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Presented to the 
LIBRARY of the 



William L. Shelden 


The Scientific Culture of the Voice 


The Scientific Culture of the Voice 





NEW YORK :: 1922 :: LONDON 







May 25, 1921. 

Dear Dr. Merefioti: 

I accept the dedication of your book with pleasure 
BUd pride. Through your researches you have disclosed things 
about 'the human voice which restore, in scientific form, the 
fundamental principles of natural s.inging, thus -giving an in- 
estimable contribution to the musical world. 

I, myself, have always felt that something natural 
has inspired and guided my art. Therefore, since I share your 
impressions, let me congratulate you and wish you the full at- 
tainment of your noble aims for the benefit of future students 
of the art of singing. 

Very sincerely -yours, 


THIS book had hardly been completed when the 
sudden death of Enrico Caruso, the greatest singer 
of our time, and perhaps of all time, plunged the 
entire world into grief, and silenced forever the 
most beautiful and phenomenal voice that the world 
has known. 

This work, dedicated to him in the last days of his 
life, was conceived as the faithful interpretation of 
his perfect and rare singing. 

For over a decade and a half, I had the privilege 
of associating with the great artist, not only in the 
capacity of medical adviser but in the intimacy of 
a wonderful friendship, and his singing was to me a 
constant guide and inspiration in my investigations 
of the many problems of the human voice and vocal 

By closely observing his method of singing, I saw 
the correct application by the master himself of the 
natural laws governing the mechanism of voice pro- 
duction, and I had the opportunity, by testing his 
ideas and principles, of ascertaining that they con- 
formed with those I have developed in the scientific 
part of this book. 

As a modest wreath of admiration and friendship 
I lay this work on the grave of the great artist. 


339 West 70th Street, New York City 
March 3d, 1922. 

New York City. 


I have just received the proofs of the book, 
"The Scientific Culture of the Voice," by Dr. 
P. Mario Marafioti, which you are about to publish, 
and I thank you for the courtesy you have shown 
me in submitting the advance sheets. 

Though there is little time left for me to read 
and analyze in all its details a work of such im- 
portance, I shall, however, not deprive myself of 
the pleasure of sending you my impressions and 
opinion on the practical value of this treatise. 

As a matter of fact, for the last few years, on 
several occasions, I have encouraged Dr. Marafioti 
to pursue his conscientious and patient researches 
in the particular branch of vocal education which 
is exclusively identified with science. Indeed, I 
sincerely believe that it belongs to those men of 
science who have devoted themselves to the study 
of the natural functions of the vocal organs, trained 



for an artistic purpose, to solve the so-called mys- 
terious vocal problem, obscured by the ignorance 
and the charlatanism of incompetent teachers. 

As a matter of fact, from my long practice in 
singing, and from the experiences accumulated 
during my career of more than forty years, one 
point has come to my attention (which has been 
unanimously endorsed by singers of merited fame) , 
namely, that dramatic singing (that is to say, ar- 
tistic singing) is the result of two distinct cate- 
gories of studies: 

1. The study of the physiological causes of the 
natural function of the vocal organs, which in cer- 
tain cases make the function difficult or even 
impossible. This part of vocal culture constitutes 
the "Science of the Voice" (La Science de la Voix) , 
and rightly belongs to the scientists and physiolo- 
gists who have specialized in this branch of medical 
research, and are equipped to remedy the short- 
comings of so delicate a function as that of the 
vocal organ. 

2. The pursuance of the vocal effects, that is, 
their proper distribution in the musical phrase, the 
manner of coloring the tones, the art of expressing 
with musical tones the varied dramatic sentiments: 
all these studies constitute the "Science of Sing- 
ing" (La Science du Chant) , and rightly belong to 
the artist singers who, during their long practice in 
the art, have acquired a sufficient amount of ex- 
perience to guide the young aspirants to a career 
which they themselves have honored before. 



This is the thesis treated by Dr. Marafioti and 
which I have so often discussed with him; a thesis 
that, in my opinion, constitutes a real progresr in 
the development of this art, so human and univer- 

Believe me, gentlemen, 

Yours faithfully, 




SINGING * .' 1 

II. THE AIM OF THIS BOOK . . ... 11 









VOCAL ORGANS . ;>^ . . . , 60 
















IN VOICE CULTURE . . . . .,186 



How . . * . . . . . 218 

VOICE CULTURE . . , . . . . 231 




OF VOICE . 278 







Enrico Caruso, the master of natural singing vi 

Caruso's acceptance of the dedication to him of "The 

Scientific Culture of the Voice" vii 

The mechanism of voice production condensed in one 

illustration Facing page 1 

Facsimile of Caruso's letter dated July 22d, 1920 . . 45 

Facsimile of Caruso's letter dated August 23d, 1920 . 47 

Facsimile of Caruso's endorsement of this work . . 48 

The lungs (Figure 1) 61 

The chest (Figure 2) .62 

The larynx (Figure 3) .63 

The vocal cords (Figure 4) 63 

The epiglottis (Figure 5) 64 

The pharynx (Figure 6) . . ."". . . . 65 

The mouth (Figure 7) 65 

Transverse section of the vocal apparatus (Figure 8) 67 

The epiglottis erect (Figure 9) 81 

The epiglottis turned down (Figure 10) .... 82 

The tongue in complete relaxation (Figure 11) . . 113 

The relation of the pitch of the sound with the pitch 

of the voice (Figure 12) 132 




Voice range with and without breaks into registers 

(Figure 13) . . ... . . ' . 148 

Facsimile of Madame Galli-Curci's endorsement of "The 

Scientific Culture of the Voice" ..... 168 

Facsimile of Madame Calve's endorsement of "The 

Scientific Culture of the Voice" ..... 170 

Facsimile of the original endorsement given by Signor 

Titta Ruffo to "The Scientific Culture of the Voice" 172 

A recent picture of Madame Galli-Curci . . .173 

A recent picture of Madame Emma Calve . . .175 

A recent picture of Signor Titta Ruffo . . . . .177 

Correct production of the vowel A (Figure 14) 235 

Correct production of the vowel E (Figure 15) . .235 

Correct production of the vowel / (Figure 16) . .<-. 235 

Correct production of the vowel (Figure 17) . . 235 

Correct production of the vowel U (Figure 18) . . 236 

Correct and incorrect production of the five vowels 

(Figure 19) . . . ...... 236 

X-ray photograph of the vowel A correctly sung (Figure 

20) ........... 237 

X-ray photograph of the vowel E correctly sung (Figure 

21) . . . . . ..... . 238 

X-ray photograph of the vowel / correctly sung (Figure 

X-ray photograph of the vowel O correctly sung (Figure 


X-ray photograph of the vowel U correctly sung (Figure 

84) .241 



Caruso singing the vowel A (Figure 25) . . . 243 

Caruso singing the vowel E (Figure 26) . . . 244 

Caruso singing the vowel / (Figure 27) . . . 245 

Caruso singing the vowel O (Figure 28) . . . 24>6 

Caruso singing the vowel U (Figure 29) . . . 247 

Correct articulation of the consonants (Figure 30) . 252 

Incorrect articulation of the consonants (Figure 31) . 253 

Facsimile of manuscript copied by Caruso himself and 
containing his original method of teaching himself 

how to sing in English ..... . . . 282 



focus of 
the voice 
Misplaced- ._ 

Tongue J& 



-focus of the Voice 


I/b we? A in its full yofame 
Tongue re/axed on floor of mouth 



Epiglottis in 
erect position smaller in 
iize because 
oca! coras misplaced 

Tonaue retracted- 

Epiglottis f orced downward 


et fin full volume 








a. The AIR in the LUNGS 

which through the 


TUBES and the 


TUBES and the 

d. TRACHEA is propelled to 


e. LARYNX, putting the vo- 

cal cords in vibration 
and originating 


which going through 

g. PHARYNX behind the 
h. EPIGLOTTIS reach the 
m. MOUTH and are trans- 
formed into VOICE. 

0. The Focus or CENTER 


1. The TONGUE relaxed on 

the floor of the mouth, 
n. The UVULA. 
k. The opening of the 

pp. The LIPS, the mega- 
phone of the voice, 
rrr. The head, chest and ab- 
CAVITIES where the 
vocal vibrations get 
the resonance of the 


The DIAPHRAGM is shown 
at the base of the lungs. 





ON February 26, 1873, the most magnificent ex- 
ponent of the vocal art the human race ever pos- 
sessed Enrico Caruso came into this world. On 
August 2, 1921, at the height of his glory, his golden 
voice was stilled forever ; and the world, in its grief, 
is still wondering what it was that Nature bestowed 
on this privileged son to make him the most wonder- 
ful source of human melody of all ages. 

Scientists and voice experts vie with each other 
in trying to explain the vocal phenomenon Caruso 
and, though they differ in their conjectures, they 
all agree that a voice of such rare beauty, and sing- 
ing of such effectiveness have never been paralleled 
in the history of vocal art. 

In their various versions, scientists endeavored 
to trace the striking factors of his rare singing to 
certain peculiarities of his vocal apparatus, giving 
most of the credit for his wondrous voice to his vocal 



cords. This conception, however, merely follows 
an impression dominating the musical world which 
has always associated the miracle of Caruso's voice 
with some secret magic power of his golden throat. 

Other experts on voice believe that the principal 
feature of Caruso's singing was the striking power 
of his breath, due to the exceptional strength of his 
diaphragm and intercostal muscles. 

A brief analysis can easily prove that the real 
reasons for Caruso's marvelous singing are not pre- 
cisely those which have been advanced. He was an 
exception, not for the rarity of his vocal organs, but 
for their perfect function faultless according to 
natural laws which made him the truest exponent 
of natural singing. 

Singers endowed with the same and even better 
vocal organs, on the whole, than Caruso are not 
scarce, some of them having come under the per- 
sonal observation of the author. Singers with more 
remarkable breath-power than Caruso have also ex- 
isted and still exist. (Tamagno is as yet in the 
memory of the present generation, without men- 
tioning other living singers.) Yet it is the uni- 
versal impression that none of them can stand com- 
parison with Caruso as singers. 

The truth is that Caruso had nothing exceptional 
in his laryngeal apparatus, and the larger size of his 
vocal cords or other peculiarities which have been 
mentioned about his vocal organs were certainly 
not the decisive elements in his phenomenal singing. 
On the contrary, there were shortcomings in his 
throat which were so evident that if he had had to 


rely on his vocal organs alone for his career, he 
would perhaps never have become a singer at all. 

As a matter of fact, Caruso himself often com- 
mented on this, relating an early experience of his. 
At the age of twenty he went to one of the most 
famous laryngologists in Italy, Professor Ferdi- 
nando Massei, of the University of Naples, to be 
treated for tonsilitis at the hospital of Gesii e Maria. 
When asked about his profession, Caruso said that 
he was studying singing. The famous physician 
shook his head dubiously and replied: "Take up 
something else, you have not the throat for sing- 

All laryngologists who had the opportunity of 
treating Caruso know also that his throat was often 
much congested, and that he smoked too much, al- 
though the beauty of his voice was never impaired. 

Therefore his throat was not the magic organ that 
gave rise to his greatness. This strengthens our 
theory that the importance given to the throat as 
the organ which characterizes exceptional voices is 
greatly exaggerated. 

What, then, were the really striking features re- 
sponsible for Caruso's singing? 

My intimate association with the great tenor af- 
forded the opportunity of examining constantly all 
facts relating to his voice, and the advantage of dis- 
cussing my impressions with him, accurately study- 
ing his own point of view. I, therefore, feel justi- 
fied in expressing an opinion on this subject, 
founded on close observation. 

Not one, but several, qualifications, physiological 


as well as psychological, harmoniously combined in 
one individual, were responsible for making Caruso 
the most magnificent vocal phenomenon of the hu- 
man race. These qualifications are embodied in the 
words Natural Singing. 

His vocal organs, most obedient to Nature's dic- 
tates, were not anatomically exceptional, but in 
their physiological function were the most balanced 
vocal machinery ever known to me. His vocal cords, 
rather large and thick for a tenor, although not the 
exceptional factor in the beauty of his voice, gave 
him the range of a basso as well as tenor. But this 
is not unusual, as tenor, baritone and basso 
ranges are conventional, not scientific, divisions. 
Nature creates voices, the specific qualities and 
ranges of which have no such scholastic limitations. 
Cases of bassos singing as tenors, and contraltos 
singing coloratura are not infrequent among 
singers who produce their voices properly. Caruso 
had one of these rare voices, which he used accord- 
ing to Nature's dictates; thus it was not difficult 
for him to sing baritone as well as tenor, if he chose 
to do so. This, therefore, was not the striking fea- 
ture of his exceptional power. There have been 
other tenors who could do the same, such as the 
famous Lablache, who used to sing basso as well as 
tenor roles. 

One peculiarity worth mentioning, however, 
about his vocal cords was their rather soft consis- 
tency, a circumstance which accounted partially for 
the mellow and velvety quality of his voice. The 
value of this is easily illustrated when compared to 


the marked difference in tone existing between an 
E string of a violin made of steel and another made 
of gut, the latter having considerably more mellow- 
ness of tone due to its softer consistency. 

