Squillo: point #4

The cords should be longer in the high register, which means 2 things: (A)you will need to know how to keep the cords closed without pressing when they are thin, and (B) the feeling of the vibrant body of the voice will be felt in different ways throughout your range [(a)chest, larynx and mask in low voice; (b)  less chest, expanded pharynx, and some mask in the middle voice – between C and F; and (c)  far less chest, some pharynx expansion and a lot of mask to increasing degrees as we ascend.]

This is  difficult thing to explain, easier to demonstrate. Is there a way for us to know that we are elongating the vocal folds?  Sure, just sing like a soprano on your high C. The vocal folds get long and there is very little vocalis effort in the vocal folds, or chest voice; so the resulting sound is “head voice” – the soprano voice.

In order for a tenor to develop ease and harmonic squillo, the cords need to get longer for the higher register.  The problem is that when you sing with longer cords, these will tend to not hold air pressure as readily as when you were in chest voice. So, initially your sound will tend to crack and wiggle a lot when you seek a balance. 

One needs to find enough chest voice  to have sufficient tension on the cord.  This is the problem with top-down approaches and falsetto-based methods.  If a tenor has a pretty heavy voice, he will tend to lighten up significantly above the passaggio, and the voice may start to wiggle and crack if the balance with chest voice is not established, going back and forth from head tone in a sort of yodel. If the tenor is pretty light he will tend to squeeze a lot in the passaggio area because the chest voice is not aiding sufficiently in closing the cords, and so either greater pressing of the cords is used as a remedy, or lifting of the larynx to close the cords reflexively, or he may just revert to a breathy head tone.

So, the remedies I prescribe are two: (1) exercising appoggio by getting very laryngeal between low and middle C (getting more chest into the vocal function); and (2) exercising voce finta, exercising the muscles that close the cords while singing in falsetto above an Aflat in the passaggio (this means that cords are closed almost exclusively through the effort of the inter-arytenoid).  Voce finta is a type of falsetto that resembles full voice.  If you listen to it in recordings you may even be fooled.  Here is an example.  voce finta La Speranza 

The high C may sound like real voice because of the more complex sound compared to a mere falsetto.  The presence of harmonic squillo is very much present.  However, the contribution to this sound of “chest sound” is far less compared to full voice. This is a good way to exercise the muscles that close the vocal folds in the higher register without straining the voice because of the lack of chest.  This also is a good way to start mapping out the sensations of vibration linked to the squillo striking the mask.  The tricky part of voce finta is learning to not raise your larynx while doing it.  The larynx should remain flexible in a low range, not fixed, but relaxed low through the active involvement of the diaphragm.  Now remember, you don’t need the diaphragm to produce pressure because this is a light production, but it is important to keep the diaphragm active so that your larynx can relax low.

So, voce appoggiata in laringe (a feeling of the sound being contained in the larynx) in the low range exercises the chest function; and voce finta exercises exercise cord closure without chest.  Now remember, the voice is built from the middle.  The middle voice is a wonderful range where the voice combines so many different functions.  It is essential to have strong muscles in the larynx and cords so as to be able to produce the correct phonation without ever pushing.  If the muscles do not respond, we will tend to push to get them to do what we want.  We must resist that temptation and keep our baseline phonation: the mental intention of the 1st layer.  We have to keep the intention in our mind to never push beyond what we do in the first layer.  That is our baseline.  The increase in breath pressure, adduction, vibration, etc., is an intensifying of all the relative muscular activities, but not an increase in the driving of the voice.  In our mind we should still think of a little gentle foghorn straight tone – that first layer sound beyond which we do not drive.  We will feel tempted to drive more in order to get louder, but we can get louder without driving.  The voice functions will be intense, yes, and so will the breath pressure, but that doesn’t equate to driving the voice.


5 responses to “Squillo: point #4

  1. I was re-reading a lot of the past blog posts, and found this one. Voce-finta is very interesting, and kindof fun to work with. 🙂

    I have a question, in Lauri-Volpi’s interpretation of “Dillo Ancor!”, when he goes to the high Bb-B in the beginning of the song, is he using voce-finta?

    (seconds 28-29 I think)

    • MOST DEFNITELY! That is a perfect example of Voce Finta… very balanced and well phonated. Lauri Volpi was incredibly good at it. He DESPISED falsetto. Called it the “leprosy of the voice.” He insisted that his was a ‘true’ voice… I assume because it was not loose, but rather perfectly balanced phonation with closed chords… just not in chest… or minimally so.

      I have actually used this voice in the theater, and it carries perfectly in the house. This requires very clean and healthy edges on the vocal folds.

  2. Is Voce Finta what speech level coaches call head voice? And is chest resonance introduced into Voce Finta through messa di voce/ swelling exercise? Thanks in advance

    • I am not familiar with speech level coaches, so I really don’t know. But I will tell you that voce finta is a type of head voice with very very little chest. It is a type of falsetto with closed cords, so the acoustics is like that of a real voice, but with very little in terms of intensity. Voce finta teaches the singer the shape of the throat and the closure of the cords. When we go into full voice we do not change the shape of either. We just break into full voice without changing shape of the throat or acoustics. This is why voce finta must be specifically produced with exact laryngeal and pharyngeal shape, and with specific harmonics.

  3. Thank you for your reply. I would be very greatful if you answered a few more of my questions. Does it make any sense when i sing “ee” vowel i think oo/uh vowel underneath it so that the throat doesn’t constrict and put ee in the middle of vocal cords so as to close them and project it behind soft pallate ? Does soft pallate have to lower slightly in passagio and should i keep it lowered ascending upwards? My vocal teachers are obssessed with lifting and rounding soft pallate but when i do it my sound spreads and falls into the throat but when i lower it my voice assumes what you call boyish sound

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s