Well, I came in to Mudcat today to ask if anyone knows of a discussion group for singers... and in the process got sidetracked by the "Norma Waterson" thread which is pertinent to my present quest for the singer's "Magic Ingredient"
It seems to me that it is this magic ingredient that singers such as Norma Waterson have in such fine measure - I would say that it has little to do with technical expertise or vocal attributes, but has everything to do with the love of singing. (To my mind Gordon Hall and Fred Jordon are both well blessed with it.)
I've been singing in public for 30 years or so, and have never been able to understand why it is that sometimes I can sing incredibly well, and other times I just can't. (I'm told that I once upstaged June Tabor - didn't mean to, honest! I'd been lurking in the other bar all day, too scared to open my mouth in such prestigious company until someone twisted my arm. The magic must have been with me that day.)
We've got a concert to do next month, so I've been getting the voice back in trim after not singing for a while. The vocal chords (cords?) are in fine fettle, the breathing is OK, but still I was having the all-too-familiar problem of a certain missing "something". In all these years I've never been able to work out what the magic ingredient is - until last night, perhaps...
I was trying to recapture how it was on specific occasions when I sang well, recalling how it felt, what it sounded like, what others said about it etc.
One occasion that I always remember with surprise (and a chuckle) was when a friend said I was "the best femail singer in the Westcountry", singing with "such energy". The reason for the surprise (and the chuckle!) was that I reckoned his wife to be a far better and more experienced singer than me. And I have always thought that the "energy" he referred to was a physical energy, to do with vocal attack and breath.
So there I was last night, trying to recapture that "energy". I knew it was not physical energy, vocal attack or breath - I had tried all those many times before, with no results other than strained vocal chords, stiff back muscles etc. I remembered another friend, a "trained" singer (operatic style) talking about an "energy" which she perceives as located above her head. This brought to mind the "Crown Chakra" as recognised by those who are involved in things esoteric... So I decided to try for a "subtle" energy, and voila! It worked!
I could not locate an energy point above my head, but I did find a point somewhere behind the collar bone. Sounds crazy maybe, but it is very real, very very effective, and manifests in a very physical way. (When the magic is there you can sing just about anything you like, for as long as you like with no strain or fatigue) But will I be able to recall it tomorrow? Next month?? I don't want to lose it again now I've recognised it.
So what I want to know now is, have other singers any tips for retaining this magic ingredient, to discourage it from going A.W.O.L.? For I have never known when it would be present, nor when it would desert me. Sometimes stage fright calls it into play, sometimes quite the opposite. Sometimes it is there when I just sing for myself, other times not. (Maybe just locating it and recognising it will have been enough?) Help!