In reference to the other physical factor com- 
monly conceded as most prominent in connection 
with exceptional voices, namely, the breath, Caruso 
certainly always had at his disposal the most gener- 
ous supply of air, which he supported wonderfully 
by his control of the diaphragm, that was as strong 
as any muscle of his body. His beautiful singing, 
however, was not the result of breath-power, or 
brute force, but rather of his careful and intelligent 
distribution of it, which was a remarkable feature 
in Caruso's style of singing. He always employed 
only the exact amount of breath required for pro- 
ducing each tone, and no more; and this was re- 
sponsible for his precise intonation, his remarkable 
legato, and his long-sustained tones. 

Caruso almost unconsciously focused his voice in 
its most exact pitch, guided by his natural instinct 
of giving to each note only as many vibrations as 
were scientifically required. Thus his voice, con- 
trary to the style of singing predominating to-day, 
was never under high pressure, and, therefore, 
never sharp. 

The natural placement of his voice in the very 
center of the masque was a most striking feature. 
Its production was always based on the fundamental 
tones of the voice, not on the overtones. He used 
the overtones generously, but only for enriching 
the fundamental tones, not for overshadowing them. 


Generally when voices are forced, the overtones 
become more prominent than the fundamental 
tones, resulting in singing which is similar to a 
painting in which the shadows predominate over 
the lines of the drawing, making the design indis- 
tinguishable. In the singing of Caruso the funda- 
mental design of the voice was clear, solid, and 
imposing, and its many delicate shadows were re- 
sponsible for its rare beauty, blending in velvety 
softness the masculine strength of his baritone 

But the exceptional physiological attributes 
which Caruso possessed were the majestic freedom 
of his voice production and the striking power of 
resonance of his body, which he utilized to full 
advantage. The former was due to his use of the 
vocal organs in perfect accord with physiological 
laws, his voice production being so correct, and at 
the same time so natural, that for the most part 
singing was for him merely talking. The massive 
volume and the rare quality of his voice its excep- 
tional characteristics were due to the resonance 
of the body, which was like that of a Stradivarius 
violin. The much-emphasized properties of his 
vocal cords, when compared to the striking feature 
of the resonance of his body, had no more value 
than the string of a Stradivarius when placed on 
an ordinary violin. The marked inferiority of tone 
of the second violin is equivalent to the difference 
that the vocal cords of Caruso would produce in 
the throat of another tenor. 


Therefore the magic power of his voice lay in 
the correct physiological mechanism of his voice 
production, on one hand, and in the remarkable 
physical conformation of his body, on the other, 
made up of tissues of exceptional resonant prop- 
erty, acting as an immense resonating case for his 

His masque, chest, and all the cavities of his 
body, even in their remotest corners, were produc- 
ing sounding vibrations during the correct, free, 
and expansive production of his voice. 

His tongue, of remarkable flexibility, which he 
could shape in any way, or keep relaxed in a con- 
cave form on the floor of the mouth, thereby 
creating, with his well-arched palate, a larger and 
rounder space, added not a little to the resonance 
of his singing. 

His nose and frontal sinuses, markedly devel- 
oped, together with his broad and rounded chest, 
were striking factors of resonance also. His entire 
body, in fact, in its large and solid frame, was a 
striking resonator for his voice. 

Therefore all these qualifications, magnificently 
combined and answering perfectly to the laws of 
physiology and acoustics, made him the most won- 
derful exponent of natural singing. 

The psychological endowments which lent to 
Caruso's voice its intense pathos, never before 
equaled, were supported by the self-assurance of 
the correct mechanism of his voice production which 


gave him the advantage also of devoting all care 
to the details of his singing, and to the aesthetic 
beauty of his voice molded on its natural sentiment. 

For him singing was a pleasure rather than a 
technical struggle for effects, therefore, audiences 
cried along Avith him or loved along with him in 
his different roles. His mind, freed from the neces- 
sity of thinking high or low tones, was always open 
to the inspiration of the words and the music he was 
singing. He was the first in his class to abolish 
the conventional though beautiful style of singing 
of the bel canto school, refusing to bend toward the 
traditional temptation of making the words slaves 
to the tones. He sang the words for themselves 
for their significance feeling and meaning them. 
Hence the pathos of his voice, and his superb enun- 
ciation, which made the audience understand and 
feel every word he was singing, added much to 
his superior standing when compared with other 

Caruso was not a tenor, not a baritone, not a 
basso ; he was a singer who had the vocal character- 
istics of all three combined. He had a voice which 
did not recognize scholastic, conventional classifica- 
tions of registers, and ignored all limitations in its 
range. He covered all the possibilities of the human 
vocal apparatus with the same colorful masculine 
voice, from the lowest to the highest tone of his 
range. He covered all the possibilities of the human 
and at the same time powerful. His voice was a 
stream of gold. At the age of forty-eight, when 
most singers are at the close of their careers, his 


vocal perfection was at its height, and would have 
lasted however long he lived. 

Caruso was a horn singer, and a perfect one, by 
almost divine and superhuman will. He obeyed 
the call of his heart rather than technical influences, 
his sentiment being his only guide in singing. 
Everything in him was instinctive and intuitive. 
If, at the beginning of his career, he failed to do 
justice to his vocal gifts, he was unconsciously the 
victim of technical influences imposed on him by 
his teachers. His imperfections were due more to 
psychological conditions than to the voice itself. 
Surely, though, he did not fail to give the impres- 
sion that his voice was of rare beauty. WTien 
Nature, the real master of his voice, took the lead 
in his vocal career, and his mind and soul cooper- 
ated efficiently, he no longer encountered obstacles 
in his singing. His evolution as a singer and artist 
shows very clearly how only lack of artistic educa- 
tion and confidence had held back the natural ele- 
ment which was as powerful in him at the begin- 
ning as later. 

This very element, though the natural gift 
for song existed and still exists in many other 
singers, perhaps, as well as in Caruso, but his 
strong ambition, love of hard work, and intense 
desire to learn and improve are very seldom com- 
bined so conspicuously in one person. 

Thus, though Nature endowed him with the rare 
gift of a most beautiful voice, he owed to himself 
alone the greater share of his extraordinary suc- 
cess as a singer and artist. 


The age of the famous motto of Rossini, that 
singing requires only "voice, voice, and voice," is 
gone forever. This was perhaps applicable to the 
music of his epoch. To-day, to meet the modern 
psychology and progress, other qualifications are 
necessary those which made Caruso the wonder 
singer of our time. 



To the making of books there is no end, but the 
flooding of the musical world with countless publi- 
cations on the phenomenon of Voice makes it 
imperative for the author to justify this addition 
to the already voluminous literature on this sub- 

The vast majority of the books written in vari- 
ous languages in the last thirty years have, in truth, 
added practically nothing new, nor influenced to 
any great degree the development and progress 
of the art of singing. On the contrary, some of 
them, by displaying absurd theories based on mis- 
interpreted physiological laws, have caused much 
damage; and others by simply repeating, in more 
or less varied forms the principles laid down by 
such authorities as Tosi, Mancini, Porpora, Garcia, 
Guillemin, Mandl and Mackenzie have not 
taken into consideration that those principles can 
hardly be of benefit to the critical conditions of the 
singing of to-day, for the art of song has deterio- 
rated very much in recent years, while operatic 
music has undergone a radical evolution toward 

An old motto says: "For extreme evils, extreme 
remedies." The author, therefore, much concerned 



about the present situation, feels that the time has 
come to urge a radical reform in voice education. 
This reform must be founded on scientific laws, 
and must direct the art of singing toward a funda- 
mental reconstruction better suited to the exigen- 
cies of our times, freeing the field of singing from 
both the unprogressive and empirical, though cor- 
rect, method of the old Italian school, on the one 
hand, and the devastating influence of the arbitrary 
methods of voice culture created by incompetent 
teachers, on the other. This constitutes the aim 
of this book. 

No criticism, however, is leveled at the glorious 
old Italian school of the bel canto; but the operatic 
music of to-day differs widely from that written 
generations ago. The operas of Wagner, for in- 
stance, cannot be rejected for not following the 
same structure and style as those of Pergolesi, 
Gliick, Mozart, Donizetti, Bellini, etc.; nor should 
they be limited to few interpreters only because 
they are more strenuous and difficult to sing. 
Voices should be trained to such easy production 
and correct technic, that the length and the intense 
style of Wagner's or any other modern composer's 
operas will not expose the vocal organs to any 
dangerous strain. 

We live in an epoch in which, in every branch 
of human knowledge, there has been progress and 
evolution from empiricism to scientific principles 
and definite rules. Music itself, in its different 
branches, from composition to the technic of in- 
strumental executions, has changed much and 


improved. Only the art of singing is still striving 
in its empiric form, ruled either by doubtful tradi- 
tions or by arbitrary methods of singing, the num- 
ber of which is as large as their practical value is 
small. Certainly, if one substantial and correct 
method existed, there should be room for no other. 

Whose fault, however, if the art of singing is 
not only stagnant, but steadily deteriorating? 

Some people lay the responsibility on modern 
opera. It is true that modern composers write 
more elaborate and complex music for singing than 
their predecessors ; but nobody, in truth, can blame 
them for having, under the inspiration of their 
genius, directed their works toward new forms of 
art, which require more efficient vocal means. 

It is our impression that teachers and singers 
alone are to blame, if they are not able to face at 
ease the new exigencies, and follow the creative 
power ot these geniuses in their evolution and 

Now, what can be done to change the present 
conditions? The author believes that by laying 
down a few new scientific principles on the mechan- 
ism of voice production and some suggestions for 
a thorough reconstruction of voice culture, he has 
brought out some original views which should in- 
cite the interest of the singing field in the promo- 
tion of a radical reform in the art of singing. 

The mechanism of voice production and voice 
culture cannot be properly used unless properly 
taught; and the teaching must be founded on 
physiological truths. 


The author is not sanguine regarding the im- 
mediate effect of this basic reform which he sug- 
gests. It takes a long time for truth to win its 
way in any field of endeavor; but if the advance- 
ment of his views has the effect of stimulating 
discussion and of creating a mental attitude which 
will lead to the revision of our preconceived notions 
and to the discarding of worn-out theories, pre- 
judices and superstitions, his efforts will have 
served some purpose. 

Frequently one hears the much abused remark 
from teachers, "What do scientists know about 
voice? It is purely an artistic development, and 
they have no right to interfere with voice culture 
and the art of singing. This is the domain of the 
singing teachers alone." The majority of the pub- 
lic accept this statement without discussion. 

Yet it is necessary to remind these people that 
every art has its origin, to a greater or less degree, 
in some science. They must know that even behind 
the creation of a musical composition stands the 
science of harmony and counterpoint, and the 
structure of its frame and proportions is purely a 
scientific construction. Any one who knows a little 
about Beethoven can see in his creations the most 
vivid example of what science is to music. 

The art of painting is based on the science of 
drawing; and the imaginative power of a painter 
in creating a beautiful landscape, or in reproducing 
the character of a person in a portrait, has its origin 
in the skill of a hand directed by the functional 
power of the brain. It is, however, obvious that 


the functioning power of the brain is better known 
to the psychologist than to the painter himself, and 
any disorder related to that function can be de- 
tected more readily by the former than by the lat- 
ter. Therefore, science is always of great assistance 
to art. 

There can be no voice without a functioning vocal 
apparatus, the physiological activity of which gives 
origin not only to the voice, but to the correct 
mechanism of its production, which establishes the 
scientific foundation of the art of singing. 

Now, as no one would dispute that the specialist 
of heart or brain diseases must be well acquainted 
with the functions of these organs and the treat- 
ment of their disorders, no one should doubt that 
the laryngologist must have a thorough knowledge 
of the functions of the vocal organs and their 
physiological product the voice and a firmer 
grasp on the subject than the untaught layman. 
So, too, he surely must be more able than anybody 
else to suggest the proper use of the vocal organs 
for producing a correct mechanism of singing ; and 
whenever a disorder or deformity in voice produc- 
tion develops, he can find the radical means for 
restoring them to normal. 

Therefore, how ludicrous is the statement that 
the teaching of voice production belongs only to 
one whose best asset often is limited to the knowl- 
edge of how to run a few scales on the piano, or 
how to read a score ; or to those singers who, having 
sung in defiance of the laws of nature during a brief 


career, are forced to give it up for the more lucra- 
tive profession of vocal instructor. 

The public must begin to discriminate between 
voice culture and artistic vocal education. The cor- 
rect training and developing of the physiological 
functions of the vocal organs during the process 
of voice production constitutes voice culture. It 
comprises a knowledge of the normal function of 
the lungs, as moving power; of the larynx with the 
vocal cords, as producing power ; and of the mouth, 
which includes the tongue, palate, lips, and the 
resonance chambers, as resonating power of the 
voice. To know the defective, as well as the correct, 
function of all these organs which control the 
mechanism of voice production constitutes such an 
important factor in voice culture, that it must be 
intrusted to the care of responsible experts of the 
voice, well acquainted with the physiological rules 
of the vocal apparatus. 

The vocal education as related to music, that is, 
operas, songs, etc., is purely a technical study and 
an acquisition of vocal musical knowledge, which 
is alike for all musical instruments. That alone 
should be intrusted to music instructors, coaches, 
accompanists and conductors. 

