Corelli and the teeth

I received an email from the person who posted the Corelli interview on youtube to clarify an issue from his interview with Maestro Corelli.

Corelli says:  But its on the teeth like this…. Not on the long teeth… basically it has to be here as a thought…. It’s not that you should think eeeehhhhh….  You must think of it here…   You must think of it here because if you think of it here the voice will lean.  In the meantime the breath comes  up around here…. And then if the vowel is below this area… this becomes the problem.

I was told that when Corelli says “the teeth here”  he was indicating his BACK MOLARS.  So when he says “Not the long teeth”, he was differentiating between teeth up front, and the back molars.

So to put this in context, let me modify the script:

CorelliBut its on the (back molars) like this…. Not on the long teeth (up front) … basically it has to be here as a thought…. It’s not that you should think eeeehhhhh….  You must think of it here (on the back molars)…   You must think of it here because if you think of it here the voice will lean.  In the meantime the breath comes  up around these back molars (the movement of the voice up toward the back)….  And then if the vowel is below this area… this becomes the problem.

Two things, it is clear to me that Corelli was warning about an important aspect of 2nd formant singing… NEVER LET THE VOICE SINK INTO THE PHARYNX FROM THAT HIGHER BACK SPACE, and think of the path of the breath as going behind the soft palate.

Many think of this in terms of “lifting the soft palate”.  I think the yawn does exactly that without thinking of mechanically lifting the soft palate.

Lauri Volpi warned against letting the voice sink into the pharynx.  If you are singing 2nd formant dominant, you have to be careful to not let that happen.  Corelli said in his interview with Hines that in the beginning of the career a lot of his breath would stay in his mouth which made the voice heavy and wild.  This is the continuing chest voice which makes the 1st formant too strong.  You have to think more boyish, or as Corelli said “sweeter” – piu’ dolce.  Then the voice will climb into that space. 

The EH vowel is the key to this process if done correctly.  Here is an example:

passaggio

The EH vowel closes the cords and diminishes that 1st formant dominance and gets the sound out of the mouth and up over the palate (giro).  Then a slight modification of the vowel (nuanced tongue movement) turns the voice toward an OH… the cords relax and the sound climbs over rather than getting stuck in the mouth.

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4 responses to “Corelli and the teeth

  1. When using this cavita i feel i to switch to 2nd formant dominance earlier. Before i would switch at about F now it is more like a D. otherwise i seem to become a little hooty. Would this be because a wide space in the back of the mouth lowers the first formant and raises the 2nd? Is this correct?
    Mr Li Vigni. I am a new Tenor and have gained much knowledge from this Blog and also Grandi Tenori, perhaps too much for someone who’s instrument is at this stage of development.
    Thankyou for taking the time to write these blogs.

    • The voice of a tenor should not turn at D. If you are becoming 2nd formant dominant on D my suspicion is that you are lowering the epiglottis excessively. Try relaxing extremely the muscular activity right behind the tongue just like when you breathe out. Now when you say you feel switch to 2nd formant dominance… are you actually measuring that or are you just feeling a sense of spaciousness starting on D?

  2. What is very odd is i go from 3rd harmonic dominant from my low range to 2nd harmonic after G4 (my head voice is very new).
    I suppose 3rd harmonic dominant could come from a large buccal opening leading to a high 1st formant which just drops to the 2nd harmonic at higher notes.
    My head voice at the moment is very thin and suffers from a very high fundamental usually equal to the 2nd harmonic with harmonics 3 6 and 7 laggin behind by about 10 decibels. experimenting with eh vowels and uh vowels yield slight changes only. so i’m definately doing something wrong or does my head voice just need time to strengthen?
    Thank you.

  3. In case anyone sees my post here, the problem is pressed phonation.
    helped by occlusive exercises – hums etc

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