High Notes

…there is almost no limit to the height that can be reached by the pure head tone without admixture of palatal resonance.

Lilli Lehmann, How to Sing.

…the whole secret of both [extension of the compass and equalization of the registers] consists in the proper raising and lowering of the soft palate, and the pillars of the fauces connected with it.

Lilli Lehmann, How to Sing

Over the next three years (2020-2023), I have created a project for myself called the “Lilli Lehmann Project”. This project aims to refresh my voice and brain to prepare myself for teaching. The whole point of the three years is that I believe that in order to teach responsibly, I must be able to actually do it myself!

The first stage of the project is to learn bel canto repertoire, in particular coloratura. Coloratura repertoire demands, amongst many other things, secure high notes because the arias often end with a high note.

Today’s post discusses my thoughts about high notes.

First, here is short audio file where I am rehearsing the high notes at the end of Caro Nome.

Developing high notes.

In this audio file, I focussed very much on increasing the nasality in the notes before singing the notes above top C. I also increasingly thought of [e].

As soon as the head tones come into consideration, one should never attempt to sing an open ah, because on ah the tongue lies flattest. One should think of an ā, and in the highest range even an ē; should mix the ā and ē with the ah, and thereby produce a position of the tongue and soft palate that makes the path clear for the introduction on the breath into the cavities of the head.

Lilli Lehmann, How to Sing.

In addition to thinking [e], I watched Dame Joan Sutherland singing high notes. Imitating her mouth position as it changes through the registers. Once I reached the C# I positioned my mouth ready for a wide opening on the Eb.

Dame Joan Sutherland.

Here is a picture of Maria Callas laughing. This is a good example of the mouth shape for high notes.

Maria Callas

In addition, to the above, there was one more thing I did. This was to extend my neck upwards. In the following video, the Italian bel canto singing teacher, Capucine Chiaudani, explains why this is important.

Capucine Chiaudani

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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