In face of the alarming condition of the art of 
singing at present, the author feels fully justified 
in expressing his ideas on the important subject 
of voice and voice culture, regardless of any prej- 
udiced or unfavorable criticism. All earnest music 
lovers should take this stand, and encourage such 


The problem of the responsibilities for the 
actually harmful condition of voice culture must 
be solved, and the responsible elements must be 
denounced without fear. The reaction which may 
arise from professionals, who are slaves to preju- 
dice, ignorance, or material interests, is to be 
expected; but if it is true that good singing is 
fatally deteriorating, all efforts must be combined 
to discover the real cause, and what must be 
done to restore the disappearing art of singing. 



IN the preparation of this work the author had 
constantly before him the question, who will read 
this book? 

As a general proposition it may be stated that 
books on voice do not appeal to the general reader. 
They are usually of interest only to the so-called 
musical world and to the few scientific men known 
as laryngologists. Those who should be particu- 
larly interested in a book of this nature are singers, 
singing teachers and students of singing. 

In regard to singers, it is lamentable, but never- 
theless true, that the vast majority do not read 
books on voice. Having made their "success," and 
having "arrived" (in some cases, of course, in their 
own belief only), they consider it superfluous to 
read anything about voice culture. A robust ego, 
often an essential part of the make-up of these 
individuals, makes them look with disdain on other 
people's ideas about singing, and they ignore any 
new viewpoint regarding the phenomenon of the 
voice, however important it may be. 

Most of these singers strive for the applause of 
the audience, and only for this. It cannot be 
denied, though, that the average audience, lacking 
discrimination, is easily satisfied, most easily en- 


thused and aroused to vociferous applause by artifi- 
cialities, fireworks, and tricks. Therefore part of 
the responsibility lies with the audience, as for the 
vast majority of singers its applause is the verdict 
of the greatness of their achievement and talent, 
and satisfies all their ambitions. This class of 
singers, naturally, representing the purely com- 
mercial element of the singing field, will not read 
this book. 

It must be acknowledged, however, that there are 
exceptions. These are the real artists, individuals 
with ideals, who must not be confused with the 
mass, and who are always anxious to learn in spite 
of their real success. 

The real artists, having a higher conception of 
their art, sing for art's sake and do not prostitute 
art merely for the sake of applause. Conscious 
of their mission, they hold the applause of the mul- 
titude at its proper value, and constantly strive for 
finer and better expression in their singing. 

To them a new viewpoint about voice is deserv- 
ing of consideration, and they may find some in- 
terest in the author's views. 

The Singing Teacher 

Bernard Shaw has said: "He who can, does; 
he who cannot, teaches." This may be aptly 
applied to a condition of affairs now existing in the 
vocal world. 

Teaching is an art requiring great attainments, 
and not every one can teach. The teacher must 


have a fundamental basic knowledge of the physi- 
ology of the voice, not from mere hearsay, but from 
actual study and work. He must know physical 
principles of acoustics, and must have an elemen- 
tary anatomical and physiological knowledge of the 
vocal organs. Then, too, he must be a musician, 
endowed with an exceptionally fine ear, and keen 
powers of communication in order to reach the 
average intelligence of pupils. 

Considering all these things, I contend that the 
teaching of singing is a difficult profession, which 
few are competent to follow. To those few I sub- 
mit my thesis, and request their constructive criti- 

There is a large class of singing teachers, how- 
ever, made up of unscrupulous intruders, whose 
pernicious influence is of inestimable harm both to 
the competent teachers and to the inexperienced 
students. The field of teaching is kept in a de- 
graded and unwholesome condition by the malprac- 
tices of these individuals who, disregarding, with- 
out investigation, any ideas which might throw 
light on the difficult problems of voice culture, 
retard its progress and evolution. Their origin is 
usually traced to studios where as accompanists 
they have laid the only foundation for their careers. 
Some of them do not even belong to the musical 
field. Daring outsiders of any social strata secure 
admittance to the musical world through connec- 
tions with singers or teachers, and with no other 
title or support than their boldness and audacity, 
gain a foothold in the free land of voice teaching 


unmolested, taking advantage of the public ignor- 
ance and indifference. In this way they succeed 
in making themselves conspicuous in the domain 
of voice culture. The unfortunate result is that 
they find the road to their misdeeds wide open, 
while it remains closed to the really earnest and 
competent professionals, who disdain to lower 
themselves to undignified competition. From this 
class of unscrupulous intruders the author expects 
no recognition. 

The Pupils of Singing 

Enthusiastic, confident, zealous, anxious to learn, 
and frequently gifted, these credulous young men 
and women pay the penalty for the ignorance which 
generally exists regarding voice culture. 

A student of any other branch of art or science 
is requested, nay, ordered, by those who have his 
tuition in charge, to read all the available literature 
on the particular subject taught, in order to be- 
come familiar with the viewpoints of the various 
authorities. It is the function of the teacher then 
to indicate where the truth lies and where the 

The average singing teacher, however, is not 
interested in having his pupils read anything 
except his own literature, from which it is only 
possible to deduce what a great personage the 
teacher is. Students often place implicit faith in 
the ability of masters who, by flattery and false- 
hood, maintain a hold on their inexperienced vie- 


tims, until, disgusted and disheartened, the pupils 
find out too late that their voices have been ruined. 

It is lamentably true, however, that pupils 
expect everything from their teachers, relying very 
slightly upon their own efforts and responsibility 
for their future ; but if these conditions prevail, it is 
precisely because they are ill advised. 

Of these young men and women, interested in 
the truth, I ask a respectful hearing. 

The art of singing is in a very critical condition. 
Millions have been spent, and are still being spent, 
for the education of thousands of beautiful voices, 
for voices of exceptional material exist to-day as 
heretofore ; but where are the good singers ? 

Yes, there are still a few of the old school who 
really shine as rare stars in the firmament of song. 
But when these artists have passed away, shall we 
have to be dependent upon the phonographic 
records for beautiful singing as memories of a 
glorious past? 

This pessimistic view is still, however, tinged 
with hope. That precious gift, the human voice, 
which more than any other medium reaches the 
deeper corners of the human heart, will not be 
hushed. The renaissance of the art of singing 
must and will come, as surely as the dawn of to- 
morrow, if we succeed in forcing open the door 
for a radical reform in the singing world. 

By enforcing the laws of Nature, and applying 
rules based on scientific principles, thus preventing 
natural voices from being deformed at the begin- 
ning of their training, pupils may be taught to 


sing correctly, beautifully, and easily. Ease is the 
sine qua non of correct singing, as singing means 
nothing but expressing in musical form sentiments, 
such as happiness, sorrow, love, which do not re- 
quire any physical effort to be expressed. A few 
words spoken in musical rhythm, with grace, color, 
and artistic expression, are more effective and con- 
vincing than the most vociferous, senseless noises, 
or rasping gutturals, forcibly and acrobatically 

Therefore, singers must sing words for their 
meaning, not for their tones. It is more important 
for them to remember this principle than to rely 
on the top notes of their voices as their strongest 
artistic resource. Holding a B-flat finale for an 
exaggerated length of time, to produce a sensa- 
tional effect for the sake of the audience's applause, 
is neither beautiful nor artistic. Art is truth, and 
truth disdains such vulgar display. 



THE rapid disappearance of good singers has 
become so alarming in the last few years, that the 
complaint so widely expressed by those who are 
concerned about the future of the art of singing 
seems more than justified. 

The deterioration of the vocal art has affected 
even the Italian school of bel canto, which, judging 
from its contemporary representatives with the 
exception of a few celebrities shows real evidence 
of degeneration from the glorious old traditions. 

The causes responsible for this decadence are 
growing so rapidly that a solution of the problems 
essential to the very life of the art of singing has 
become imperative. 

There is no doubt that this critical status of 
affairs can be faced and successfully overcome, so 
that the art of song may be restored to its original 
splendor ; but in reality it is a difficult task to carry 
out such a program, under present conditions. 

The downfall of bel canto is the result of various 
and complex causes ; the aim to restore it, in view of 
the present conditions of the teaching field in gen- 
eral, will be severely handicapped, for reasons 
connected with the commercial element which pre- 
dominates it at present. 



If, however, recovery from the present unhealthy 
conditions is really desired, it can be attained by 
radical intervention at the very roots of the perni- 
cious growth the teaching a difficult task for any 
one person to undertake, unless strongly supported 
by the cooperation of all those interested in the 
future of the culture of voice. 

In a search for the remote causes which brought 
about the decadence of bcl canto, most of them can 
be traced to two primary sources: one musical and 
the other professional in origin. The first is re- 
lated to the evolution of singing music, on the 
whole, and especially of opera; the second to the 
degeneration of the artistic aims of the modern 
singers, whose careers have become essentially com- 
mercial, and who have forsaken all ideals, to 
pursue solely a financial and ephemeral success, 
regardless of how it is obtained. Unfortunately 
this class of singers furnish the vast majority of 
the teachers of to-day. 

In reference to the evolution of singing music, 
it must be admitted that the opera has undergone 
a radical change from its former traditions and 

Within the last half century a new sense of life, 
more intense and deep, has opened up new horizons 
for the display of human emotions in all arts, 
affecting music most decidedly. The different 
sentiments which have started to pulsate in the 
human heart have fundamentally changed the psy- 
chology of the world, giving rise to new ideas and 
feelings, much stronger, more dramatic, more com- 


plex above all more realistic. In fact, we now 
live in an age in which there is no longer room for 
romantic sentimentalism, and the ingenuous pro- 
ductions which the preceding generations enjoyed 
in opera or drama have no longer the power of 
interesting the majority of modern audiences. 

Therefore, this sudden and radical evolution 
which has influenced our psychology for reasons 
and through circumstances which cannot be dis- 
cussed here has been transfused and absorbed, in 
a natural process of assimilation, by all the dif- 
ferent forms and expressions of human sentiment, 
through literature, music, painting, sculpture, per- 
haps principally through the theatrical and operatic 
works of recent times. 

By natural laws every expression of life must 
be subject to the evolution and changes of human 
thoughts and emotions; consequently, it is not sur- 
prising that these new influences have changed, in 
a radical form, the operatic world, its aims, produc- 
tions, style, meanings, and the taste of the public 
also. Audiences of the last thirty years were get- 
ting weary of listening to the arias and duets of 
the romantic period of Rossini, Mozart, Bellini, 
Donizetti, and their predecessors. Meanwhile the 
field of the operatic composers has become in- 
fluenced by new waves of emotion, more intense 
and much deeper, which are gradually taking a 
prominent place, substituting realistic and dramatic 
musical expressions for the old, conventional melo- 
dies and rhythms. 

Wagner, the pioneer genius, pressing hard with 


his gigantic evolution, the young Italian composers, 
heralded by the magic seer of the human heart 
-Verdi, the French, by Berlioz and Bizet the 
sparkling painters of colors and sentiment started 
the radical reform of the opera, which began to 
substitute realistic musical mediums for the con- 
ventional melodies of the romantic period. 

This change has given birth to the so-called 
modern truism and has had a favorable response 
from the majority of audiences, exercising a very 
marked influence in the evolution of the art of sing- 
ing also. This influence, however, from the stand- 
point of the bel canto style, has proved decidedly 
negative, though no blame whatever can be laid on 
the composers of the new operatic music. 

The modern Italian realistic school, whose 
radical operatic evolution was prepared by Verdi's 
"Aida" and "Otello," conquered the field so decid- 
edly and in such a triumphant manner with Mas- 
cagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" followed later by 
Leoncavallo's and Puccini's operas that the con- 
quest of public favor seemed almost a spontaneous 
and natural outcome. It did not take long for 
these musicians to put themselves at the head of 
the operatic reaction in Italy against the old 
formulas and conventionalities; and while the 
preceding composers of the past epoch Rossini, 
Donizetti, Bellini, and even Verdi in his first operas 
were accustomed to write their works either for 
certain prima donnas, tenors, or baritones, setting 
the music to their vocal ability, the modern com- 
posers, by discarding these practices, gave a higher 


standing to their works. They began to create 
operas solely for the sake of the music, regardless 
of the vocal technicalities of the singers. This new 
pursuit, more noble, more artistic and dignified, 
started a new era in the field of Italian opera. 

The same transition took place in France, prin- 
cipally through Bizet's "Carmen," followed later 
by the operas of Massenet, Charpentier, and 
others, until Debussy and Dukas introduced operas 
almost musically spoken, such as "Pelleas and 
Melisande," and "Ariadne and Barbe Bleue." 

This new style of music, which abolishes the 
artificial virtuosity of the romantic period of opera, 
has naturally been responsible for the sudden 
change, and perhaps, to a certain extent, for the 
decadence of the so-called bel canto, with no blame, 
however, reflected on the composers but rather on 
the singers. 

Originally the Italian school of bel canto was 
merely empirical and vague ; imparted from teacher 
to pupil by direct imitation, without definite rules, 
except for some suggestions resulting from per- 
sonal experience. By this method the art of sing- 
ing was transmitted from one good singer to 
another, and thus from generation to generation. 

On the other hand, the operas suited to the taste 
of the masses were limited in number, almost alike 
in style, and of popular interest. It was not dim- 
cult, therefore, to pass the traditions of their bel 
canto from one singer to the next, by means of 
the well-known songs and duets of these operas, 
especially if the pupils were gifted with intelligence 


and artistic sense as well as with naturally beauti- 
ful voices. 

