The method and the principles of the art of singing are immutable in all epochs;
but the features called taste and style last only as long as the [individual] Professors who teach them…
de Garaudé, Alexis. Méthode complète de chant: oeuv. 40. A la Classe de Chant de l’Auteur, 1840.
Defective voices enjoy a special immunity. The public, accustomed to their uneven or veiled tones, only perceives with difficulty any problems they may be experiencing.
[But] it is not the same with voices that are naturally pure; the more perfect the voice, the more easily the ear captures any distortion.
Faure, Jean-Batiste, et al. La voix et le chant: traité pratique. 1886.
No single exercise, vowel, or position of the mouth or tongue (as the case may be) can cure all difficulties. The only method that can be helpful must be built up on commonsense under close observation of Nature’s laws.
Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931)
Melba, Nellie. “Melba method.” (1926).
I used to have teachers who tried to teach me by example, and what they would do is say, “No, no, do it like this”; and I would think, Well that is different from what I am doing, but I can think of a hundred ways it is different. I wonder which one they are talking about. I would try something and the teacher would say, “No, no, do it like this,” so I would try it again, change it, do something else, and that wouldn’t be what was wanted either, and I would go home very upset. I never could figure out which aspect of what they had done was what they meant. It was the most frustrating experience I have ever had. Also, I don’t like the idea of one person’s performance being the supreme influence on a young person. I don’t think it is healthy. I think they need a tremendous diet of listening to many, many different people so that the intake is spread out over many styles.
Dorothy DeLay (1917-2002)
“The old florid style is replaced by a nervous one, the solemn by shouts, the affecting sentiment by hydrophobic passion. The question is entirely of one lungs. The singer who feels in his soul, and vocal splendor, are forbidden.”
Andrea Della Corte, from his article, “Vicende degli stili del canto dal tempo di Gluck al ‘900,” in Canto e bel canto. Milan, c. 1933. Translated by Edward Foreman from the Italian.