Consonants – Oskar Guttmann

The starting point to introduce the various techniques required for singing consonants today is to choose a Cancone Solfeggio phrase and refer to Oskar Guttmann’s ‘Gymnastics for the Voice’. The majority of the techniques I blog about are for the classical voice. However, this blog is for every style. Every singer should be aware of how they produce their consonants.

Here is a demonstration of the first note. First, it is demonstrated with scooping (bad unless done consciously for effect). Then the consonant ‘m’ is practiced in isolation to make sure it is directly on pitch and resonant (good). Then the first note is sung again. This time there is no scooping (good).

Demonstration of how consonants should be isolated and practiced – Deborah Wai Kapohe

The ‘words’ of this solfeggio phrase are ‘mi fa sol do si mi do sol’. Let’s take a look at Oskar Guttmann’s page on consonants from his book ‘Gymnastics of the Voice’. We see the voiced consonants are m, l and do. These must all be on pitch. There are other techniques for the unvoiced consonants but they are not my focus today (but just as important).

Oskar Guttmann’s book ‘Gymnastics for the Voice’

Following on from my previous posts about voice characters, I decided to have some fun. Here is the Cancone phrase, first in the light coloratura quality and then the lyric and dramatic qualities. Interestingly, I didn’t treat the consonants the same way every time, something I will ponder upon in upcoming posts!

Light Coloratura version of Cancone – Deborah Wai Kapohe
Lyric version of Cancone – Deborah Wai Kapohe
Dramatic version of Cancone – Deborah Wai Kapohe

Finally, here is some music. This is the first phrase of ‘Regnava nel silenzio’. Referring again to Oskar Guttmann’s page above. The voiced consonants are r, the nasal n, v, n and l.

Opening phrase of Regnava nel Silenzio – Deborah Wai Kapohe

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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