When the operatic evolution, however, initiated 
by the young composers, commenced to gain a foot- 
hold in the musical field, the amateur tenors and 
prima donnas of all singing studios found them- 
selves suddenly confronted with new exigencies, 
and, instead of applying to the teachers for assist- 
ance, in order to make themselves fit to face these 
novel conditions, they preferred rather to rely on 
their own judgment, or to follow the suggestions 
only of those teachers who were more condescend- 
ing, though less competent. Refusing to go 
through further training as it was required, the only 
thing they thought necessary was to learn from a 
coach or a pianist to shout the roles of "Pagliacci," 
"Cavalleria Rusticana," "Boheme," or "Tosca." 
Therefore, since this epoch, the traditional and 
patient studying of six or seven years became 
merely a myth in Italy. 

This period marks the first intrusion into the 
teaching field of unsuccessful pianists, orchestra 
conductors, and coaches, who encouraged the impa- 
tient singers in the corruption of the art of sing- 
ing, and later helped, with their incompetent 
teaching, to hasten its complete decadence. 

The realistic style of the modern operas, setting 
up a very suggestive and temperamental ground, 
stimulated the young singers to a new manner of 
singing, more intense and dramatic, above all, more 
sensational. Attracted by the emphatic and color- 
ful emotions embodied in the roles of Radames, 


Don Jose, Turiddu, Rodolfo, and Cavaradossi, or 
Carmen, Santuzza, Tosca, and Manon, they found 
that there was so much to be displayed through the 
impersonation of these intense characters that, to 
sing them properly, or to exhibit sensational inter- 
pretations by screaming them, mattered very little 
in the pursuit of their personal success. 

The audiences, in fact, who are usually enthused 
by anything sensational, gave the stamp of an 
enthusiastic approval to these first steps toward 
artistic degeneration. Therefore, a logical reason 
was no longer seen, nor an actual need felt, for 
dedicating seven or eight years to the study of cor- 
rect voice production and artistic singing, as singers 
of previous generations had been accustomed to do 
when, in order to sing "Don Juan" or the "Barber 
of Seville," or "Norma," or "Lucia," etc., a thor- 
ough technic and a complete ease of voice produc- 
tion and artistic style had been required. 

At the ages of twenty or twenty-one these self- 
made singers proclaimed themselves the legitimate 
interpreters of the operas of Mascagni, Puccini, 
Massenet, Leoncavallo, etc., on the sole support 
of their natural assets a beautiful voice and an 
explosive temperament. The result was soon evi- 
dent. They entered the operatic field with rare 
and fresh vocal equipment, and the youthful 
enthusiasm which such roles can inspire, but with 
inadequate preparation. Like young horses whose 
instinctive enthusiasm for running is uncontrollable, 
they started their race. A few years of a more or 
less conspicuous career spent in lavish wasteful- 


ness of their natural gift by screaming sensationally 
the roles of Santuzza, Canio, Rodolfo, Mimi, 
Tosca, or Butterfly, established the new standard 
of the artistic career for these premature singers. 
Their creed was summed up in the narrow belief 
that in being able to sing the few popular modern 
operas, their success was assured, and their ambi- 
tion was centered only on the applause of the 
audience for their high notes, as a means of making 
money quickly at any sacrifice. Art, its noble 
mission, its elevating influence, the supreme satis- 
faction it gives to its apostles, was completely 
ignored or disregarded by this class of singers. 
Some exceptions existed, but they were the mrg? 
qp3 who unfortunately have almost disappeared 
at present. 

After four or five years these great tenors or 
prima donnas, realizing the finish of their hectic 
and brief careers, were compelled to seek in the 
teaching field the only means for earning a liveli- 
hood. Thus they became the celebrated teachers 
of Milan, Paris, New York, London, bringing into 
the teaching field, along with their ignorance and 
incompetence, the robust egotism which usually 
characterizes unsuccessful singers. 

From these international centers of art, the 
poisonous theories which rule the schools of sing- 
ing of to-day were spread all over the world, 
exercising their disastrous influence on the young 
generation of singers. The Canios and Santuzzas 
who had lost their beautiful voices by screaming 
like street venders, posed in the musical world as 


celebrated teachers. Thanks to an elaborate cam- 
paign of publicity they appointed themselves pur- 
veyors of the secrets of Italian bel canto, and the 
delicate mission of educating the inexperienced 
pupils endowed with beautiful voices was blindly 
intrusted to them. 

These pupils formed the second generation of 
bad singers, and later on, in their turn, became the 
second and larger set of bad teachers. Certainly 
what militates in their defense is the fact that they 
found theneld of singing already corrupted at the 
commencement of their studies, and they had to 
accept the erroneous doctrines of self-made 
teachers, who were the ones really guilty of start- 
ing the decadence of the art of singing. The 
responsibility, therefore, for the downfall of the 
traditional and glorious school must be ascribed to 
those incompetent teachers who, under the false pre- 
tense of being the legitimate representatives of the 
Italian bel canto, spread all sorts of improvised and 
arbitrary methods of singing throughout the world. 

On the other hand, the influence over voice cul- 
ture exerted by German theories within the last 
forty years, since the advent of Wagnerian operas, 
marks another obstacle to the original methods of 
correct singing. 

I do not believe that originally a real German 
school of singing existed; but if one did exist it 
was molded on the cast of the Italian school bel 
canto. As a matter of fact, around the early part 
of the eighteenth century, Giovanni Battista 
Mancini (born at Ascoli, Italy, 1716) was pro- 


fessor of singing at the Imperial Court of Vienna, 
where he died in 1800. 

It is otherwise known that until some time 
ago German operas were written on librettos in 
the Italian language, which suggests the idea that 
most of the singing teachers were Italians, or had 
studied the bel canto method in Italy. 

Before the advent of Wagner, German com- 
posers like Handel, Gliick, Mozart, Beethoven, 
etc., were writing their operatic music after the 
style of the primitive Italian operas. Even the 
first operas of Wagner were influenced by the 
Italian school; but later, beginning with Tann- 
hauser and Lohengrin, the outcome of his newly 
developed art commenced to gain a foothold in the 
operatic field, finally establishing the new era of 
German operatic music with "Tristan," "Meister- 
singer," and the "Ring." 

The transition from Gliick, Mozart, and the 
others to Wagner brought out too decided and 
blunt a change, so that the soft and delicate modu- 
lations of the voice, which most of the German 
singers had been very particular to develop for 
singing Gliick, Mozart, Bellini, or Donizetti, were 
no longer sufficient and fit material for the intense, 
dramatic music of Wagner's roles. Consequently 
the deficiency of their vocal means became evident, 
and created disquietude among singers and 
teachers. Every one tried to face the new exigen- 
cies by using, unfortunately, the instinctive means 
of compensation for any deficiency, namely, force. 
They thought that if their voices were not efficient 


and strong enough for Wagner, there remained 
but one remedy to use them to their utmost physi- 
cal power. 

Their conception was indeed erroneous. They 
did not discriminate between the necessity of train- 
ing their voices into easier, more obedient and 
effective mechanisms for surmounting the greater 
difficulties, but utilized the simpler expedient of 
forcing their production in order to obtain the 
required effects. Consequently a few of their num- 
ber, whose vocal organs were physically very strong 
and could withstand the strain, accomplished some 
results by using more power, or, in other words, 
more breath; the others failed lamentably. 

From this class of singers, endowed with excep- 
tional physical resistance, came the German method 
of singing based on an exaggerated physical effi- 
ciency, which was adopted as the only remedy for 
facing the emergency brought about by Wagnerian 
music, a method strongly condemned by Wagner 
himself. 1 

This method, founded on the full power of the 
breath, supported by the full tension of the dia- 
phragm and other respiratory muscles, was later 
called by some teachers physiological a false de- 
nomination based on a misconception of the real 
laws of physiology and which created a false 
ground for the teaching of voice production in the 
German schools of singing. 

Thus it came about that these erroneous prin- 

1 See Wagner's Actors and Singers. 


ciples, based on mechanical force, established the 
foundations of a method which advanced many 
erroneous theories about the breathing apparatus 
and the exaggerated importance of the diaphragm 
in voice culture. These theories were not confined 
to the German field of singing alone, but spread 
all over the world, through the interpreters and 
teachers of Wagner's operatic music. 

The false interpretation of the physiological 
laws of voice production, started by the Germans, 
later gave origin to the more elaborate singing 
methods which are in vogue at present, and to which 
we owe chiefly the abolition of natural voices, by 
their incorrect placing and artificial production, 
based almost wholly on the rules of the chest and 
diaphragm power. 

From these methods of voice culture originated 
the characteristic type of singer so popular nowa- 
days ridiculously conceited, who takes particular 
delight in asking his admirers to note the expansion 
of his chest, and test the tension and power of his 
diaphragm while he is breathing or singing. A 
wonderful display of brute force, of course, per- 
formed by ignorant screamers who feel proud 
of their athletic achievements, and who never 
seem to have observed the little nightingale who 
can sing so beautifully, for hours at a stretch, his 
voice carrying to great distances, but whose dia- 
phragm is only proportionate to his diminutive size. 
Evidently the conception of the high-chested singers 
is that the delicate function of singing is to be 
compared with the work of a stevedore or a 


wrestler; and some of the public believe it too, and 
admire them! 

Thus the art of singing, during the period of 
the operatic evolution, was represented on one side 
by the temperamental outbursts of the Italian and 
French singers, and by the athletic and diaphrag- 
matic efficiency of the Germans on the other. Both 
sides, directed toward a false line of development, 
not only failed to face the radical evolution of the 
opera, but hastened the degeneration of the art of 
singing to the depths that at present are a source 
of constant distress and anxiety. 

Now what is to be done to face this critical situa- 
tion, and restore the art of singing to a solid and 
stable basis? Must we go back to the old school of 
bel canto and rebuild its method, or must we resort 
to a new source, and establish the foundation of 
new rules so as to attain a radical reform of the 
school of singing? 

In principle, progress is the result of the inces- 
sant evolution of mankind in its striving for ad- 
vancement arid perfection; therefore, there is no 
progress in any branch of science or art in going 
back a century. 

Furthermore, there are several reasons why we 
cannot revive what has already been worn out in 
the art of singing of the Italian school of bel canto. 
First, few, even vague rules, if any, have been 
left by that school which we could set as a standard 
for the reform we are advocating. Second, its 
traditional method, transferred from teacher to 
singer, has gradually been deformed by its adapta- 


tion to the vocal equipment of each person, who 
tried to add to it something of his own individuality 
and experience; and often, instead of improving 
the art of singing, brought about the opposite result 
of contributing to that decadence which in recent 
years has become so conspicuous throughout. 

Third, the exigencies of the school of singing of 
to-day are very different from those of the past, 
and therefore must be faced with new equipment, 
better fitted to the evolution and progress of the 
present-day music. 

Thirty years ago, when a surgeon was called to 
diagnose a fracture, or a tumor, or to locate a bullet 
in the human tissues, the only assistance for his 
diagnosis was the proper valuation of the given 
symptoms by means of his natural intuition and 
experience. His professional prominence was then 
related to his personal skill, and was the only war- 
ranty for the importance given to his verdict, 
though it was not always infallible. Later, the 
X-ray discovery made it possible for any surgeon 
to see into the human body and diagnose all sur- 
gical cases. Thus the skill itself of the surgeon 
of thirty years ago no longer has the same valua- 
tion, due to the aid of the scientific discovery of the 
X-ray, and no one to-day would limit a diagnosis 
to the personal verdict of a surgeon without the 
confirmation of the X-rays. The surgery of to-day 
has a real scientific basis. 

The great singers of the past, by their natural 
disposition for singing, by their personal intuition, 
and by imitation of good examples, were able to 


achieve perfection in the art of singing. In their 
older days they were consequently competent sing- 
ing teachers celebrities identified with the famous 
school of bel canto. But, like the surgeons of their 
time, they had no equipment other than their own 
skill and the painstaking care to follow the intuitive 
and sole method of teaching of those days, from 
which they got their own consummate experience. 

Would the reviving of that routine in the present 
condition of the singing field be a possible or self- 
sufficient solution? By no means. First, because 
true exponents of the bel canto of former times 
are but memories of the past, and second because 
the modern repertoire requires much more power 
and skill, as well as ease of voice production, in 
order to face the evolution of operatic music. Then, 
too, another reason the most important one: the 
competency of the old masters was in reality not 
the result of a profoundly conscious knowledge of 
the art of singing, which could be transmitted in 
the form of definite and sound principles, but a 
purely empirical method. These singers of the 
past, accustomed to sing with the guidance of their 
ear and the power of imitating their predecessors, 
were products of both patient mastery and long 
experience. Their singing was the result of a 
methodical and gradual training of the vocal or- 
gans, with no hasty influence, like the convulsive 
excitement of to-day. Their method of phrasing 
aimed more at a perfect production of beautiful 
tones than at the attainment of psychological ex- 
pression according to the significance of the words. 


