from the back of the pharyngeal wall. This is not just the part of the tongue that you can see by the soft palate, but also the root of the tongue out of sight.
A correct EH vowel, that has the correct tongue position forward, is both dark and bright. It is the ideal vowel to help you develop cavita‘. Some might think that open throat requires an OH vowel. To the contrary, the EH has the tongue position required. Once understood, you can transfer those EH qualities to the other vowels. In essence, you are isolating the 3rd layer from the EH vowel itself, and treating the layer as independent from the vowel form. It becomes a sound function.
I have prepared as series of audio examples. The first is my explanations and examples.
You may be able to gather useful information from that clip, but trust me, most tenors, or baritones and basses for that matter, because this applies perhaps even more to them – will be able to crack this code without a guide. If you don’t sing this way, you will likely not hear what you are doing, and you need someone to train your ear to hear.
Now of course the space of the 3rd layer requires the relaxed low larynx, but you won’t get the relaxed low larynx well until you get the tongue out of the path of the breath. The tongue will pressurize your voice, and your larynx will be pushed up, or you will hold it in check further with the tongue aggravating the situation.
So, here are a series of great tenors who sing or sang this way. I will just go in alphabetical order for what I prepared.
Notice how his vowels on no, no, non posso are hardly OH, but are morphed by the tongue forward. Follow the words, and you will see how the OH and AH vowels are influenced by the EH tongue position. The result is often similar to the French word PEU.
Come io piango is highly influenced by the EH. Come io chiedo pieteu. Che piu’ cercando io VEU… MEUMEU. The difference between the EH and AH are so minute in the D-F range that they could easily interchange. It’s not about opening the vowel here… this is not opening the vowel, this is getting the tongue forward and out of the path of the breath. The tongue forward opens the vowel. You can try to sing an open vowel; you can try to sing the EU, and still have the tongue in the back, and all you get is a bright vowel stuck in the throat. The tongue forward expands the lower harmonics making the sound scuro, or dark. This is cavita‘ – 3rd layer. When correct in middle voice, you feel a connection to the chest vibration.
Masterful. Ma pur se nella peugeeneu – amazing beauty.
No comment needed. If you can’t hear it there… well… you should hear it.
E rider vuole qua becomes vuole queu and t’invola becomes t’involeu.
Last, but certainly not least, let me just post the whole aria of Martinelli singing Apri la tua finestra from Iris. This is just so beautiful. This is a testament to singing with open throat and not having to push or even want to sing loud in order to achieve it. It’s haunting how Martinelli just weaves harmonics into a beautifully balanced production. It’s one sound and one pressure constantly, and the blend of the three layers is spectacular.
I hope all this helps you understand more. Word to the wise: it’s not easy to get this on your own. The mind hears what it wants and you need a guide. Find a good guide.
The next stop in this journey is finally about getting to the bright element Cotogni described. We will see how the bright can be around the dark, or it can be at the center of it. This depends on how much chest voice you carry and how crafty you are in maintaining the 1st layer intact.