Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2]


Gender and the soprano voice

Related threads:
Solo Unaccompanied Singing and Songs (143)
Whiskey voice - what is it? (34)
How To Sing With Power? (23)
Singing, can it be taught? (16)
Perfect singers (108)
Why can't I sing in tune? (122)
Singing thru the tears- how? (87)
Can anyone learn to sing (168)
Vocal techniques (16)
Exactly what's a true contralto? (67)
Singing: Exercises to improve high notes (47)
Is the voice an instrument? (56)
Help: singing unintended Vibrato/ Control (19)
do I need a vibrator? (66)
Speech Level Singing (42)
How are Soprano and Tenor Defined? (29)
Help: How can you tell which voice you've got (83)
Tuners for VOICE not Instruments (33)
The Mouse that Roared (Finding Your Voice) (25)
singers: who do you emulate and why? (65)
Breath Control While Singing (44)
Threads on the Singing Voice (36)
Improving voice without lessons (43)
What type of voice? (37)
how can I improve breath control (26)
Info on voice ranges (21)
fellow sean-nos singers? (45)
Unaccompanied Singing - How & Why! (89)
Singing - Alexander Technique (19)
how do you prepare to sing? (54)
What's a 'good voice'? (93)
Is that really you? (64)
Help, singing in noisy environments (41)
voice quality? (49)
Singing in Scenic Outdoors (33)
Does it get easier??? (singing) (50)
spectrograph - voice analysis (14)
Vocal training resouces? (11)
Singing in a dome (39)
How versatile should your voice be ? (20)
What is singing? (40)
Current Thread on the Singing Voice (5)
Song suggestions for higher lyric voice (9)
Vocal Instruction for Singers (2)
Learn to sing harmony: Good instruction tapes (4)
voice range - how to extend it (please) (14)
Vocal embellishment - guidelines? (31)


Peter K (Fionn) 05 Aug 00 - 08:16 AM
Alice 05 Aug 00 - 10:28 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 05 Aug 00 - 10:46 AM
WyoWoman 05 Aug 00 - 11:21 AM
DougR 05 Aug 00 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,Joerg 05 Aug 00 - 09:12 PM
Escamillo 05 Aug 00 - 11:41 PM
Escamillo 05 Aug 00 - 11:42 PM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Aug 00 - 11:52 PM
oggie 06 Aug 00 - 09:15 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 06 Aug 00 - 03:20 PM
P05139 06 Aug 00 - 03:27 PM
oggie 06 Aug 00 - 06:19 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 07 Aug 00 - 12:12 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Aug 00 - 01:01 PM
Grab 07 Aug 00 - 02:13 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Aug 00 - 04:00 PM
oggie 07 Aug 00 - 07:06 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 07 Aug 00 - 07:32 PM
Gary T 07 Aug 00 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,Cat at covenhouse 07 Aug 00 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,Joerg 07 Aug 00 - 09:51 PM
Escamillo 07 Aug 00 - 10:54 PM
GUEST,Joerg 08 Aug 00 - 09:28 PM
WyoWoman 08 Aug 00 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Joerg 08 Aug 00 - 10:35 PM
Escamillo 09 Aug 00 - 02:09 AM
Escamillo 09 Aug 00 - 04:15 AM
Escamillo 09 Aug 00 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,Joerg 09 Aug 00 - 10:20 PM
Alice 09 Aug 00 - 11:19 PM
Alice 09 Aug 00 - 11:50 PM
Escamillo 10 Aug 00 - 05:57 AM
Alice 10 Aug 00 - 10:54 AM
DougR 11 Aug 00 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Joerg 11 Aug 00 - 10:14 PM
WyoWoman 11 Aug 00 - 10:54 PM
GUEST,Joerg 12 Aug 00 - 09:22 PM
Escamillo 12 Aug 00 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,Joerg 12 Aug 00 - 11:26 PM
Escamillo 13 Aug 00 - 03:35 AM
Escamillo 13 Aug 00 - 03:58 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 13 Aug 00 - 10:25 AM
Alice 13 Aug 00 - 11:15 AM
Alice 13 Aug 00 - 11:49 AM
Alice 13 Aug 00 - 02:49 PM
oggie 13 Aug 00 - 06:33 PM
WyoWoman 13 Aug 00 - 07:53 PM
Alice 13 Aug 00 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Joerg 13 Aug 00 - 10:13 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 08:16 AM

Can anyone give a tekkie/clinical explanation for the difference in quality (I am being tactful) between the male and female soprano voices? And why do the two generally not blend well together?

Bliss is it to hear choral evensong in one of the great English cathedrals. To be a Christian to boot must be very heaven. And it's free. But around this time of year one is likely to discover that the incumbent choir is taking a break and some visiting choir is doing the honours. And such visiting choirs sometimes include female voices.