Sometimes, in fact, the words of a musical phrase 
intended to emphasize hatred or contempt were ex- 
pressed by a most elaborate suavity of tone, merely 
for the purpose of displaying a beautiful style of 
singing. The music itself often did not urge much 
discrimination between different sentiments. A 
beautiful, inspiring melody sometimes served to 
overshadow the psychological situation of the opera, 
creating a conflict of sentiments for the sake of 
beautiful singing. Certain very celebrated arias, 
like the famous "Sextette" from "Lucia," for ex- 
ample, show little coherence between the melody 
and the significance of the words. In some other 
popular quartets, trios, or duets, the same musical 
phrases were sung by different singers, all of whom 
were expressing, in their words, sentiments along 
different lines, and ofttimes of totally different 
character, as in the above-mentioned "Sextette" 
from "Lucia." It was a psychological anachronism 
of the operatic music which, however, did not vitally 
affect the indiscriminate and simpler tastes of the 
audiences of the past. 

Yet, from a purely musical standpoint, we do 
not know if the audiences were in error. It was 
the period of melody's reign; therefore it was per- 
missible, on the strength of the beauty of the music, 
to sing with the same purity and sweetness "Spirito 
gentil" from "Favorita," or "Chi mi frena in tal 
momento" from "Lucia," regardless of the mean- 
ing of the words. But times have changed, and 
the present epoch witnesses the most radical evolu- 
tion in the operatic music as well as in the world's 


psychology and taste. The meaning of the phrase 
plays the leading role in modern music. Human 
feelings are portrayed in their realistic form, and 
human voices are intended to express, by the use 
of singing words, the truth of a dramatic, romantic, 
or tragic situation, no longer confining themselves 
to a banal competition with flute or oboe obligato 
lor the mere sake of displaying the flexibility or 
the purity of vocal tones. 

Singers are placed on a more elevated and digni- 
fied plane by modern composers, and intrusted with 
a higher mission by making modern operas less con- 
ventional and closer to real human sentiment. 

In "Otello," Verdi, though still a devoted apostle 
of the pure Italian melody because of an elevated 
sense of art, often refrains from using melodious 
phrases in situations which call for rapid and real- 
istic developments. The invocation of Desdemona, 
in fact, "Otello non uccidermi," is expressed by 
only a few notes of striking effect and conciseness. 

Even the commonplace end of "Pagliacci": "La 
Commedia e finita," or Hanno ammazzato a com- 
pare Turiddu" of "Cavalleria Rusticana," have a 
more effective meaning at that psychological mo- 
ment than any pompous musical phrases the old- 
style operas ever possessed. 

The new conception of the art of singing as the 
medium for realistic emotions and situations on the 
operatic stage makes us look on the school of bel 
canto as an insufficient, time-worn method of sing- 
ing, just as we look on the conventional construc- 
tion and orchestration of the old operas, with the 


accompaniment of the cymbals as old-fashioned 
works precious relics of the past, unsuited to our 

Consequently, the art of singing and the art of 
vocal culture must be uplifted from its empiric 
stage, and put on the same progressive and scien- 
tific level as all the other arts and sciences. This, 
and this only, will relieve the present critical situa- 
tion of the art of singing. 

In order then to bring about the radical reform 
we advocate, we must begin by building up a new 
method of voice culture on new foundations, more 
modern and concrete, scientifically correct, basing 
it on well-defined physiological laws. This will 
make the method solid, logical, clear, and true 
enough to be accepted by the vast majority of those 
who are seriously concerned about the evolution of 
the school of singing and interested in the future 
of the vocal art. 

We contend that the practical application and 
evidence of this method has been established by no 
less an authority than Enrico Caruso, who has so 
wonderfully demonstrated and reinforced the nat- 
ural laws of voice production. 

His singing, almost faultless, inspired us to in- 
vestigate the problems of the human voice in its 
natural production, and gave birth to our concep- 
tion of voice culture, which claims for Nature alone 
the right to govern the mechanism of voice produc- 

The arbitrary methods confined to personal 
secrets the creation of singers and the upbuild- 


ing of voices by magic power, should be wiped out 
as remnants of other ages. One method must be 
adopted, which should cover all the modern exigen- 
cies of voice production and styles of singing, and 
safeguard very closely the full resources of Nature, 
priceless in value, as suggested by science, which is 
infallible. One method only for the physiological 
production of the human voice, as well as for its 
artistic development and mission. 



THE following principles regarding the mechan- 
ism of voice production, as conceived by the author, 
were examined by Enrico Caruso during the year 
preceding his death, and while of much interest to 
the great singer, were not accepted by him without 
discrimination. On the contrary, Caruso, attracted 
by the complex problems concerning the human 
voice, merely because of his constant craving to 
investigate and to learn, would not pass over any 
point without satisfactory discussion, thus becom- 
ing the author's most valuable assistant and col- 
laborator in the preparation of this work, both by 
personal supervision and through correspondence. 

During the Summer of 1920, a series of letters 
were exchanged betAveen the great artist and the 
author in reference to the contents of this book. 
It was the author's aim to have Caruso as an adviser 
and a judge of his work, and while the great tenor 
showed a decided enthusiasm for it, he was both 
reserved and inquisitive at the beginning. He ac- 
cepted, in general, the Principles on the Vocal 
Mechanism and the suggestions for a radical reform 
in voice culture as conceived by the author, but 
for his own conviction he wanted to test them 



This desire is plainly expressed in the following 
quotation from one of his letters, written in a 
friendly form, and which were not originally in- 
tended for publication. 

The author now feels that these should be pre- 
sented in order to justify the title of this book, 
offering for the reader's examination the actual 
proof, in Caruso's own handwriting, of how closely 
the basic principles of the Scientific Culture, of 
Voice advocated in this book were molded on 
Caruso's own ideas, and how scrupulous the great 
artist was before giving them his unconditional 

During the month of July, 1920, the author sent 
to the artist a brief summary of his principles and 
suggestions for a radical reform in voice culture, 
which are illustrated in this book. Caruso answered 
with the following note, the original of which 
(written in Italian) is reproduced herewith, and 
which, literally translated, reads as follows: 

East Hampton, L. 1. 

July 22, 1920 

I am still running after you on Fifth Avenue . . . with 
the object of discussing what you wrote me yesterday about 
your vocal principles. What you tell me in your letter is 
beautiful and convincing, but you understand very well that 
if Saint Thomas was allowed to put his finger you must 
permit me also to see with my own eyes and thus ascertain 
for myself your convincing theories. Therefore I will be in 
New York soon and will come to see you and discuss all 
this. . . . 




Evidently Caruso felt that certain new ideas 
needed practical demonstration, and only after hav- 
ing made personal observation of some apparatus 
which the author invented for actual evidence of 
his principles did he feel reassured in his impres- 
sions by this final and decisive proof. 

A month later the author sent to Caruso the in- 
troduction and part of the scientific section of this 
book. The following was Caruso's answer (the 
original, in Italian, of this letter is also shown 
herewith) : 

East Hampton, L. I. 

August 23, 1920 

I am answering immediately your letter of yesterday, as 
I see I have neglected to inform you that I have read the 
introduction to your book and find it most interesting. Such 
an introduction will cause a commotion in the field of vocal 
teaching, and especially among those who are the merchants 
of teaching. Among the real professionals I am sure your 
book will create a deep impression, and will be of major use 
to them, because, as I see, you add to the teaching of singing 
also the physical and scientific issues. , . , 



On October 5th the author received the following 
official endorsement from Caruso for his method of 
singing The Scientific Culture of Voice 





which, translated, reads as follows: 1 

October, 1920 

If the experts of the art of singing knew the basis on which 
Dr. P. M. Marafioti's method of voice culture is founded, I 
am sure they would not resort to any other method. 

The principles it sets forth are scientific but simple, and 
revert to the real source of the voice, Nature; therefore they 
are the most correct. 

Students and schools of singing ought to experiment with 
this new form of scientific culture of the voice, because it is 
based on the natural laws which rule its mechanism, known 
to Dr. Marafioti as a specialist of the throat; and it has a 
modern tendency, better fitted to the new exigencies of the 
singing music of to-day. 

I am glad to express this personal conviction of mine, for 
it harmonizes with my own conception of singing; and the 
recognition of the value of Dr. Marafioti's method is but just, 
because it can be of great service to those starting out in 
the study of singing as well as to those who have already 
entered into an artistic career. 


During the month of May, 1921, the author read 
to Caruso a great part of this book, and stated his 
desire to dedicate it to him. 

Three days before Caruso sailed for Italy, he 
wrote to the author the letter published at the be- 
ginning of this book, in which he accepted the dedi- 
cation and emphasized the point that, since he 
shared the author's impressions, he wished him the 
full attainment of his aims. 

1 It should be noted that special care has been taken to make a literal 
rather than a literary translation of the original. 


On the strength of these personal testimonials 
of Caruso, the author feels justified in his claim 
that, though the method he is presenting as 
Caruso's Method of Singing has not been written 
by the great singer personally, nevertheless it is 
the most faithful reproduction of his own ideas, 
and above all, of his "feelings" about his own sing- 
ing. No singer, especially a great singer who is 
born such can explain exactly how he sings, though 
he may express his "feelings" about his singing. 

The following principles outline the scientific 
contents of this book, on which the author bases 
his Radical Reform of Voice Education. Some 
suggestions will be developed later, indicating how 
this reform of voice culture can be carried out prac- 
tically. The principles are: 

1. Voice is Speech, and is produced by the mouth, 
not by the vocal cords. The vocal cords produce 
only sounds, which are transformed into vowels and 
consonants by a phonetic process taking place in 
the mouth, and giving origin to the voice. 

2. (a) The full extension of the natural range of 
the voice is produced only by using the minimum 
tension of the vocal cords and the minimum breath 
required for each tone. This establishes a correct 
mechanism of voice production. 

(b) The laryngeal sounds must be transmitted 
to the mouth free of any interference; freedom is 
the fundamental pillar of voice production. 

3. Breath is an indispensable factor in voice 
production, but it is not the essential power which 
develops the voice as it is taught to-day. On the 


contrary, the function of singing develops the 
breathing apparatus and its power, just as any 
physiological function develops the organ from 
which it takes origin. Therefore singing develops 
breathing, not breathing, singing. 

4. Resonance is the most important factor in 
voice production. It furnishes to the voice volume 
and quality, and emphasizes its loudness. To rely 
on resonance rather than on force is essential for 
producing a big and pleasing voice. 

5. Speaking and singing are similar functions, 
produced by the same physiological mechanism; 
therefore they are the same vocal phenomenon. 

The speaking voice is the substantial factor of 
the singing voice and singing, in its very essence, 
is merely speaking in musical rhythm; hence no 
correct singing can exist without a correctly pro- 
duced speaking voice. 

6. The pitch and the dimensions of the singing- 
voice the volume, the quality and loudness are 
determined by the speaking voice. Speaking high 
or low, resonant, loud or soft, in any gradation of 
sentiment and shade of color, lays the ground for 
singing in high or low pitch, loud, resonant or soft, 
in any musical color or expression. 

7. There are no registers in the singing voice, 
when it is correctly produced. According to nat- 
ural laws the voice is made up of only one register, 
which constitutes its entire range. 




To reinforce the foregoing principles, the author 
advances the following suggestions which can bring 
about a radical reform in the culture of the voice, 
directing the art of singing toward more definite 
rules, scientific, and better suited to the modern 
conditions : 

1. Voice culture must be natural in its basis, and 
scientific in its principles not empiric and arbi- 
trary. There must be only one method of singing, 
founded on physiological laws, presented in prac- 
tical form. 

2. The education of the voice must begin in the 
elementary schools, and must first be taught to 
children in the form of correct use of the speaking 

We believe this to be the most important feature 
in the reform of voice culture, being directed to the 
very origin of what is responsible for the initial 
defects and deterioration in the natural voices of 
children. A school should be founded for this pur- 
pose, where school teachers could get adequate in- 
struction in the natural and correct phonetic rules, 
molded on classic languages, for teaching this form 
of voice education. 



3. Singing teachers must be new professionals, 
combining scientific with artistic knowledge ; a class 
of voice specialists, differentiated from coaches, 
accompanists, vocal musicians, etc. 

4. Voice specialists must undergo a regular 
course of training in scientific and musical matters 
related to voice, and must be subject to examination 
by a special Board of Scientific and Musical Ex- 
perts, elected or recognized by the Government. 
They must get their practicing licenses from this 
Board, as in the case of other professions. That 
alone can protect the singing field from all kinds 
of intruders, charlatans and impostors. 

A survey of these principles and suggestions dis- 
closes the extent of the author's task. In his en- 
deavor to demonstrate how certain ideas about the 
mechanism of voice production have been entirely 
neglected or misinterpreted, and for strict ad- 
herence to the principles laid down, which differ 
considerably from the methods now taught, he must 
advocate and suggest an almost opposite form of 
vocal education from that which is now in vogue. 

That has no relation of any sort with the com- 
pletion of the culture of the voice, as far as musi- 
cianship, technic and style of singing are concerned. 
This is a task which belongs to a class of profes- 
sional people, who represent the musicians of the 
voice. These professionals coaches, accompanists, 
interpreters, etc., have the function of finishing the 
artistic education of the pupil for the stage or any 
other career. But the preliminary voice education 
of the singing students is quite another matter, to 


which more serious and solid care should be devoted, 
and in which the untaught should take no part 

For this purpose the author proposes a new form 
of voice education which he calls the "Scientific 
Culture of Voice" based, as above stated, upon the 
fundamental laws of acoustics and physiology of 
the voice, and molded on the method of singing 
of Enrico Caruso, who has been the living model 
of the natural mechanism of voice production. This 
culture must be intrusted to the specialists of the 
voice who, being well equipped with the necessary 
scientific and musical knowledge, fill the require- 
ments for competent and correct teaching. 

