Descent from Sweet, Clear, Pure and Affecting Italian Singing to Grand Uproar
The book reports on the conclusions of 20 years research into important features of the classical vocal soundscape. By ‘Vocal Traditions in Conflict’, I mean the huge chasm between the sound of classical singing from 1650 to 1830, as monitored by the castrati controlled hegemony, which I view as benign, and today's opera house tradition, which I regard as malign for all vocal music from Purcell to Rossini, but which has ruled unchallenged for a century now. The best long 18th C vocalists sang in straight voice, with occasional expressive vibrato and messa di voce, produced low notes firmly and high notes softly [partly by ascending regularly into falsetto regions], adopted high/neutral larynx positions, achieved good diction [by adopting a slightly smiling mouth shape], and delivered polished cadential trills. By contrast, most of today’s operatically trained singers emit a permanent wide vibrato, screech or bellow high notes [always in chest voice, excepting only specialist falsettists], adopt a plummy low larynx position, sing with wide open mouths [as Mancini noted, opening a ‘small furnace in the mouth’] impairing diction, seldom use the messa di voce and are mostly incapable of delivering a proper trill. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A handful of classical vocalists and some pop/jazz trained singers have avoided the traditional opera house sound and are producing sweet, clear, pure and affecting music praised in the past. See Playlists section of this site for details.
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