I believe one or two cathedral choirs themselves now include female voices - perhaps in an aim to be politically correct of to avoid falling foul of sex discrimination legislation. But I gather that the sexes are segregated, at least for singing purposes.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 10:28 AM

Fionn, there are not too many men who sing soprano, now that we don't have castrati. Are you talking about men's voices and women's voices together in a choir, not "male and female soprano voices"?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 10:46 AM

No, I don't have a problem with men and women singing together, say SATB style. I did mean male and female sopranos, but I realise that the only male sopranos these days will be pre-adolescent boys.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: WyoWoman
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 11:21 AM

As I've never heard a choir that mixed pre-adolescent boys and adult women, I can't really address this specific issue. However, I do know, as a soprano myself, that I've sometimes done works for which the conductor requested that we use a "clear boy-soprano" voice. Meaning without any vibrato.

Part of what makes an adult woman's voice rich is SOME vibrato (too much and we all know how odious that can get). But some works, particularly the earlier sacred works, were written for boys' voices and the quality of the music is better if the soprani, of whichever gender, keep their voices as clear and without vibration as possible. For singers with good vocal control, this isn't all that difficult, providing they're not in their senior years (although my mother sang in an excellent choir until her late 70s and it wasn't until she was 76 or so that she had to go down to second soprano because her voice quality was diminishing...)

It may be that the conductor simply hasn't asked the soprani to sing the works that way, or that they don't know any better.

I have been in choirs in which the conductor auditioned us according to whom we would stand beside. Within the section you can have two singers with beautiful voices (male or female), but if they sing beside each other the vibrato in their voices compete and the sound isn't great (imagine radio waves at intervals vastly different from each other). Place those same voices beside someone different and the problem is solved. This is how the best conductors achieve "blend," and I'm amazed at how few seem to know about this technique.

And some of us singers who've been at this for a while get pretty adept at listening to the quality of voices we're singing with and tailoring our singing to blend in automatically. If, God forbid, I was plunked down next to a boy soprano and told to sing a Gregorian chant with him, it would be a pretty big challenge. Not impossible, but it would require eternal vigilance to keep my voice as straight as a string.

Hope that helps -- and I'm relieved you weren't saying that women singing in ANY combination bring down the quality of the music. You'd probably feel a great bit of wrath from the Mudcateers over that one...

WyoWoman


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: DougR
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 08:42 PM

Great comments from the Mudcat's classically trained resident pros. You said it all WyoWoman! DougR


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 09:12 PM

Hey, my dictionary is throwing the towel. Does anybody who knows german and english also know an english translation for

1. 'Stimmbruch': The change of voice males are subjected to during adolescence.

2. 'verklemmt': 'blocked', 'jammed' - has some special meaning I can't translate (that's why I'm interested in a translation).

Is it because of (2) that nobody seems to understand Fionn or am I misunderstanding him? As I understand his question:

I also was told ('relata refero', maybe also due to (2)) that the difference between a male (castrated) soprano and a female one is 'go home, ladies'. Of course this only will work if the castration is done before (1) occurs. There was some practice of doing this not too many centuries ago: I also once was told that Haendl - being an excellent singer as a boy - was only prevented from being 'sopranized' (only Spaw is gifted to handle that sarcasm) by intervention of his father.

So please you mudcatters, this is a musical topic in my eyes - give up your (2) so we can discuss it. No need to feel offended, I suppose. If you're living in a country where such is forbidden by law - that's an excuse, of course.

Love!

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 11:41 PM

Agreeing with Wyo, there´s an important difference between a male soprano (more properly boy sopranos, since there are no "castrati") whose voice is plane, with no vibrato, suggesting innocence and purity, and a female soprano, whose voice is adult, and who can suggest innocence and purity too, but can express a much wider range of emotions including drama, anger, passion, mother's love, and everything a woman can feel.
There are very few vocal works written for boys and ladies to sing simultaneously. One example could be Carl Orff's CARMINA BURANA where the children play an important but short part. Haendel's The Messiah includes a choir of children too, but not mixed with adults. Many Operas have a role for childrens choirs, neither mixed with adults.
Back to castrati (which is a pretty different thing) I personally don't think that they were in general better singers than good sopranos. Simply there were extraordinary castrati as well as there were fantastic sopranos, tenors and basses. And the good castrati were STARS of their times, deserving many master vocal works written especially for them. Let's take into consideration that a castrato voice was something very special, (as a bass woman could be) and very attractive, with all the expression of a man (because they were not effeminate at all) and the brightness of a female voice!
And back to the question, I don't see why a conductor would want ladies and boys singing the same part. Giving the part of children to women is much more common, when and only when that part was not written specifically for "white voices". Having the two voices, when needed, is the best solution, but never mixed.
Un abrazo - Andrés (not higher than E flat, please) ;)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 11:42 PM

Correction: "not higher than B flat, please" !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 11:52 PM

To get back to the original question, which was "Why the difference between male and female soprano voices," a lot of it must have to do with size. A woman is bigger than a young boy in many ways. She has bigger lungs, bigger throat, bigger sinuses. Her voice will be bigger and richer than a child's.

Although people think boy sopranos are very traditional/cute I have noticed one disadvantage they have. They get tired fast and go flat. I have noticed this on more than one professional recording.

