I must bring into sharp focus…the absolute necessity for mentally conceiving beforehand the vowel sound and its color or timbre…Certain methods aim at a heavily emphasized vowel production solely on a physical basis and without any mental shaping and coloring beforehand. Which can only lead to a grossly exaggerated forms with consequent stiffening, in degree, of the parts engaged in such production; the tonal product suffers accordingly. Any exaggeratedly emphasized vowel sound constricts the throat; and assuredly no tone issuing from a clamped adjustment and setting, however slight the constriction, can ever be spontaneous, harmonious, and expressive, let alone beautiful.
Beniamino Gigli, tenor
It seems Gigli is supporting a pedagogy based on the ear-mind-voice connection. Pre-tension of the sound, fixing any of the ‘parts’ or mechanizing before singing is anathema to the tenor. This from the same tenor who also said of breathing:
Good breath control is the result of balanced singing and not the cause.
As soon as I commence to sing I forget all about the diaphragm and ribs, all about the breathing machinery and its action, and sing on the air accumulated right underneath the larynx.
The inner and outer EAR of the singer is the ultimate guide to the voice. Much of voice training is not so much the training of the VOICE as it is the re-training of the ear to HEAR more acutely TO the voice.
In other words, every vowel sound must be mentally shaped…before being physically produced on a natural and spontaneous basis, fluid and untrammelled.
Imitation was also not far from Gigli’s concept of tone, with the exception that he advocated imitation of INSTRUMENTS and not other singers.
Before singing a high note, don’t think about the effort you’ll make to reach the high note but think about trying to imitate the sound of a violoncello, as a round and velvet vocal color, this is valid for the tenor, while for the soprano the sound should resemble the flute, for the baritone the bass and for the basso the double bass.
Conversation with Michaelangelo Verso from his site.