Classical Singing is not just about being able to sing loud and soft. Classical Singing is about being able to sing with different tone colours and shades of intensity.

Here is the opening phrase of a Cancone solfeggio. Solfegii and vocalise are vital for training singers. I will be demonstrating a lot of solfegii and vocalise over the next three years.

Before you listen to my brief demo of the opening of a Cancone solfeggio below, please note that to learn to sing Bel Canto requires the mastery of the happy surprise breath. Lucie Manen in ‘The Art of Singing’ and Esther Salaman in ‘Unlocking Your Voice’ describe how to perform this breath. (I demo this breath in one of my earlier posts.) You must also master the start of the note. (Again, refer to the singing books of Manen and Salaman). Bel Canto requires the mastery of starting the note with the caress of the glottis. I have demonstrated this on an audio file in one of my earlier posts.

Listen to my demonstration below of Cancone and then read and listen to the different techniques I used.

Cancone solfeggio – Deborah Wai Kapohe demonstration

Vowels. Learning to sing vowels isn’t as difficult as one thinks. Teachers can over complicate things by referring to ‘pure vowels’. Lilli Lehmann states that there are no pure vowels.

Below is a demonstration of the three exclamation vowels contrasted with their counterparts, the articulation vowels. Exclamation vowels are simply that. Exclamations that are natural to us. I have fun by exclaiming ‘a’ like I have discovered something wonderful, then ‘i’ like I have discovered something weird and then ‘u’ like I discovered something unbelievable. I then sing these exclamation vowels. In contrast, articulation vowels are the vowels we learn to use in speech. They are wonderful and limitless because we are all different. The challenge in singing is learning to blend vowels. For example, now that I listen to the Cancone again, I think I should have blended slightly more ‘u’ into the second top note. Or perhaps even just thought ‘u’.

Exclamation vowels followed by phonation vowels – Deborah Wai Kapohe demonstration

Nasal. Below is ‘ng’ followed by the same vowels as above (a, i and u) but with nasality added. This nasality was used in the demonstration of the Cancone above on the second F#. I thought the nasality gave the second F# a nice change in tone colour as well as more volume (Cancone indicated more volume on the score).

Ng followed by adding that nasality to vowels – Deborah Wai Kapohe demonstration

Singing soft and loud and everything in between. Below is messa di voce. It is not a good example because the diminuendo does not match the crescendo and my support is lacking. However, I have included it so that you can hear because bad examples are as useful for learning as good examples. Messa di voce was used in the Cancone also because a singer should never sing in one dynamic, whether it be one note or a phrase. Even individual notes should have messa di voce.

Messa di voce – flawed demonstration

Emphasising certain notes as well as creating springboards to fly up to the top notes. FInally, here is vibrazione on u. I exclaimed ‘u’ first then sang the vibrazione onto the exclamation vowels to keep my lips from wanting to form an articulation vowel. There is a little tiny vibrazione just before the first F# sung in head voice.

Vibrazione on exclamation u vowel – Deborah Wai Kapohe

I don’t have time for consonants today and didn’t think about them at all in the Cancone example above. However, I will be putting a lot of time into consonants over the next three years. Lilli Lehmann’s teachings are a great resource for studying consonants and they can make or break a legato vocal line.

Published by Deborah Wai Kapohe

I am a classical singer and guitarist. I have created a project called 'The Lilli Lehmann Project'. The project, lasting from 2020 until 2023, aims to refresh my voice and prepare me to be a singing teacher. The scope of the project is that I am studying Lilli Lehmann's singing book, bibliography, recordings and her reviews, as well as other historical vocal pedagogy. I have chosen this platform in order to blog about my discoveries, demonstrate techniques and exercises, and perform pieces of music. I have done so because I wish to be transparent. I think that if a student is prepared to learn from me then I should stand up to public scrutiny.

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