One of the reasons that Europeans flooded into the New World was so they wouldn't have to listen to boy sopranos in church.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: oggie
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 09:15 AM

The boy chorister treble (soprano) is a 'head' voice which is supported by pushing lots of breath through short vocal chords. It is (for church music) very pure and free from vibrato. (this also leads to conflicts with singing teachers who tend to want vibrato for exam purposes) The girls soprano is a 'chest' voice which gives it a different timbre (different part of body vibrating or similar). If the two voices sing in unison then you can get a phasing sound as they meet. There are some pieces (mainly modern) where two choirs are used, one boys, one girls, but in most cathedrals it will be one or the other supplemented by men OR the boys will take one side and the girls the other and sing different lines.

There is also some debate as to whether girls voices should be trained so young before their bodies have developed to support the voice. In the case of boys the problems seem to arise if they keep forcing their voices when they start to break.

Choral evensong is one of the glories of music, available for free, performed at most of our Cathedrals most days. Well worth attending, even for non-christians. The standard is almost always high and the music varied.

All the best

Steve


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 03:20 PM

Thanks Steve and others. The risk of differing vibrati generating a pulse or "beat" would seem to explain why boys and women singing together doesn't work. But is there a problem with girls and boys singing together? The cathedral choirmasters would seem to think so but I'm still not sure what the problem would be here. (Presumably, Steve, boys and girls both have "head voices?)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: P05139
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 03:27 PM

The reason trebles are able to sing that high is because their vocal chords are not fully developed. Shorter vocal chords mean that the notes produced are higher.

In relation to "oggie"'s comment that boys who force their voices as they get older and their voices begin to break, I was in the school choir for five years and I knew a boy called Harry who insisted on singing soprano and got extremely upset when his voice broke. Before too long he had more or less lost his voice (which had become a fabulous tenor). Mind you, I didn't give him any sympathy!

Hope that's helped.

Kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: oggie
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 06:19 PM

Fionn,

Girls do not seem to have a usable head voice - the voice they use is a chest voice even at a young age and while it may deepen with age or even break it is not the extreme break of a boys voice when the vocal chords drop.

Cathedral choirmasters are an odd breed (as are Precentors). Some argue that the music was written for a particular (boy's treble) voice and so it should be sung by them. Others are more enlightened but there is an attitude problem with members of the church hierarchy. ther are also practical problems - most Cathedrals have a choir school of some description attached to them with subsidised places for choristers, as the voices don't mix it entails running to choits which is very expensive. Also to achieve the high standard of the choirs requires a lot of singing and performance, if this is split across two choirs you can end with neither doing enough. The plus side is that with two choirs the boys do at least get the odd weekend off and are better able to cope with academic pressure.

To put that into context - my son is a chorister at Lincoln. His normal week involves:Monday-Friday 8.00am practice til 8.50am then school;4.00pm practice til 5.00pm except wednesday; evensong Tues&Fri: Saturday 3.00pm practice followed by evensong; Sunday 9.00am practice followed be Eucharist, Matins,lunch, practice and Evensong! The girls choir at Lincoln does one Sunday in three and Tues/Thurs Evensong. Christmas and Easter are worse!

The positive side is a superb musical education, loads of performance experience and bags of confidence and some superb music!

All the best

Steve


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 12:12 PM

Thanks Steve. I go to Lincoln several times a year. Southwell is the nearest to me, and is now the better bet for organ recitals. (Two organs. I know, it's ridiculous.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 01:01 PM

There are also male adult singers who sing in a well-developed falsetto called a "contralto"- some choirs of men and boys use them and they were a hit in a lot of guy-groups in the 50's and 60's (Frankee Vallee, anyone?). Not a castrato among them, as far as I know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Grab
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 02:13 PM

Animaterra, also in the surf-music category too (Beach Boys are a prime example). Isn't this more from the a capella style of singing (or 'barbershop quartet' style too)? More recently, Jimmy Somerville and Michael Jackson sing the same way.

I sing like that sometimes for backing/harmony - WyoWoman, is this likely to be damaging my voice? (I won't ask, "Should I stop?", bcos anyone who's heard me may be biased... ;-)

Grab.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 04:00 PM

If you're doing it correctly, in your head and not your throat, it shouldn't hurt your voice at all. Yes, a cappella is what I was thinking about- then there's the King's Singers, Chanticleer, and other tonier groups like that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: oggie
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 07:06 PM

The adult male 'Falsetto' is technically called a 'Counter-Tenor' and was traditionally a baritone's head voice. In the church choral tradition the adult male line is usually a bass, a baritone, a tenor and a countr-tenor on each side with music for each voice. In a trained counter-tenor the tone will be full (and usually loud) unlike most of us who can sing falsetto but have little volumne.

All the best

Steve


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 07:32 PM

Animaterra, I'm stuck on the Frankee Vallee reference - show's how young I am. Unless - long shot - you meant Frankie Lymon ("Why am I a teenager in love?" or something like that.) And Grab, might the dreaded Bee Gees be another example?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Gary T
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 08:03 PM

Frankie Vallee was the lead singer for the Four Seasons, who had quite a string of chart hits in the early-to-mid 60's (Silence is Golden [the original hit], Rag Doll, Dawn, Let's Hang On [to What We've Got], and probably a dozen others I can't think of right now). He went on to a solo career which included a hit version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You".

