October 21, 2014

G. B. Lamperti's Method of Breathing

Singing as a Functional Exercise and an Element in Physical Training. 

The Editor of The Evening Sun—Sir: An article entitled "Why the Singers Can Sing," written by Dr. Holbrook Curtis, the celebrated throat specialist appeared in The Sun of May 1. The article is interesting to all singers, but especially to teachers of the Italian method of tone production. 

Dr. Curtis very justly cites the De Reszkes as a perfect example of those who contend that upon the capacity and control of the breath depend the resonance, beauty and purity of the tone. At this time, when voices are suffering through the many methods of many teachers, a vote of thanks is due a physician who has explained to the public that singing is not a function of the throat, but of the united effort of the wind and the diaphragm. 

Viewing the subject from a teacher's standpoint, I find that it is not enough that one should be acquainted simply with the theory of diaphragmatic breathing. He must be capable of illustrating how and why the air must be inhaled through the back of the lungs and condensed at their base. This method of inhaling is accomplished by depressing the diaphragm and drawing the air through the nostrils and toward the roof of the mouth. 

Only enough air is allowed to escape from the base of the lungs to support the tone. The force of this column of air is controlled by the action of the diaphragm, and is directed by the mind to the tone. The tone is formed at the soft palate, and carried forward to the points of vibration under the cheek bones on either side of the nasal cavity, thus producing the chest and medium tones. The upper, or head tones, are formed in a like manner, except that their points of vibration are higher in the head. 

The art of breathing and pronunciation are the basis of the Lamperti method. I mean the method of G. B. Lamperti of Dresden, who has been much reviled by those ignorant of the principles of his instruction or by pupils of his in whose brain, as Dr. Curtis has happily expressed it, "the musical centre" was not sufficiently developed to appreciate his conscientious efforts.

If the singers and teachers could be induced to adopt the view of Dr. Curtis, so ably and scientifically explained in the article to which I have referred, the result would be the revival of voice culture as an art, instead of an accomplishment as it now is, and the development of men and women with healthy throats and lungs as a rule, instead of an exception.

Philadelphia, March 3. 


Undated article circa 1890 from a Philadelphia newspaper. Photo Credit: New York Public Library. For more information see "Vocal Wisdom: The Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti" by William Earl Brown. 


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