Gregorian Chant for Opera Singers

Wow, the closed Italian [u] – why Italian? – why did Gregorian chant, opera, and singing in a certain way seemingly start in Italy? Their language was the main reason, and of course, we must consider that because it started there, it started because of their language.

Denes Striny, Great Singers, An Endangered Species, How to Get Back to Mother Nature, Page 43

I could pose a similar question from a New Zealand perspective. Why are there so many stunning Pacific Island Opera Singers? Their language is the main reason.

Language for some of us Kiwis is a challenge. How do we train our mouths to speak like an Italian or a Pacific Islander or a native Te Reo speaker?

Here is one way. It is cheap, easy and will save you doing a three year Italian degree like I did.

Listen to Gregorian Chant!

This post contains a Gregorian playlist for listening while you take that daily walk. (You will need Spotify to access the entire track).

Language is my everyday struggle because I have a thick Kiwi accent with more than a hint of Aussie – could it get any worse – ha ha ha! Yes, it could. I love pop music which means I am often singing around the house in chest voice trying to be Beyonce!

Gregorian chant is the perfect remedy. The language is focussed on the [u] vowel, there is no chest voice, the vocal range is not taxing and the singers sing directly onto the note (no scooping).

Put your headphones on and have a go at imitating this. Imitation is training. Training your lips to feel the [u] shape and to maintain the [u] sensation in every other vowel.

Training, training, training! Training your ear. Training your muscles. Training, training, training!

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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