I would include some Bee Gees songs as examples of being sung in falsetto.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Cat at covenhouse
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 08:12 PM

Some women can and do use a head voice and a chest voice. My head voice is an alto, but I can fake contralto, and my chest voice is a tenor.

I wanted to submit a suggestion for you to listen to: Andrew Ratshin, formerly of Uncle Bonsai, seems to have a natural soprano, and he is an adult male. Check his amazing voice out on the Bonsai website.

Cheers, Cat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 09:51 PM

Can anybody really explain what a 'head voice', a 'chest voice' and a 'falsetto' are. I suppose if I ever had attended some singing lessons I would know the difference - depending on what my teacher knew, and I'm a little biased here.

I can also use my 'head voice' (or am I singing 'falsetto' when I do?) but not loudly and I also can't do smooth transitions to/from my normal ('chest'?) voice. But I think that's simply a matter of enough hard practising (plus talent), and so I have some great respect for everybody who really can sing that way.

I DO NOT understand how the difference between boy and girl sopranos should be the difference between head voice and chest voice. On the other hand it is VERY easy for me to understand how mixing two voices singing at the same pitch but with different vibrato frequencies can yield VERY strange results.

And - there's the aspect of castrati. As leeneia said the sheer size of what is producing the sound in question matters - men simply become larger, also when castrated. Second: If a boy is to undergo that procedure he must be a real talent anyway. Third - once he's done with it: What should prevent him from concentrating on what he's living for? (Irony? Yes, very bitter irony.)

So the third aspect might simply be the amount of practise spent at some age when it really has an effect. Just imagine the difference between a girl of 18 trying to become a soprano star and a castrato a the same age... (no joking intended). I wouldn't be astonished if it turned out that castrato sopranos really WERE better than female ones, especially as soloists (solists?)

But - hehe - to imagine that ability (aquired by supported (argh! in this case) talent plus hard work where others are ... whatever ...) is more likely to make you a star than sexual ... whatever ... is also some charming idea to me.

May you all never be 'supported' that way! (What's that in irish?)

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 10:54 PM

Joerg, please let me explain briefly the first point, and leave the others to other participants, for brevity.

Body cavities act as resonance chambers for the sound coming from the vocal cords. These chambers react to different frequencies, best to certain range and less efficiently to others. As the frequency (pitch) raises, different resonance chambers are stimulated and others de-stimulated, producing the impression that the sound comes from chest first, then from head. So, it is the shape and size of the skeleton and consistency of soft tissues that determine the sound, rather than the singer's desire. Though a well trained singer can manage this to some extent, in general the result are dependent upon the physical characteristics of the individual.

For example, a tenor will find that some notes are definitely "chest" and others definitely "head", with a small interval in between, called the "passage", which may be from E to G in the upper lines of the staff . As my teacher says (he's a professional opera singer), DON'T worry about where your passage is. Just keep improving quality across the full range.

Un abrazo - Andrés (in Buenos Aires)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 08 Aug 00 - 09:28 PM

Thank you, Andrés, that is good information. Fortunately in the meantime there was another 'yodel' thread posted which helped me to express what I'm interested in.

What happens when your voice 'breaks' or you make it break? Some people refer to that as 'head voice' but this seems to be wrong. Is it what is called 'falsetto' or is that still something different? Does anybody know what is happening there, in either case? My own hypothesis is that the vocal cords are made vibrating in a higher harmonic mode (I suppose it's called the first harmonic but I'm not sure). Is that correct? You know there's second possibility: One can also obtain the first harmonic by filtering the basic frequency away, provided the original sound contains enough harmonics.

These are very interesting questions to a singer as well as to a physicist and maybe also to a physician (and I'm at least kind of a physicist in my other life), and better understanding (also understanding each other better) might be very useful to all of them.

Please help them all.

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: WyoWoman
Date: 08 Aug 00 - 09:59 PM

Roy Orbison certainly ought to make the list...

Regarding the difference between falsetto and "head tone" or "head voice," I just dont' know how to evaluate that. I think they might be the same thing. But maybe different from counter-tenor? Escamillo and others, what say ye? I do know that when I learned to yodel, I had to learn to use my falsetto and I'm a soprano, so it's a different sounding tone from just plain vanilla soprano.

And Fionn, to my knowledge there weren't female soprani performing at the time of the castrati. That was the whole point of castrating the little dudes. Women couldn't perform publicly, or were severely limited in what they could do, and they most certainly couldn't sing sacred music. Sacrebleu! They were tainted by original sin, don'cha know, and not fit to participate in the official celebrations or ministrations of the Church. Thus, in service to that particular point of view, hundreds of little boys got mutilated, just as today, millions of women get themselves mutilated in service to the cultural notion that big breasts = better woman. Neither is particularly enlightened, but ... what fools we mortals be ...

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 08 Aug 00 - 10:35 PM

ww - to my knowledge there were always castrato sopranos. In the early times of course one aspect was the difficulty to get female or boy sopranos into monasteries. But later when public performances were done there also was a time when (few) male sopranos really could be compared with (much more) female ones. And I also have heard rumours that up to today the vatican has some hidden castrati for their own purposes (musical of course!).

