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The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop 2007 1 Session III Voice Building: The Onset Stephen F. Austin, M.M., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Voice University of North.

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Presentation on theme: "The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop 2007 1 Session III Voice Building: The Onset Stephen F. Austin, M.M., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Voice University of North."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop Session III Voice Building: The Onset Stephen F. Austin, M.M., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Voice University of North Texas

2 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte No one prior to Garcia described the onset No one prior to Garcia described the onset His description included: His description included: –Posture –Relaxation –‘soften the throat’ –‘Inhale slowly and for a long time’

3 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte His description included: –“When lungs are full of air, without stiffening either the phonator or any part of the body, but calmly and easily, attack the tones very distinctly with a light stroke of the glottis on a very clear [a] vowel.” –“In these conditions the tone should come out with ring and with roundness.”

4 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Resulted in immediate controversy –Defended his position for the next 60 years –“One must guard against confusing the stroke of the glottis with the stroke of the chest, which resembles a cough.”

5 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –By end of 19 th C critics were vehemently opposed to the concept –It was understood to be something that it was not: a violent eruption of breath from tightly adducted vocal folds –If misapplied, could lead to vocal problems

6 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –“Hints on Singing” - almost 60 years later: Q. What do you mean by the stroke of the glottis? A. The neat articulation of the glottis that gives a precise and clean start to the sound.

7 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Herman Klein: “It is of the utmost importance that these observations should be studied and correctly understood. The meaning of the term “stroke of the glottis,” which was invented by the author, has been seriously misrepresented, and its misuse has done a great deal of harm” Hints on Singing, 1894

8 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –This battle was fought in the public arena –Critic/writer George Bernard Shaw was a dedicated anti-coupe de la glotte –Jean de Reszke: “The shock, or coup de la glotte, is death to the voice; it is born of ignorance, and to teach or allow its continuance is a crime.”

9 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Blanche Marchesi - a former student: “They could not distinguish between the hitting and closing of the glottis, and at once decided to condemn every method that allowed singers to make their vocal cords meet when emitting sounds” Singers’ Pilgrimage, 1923

10 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Garcia wrote to Charles Lunn: “I do insist on the attack; but it must be the delicate, precise action of the glottis, not the brutal pushing of the breath that goes by that name, fit only to tear the glottis, not to rectify and regulate its movements... (My merit or demerit consists in having noticed it and given it a name). The Voice: Its Downfall, Its Training, and Its Use, 1904

11 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Lunn was in agreement: “Now this, small though it be, is the one important principle of training that has been successful in results; by it great singers have been made; without it, many possessing all other requirements have failed, and it served its purpose before the introduction of the laryngoscope.” The Philosophy of Voice, 1886

12 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Why did Garcia persist? “Various simultaneous causes can modify the timbres of the voice... According as the glottis narrows or partially opens, it produces ringing or lustreless tones.”

13 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Breathy voices are dull: “Consequently it is necessary to conclude that the brilliance of the voice results from the firm closure of the glottis after each pulsation.”

14 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Lamperti in “Agility should be studied slowly. The example should be executed so that the intervals are clearly distinguishable. The breath should be held steady in the passage from one note to the other, and the notes should be produced clearly with a shock of the glottis.” Art of Singing, 1916

15 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Misunderstood AND ill defined: “When correctly done, this attack is crisp, clear and without tension. The exact terminology relating to the attack is confusing. Garcia called it the coup de la glotte, Vennard has called it the ‘imaginary aspirate” Meribeth Bunch Dynamics of the Singing Voice, 1995

16 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Reiteration of error put forth by Browne and Behnke in 1904: “The vocal ligaments meet just at the very moment when the air strikes against them; they are, moreover, not pressed together more tightly than is necessary. No preliminary escape takes place... And no obstacle has to be overcome...

17 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte “... but the attack is clear and decisive, and the tone consequently gets a proper start. The mechanism by which this is done is the “coup de glotte” or “shock of the glottis” Voice, Speech and Song, 1904

18 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte Vennard: “I am convinced that Garcia did not mean the glottal plosive when he coined the expression coup de la glotte. The term has since been corrupted, and would best not be used. It is probably impossible to restore the original meaning.

19 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte Vennard:... “The best we can do is to absolve Garcia from the responsibility for its present usage. The expression “imaginary h” or “imaginary aspirate” is recommended as pedagogically useful and accurately descriptive of the desirable attack.” Singing: The Mechanism and the Technique, 1967

20 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte Barbara Doscher: “The glottal plosive is destructive, however, and may lead to vocal nodules.” Functional Unity of the Singing Voice

21 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte Garcia: – “ – “As a matter of fact, the two little lips which, in the larynx, form between them a passage for the breath (the glottis), adhere to each other and cause a certain accumulation of air. That air by virtue of the elasticity which it acquires due to the pressure exerted upon it, separates the lips of the glottis, and, expanding, exits with a burst.”

22 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte Garcia: – –“But, at the same instant, relieved of the pressure from below and pulled by their own elasticity, the lips meet again to give rise to a new explosion. From this series of successive and regular contractions and expansions or explosions is born the emission of the voice.”–

23 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte “In general physiologists are against the coup de la glotte... Yet great singers and teachers often hold the opposite view: Garcia, Carulli, Duprez, Viardot-Garcia, Faure, Lablache...” Frederick Hustler and Yvonne Rodd- Marling, Singing: The Physical Nature of the Organ

24 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –No research can be found that shows that the coup de la glotte results in vocal nodules –Most voice professionals decry it –Many 19 th C teachers supported its use –Few 20 th C teachers do

25 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –Franklyn Kelsey (1950) “ “The establishment and maintenance of a perfect approximation of the vocal cords is the key problem in singing... he who cannot teach it cannot teach true singing, for it is the sole means which the singer has at his disposal for launching a tone which has not an undesirable content of unphonated air.” Foundations of Singing, 1950

26 The Vocal Pedagogy Workshop The coup de la glotte –There is an acoustic advantage to firm closure –The ‘firm’, ‘clean’ onset is not the same as the ‘well-coordinated’ onset –Must be used within a context of freedom –Vennard ‘singing can be dangerous’


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