Saturday, July 3, 2010

What voice are you?

Saturday musings...

Why are we so afraid to discover the TRUTH about our voices?

It's a rhetorical question to a degree...but we are!!!

We always have to compare, to type, to fach, to associate in order to achieve validation somehow.

What would happen if we actually discovered the TRUTH about our own voice and developed that?

What would happen?!

Imagine learning HOW to sing and discover that latent power and majesty within?  Imagine instead of fitting into a type or box or "like",  you created your OWN paradigm?!?!?!

There's a reason people speak in types or likes:  it is because someone has created something unique that has a truth that cannot be compared, and so, others are compare to THAT standard.

Are you a Lyric Tenor a la Pavarotti or a la Alagna or a la Bergonzi?

Are you a Baritone a la Milnes or a la Terfel or a la Hampson?

Are you a Mezzo a la Horne or a la Berganza or a la Janet Baker?

Are you a Dramatic Soprano a la Leontyne Price or a la Deborah Voigt?

Does your voice defy category and is dramatic in nature a la Maria Callas?

And on and on...

In the Music Theatre world,  are you a Bernadette Peters type?  A Judy Kaye type?

A Brian Stokes Mitchell type?  A Patti Lupone type?

An Adam Pascal type?  A Lillias White type?

A Gavin Kreel type?  A Carl Anderson type?

and on and on...

Each of these singers, whether we enjoy their work or not, have created a truth with their voice and their craft, and have stamped it UNIQUE.

The business uses this uniqueness to compare and contrast.

What is wrong with developing the TRUTH and UNIQUENESS of YOUR voice to allow you to be compared to no one but you?

Singers often lead with what type they are, or what fach they are.  Sadly, often they are incorrect.  They are so busy trying to fit in, that they never find out the truth.

How did the above singers become recognized as unique?  Because they dared to be themselves and create outside the box.  They dared to discover what their voice did and does and stay true to that, no matter what anybody said.

What should voice be?

It should be rich,  balanced, brilliant,  full of colours and hues and shades and reflections.

It should have a bottom, a middle and a top and an ease and athleticism that uniquely belongs to the body it inhabits.

It should not be manufactured.

It should be resonant, free,  and able to take on stylistic variances with ease if the singer has the capability to do so.

A true voice finds balance in chiaroscuro -  the light and the dark.  It is not one over the other.

It finds truth in weight, and size,  truth in brilliance and in depth.

If we as singers were concerned primarily in discovering the truth of our individual voice,  we wouldn't worry about other outside forces so much.

The voice in its truth will find its place.  The fach will reveal;  the type will reveal;

As we learn to inhabit the true voice,  the true voice will emerge honestly, and then the singer has the responsibility to claim that.

Imagine claiming what you ARE and actually defining your OWN type!!

There is beauty in truth.  True beauty is realizing what you are claiming.

Dare to discover and CLAIM the voice that is uniquely YOURS.  Dare to walk away from the box and claim YOURSELF.

Dare to sing with something real, not manufactured.  Eventually the facade cracks anyway.  Why hide if you can emerge in plain sight and beauty of uniqueness?

Quit hiding behind type or fach.  Claim the voice truly, and then examine how the fach or type enhances you.  It shouldn't create you.

Find your balance.

Find your brilliance.

Find your depth.

Find your chiaroscuro.

Dare to be uniquely YOU.  Dare to sing with a voice that is YOURS.


  1. One of my professors once asked me who he thinks I'm "like," or to compare myself to someone well-known. It was in a class where we were considering the business end of things. I think that, sometimes, the business rewards imitation. Especially when Broadway shows are looking for replacements--I'm finding more and more that looking or sounding JUST LIKE the previous actor is sometimes more important than what an actor can bring to the role. But I think it's so important to be YOU...otherwise, in the long run, who cares if you can do exactly what Sutton Foster does? She's done it already!

  2. PRECISELY! For "business" you have to find the type - but you are not DEFINED by it!

  3. I keep rereading this, and it's all well and good if the goal is to expose and develop one's vocal talents for self-satisfaction.
    I still believe that the reality in the business of music is that most people are looking for a voice that matches what has already been accepted as "great" because this is the safest way to go.
    All these ruminations are fine...unless you want a job singing, or you're Pavarotti.

  4. Brother JRL - I thank you!

    alocksley - I appreciate your comments. I do not believe "self-satisfaction" is the only thing that a singer is after if they want to be recognized in the business! That oversimplifies the process! The business is simply that - business. Safe is fine, if you don't have the goods to explore a uniqueness of your own. Discovering what your voice is can allow you the freedom to choose what to do with it! If you choose to try to sound like someone else, then do that. It'll never be as good or as real. Singing for REAL takes courage. I guess that says it.