Also very interesting: A man using his 'broken' voice (falsetto?) can nearly sing soprano. I never heard a female soprano doing something comparable (should sound like a steam pipe). But I do hear both of them yodeling.

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 02:09 AM

I understand that falsetto and "voice head" are different things. And most important, falsetto exists only in male voices. And "breaking your voice" is still another one. Let's try to explain:

- Voice head, as mentioned before, is the normal sound of the voice, male or female, in high notes, as the head resonance chambers get stimulated. The trained singer can force the bottom of that range two or three semitones up or down. This sound is not falsetto. This is the voice of tenors in the high notes (aprox. from F), and counter-tenors, and the female voices of alto and soprano, at their high range too (aprox.F, one octave above tenor). Male voice of bass have a range considered "head" too, aprox. from D.<>br>

- Falsetto in men: used by some singers (wrongly named counter-tenors, could be named more correctly "falsetteers") playing the part of female altos, this is still pretty common in English choirs which follow the "all-male" tradition. I personally don't like them. It is obtained by relaxing the position of the larynge and allow the nose resonators to take the most relevant part. Curiously, basses get the best falsettos, and many tenors can't obtain this sound. The sound seems (not surprinsingly) false, forced, not authentic. Some mexican singers use this as an ornament, and german singers from the Alps region use it in a fast alternation with head voice to obtain weird effects. Not used in classical music except the mentioned male-Alto parts. There is a technique called "reinforced falsetto" which some singers have learnt to master, with very good results, almost indistinguishable from counter-tenor voices, but I'm afraid it is dangerous for their vocal health.

- Falsetto in women: Many experts say that it does not exist, because the position of all muscles and cavities in women is already close to falsetto when using the head voice, also called a biphase-voice. Some authors consider falsetto as another sound beyond bi-phased and call it three-phased voice, however it is neither used in classical pieces, though we may find some effects in jazz and blues singers who use it as an ornament. Anyway, no serious vocal pieces are written for falsetto.

- Break of the voice: This is only allowed to the singer Shakira, and possibly others, because they are physically beautiful and generously show breasts and bellies (which is a respectable art too). I personally could attend to their show with good earplugs, if somebody else pays the bill. (Sorry, it's a joke - many people like them). Anyway, no classical teacher will allow you to even think in this technique (or lack of technique) because it breaks the melody, which is a fundamental part of any vocal piece.

- Yodeling : I know nothing about this.
- Escamillo's technique : any voice, but good anti-slippery shoes and black clothes, for a fast escape from the stage when necessary.
Un abrazo - Andrés


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 04:15 AM

In THIS LIST you will find a very interesting discussion among singers and teachers about head voice, falsetto, limits of the voice, etc. It is amazing how many different opinions we may find.
Un abrazo - Andrés


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 10:08 PM

oh..oh. Am I killing the thread ? Again ? (sigh)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 10:20 PM

No, Andrés, you aren't. I'm still very interested in that subject, but I'm a little out of new information (and thoughts) at the moment, and that may also apply to others. Just not so fast...

Thank you

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 11:19 PM

Although Andrés points out that we have discussed much of this before, I'll add a bit to this thread. Cat at covenhouse, "alto" is the same as "contralto". It is just the shortened version of the word contralto. Contralto means "against high", or the woman's part that is written to sing against the high soprano range part. If you can sing well in the tenor range, then you are an alto (or contralto, the terms mean the same). Andrés provides some excellent information.

Here is a website on singing that goes into detail on the history of castrati, etc. click here The type is light on dark in an impossibly small font size to read, but a bit about the castrati I will quote here:
---------
"Women were not allowed to speak or sing in church.  The Church also forbade women to participate in the theater.     In the Middle Ages, the lack of female voices in the relatively simple church music was not a problem.  Young boys' voices had difficulty, though, with the complex polyphony that was being written in the late 1500s by the contrapuntalists in the Netherlands.  Either their voices were not strong enough to maintain the part, or by the time they had gained the musicianship required to execute the music, their voices were changing.     Initially this problem was solved by importing falsettists from Spain and for a time Spanish falsettists held a monopoly in the Sistine Chapel.  Somehow they seemed to have discovered a secret for giving the falsetto voice more agility, range and a richer sound.  Some have suggested that these falsettists were in fact castrati and some may have been.     It is documented that in 1599, Pietro Paolo Folignato and Girolamo Rossini (No relation to the other Rossini that we know.), two Italian castrati were admitted to the Sistine Chapel.  This, along with the invention of opera at about that time, ushered in the age of the castrati.     Castration had existed for centuries as a form of punishment.  In other situations, slaves were castrated and then used as harem guards or as servants or tutors for upper class women.     Essentially there are two types of castration:  removal of all the genitalia (usually inflicted as punishment and often fatal) and removal of the testes only.  The latter of these was what was performed on prepubescent boys usually between the ages of seven and twelve.     Unfortunately many boys were castrated with the belief that castration alone would make them good singers.  It is estimated that at the height of the castrati's popularity during the eighteenth century as many as four thousand boys a year were castrated in Italy.  Sadly very few of them became rich or famous.
    Henry Pleasants, in his book, The Great Singers, describes the physical results of castration:     "The vocal consequences of castration went well beyond the mere perpetuation of a boyish treble.  The child continued to grow, and so did his voice; or at least his physical powers to exploit the voice he already had.  Under the rigid discipline to which he would now be exposed, his lung capacity and diaphragmatic support would be augmented to an extraordinary degree, enabling him to sustain the emission of breath in the projection of tone up to a minute or more, which is beyond the ability of most normal adult male and female singers.  The mature castrato was a boy soprano or alto with all the physical resources of a grown man . . ."
    The castrati continued in the Sistine Chapel and the churches long after they fell out of favor on the opera stage.  Giovanni-Battista Velluti was the last of the great operatic castrati.  Meyerbeer wrote Il Crociato in Egitto (1824) especially for him.  Domenico Mustafà was director of papal music until as late as 1902.      Unbelievably, there exists a recording of the last castrato to direct the Sistine Chapel Choir, Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922).  Though Moreschi is past his prime, the recording gives the listener an idea of the mysterious beauty of the castrato voice."

