Voice Quality: Functions, Analysis and Synthesis

August 27-29, 2003
Geneva, Switzerland

Voice Quality and the Singing Voice

Janice Chapman Aua

Vocal Consultant, London, UK

Singing is part of all known human cultures and is an intrinsic expression of our human need to communicate. Babies are born with a functional and effective vocal apparatus, having practised in utero. They communicate vocally before they develop language, and their range of vocal sounds arises from their emotional motor system. It is my strong belief that singing, at best, also emanates from a human need to make emotional connections with others.

Singing in a classical style makes considerable demands on the vocal instrument especially in the operatic arena where vocal efficiency is an imperative for survival. After 40 years as a singer and 25 as a teacher (overlapping, I hasten to add) I am of the opinion that a holistic connection to the emotional motor system is crucial in meeting the demands of this art form. The voice must carry the main burden of the emotional message, not just in the text, but incorporated in the quality of the sound the singer is making. This emotional message in the sound also contains the potential for the "goose bump" factor in the listeners.

My pedagogical model is an incremental one, dealing first with core components:

Once these components are in place, I move on to deal with

While all these components overlap, interact and are visited many times, the holistic nature of singing can begin to emerge quite early on in the process. Many things get in the way of finding this easy "zone" for singers, particularly breathing strategies of some teachers which contravene the body’s natural respiratory functions.

This tutorial will be in a workshop mode. In exploring voice qualities and the factors which influence their production, I plan to demonstrate using young professional singers and delegates’ own voices.

Bibliographic reference.  Chapman Aua, Janice (2003): "Voice quality and the singing voice", Abstract, In VOQUAL'03, 53.