The contents of this book, therefore, will treat 
first of the voice purely as a physiological phenom- 
enon, from the standpoint of its natural production, 
in accordance with the principles already an- 
nounced, and then of the most effective means for 
accomplishing a radical reform in voice culture. 
This will be carried out by an entirely original 
method, based on phonetic rules molded on the 
Italian language, which places and develops the 
singing voice through the speaking voice. 



THE human voice is a physiological phenomenon 
produced by the vocal apparatus. 

Two branches of science - - Physiology and 
Acoustics govern the human voice. Physiology, 
which rules the functions of the human body, con- 
trols the mechanism of voice production; and 
Acoustics, which treats of the laws and properties 
of sound, controls the physical product of the vocal 
apparatus the sound. 

As a fundamental element of the art of singing, 
however, voice represents a higher and more com- 
plex factor than sound, as it constitutes the artistic 
medium for expressing our thoughts and feelings 
through music. Therefore, for the full exploitation 
of the phenomenon voice the support of intel- 
lectual assistance is required, and that is supplied 
by Psychology, the science of the study of intellect 
and sentiment. 

Psychology lends to singing its mental contribu- 
tions its inspiration, its emotions, its color, its 
style; all artistic features which do not belong to 
the voice in its simple form of physical sound. 

This psychological contribution constitutes the 
most precious equipment in the art of singing and 
can be defined as the Sense of Singing. The sense 



of singing stands to the physical phenomenon of 
voice as the painter's conception of life and colors 
which he carries out through his imagination and 
feelings stands to his hand and brush. 

We believe that the sense of singing is entirely 
a natural gift, which no book or teacher can confer 
upon any pupil to whom Nature has denied it. 
Education may assist in developing it, but there 
must be a substrata of certain mental qualities 
which can be cultivated to make it possible to 
achieve this fundamental factor of the art of 

Therefore, the task of illustrating the contribu- 
tion of Psychology to this art will not be part of 
our aim in developing this book. It is too im- 
portant to be treated briefly, in outline form, and 
it is of no real value in the preliminary, though 
most essential, task of teaching the mechanism of 
voice production. Students of singing, however, 
must note that psychology constitutes the very soul 
of the art of singing, and must not neglect the 
education of their minds, which comes first in the 
exploitation of every art. 

In regard to the physiology of the voice, in spite 
of all the doctrines and books written about it, there 
seems to be no clear understanding among profes- 
sionals of the laws and rules which constitute the 
foundation of the physiological voice production 
and culture. Many, in fact, confuse physiological 
functions with physical efforts, and their miscon- 
ception goes to the extent of condemning the real 
laws ruling the function of singing because they 


attribute to the term "physiological" the qualifica- 
tion of effort. 

In reality physiological, when related to a func- 
tion, is equivalent merely to normal. The mis- 
understanding on this subject is due principally to 
the fact that the greater part of the singers of our 
times in producing their voices employ a power 
which is the result of their maximum energy, and 
they gauge it as normal, while in reality it is not. 
As a matter of fact normal efficiency is produced 
by the minimum of energy. A motor car running 
at the speed of one hundred miles is not ruled by 
its normal power, its motor being under high 

The voice produced by the maximum energy of 
the vocal organs is under a strain, while the mini- 
mum of power produces its normal efficiency. This 
normal efficiency is what should be conceived as the 
physiological junction. 

The multitudinous theories about breathing, 
breathing exercises, diaphragm development, voice 
building and many other complicated suggestions 
related to the mechanism of the voice, show how 
incorrect is the knowledge of the functions of the 
vocal organs and how far these functions are 
from being performed by physiological mechanism. 
Voice production in reality is as simple and spon- 
taneous as is any other function of the human or- 
ganism. That constitutes the wonderful asset of 
Nature simplicity. 

A clear conception of the function of the vocal 
apparatus and the mechanism of voice production 


cannot be attained without, at least, an elementary 
knowledge of the anatomy of its different organs, 
and of the fundamental laws of acoustics which 
rule them. But a thorough anatomical study of 
the different organs of the vocal apparatus is not 
really necessary for the comprehension of the prin- 
ciples of voice culture. Such information may be 
necessary for teachers, but it is as unnecessary for 
the student to know the different muscles and car- 
tilages of the larynx as it is for the dancer to have 
a detailed anatomical knoweldge of the muscles of 
the legs. Too much emphasis has been placed upon 
the necessity of the study of anatomy for pupils. 
We believe that the student should know only what 
the mechanism of the voice is, and what the different 
organs are that take part in the production of this 
mechanism. The teacher should acquire a thorough 
knowledge of the vocal organs, but most essentially 
of their functions, in order to be able to determine 
whether the pupil's work is correct, according to 
physiological rules, or whether it is incorrect be- 
cause of a faulty mechanism in the voice production. 

In the next chapter an outline will be given of 
those few anatomical parts which are necessary for 
the study of the voice, omitting all unimportant and 
complicated data. 

Of the other scientific branch, concerned with the 
phenomenon of the voice acoustics it is enough 
to bear in mind a few elementary principles related 
to the fundamental laws of the sounds. 

Sounds are the physical result of bodies in vibra- 
tion. Vibrations are movements traveling in every 


direction, which reach our ears and are perceived 
in the complex form of sounds, if periodic, of equal 
duration, regular and rapid. If they are irregular 
and unequal in duration, they are perceived merely 
as noises. 

This difference is very important because it es- 
tablishes from the very roots of the physical forma- 
tion of the voice the fact that only equal vibrations 
can produce perfect sounds or tones; therefore, 
equal vibrations are the fundamental asset for a 
correct form of singing. That makes it very evident 
how strictly the laws of acoustics are connected 
with the rules of physiology in the production of 
the laryngeal sound which is the seed that generates 
the wonderful phenomenon of the human voice. 

Therefore, the correct physiological mechanism 
of voice production, by generating equal vibrations, 
establishes the basic foundation for a correct and 
natural method of singing. It is obvious then that 
the mechanism of voice production is fundamentally 
controlled by the laws of both sciences Physiology 
and Acoustics working in harmonious coopera- 



IN giving a brief survey of the anatomy of the 
vocal apparatus we will avoid as much as possible 
scientific terms, exhibiting in simple form only 
what is indispensable for singers to know about 
the physiological functions of those organs which 
represent the essential factors of voice production. 

The mechanism of the human voice consists of 
three elements : the moving power, or breathing ap- 
paratus ; the producing power, or laryngeal appara- 
tus; and the resonating power, or resonating ap- 

These three elements are organized as follows : 

1. The moving power consists of the lungs, the 
respiratory muscles, the bronchial tubes, and the 

2. The producing power, the larynx, its muscles, 
cartilages, and vocal cords. 

3. The resonating power, the pharynx, the mouth, 
and the chambers of resonance. 

The author includes among the chamber of res- 
onance all the body's cavities. 

The lungs are two bellows of spongy tissue which 
contain a large number of little cavities filled with 
air (the air we inhale) . To these cavities are joined 



numerous small tubes, called bronchial tubes, which 
run into the lungs carrying the air and becoming 
gradually larger in size and fewer in number. To- 
ward their exit from the lungs the bronchial tubes 

The Trachea 



The air in 
the lungs 

Base of 
'the I unas 


are reduced to two the large bronchiae, and finally 
to one the trachea ( Fig. 1 ) . 

In the second figure the lungs are contained in 
a cage (the chest) which is formed by the ribs 
and the intercostal muscles, attached between the 
ribs. Under the lower border of the lungs, adherent 
to the spinal column and to the lower six ribs, lies 
a large and strong muscle called the diaphragm. 
Its function, very important, though very much 
exaggerated by some improperly called physiolog- 
ical schools of singing, is a coordinate movement 
of contraction and relaxation, which, in connection 
with the movement of the other muscles of respira- 
tion, establishes the mechanism of breathing by en- 


larging and reducing the chest and lungs to their 
normal position. 

The larynx, the second element of the vocal ap- 
paratus, represents the sound box of the vocal 





organs (Fig. 3) and embraces its cartilages and 
muscles, and, most important, the two elastic bands 
called the vocal cords. 

The cartilages of the larynx, situated above the 
trachea, are the following: the cricoid and thyroid, 
the arytenoids and epiglottis (Fig. 4), and the two 
smaller cartilages (Santorini and Wrisberg) which 
are of minor importance. All of these cartilages 
are joined by ligaments and muscles, which move 
the larynx, and adapt the vocal cords to the dif- 
ferent adjustments for producing the relative 



The vocal cords (Fig. 4) are two elastic bands, 
inside of the larynx, kept in tension during their 
vibratory function by the cartilages and the mus- 
cles, so that they can be put in vibration by the 

blast of air 
pushed by the 
lungs and pro- 
duce the sound. 
The fissure be- 
tween the vocal 
cords is called 

the glottis. The 
Thyroid , -, 

cartilages vocal cords, in 
a position of 
rest, are re- 

ffyoid bone 







Vocal cords 

laxed and wide open, thus leaving a larger space 
for the passage of the air, which is called the glottis. 
In the upper part of the larynx there exists a 
very important cartilage called the epiglottis (Fig. 
5). The epiglottis is flexible and is situated be- 
tween the base of the tongue and the opening of 
the larynx, Its function is doubly important, since 




it acts as a protective lid to the glottis, by closing 
the larynx in swallowing, so that food and drink 
may pass over it without exposing the breathing 
apparatus to any danger; and in singing it lends 

free passage to the 
sounds, from the vo- 
cal cords to the 
mouth and chambers 
of r e s o n a n c e, by 
holding itself in an 
erect position, so as 
to leave the larynx 
wide open. The epi- 
glottis is attached to 
the base of the 
tongue and their re- 
lationship is very im- 
portant, as together they play one of the most 
essential roles in the mechanism of voice produc- 
tion, to which, unfortunately, not enough considera- 
tion has thus far been given. 

The third element, the resonating power, consists 
of the pharynx, the mouth, and the chambers of 

The pharynx (Fig. 6) extends from the opening 
of the larynx to the opening of the posterior nasal 
cavities, and includes also the uvula, which repre- 
sents the boundary between the pharynx and the 
mouth. The upper part of the pharynx is called 
the nasopharynx and is an important factor for the 
resonance of the voice. The uvula is attached to 
the soft palate and is prominent in the mechanism 

Voca] cords 

Vocal cords 



of the voice, because it has the faculty of controlling 

the opening and the closing of the posterior nasal 

fossae. By this func- 

tion the nasal reso- 

nance can be im- 

improved or checked. 
The mouth (Fig. 

7) , the very important 

organ of voice pro- 

duction, is the cavity 

which contains the 

tongue the invalu- 

able factor in speak- 

ing and singing the palate, and the lips. Above 

the palate are the chambers of resonance, which 

consist of the so-called masque, made up of all the 

cavities, frontal sinuses, antrum, etc., of the upper 

maxillary and 
frontal bones. 

All of these organs 
above described are 
parts of one single 


Vocal cords 


Upper tip 

apparatus, which is 

Lower lip 


tube going from the 
mouth to the lungs, 
called the vocal ap- 
paratus. This ap- 
paratus has the mission of producing and carrying 
the breath from the lungs to the vocal cords, which 
puts them into vibration and produces the sounds. 
From the vocal cords the sounds are carried, by 


the breath, to the mouth, where they are trans- 
formed into voiee, and to the resonance chambers, 
where they get their full resonance. 

The resonating power, however, is not repre~ 
sented by the resonance chambers alone, but by 
all the cavities of the entire body, according to the 
author's view, which will be more fully discussed 
in a later chapter devoted to resonance. 

In order to enable the reader to obtain a full 
view of the entire vocal apparatus, the author has 
condensed in the accompanying illustration (Fig. 
8) all the organs that take part in the formation 
of the voice. The most important of them are 
specially indicated. 

The illustration is a transverse section of the 
vocal apparatus. Familiarity with it is of great 
help in the study of the mechanism of voice produc- 
tion. Therefore we recommend to the reader a 
thorough examination of it, starting from the bot- 
tom and working up. Held by the convexity of 
the diaphragm are the lungs. From them originate 
the small bronchial tubes, which gradually become 
the two large bronchial tubes which, in their exit 
from the lungs, converge into the trachea. At the 
top of the trachea is the larynx, which contains the 
vocal cords. At the opening of the larynx stands 
the epiglottis, which is attached to the base of the 
tongue. Then follows the pharynx, the uvula, the 
mouth, the palate, and the resonance chambers. 

The task of demonstrating the important func- 
tions of these organs belongs to physiology, which, 
by means of its. natural rules, can give the very 

Frontal sinuses 

Resonance? chambers 


Vocal cords 



Large bronchial tubes 

Small bronchial tubes 




correct exhibition of the mechanism of the voice. 
This preliminary knowledge of the vocal apparatus 
and of the fundamental laws of acoustics prepares 
the ground for the development of our principles, 
in reference to voice production, the aim of which 
is centered, according to our conception, on closely 
following the dictates of nature. 