A sound sample is provided.

Physically, you have to realize that men develop muscular strength that they can use to support the voice that women don't develop. When the voice is stopped from changing at puberty, (you know how teenage boys develop that adam's apple) then their bodies continue to grow with muscular strength that a woman does not develop You can see that the smaller, high sounding vocal cords would have alot more strength to support the sound, as in the above description of the ability to support the high voice longer than most female sopranos. I can say, that I know sopranos with the right training can sustain a note just as long by knowing how to control the breath. It takes muscle, training, and in-born physical talent.

Women were not allowed to perform on stage in the first operas. The female roles were sung by castrati dressed as women.

Alice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 11:50 PM

If you go to amazon.com and type in "the last castrato" you will find a CD with four real audio samples you can listen to of Alessandro Moreschi. The voice is not as good as a good female soprano, but it is an echo of history. It also sounds strange to hear someone singing almost like a female soprano with vibrato and the boys voices in the choir as in the Ave Verum on this CD. I agree, as this thread beginning pointed out, it doesn't always blend well when part of a choir is singing "straight as a string" sacred music as WW so aptly put it, and another voice or voices have the sound of a more classical or operatic vibrato.

Alice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 05:57 AM

Well.. er.. Mr. Moreschi would not blend well with a well tempered instrument either.. but anyway, that's a good sample (or the only sample) that we can hear today of those famous singers. There are many stories of knowledgeable people who have had the impression of their lives when hearing the castrati in person, and this could be explained by the reasons Alice posted above.

We in our times have been born with a loudspeaker at our side, (and our singers born with a mike in their hands) and listen to artificially produced music much more than live performances, I speak in general. May be for this reason we can't appreciate the theatrical aspects of the vocal performance, the mood, the attitude in front of the audience, the warmth of the human presence. And consequently we are more strict in our criticism of singers. Singers are more careful too, and nowadays you will not find a singer who repeats less than 10 times each phrase to record a CD, the engineers cutting and pasting music to obtain perfection and loosing the necessary freshness.

The movie Farinelli is neither a good example, because despite its high quality as a film, the voice has been electronically manufactured with male and female voices as raw material, an amazing as well as artificial achievement.

Un abrazo - Andrés


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:54 AM

"Well.. er.. Mr. Moreschi would not blend well with a well tempered instrument either.." ha, ha, that's funny, Andrés! That is such an excellent point you make that the spontaneously live performance is rarely heard by most people now in this age of recordings. I think the folk music scene is probably one of the best havens for live singing without all the techno manipulations, in addition to live opera performance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: DougR
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 12:21 AM

WyoWoman: 'castrating the little dudes?' You're funny and that's one reason I like you! DougR


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 10:14 PM

Another lot of good information - thank you all.

I'm still wondering about that break of the voice. How does it work and also:

It can be done on purpose. Men can sing at higher pitch than their normal voice would allow by that. Women can't but this trick or a similar one can also be used without leaving your normal vocal range, and this can be done by women as well, e.g. for yodeling but also with quite normal lyrics. (@§$%&# - I'm hearing an example from some radio at least twice a week, but I can't tell you the title of the song nor the artist.) This technique allows for changing the pitch much faster than by normal singing; it's like switching rather than adjusting and also back and forth. The only difficulty is exactly hitting the intended pitch - that's the art.

Uhm - Joan Baez also once did it in a recording of 'Brand New Tennessee Waltz' - you know "...at the bra-(NOW!)-and new Tennessee...".

Can you figure out what I mean? I'd love to be able to manage that myself.

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: WyoWoman
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 10:54 PM

(Yeah, Doug, but I bet the little dudes didn't think it was so funny. Anyone seen that movie "Faranelli" -- I think that was the name of it. Very interesting...)

Joerg, a lot of country music or countrified folk and some blues have that little break in the voice. If I were standing right in front of you I could probably teach you in ten minutes. But the way I learned it and the way just about everyone does is just to listen to songs that have it and sit around by yourself (unless you have a very patient family or a deaf cat) and practice it. (Ever listen to Karla Bonoff? That song "Home" has some nice examples. Listen to the "Trio I" and "Trio II" CDs with Ronstadt, Parton and Harris, too.)

