May 5, 2016

The Feigned Voice

The qualities of the human voice are commonly distinguished under three heads, according to the natural organs which appear most particularly concerned in its modulation and tones:—1st, where the sounds appears to issue almost entirely from the lungs it is distinguished as a chest voice, called by the Italians, voce di petto; also, voce naturale, the natural voice: 2ndly, where the throat appears the chief organ connected with the production of sound, it is called the throat voice, termed in Italian falsetto: and 3rdly, where the process of breathing seems more than usually connected with the nostrils, and the sound is accordingly modulated by their influence, it is termed a head voice, in Italian, voce di testa. There is a fourth kind of voice, which is but little appreciated, consequently rarely cultivated—and since I cannot trace any sponsors, either among the Italian of English, who have given a name to this peculiar style, I shall call it the feigned. I am aware that the falsetto is considered a feigned voice; and certainly that voice must be feigned which is produced by artificial constraint, and that does not consequently seem to come forth naturally from the chest; but the quality of the sound that I allude to is not that which is produced in the throat, and already distinguished under the name of falsetto; nor it is the voce di testa. It is a species of ventriloquism, a soft and distant sound produced apparently in the chest, and chiefly in the back of the throat and head—and inward and suppressed quality of tone, that conveys the illusion of being heard at a distance:—it is a sweet and soft melodious sound, wafted from afar, like unto the magic spell of an echo. 
Issac Nathan, Musurgia Vocalis: 117. 

Sounds strange to say perhaps, but I understand the voice Nathan writes about above to have appeared out of nowhere when I was singing at the Listening Centre in Toronto in the spring of 2000. A huge surprise, I was spending more time with the equipment vocalizing—playing around actually, and remember very keenly the moment I sang quietly up past high E into something that wasn't falsetto. It had a youthful silvery quality that was quite extensible and transitioned into the upper range without so much as a hiccup or break. "What is that?" I asked myself, incredulous that this sound would spring out of my throat so easily. Of course, I wasn't able to find this voice when I got home since I wasn't being stimulated by Tomatis' electronic ear. I had to learn to do that myself—inside to out—which I did by combining Tomatis' understanding of an open ear—its physical and auditory components—with the teachings of the Old School. What do I think now? When the ear of the singer has been fully opened, the feigned voice will appear which will then reeducate the whole voice. 

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