The Most Pernicious Invention of Teachers and Singers Is…

I would also proclaim here, in the strongest possible terms, that the raising of the soft palate backwards against the back wall of the pharynx, as has been as still is taught so extensively [Ed. And STILL is taught today, in 2016], is one of the most pernicious inventions of teachers and singers. This action is part of the swallowing act of the voice organs, it prevents the proper shaping of the aperture between the fauces, it causes hollow, forced, “pharynx” voice, ruinous to high tones, and is possibly the chief reason for the rareness of good free ringing high notes among modern singers. Even as far back as Mancini we are told exactly how the fauces should be used, and this authority explains very carefully that “modern” singers, that is those of the time of about 1784, were beginning to try for more power by means of tightening the fauces and spreading them. The false idea of this action is that the nasal passage is thereby closed, preventing nasal tone, but the slight depression or dimple formed in the soft palate just back of the hard palate serves the same purpose much better, leaving the back part of the soft palate and the uvula free to aid the coordination of pitch, quality and color.

Witherspoon, Herbert. “Singing.” New York: G Schirmer (1925).

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