Some Wisdom from Evan Williams

In 1908 I left Akron and resolved to try to reinstate myself in New York as a singer. I also made talking machine records, only to find that seldom could I make a record at the first attempt that was up to the very high standard maintained by the company in the case of all records placed upon the market for sale. This meant a great waste of my time and the company’s material and services. It naturally set me thinking. If I could do it one time — why couldn’t I do it all the time? There was no contradicting the talking machine record. The machine records the slightest blemish as well as the most perfect tone. There was no getting away from the fact that sometimes my singing was far from what I wished it to be. The strange thing about it all was that my singing did not seem to depend upon the physical condition or feeling of my throat. Some days when my throat felt at its very best the records would come back in a way that I was ashamed of. It is a strange feeling to hear one’s own voice from the talking machine. It sounds quite differently from the impression one gets while singing. I began to ponder, why were some of my records poor and others good? After deep thought for a very long period of time, I commenced to make certain postulates which I believe I have since proved (to my own satisfaction at least) to be reasonable and true. They not only resulted in an improvement in my voice, but they enabled me to do at command what I had previously been able to do only occasionally.

They are:

I. Tone creates its own support.

II. Much of the time spent in elaborate breathing exercises (while excellent for the health and valuable to the singer, in a way) do not produce the results that are expected.

III. The singer’s first studies should be with his brain and ear, rather than through an attempt at muscular control of the breathing muscles.

IV. Vocal resonance can be developed through a proper understanding of tone color (vocal timbre), so that uniformly excellent production of tones will result.

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