The Old Masters Applied Nature’s Laws

Without troubling themselves to reason the matter out, they [the Old Masters] always obeyed and applied the laws which Nature has imposed on the voice. The first of these laws is, as we have seen, that the voice is guided by the ear. Yet it may be doubted whether they could have stated in plain terms their belief in the voice’s ability to obey the ear. Even in the matter of singing in tune, to which they devoted the closest attention, they could not have explained that the cerebral centres of hearing are connected by nerve fibres with the centres governing the vocal cord action.

Another natural law regarding the voice is, that the proper way to study its activities is by listening to it. We are so engrossed nowadays in the scientific aspects of voice production that no other kind of information about the voice seems possible. It has thus come about that the whole interest of vocalists is apt to be centred on vocal cord action, breath control, etc. Anyone not conversant with the anatomy of the throat and the laws of acoustics would be held utterly ignorant of the first principles of the vocal action. Yet the old masters knew nothing of vocal science, and no one would venture to say that they were ignorant teachers. On the contrary, their understanding of the voice comprised a mass of information about which the vocal scientists know almost nothing, — information of vastly more value to the singer than a know ledge of throat anatomy. The old masters studied the living voice. They did not acquire their professional training in the laboratory or the dissecting room, but in the studio and the opera house. They centred their attention on the sounds of the voice, as their predecessors had done for a thousand years before them.

Taylor, David Clark. “New Light on the Old Italian Method: An Outline of the Historical System of Voice Culture, with a Plea for Its Revival.” (1916).

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