VOICE is speech, and is produced by the mouth, 
not by the vocal cords. The vocal cords produce 
only sounds, which are transformed into vowels and 
consonants by a phonetic process taking place in 
the mouth, and giving origin to the voice. 

It is a general belief that voice is produced by 
the vibrations of the vocal cords. "A column of 
air, going from the lungs through the trachea to 
the larynx, strikes and puts in vibration two liga- 
ments, and produces a sound. The ligaments are 
the vocal cords, and the sound, produced by the 
vibrations, is the voice." This is the definition 
given, in more or less similar form, by the majority 
of writers on voice. 

The author believes that a moment's thought on 
the subject will show that this definition is not 
correct, as there is a marked difference between 
simple sounds, as produced by the vocal cords, and 
the real phenomenon of Voice. 

Going back to the origin of the word Voice, in 
its root it means speech (voc, in old Sanscrit, "to 
say": Vox, in Latin, "to speak") ; and has been 
associated, since its origin, with the qualification 
of a sound uttered by the mouth in the form of 
speech or song. The real essence, therefore, of the 


physical product of the vocal apparatus the voice 
as speech was established since the birth of civiliza- 
tion by means of the old classic languages. 

Scientifically sound is the physical product of 
equal vibrations given by any vibratory matter. 
When the vibrations are produced by the vocal 
cords they give origin to the laryngeal sound, 
musically called tone. 

Voice is a more complex phenomenon, in the 
formation of which the sound is essential, but is 
not the only factor, as for the formation of the 
phonetic elements of the voice the vowels and con- 
sonants the cooperation of other organs in addi- 
tion to the larynx are required. 

As a physical phenomenon the vibrations of the 
vocal cords are nothing exceptional, as they can 
be produced by any sounding body a musical in- 
strument as well as the human instrument, the 
larynx, which in its structure is nothing but a 
musical box combining the properties of both a 
v/ind and string instrument. If two elastic strings 
which are kept in the same tension as the vocal 
cords are struck by a blast of air similar to that 
which can put the vocal bands in vibration, they 
produce a sound physically similar to that of the 
vocal cords, but much different from that which 
characterizes the human voice. This shows that the 
vocal cords alone produce sound, not voice. 

There is no physical difference between a laryn- 
geal sound and a violin sound ; but there is a decided 
difference between the violin sound and the human 
voice in its real characteristics, as the former has 


no power to produce phonetic elements words. 
This demonstrates that sounds do not possess the 
physiological properties required for making voice. 

Therefore the laryngeal sound and the human 
voice are not exactly the same thing, and although 
sound is the germ from which voice develops, it is 
not the voice. It stands to the voice as the seed 
to the plant, which is an outgrowth of the seed but 
is no longer the seed itself. 

This implies that the role played by the vocal cords 
in the formation of voice is much overestimated. 
They are the leading factor in as far as the pro- 
duction of the sounds is concerned; but the forma- 
tion of the voice is caused by the phonetic apparatus 
the mouth. The resonance chambers complete 
this process of evolution by adding to the voice their 
resonating power, with all the characteristics at- 
tached to it volume, quality, and loudness. 

The voice, therefore, in its complete form, as 
produced by the mouth, is much bigger, more res- 
onant, and of better quality than the original 
sound from which it takes its origin. This estab- 
lishes a marked difference between the two products 
of the two different phases of voice formation 
the laryngeal, which creates the sound and the 
phonetic, which creates the voice. 

If, however, the principle that the vocal cords 
produce only sounds and not voice is demonstrated, 
it consequently becomes evident how erroneous it 
is to attribute to them a function which they do not 
perform, at least entirely. The vocal cords in fact 
are apt to produce perfect tones, though always 


throaty and rather weak if hindered from getting 
the full resonance of the resonance chambers; but 
it is not in their power to produce any kind of 
voice, composed of phonetic elements, vowels and 
consonants, without the full cooperation of the 
mouth the real center of the voice. 

John Hullah, professor of Vocal Music, in 
Queen's College, London, said: "There is no sing- 
ing without saying: that which is sung must also 
be said." This statement the result of a logical 
intuition has great value, regardless of the fact 
that it is not based on any scientific principle. 

The following conclusions, which are of great 
importance, follow the principle of "that which is 
sung must be said": 

1. Singing, depending on saying, must rely on 
voice, or words, and not on sounds. 

2. The decided difference between sounds and 
words brings about the result that the former, being 
produced by the vocal cords, are sung in the larynx ; 
and the latter, being composed of vowels and con- 
sonants, produced by the mouth, must be sung by 
the mouth. This establishes, from the beginning, 
the physiological rule that the voice must be placed 
in the mouth. 

3. Voice being produced by words, the more per- 
fect their formation, the more perfect is the re- 
sulting singing voice. It is evident, then, that the 
singing voice depends entirely on the speaking 
voice, which establishes the important rule that for 
training the singing voice correctly it is essential, 
to train first, the speaking voice. 


This fact upholds the irrefutable axiom that any 
method of singing based on tone and not on voice 
production, in other words, based on laryngeal 
production of sounds, is to be condemned, as it 
tends to the abolishment of the natural beauty of 
the full voice for the purpose of developing only 
beautiful sounds, like the sounds of any musical 
instrument. In such case the tones, being placed 
in the larynx, are only slightly reinforced by the 
laryngeal resonance, because they do not expand 
enough to reach the masque. 

A beautiful voice, in truth, must be the result 
of a simultaneous collaboration of the different or- 
gans which constitute the vocal apparatus the 
moving, the producing, and the resonating power 
and therefore cannot be confined to a laryngeal 
struggle between the exaggerated efficiency of the 
moving power (breath) and the strain of the pro- 
ducing power (vocal cords). 

Only by the complete cooperative and harmoni- 
ous work of these three powers is it possible to 
obtain the desired result of producing a perfect 
mechanism of singing, ruled by natural laws. 

Great singers' voices, especially natural voices, 
have always been associated with the belief that 
something rare exists in the anatomical structure 
of their vocal apparatus exceptional vocal cords, 
for example, different from those of the generality. 

The author has had the opportunity (through 
his professional connection with one of the most 
prominent operatic institutions in the world) of 
examining and studying the vocal organs of almost 


all the greatest singers of the present day. In the 
majority of them the vocal cords did not present 
any striking characteristics which could establish a 
marked difference when compared with the vocal 
cords of people not gifted with singing voices. On 
the contrary, among those singers whom he had the 
opportunity of observing, were some with rather 
deficient vocal organs, and often affected with 
chronic congestion of the vocal cords, which, how- 
ever, did not interfere with their singing. In fact, 
in a few cases the voices were exceptionally good; 
Caruso was a typical example of this class. 

On the other hand, the author has seen vocal 
cords of exceptional character in persons who had 
not the slightest notion that they could sing and 
develop beautiful voices. The belief, therefore, 
that the vocal cords of singers are responsible for 
the power and the beauty of their voices, and are the 
source of their exceptional singing, is as false as 
it is popular. 

In reference to our conception of the mouth as 
the physiological center of the voice, illustrated in 
this chapter, it may be argued that this principle 
can be accepted only in regard to the speaking 
voice, but does not apply to the singing voice. Ac- 
cording to our idea, however, speaking and singing 
are similar actions ; therefore there is no fundamen- 
tal difference between the speaking and the singing 
voice. The reader, in the fifth and the following 
principles will find this subject illustrated at length, 
with the refutation of all objections that may arise. 



1. THE full extension of the natural range of the 
voice is produced only by using the minimum ten- 
sion of the vocal cords and the minimum breath 
required for each tone. This establishes a correct 
mechanism of voice production. 

2. The laryngeal sounds must be transmitted to 
the mouth free of any interference; freedom is the 
fundamental pillar of voice production. 

When the mechanism of voice production enters 
into action, the breathing apparatus, by means of 
its respiratory muscles, pushes the air toward the 
vocal cords and puts them in vibration. The vocal 
cords, which by a coordinate function of the muscles 
and cartilages of the larynx come together, because 
of their elasticity adapt themselves to an indefinite 
number of adjustments and give origin to a series 
of different tones which constitute the range of the 

The embryonic sound, resulting from the vibra- 
tions given by the minimum of tension of the vocal 
cords, put in vibration by the minimum of breath, 
constitutes the lowest tone of the natural range 
of the voice as produced by a correct mechanism. 



This tone is very feeble and is of no practical use 
in singing, but serves to great advantage in the 
mechanism of voice production, as it establishes the 
deepest point of support for the consecutive tones 
of the range, like the cornerstone in the foundation 
of a building. 

By comparing the upbuild of the natural range 
of the voice with the construction of a house, we 
see a great similarity in the structure of both, which 
tends to show how important is the low section of 
the vocal range in the production of the voice. 

The foundation of a building is the underground 
section which readily escapes observation; yet it 
is as important as the section above ground, if not 
more so, since it constitutes the real support of the 
structure, and the greater its depth, the higher the 

In the upbuild of the voice there is a series of 
tones which are of the lowest pitch, and of limited 
sounding power ; they nevertheless form the corner- 
stone in the formation of the voice. These tones 
which carry the low part of the compass of the 
voice to its physiological limit can be formed only 
by the minimum of breath and the minimum of 
tension of the vocal cords; thus they create a 
natural and easy mechanism of voice production by 
establishing a preliminary adjustment of the vocal 
cords which will rule throughout the entire range 
of the voice. 

When these preliminary low and feeble sounds 
are gradually succeeded by a series of tones higher 
in pitch and louder, the voice production has the 


advantage of finding itself placed on a correct basis 
which will remain throughout unless the vocal 
organs become affected by artificial influences capa- 
ble of changing their original adjustments. 

With this mechanism the voice acquires a larger 
range, because according to the laws of acoustics 
the larger the size of the instrument, the less air is 
used in producing sounds, and the lower is the pitch 
of the resulting tone. By using little breath, there- 
fore; and by keeping the vocal organs in complete 
relaxation, thereby enlarging the vocal instrument 
to the utmost, a range of lower extension is created. 
This is the lowest physiological limit of the natural 
range of the voice. 

Singers who carelessly cultivate the habit of 
forcing their tone production from the beginning 
of their training acquire a mechanism which 
shortens the range of their voices, besides depriv- 
ing them of the invaluable support of the lower 
part of their natural range, which is the solid foun- 
dation in the upbuild of the singing voice. Their 
voices, consequently, have no more resistance than 
houses built on sand. 

The natural range of the voice, therefore, con- 
stitutes a number of progressive sounds, extend- 
ing from the lowest to the highest pitch of the 
voice, when produced by a correct vocal mechanism. 
To guarantee these sounds a correct formation, 
it is imperative that the tension of the vocal cords 
during their various adjustments, and the amount 
of breath required for producing them, work in 
harmonious accord. By complying with these rules 


the resulting mechanism of voice production is con- 
trolled by the minimum tension of the vocal cords 
and the minimum breath released by the lungs. 

It is also obvious that the vocal cords, in increas- 
ing their tension and shortening their length for 
producing higher pitches, come under a physiolog- 
ical control which guarantees that their adjust- 
ments are made with almost unnoticeably increased 
power, thus avoiding forced and sharp singing. 
Therefore, to produce correct voice mechanism, 
both the moving and producing power must be gov- 
erned in their cooperative work by the fundamental 
law the minimum of energy for the maximum of 
efficiency, since voices based on this law are free 
from effort, and nearest to perfection. 

Another important factor in voice production is 
the necessity for the tones to reach the mouth un- 
hampered, where they are to be transformed into 
full voice. The laryngeal sounds must travel freely 
through the larynx and pharynx with their original 
number of vibrations, so that they may get the 
advantage of a resonance proportional to the entire 
volume of their vibrations. 

This is of prime importance, for if the laryngeal 
vibrations are hindered from freely taking on the 
resonating power, they produce a voice of poor 
quality, thin in volume and feeble. 

The causes for this interference in the delivery 
of the voice, though most serious, have never been 
given due importance. The contraction of the 
larynx and pharynx, the stiffening of the tongue 


and palate, and foremost the bending of the epi- 
glottis over the opening of the larynx are the afore- 
mentioned causes which hinder the vibrations from 
coming forward. 

As a result of these interferences, the section of 
the vocal apparatus extending from the trachea to 
the lips is reduced in size, becoming narrower and 
causing the most appalling defect in voice produc- 

According to the rules of acoustics as applied 
to resonating tubes, the pitch of the tone becomes 
higher as the size of the tube is reduced in width. 
Therefore in the case of the vocal apparatus the 
most perfect sounding tube because of its power 
of elasticity its exaggerated contraction brings 
about an alteration in the pitch of the tone. The 
elastic property of the vocal apparatus which en- 
ables it to establish a perfect control of its dimen- 
sions should be utilized in a normal way during the 
adjustments of the vocal organs in producing the 
different tones of the range, avoiding any exag- 
geration in the rhythm of the vocal mechanism. 
As a matter of fact the adaptation of the vocal 
apparatus should be so gradual as to be almost in- 
voluntary on the part of the singer. The great 
prima donna, Emmy Destinn, questioned by the 
author years ago about her sensations while singing, 
said: "When I sing I feel as if I have no throat." 
This statement proclaims the most wonderful and 
instructive truth about voice production. 

