Foreman’s Historical Perspectives: Garcia, Part III

For our purposes, a brief summary of the contents of Part II will suffice. There is nothing new, albeit there are many examples of ornamentation, interpretation, etc., some of which will be illustrated in Section III. Many come without attribution, and may be assumed to have been sung by leading singers of Garcia’s generation; some are assigned to specific singers, including his father and his sisters. The gem is perhaps the favorite aria of Velluti from Morlacchi’s Tebaldo e isolina, which is given complete with Velluti’s ornaments. There are several other complete ornamented arias, without attribution to specific singers.1

Chapter I is “Articulation in Singing.”

Chapter II is “The Art of Phrasing.”

Chapter III is “Alterations,” the application of appoggiaturas, trills and Points d’orgue (an inserted or final cadence).

Chapter IV is “Expression.”

Chapter V is “The Various Styles,” including recitatives, “Ordinary and broad singing (canto spianato), Florid singing, and Declamatory Singing.”

This is followed by “Examples of Final Cadences,” “Examples of Organ Points for One and Two Voices,” and “Interpretive Analyses of Selected Arias.”

Hints on Singing was first published in 1894, and reissued as edited and revised by Hermann Klein,2 17 years later.3 Klein was a student of Garcia, and a prolific writer on vocal music.4

The book is brief, three pages of Preface including an illustration of the laryngoscope and its use, and 75 pages of text in a question and answer format.

Part I is “Objects of Study,” “description of the Vocal Apparatus” with anatomical drawings, “Respiration,” with a drawing of the lungs and one of the rib cage, and a lengthy footnote with illustrations of the glottis, vocal folds and larynx; the next section is “Sound (Resonance),” then comes “The Singing Voice—Registers.” “Description of Female Voices” is followed by “Description of Male Voices,” with ranges for all indicated on staves; “Timbre” follows, with easily understood cross-section drawing of “Open—Timbre Claire,” and “Closed—Timbre Sombre (Dark).” Vowel modification is recommended for finding the different timbral sounds.

The next section is “Preparation for Emitting the Voice,” which says to give attention “to the position of the body, the separation of the jaws, the shape of the throat, and the breathing,” and explains each. The jaw should be open the thickness of a finger.

Then comes “The Attack of Vowel Sounds,” which reiterates the advice on the coup de glotte as “stroke” of the glottis, with an explanatory footnote.

The next section (incorrectly numbered “10” as is the previous section on the Attack) is devoted to the registers of the female voice, now called “chest, medium and head.” Male Voices are next discussed, followed by “Faults in Vocal Production,” featuring the same faults listed in the Traité.

“Fatigue of the Vocal Organs” is discussed, followed by the “The Study of Agility.” “The Study of Exercises by All Voices,” “The Study of Sustained Tones,” “Blending the Registers,” “The Portamento,” “Breathing in Exercises,” “Preparation of the Scale,” and ornaments are discussed. The examples are mostly drawn from the Traité.

Part II is “Singing Coupled With Words,” and repeats in condensed form the information in Part II of the Traité. This part concludes with a brief discussion of styles.

There are no significant advances over the material in the Traité. Hints on Singing was apparently written in response to criticisms of his work which had appeared subsequent to the publication of the Traité.

Foreman, Edward. Authentic Singing: The history of singing. Vol. 10. Pro Musica Press, 2001.

NOTES:

  1. The variety of colors, inflections and ornaments demonstrates clearly the superiority of the singers of this period to subsequent singers, as well as the changing taste in performance practice.
  2. Klein, Herman(n) (1856-1934), teacher, writer and assistant to Garcia for 10 years.
  3. It has been reprinted at least twice in recent years: Canoga Park, CA, 1970; and NY, 1982.
  4. Herman Klein and the Gramophone, ed. W.R. Moran, Portland, OR, 1990; includes The Bel Canto, by Klein, Oxford Musical Essays, 1923.

 

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