This is a lot like trying to explain verbally how to ride a bicycle ...

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 09:22 PM

Oh, ww, I've listened to this for quite a long time but still I can just do it a little - i.e. not worth mentioning. But thank you for at least being able to understand what I mean.

It's some really interesting aspect of singing. How many of those teachers teach it? You can kind of pre-program your voice and then run that program by somehow hitting a function key. Great feature of computers. Why is it something between neglected and forbidden when it comes to singing?

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 10:23 PM

As far as I know, that voice breaking is neglected and forbidden by classical teachers, simply because it enters the category of other sounds, like yodeling and plain shouting, which they don't consider music, but they accept you to use those sounds if you respect the wishes of the authors.

While the authors allow that sound or especially indicate them, you should make voice breaks and everything. It is a matter of taste wether that sound will be well received or not. What we should never do is ruin a clean melody line with breaks, or shout a romanza. Shakira is a good example of what I would call the worst taste: she breaks every phrase, she never maintains a melody line, she has a nice timbre and ruins it. An ornament ? A snobism ? I don't know, but I lament that some young people think that this is the way young people should sing.

I suggest my sons that when they are in doubt to define a bad or good singer, try to listen only to the voice and imagine that they are not surrounded and supported by many instruments, an impressive percussion, a choir behind, and a second track of themselves. Through some years, it's a great success that they learn to differentiate at least one bad singer out of ten. Just in case, I never sing at home.

Un abrazo - Andrés


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 12 Aug 00 - 11:26 PM

Andrés, I didn't mean to refer to the Tarzan way of yodeling: Simply shouting with breaking voice thus making your enemies believe you've got elephants (joke as far as I know invented by René Goscinny, God bless his soul).

I meant having your voice break and of course HIT THE TONE that is required. A song has its melody. There are no further musical restrictions (at least in folk music). That melody may be obtained by singing it with a male voice (tenor, baritone, bass, boy, castrato soprano) a female voice (soprano, alto, girl) a whole choir, even by playing it with a musical instrument or whistling it. Of course only if this is done IN TUNE. And when I mention yodeling I am of course referring to the musical kind of it: Yodeling some given melody.

With this breaking of the voice is only one of many different ways of performing a tune by means of the human voice, i.e. singing. That is why I'm a little biased to teachers as I said. I am convinced that they can tell me many things I don't know but also that they will first try to restrict me to THEIR things. So I suppose we would first quarrel instead of talking about singing and that is not what I think teaching/learning should be.

;-)

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 03:35 AM

Joerg, I think I should listen to some example of what you want. There are so many things we still don't know, that it is possible we completely overlooked (overheard?) some singing style. I remember my impression when I first heard a chinese singer, or the incredible harmonies of South African spirituals. I still owe to myself to listen to an Indian singer with their three-octave range, and who knows what else.

My example of Shakira (she is a Colombian pop singer, now fidancée of Mr. De la Rua Jr., son of Argentine President) is the most dramatic example of NOT respecting the melody: her voice mantains the tune 90% of the time, and the other 10% abruptly breaks to a nasal sound three or four tones above, giving the impression of "jumps" in the tune, or, of a person who wants, but CANNOT sing a simple, popular and occidental melody. However, she is famous and successful, and I am only famous.:))

Un abrazo - Andrés


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Escamillo
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 03:58 AM

Sorry, when I said Indian Singer I meant HINDI singer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 10:25 AM

Well I knew it was a big subject when I asked the question. Thanks for all the answers. WW, when it comes to the boy soprano, is there any film quite as disturbing as that Peter Greenway extravaganza, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 11:15 AM

Joerg, W.W. grew up with a singing/teaching mom, and knows her vocal lessons. With that foundation, one can learn to do such things with the voice as yodeling and still be aware that the vocal cords need to be protected from damage. It really helps to know good technique even when you are not singing in a "classical" way. A good teacher is not going to let you do anything to your voice that would harm it - cause nodes or other damage to your vocal folds. There really is alot of science behind the use of the voice for singing and techniques that preserve the quality of your voice into old age. Here is an interesting page on the technique of analyzing voice and measuring pitch, breathiness, "breaks", etc.Voice Analysis Lab.

Here is some information from a study of muscle tension (MT) in singing comparing professional and amateur, male and female, and styles of singing. If you look at the Bluegress/C&W style, that is the closest to what you are describing in singing with breaks in the voice.
Laryngeal Biomechanics Of The Singing Voice

Alice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 11:49 AM

Joerg, if you read the linked study in my last message you will see that there are styles of singing that cause greater muscle tension in the larynx. I'm sure you don't want to cause nodules on your vocal cords, so as you try to create this break sound when you sing, warm up first and keep your muscles as relaxed as possible (learning how to do this well is where a good classical voice teacher comes in). The more you tense them up, the more harm you can do. When you learn good breath support, too, the making of sound is more effortless. Alot of people push the air or belt through their vocal cords to get volume. This causes much more tension than supporting and controlling the air flow. Here's a bit of description just from the discussion part of the study.

