Thursday, March 29, 2007

Unlikely metaphors

I had a coaching today with DN, who might become a regular set of initials here on the blog. He had so many good things to say, not the least of which helped me kick in my breath support.

We were going over Giannetta for tomorrow’s Elisir rehearsal (I’m double-booked all weekend AND called on Sunday! Woohoo, overtime!), and there are a few pages that are very wordy and fairly fast. Italian not being the language that trips most easily off my tongue, I kept getting stuck, tripping over the words, until DN came up with an analogy that just worked.

“The breath needs to kind of just flow out like vomit, and the consonants are like chunks in the vomit.”

Unbelievably disgusting, but surprisingly apt! And, unfortunately, this week I had some experience with the concept first hand. (Bad plantains? A bug from Sylvia? Who can say, but I was miserable on Tuesday.) So, I knew whereof he spoke, and I was quickly able to turn that analogy into some beautifully connected phrases with Italian words coming through clear as day.

Now, let’s think about this for a minute. Mimic a vomiting sound, complete with the hand-to-your-stomach motion. (I know, this has descended into seriously grody territory, but if you’re interested in the mechanics of singing, it’ll be insightful!) Did you feel the way your abdomen moved in and up, with a little flip? That’s exactly the way the diaphragm should move at the initiation of a phrase. And the consonants just kind of ride the wave. Not in the jaw, not in the tongue, but flowing out on the breath like so much vomit.

The analogy is so perfect! So gross! And so perfect!

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “vomit-breath…”


Anonymous said...

Ewww! Gross! (yet so apt!)

I am curious to know these initials. I coached with RJ and my Italian bel canto ass was kicked to the curb and back, but MAN it was good.

Anonymous said...

This is so true! Singing is really like vomiting.

Yummy :-).

Scatterbrained Seal said...

That's so cool! I didn't really understand what you were getting at, but then I mimicked a vomiting sound, and I totally understood! Should I try replicating that when I begin my phrases from now on?

Anonymous said...

LOL This is funny you should mention this. My teacher last week said..." have to vomit, you have to vomit the breath out." LOL

Singers...we are a special breed.

Melissa said...

Tee hee! BK uses this same analogy. It makes me giggle. :)

Gregory said...

It appeals to my inner third grader.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating analogy. Just so you know, I always read your blog during my lunch break. Thanks :)

Sarah said...

At one of my first voice lessons ever my teacher told me that the muscles you use to vomit are the same muscles you use to support.

Maybe that's why I'm always flat: fear of vomiting.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I still don't understand the analogy.

I mean - I end up just forcing air out and sort of "blowing" the beginning of the phrase. In my lessons, I'm actually working a lot on NOT forcing air out/collapsing at the beginning of the line.

I have such trouble differentiating appoggio and TENSION.

Part of this is, being female and an avid Vogue subscriber, I always want to suck my stomach in as far as possible. But... shouldn't my "pressure" be internal rather than externally visible? An added "weirdness" is the influence of both Pilates and yoga on my breath control. For Pilates, the front ribs remain knitted together and the stomach flat - all the breath is "encouraged" into the backribs. For yoga, I always feel that "emptying" completely is encourage - especially during Ujjayi breath.


Princess Alpenrose said...

Lovely analogy! We sure have come a long way from "notes like a string of pearls" or "round jewel tones!" haven't we?

"Oh well," the singer side of me says, "Whatever works!!!"

Anonymous said...

Using the "vomit" analagy has been around for several decades and is the absolute worst advice that could be given in singing or playing a wind instrument. Forcing such pressure on the abdomen only constricts the muscles and flow of air. It does not liberate or provide proper support.

As well, it ignores the Art of communicating musically to your audience.

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