----

"The normal biomechanical configuration for effortless phonation is that the vocal cords approximate "like two hands clapping on a hinge"; vocal cord closure is achieved along the length of the vocal cords, without the participation of supraglottic structures. (There is neither front-to-back foreshortening nor side-to-side compression of the larynx, and the aryepiglottic folds remain thin and rounded.) "Effortless phonation," however, is not always what singers exhibit when they are singing. "

"...It must be emphasized that the data we present here do not suggest that singing styles associated with high Muscle Tension scores should be avoided, nor do they suggest that a high MT score is in any way abnormal or pathologic. They do, however, make one assumption (which is supported by clinical experience): High MT scores imply high levels of laryngeal work, whereas low MT scores imply relative vocal/laryngeal efficiency. "

"Generally, some variables appear to decrease the Muscle Tension score, or "protect against excessive laryngeal tension," and these include: (1) vocal training; (2) singing classical styles of music; and (3) warming-up before singing. Intuitively, each of these variables should exert a score-lowering influence. "
----

My input on this subject is that learning classical technique helps you use your voice for singing in ANY STYLE you choose to, and provides technique that enhances your voice as well as your vocal health (preventing vocal nodules) and keeping your voice longer into old age. Don't feel that by knowing these techniques that you can't sing anything but classical music! That's simply not true! Any singer of any style of music can benefit from knowing good vocal technique.

Alice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 02:49 PM

did I kill this thread, or is it just a slow Sunday....?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: oggie
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 06:33 PM

Alice,

Thanks for the links - hard work but worth it!!

Thanks also to Jorg, WW, Escamillo et al - have really enjoyed reading and adding to this thread.

All the best

Steve


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: WyoWoman
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 07:53 PM

Alice--I agree with you re. learning vocal technique. I can sing classical choral music and show tunes, thanks to my mom and my high school chorus teacher. Neither of them approved of any music outside their particular categories and when I started singing rock 'n' roll as a kid, I met with much disapproval. And when I was telling my sisters and my mom of my winning the trophy for the Old-Time Country Music show' best female vocalist, my mom sniffed and said, "All those years of lessons and you're winning trophies for yodeling ..."

But I like music, period, and I like some of just about every genre -- if it's good, I like it. And if a song seems pretty to me or appeals to me for some reason, I'll try to learn it, regardless of whether it's in some "approved" repertoire or not. I don't want to narrow my world down so much that I exclude all but a couple of genres. But, I feel that way about people, too. I have lots of room for lots of different kinds of people in my life, and music is an expression of various versions of humanity.

By the way, if anyone reading this somehow equates yodeling with yowling or hollering or just making a bunch of goofy noise, well, you've never heard pretty yodeling. I go for a nice, lilting yodel that never sounds as though I'm calling the hogs, thank you. (At least I don't think it does ... )

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: Alice
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 09:43 PM

I agree, WW. I'll never perform opera, my interests in performing are traditional folk music from many countries, and Gershwin, standards, and more. I'm just glad I've learned how to warm up and how to protect my voice from damage. I've heard your yodel, and it is absolutely more than just nice, lilting, and Loverly!

Alice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Gender and the soprano voice
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 13 Aug 00 - 10:13 PM

ROTF - THANK YOU ALL - I really like laughing heartily and there are too few things at the moment that make me do so.

It began with that list on the very top of the page: "GUEST,Joerg - escamillo, escamillo, ... ,alice, alice, alice ("am I killing the thread"), ..." (Fionn, oggie, ww: you're not ... to me.) Was that some waps'p ... was'ps ... pswa'p ... was that something you're also interested in?

alice - :-O ... (gulp) ... er ... yes. - Sorry, the medical expressions in my original language are also different from those in english. It will take me some time to figure out what you said. Thanks anyway.

ww, be warned - if you go on with postings like these I might fall in love with you and then I might decide to get a cookie and then I might post a picture of me and then poor ww! "Calling the hogs" ... !!! ... still difficult to see my screen through all those tears...

But let me try to get serious again:

Andrés - it seems to me that you and I are some classic example of two people knowing different things. You don't seem to know yodeling at all, I don't know anything about Shakira. Up to now. Do you know Tanitha Tikaram? When I first heard her I thought that was another ... (uh) ... sponsored by some rich ... (uh) ... and I thought 'Must that have been expensive'. This lady doesn't have any 'voice' and hardly ever hits the tone. But later I saw that she's performing her own songs which are very good, and her way of singing (? - at least performing but that with a '!') has some special charm I only had to get used to first.

alice - you cited three points in your second message: (1) vocal training: That's clear, or at least should be known to every singer. Nobody is able to sing at all without practising, i.e. having practised before and going on. But (2) what are 'classical styles of music' and (3) what means 'warming up'? (Maybe this is explained in the documents you linked, if so, sorry.)

ww - my regards to your mother although she might not be delighted by what for: If she could teach you singing some way that didn't prevent you from being able to yodel she can't be one of those teachers I'm really afraid of. (I can't remember where, but I read another message in this very forum stating that there is indeed some danger like this.)

Blessings

Joerg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 20 November 3:01 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.