An easy mechanism of voice production enables 
the larynx to produce free and full tones without 


strain, and allows it to rely on the constant coopera- 
tive assistance of the moving power which can sup- 
ply any amount of breath necessary for producing 
and carrying the sounding waves to the resonating 

Lowering the epiglottis over the opening of the 
larynx, however, and stiffening and contracting the 
tongue and palate, which bring about a partial 
obstruction of the opening of the pharynx, con- 
stitute such marked obstacles to the freedom of the 
tone that they must not be overlooked. 

Singing teachers and experts on voice have 
neglected to illustrate the correct functioning of 
these organs in voice production, due perhaps to 
the fact that through a misconception of the vocal 
mechanism the breathing apparatus and vocal cords 
have almost monopolized their entire attention, 
much to the detriment of voice culture. 

Researches and publications dealing with the 
breath and the function of the vocal cords are 
countless; yet in spite of all the elaborated discus- 
sions and suggestions for methods of breathing, 
diaphragm development, and tone production, bad 
singing prevails at present more than in any other 
epoch. It now becomes imperative to establish the 
exact status of the roles played by these organs in 
the mechanism of the voice, so that they may be 
placed at their proper valuation in voice culture. 

The epiglottis is a flexible cartilage which, by 
shutting the opening of the larynx, protects the 
vocal organs from such foreign bodies as food, or 
drink, which would otherwise easily be carried down 



into the breathing apparatus during the inspira- 
tion. In the process of voice production it has 
the important function of keeping the laryngeal 
cavity open for the free passage of the sounds on 
their way from the vocal cords to the mouth. 

Picturing the epiglottis as a door for the larynx, 
its sole function is to remain open during the res- 
piratory and vocal process, and to close during the 
passage of food and drink, or, in other words, dur- 
ing the act of swallowing. 

For our purpose, however, it is important to 
illustrate its function only in relation to the voice 
mechanism, in which its position, whether erect or 
inclined toward the opening of the larynx, estab- 
lishes a difference of result in the voice produced 
which is worthy of the most careful consideration. 

When the epiglottis stands erect (Fig. 9), or 
bends toward the larynx (Fig. 10), being attached 
to the base of the 
tongue, it is closely 
connected with all its 
movements, and their 
relationship, in voice 
production, of decisive 
consequence. In swal- 
lowing, the epiglottis 
must bend toward the 
larynx, thus closing its 

opening and preventing food from getting into the 
breathing apparatus. The tongue helps this move- 
ment by contracting its base and pushing the epi- 
glottis backward and downward. When the act of 



the Larynx 

-Vocal cords 


swallowing is over, both organs resume their former 
position, the epiglottis standing erect, and the 
tongue lying relaxed on the floor of the mouth 
(Fig. 10). This position is the natural one for 
singing; but things are merely reversed by a de- 
fective voice production, which substitutes the 

mechanism of swallow- 
ing for that of singing. 
This erroneous func- 
tion cannot be the 
-Tongue physiological one, as it 
is evident that in order 
to have the full number 
''ocai cords of vibrations carried to 

FIG. 10. THE EPIGLOTTIS TURNED the resonating" power a 
DOWN P ,1 

large opening of the 
throat possibly the largest must be formed. 

The interference of these two organs is so com- 
monplace that very few singers escape its influence. 
In most cases the tongue the very worst enemy of 
singers is actually the responsible factor, because 
by its contraction it exerts such pressure on the 
epiglottis that the latter is forced down toward the 
opening of the larynx. Therefore the narrow space 
existing between the epiglottis and the pharynx 
becomes still narrower, thus choking and prevent- 
ing a large number of vibrations from reaching the 
resonance chambers. This condition starts the 
original disorder, which brings about the disequilib- 
rium in the mechanism of voice production. 

It seems that an instinctive influence the result 
of a nervous reaction or misinterpretation of the 


mechanism of voice production prompts singers 
to barricade the back of their mouth when they 
begin to sing. They start by contracting their 
laryngeal organs as if in self-defense against an 
imaginary enemy the sound holding also all 
parts of their body in a tense and rigid position. 

The vocal cords, thus reduced in size by the con- 
traction of the larynx, produce forced sounds which 
are greatly hampered from reaching the chambers 
of resonance by the loAvering of the epiglottis, and 
by the contraction of the base of the tongue. Thus, 
most of the sounding waves remain confined to the 
larynx alone for their resonance. This implies first 
that the voice is centered out of its natural focus, 
the mouth, and is therefore misplaced ; also that the 
vibrations are prevented from getting their natural 
expansion and from reaching the resonance cham- 

After this disorder takes place, it consequently 
follows that the pressure of the breathing appara- 
tus, which acts under the same nervous influence 
and erroneous conception as the mechanism of sing- 
ing, becomes more powerful. Then the vocal strug- 
gle commences. 

The larynx, reacting to the violent blast of 
breath, increases its tension, and produces a voice 
decidedly sharp and thin. The singer, worried 
about his deficient vocal results, tries to improve 
them by increasing the breath. It is like adding 
more fuel to a fire that is already smothered by too 
much of it. The more breath the singer adds, the 
tighter the vocal organs become ; the more his voice 


fails to show results, the more convinced he becomes 
that he is not giving enough breath. Thus a vicious 
circle is established. 

Then all the resources of elaborated methods of 
breathing and diaphragm support, and the most 
strenuous laryngeal adjustments are put into 
action. The lungs become a blowing machine, and 
the vocal cords, under the violent blast of air, hardly 
succeed in controlling the rhythm of their vibra- 
tions. The congestion of the singer's face bears 
evidence of the painful efforts and the struggle he 
is making. The muscles, blood-vessels, and nerves 
of his neck stand out in ugly prominence, making 
the performance more painful. As a climax to 
these ineffectual efforts, the big and anticipated 
effect bursts out and is usually embodied in a 
strangled whistle very similar to that of a rusty 
locomotive. Our Latin ancestors would say: "Par- 
turiunt montes ridiculus mus nascitur!" ("Moun- 
tains burst and a ridiculous mouse is born.") 

This is the average spectacle which audiences are 
called upon to witness in the singing of to-day, 
when, because of these false methods, voices fail 
by the hundreds, and singers whose natural gifts 
would entitle them to a long and glorious career 
are compelled to abandon singing after a few years 
of painful struggle and devote themselves, in most 
cases, to the profession of teaching. 

Yet to say that correct singing, capable of carry- 
ing out beautifully all human sentiments in spon- 
taneous form, is a very simple function, is to state 
a physiological truth. It is certain that if nature 


were left alone to govern the mechanism of voice 
by her physiological rules, without the profane 
interference of incongruous theories and methods, 
a natural form of singing based on scientific truths 
would now exist, and would be the real guarantee 
for correct voice culture. Students must remember 
that every error at the beginning of their training 
becomes a permanent habit in the future singing. 

When the tone, by its complete freedom, suc- 
ceeds in getting into the domain of the resonating 
power, another important factor completes its full 
formation. All of its characteristics volume, 
quality, loudness, etc. which are connected with 
the property of resonance, lend to the resulting 
voice their enriching power. We will treat this 
great advantage later, in a special chapter, devoted 
to resonance and its most important contributions 
to voice production. 

An original view also about the rule played by 
the breath in voice culture, which is a conception 
almost entirely in opposition to most theories about 
the mission of the breath in singing, will be treated 
at length in the following chapter. 

It must be stated, however, that the freedom of 
the tone represents the fundamental pillar on which 
the correct mechanism of voice production is built. 



BREATH is an indispensable factor in voice pro- 
duction, but it is not the essential power which 
develops the voice as it is taught to-day. On the 
contrary, the function of singing develops the 
breathing apparatus and its power, just as any 
physiological function develops the organ from 
which it takes origin. Therefore, singing develops 
breathing, not breathing, singing. 

The suggestion that any one who wants to learn 
piano playing, dancing, skating, fencing or any 
other sport should first undergo special training 
for the development of his fingers, arms or legs 
would undoubtedly seem preposterous. The same 
false principle, nevertheless, when related to the 
art of singing, does not give rise to any objection. 
On the contrary, the artificial training of the 
breathing apparatus for the purpose of learning 
to sing is such a commonplace practice at the pres- 
ent time in the teaching field" that all kinds of 
physical exercises for developing the muscles of 
respiration and the chest are urged in most books 
on voice. It would rather seem that the singing 
students were being prepared for an athletic career. 

The author, much interested in the teaching 
methods prevailing nowadays has frequently ques- 


tioned beginners regarding the kind of vocal exer- 
cises they were taught in their preliminary work, 
and has often been informed that their training was 
confined principally to breathing maneuvers for 
the development of the diaphragm and breathing 
apparatus. In one instance the student, a young 
man of twenty-five years, told that his teacher was 
making him sing scales for an hour a day, saying: 
"he, he, he/' and that peculiar exercise had been 
indulged in for nine months under the supervision 
of this well-known teacher in New York for the 
sole purpose of strengthening the diaphragm, so 
that the pupil could put his breathing apparatus 
in form for further voice training. 

This is by no means the strangest method advo- 
cated by singing teachers. From another pupil we 
have learned of the "umbrella method/' which con- 
sists in opening the umbrella for the expansion of 
the chest and closing it during the inspiration. 
Enrico Caruso, while commenting on these methods, 
told the writer of a teacher who had his pupils lie 
flat on the floor and breathe while he was piling a 
specific number of bricks on their chest. By in- 
creasing their number gradually, thus putting a 
severe test on the resistance of the pupil's chest, 
the teacher would measure the progress made each 

It seems ludicrous that grotesque performances 
of this kind are still going on in the studios of 
many teachers in our days of progress and evolu- 
tion when science has revolutionized our life with 
the most astonishing discoveries. 


Independently, however, of these considerations, 
the fact that breathing is a physiological function 
brings this subject into the field of science, which 
alone can establish well-defined rules of physiology 
in reference to the act of singing. The rules of 
physiology and no others must be in charge of the 
function of breathing during the process of voice 

We remember having read this invaluable state- 
ment in a book on singing: "He sings best who 
attains the best results with the least expenditure 
of energy." It could be advantageously completed 
by adding: "He sings the longest who forces his 
voice the least." 

Breath in voice production is unquestionably a 
most important factor; but its importance must 
be properly appraised and considered more in the 
light of breath distribution for attaining an artistic 
style of singing, than in that of force. The 
principal error of the many voice experts and 
teachers is that they totally disregard, when it 
conies to voice production, the fundamental law of 
physiology that governs all human functions: "the 
minimum of energy for the maximum of effi- 

The amount of energy developed by a human 
organ in order to produce a certain action consti- 
tutes what is called a physiological function. This 
amount should be the minimum the organ can pro- 
duce, and the result should be the maximum of effi- 
ciency as related to the energy employed. This 
balanced relationship between power and efficiency 


constitutes the normal function of an active organ, 
and establishes the correct mechanism of every 
organic function. 

Applying this principle to the physiological 
mechanism of breathing in voice production, it is 
evident that the minimum of breath which is capa- 
ble of putting in vibration the vocal cords and gen- 
erating sufficient sound vibrations for producing 
the different tones of the vocal range, constitutes 
the normal amount required for the correct func- 
tion of singing. 

This establishes the fundamental relationship 
between the moving power the breath, and the 
producing power the larynx. 

From this principle we derive the very important 
deduction that only the normal breath has the 
physiological property of producing correct tones; 
in other words, scientifically, only the normal 
breath can give the exact number of vibrations 
necessary to produce a tone in its exact pitch, and 
in its normal volume, loudness, and quality. A 
surplus of breath, by increasing the number of 
vibrations of the tone, alters the pitch and the afore- 
mentioned dimensions volume, quality, and loud- 

Another fact that has been discarded in general 
is the evident danger of exposing the voice to physi- 
cal deterioration by using the breath under high 
pressure, for, were it recognized, its employment 
would be radically modified. 

No real advantage, under any circumstances, can 
result from use of the voice under high pressure, 


just as no advantage can accrue to a fencer from 
using his arm under a terrific strain. 

In every wind instrument, oboe, clarinet, flute, 
etc., the expert player employs an amount of breath 
rather small compared with that of the inexperi- 
enced player; and the tone of the instrument is 
much larger and more melodious in the former case 
than in the latter. The instrument itself, if played 
always under high pressure, deteriorates easily and 
lasts but a few years ; after some time of strenuous 
use no sound can be gotten out of it unless a tre- 
mendous amount of breath is spent. The same 
happens with pianos after years of hard pounding. 

In the vocal apparatus these conditions are more 
manifest. In fact, by blowing forcibly into an 
ordinary wooden or metal instrument its walls, 
being rigid, do not react; while in the vocal instru- 
ment the muscles and cartilages of the throat, and 
above all the vocal cords can be very much affected 
by the violent stroke of the blast of air. The throat 
reacting becomes very tense, and the vocal cords 
under the exaggerated pressure cannot produce 
their vibrations normally, since their movements are 
not coordinate, equal and balanced, for lack of 
proper control. 

When the vibrations of the vocal cords are not 
equal, synchronous and balanced, they cannot, 
according to the laws of acoustics, produce perfect 
tones, because this condition establishes the decisive 
difference between tone and noise. The voice, 
therefore, produced under high pressure, ap- 
proaches in quality rather a noisy sound than a dis- 


tinct tone and loses all the characteristics attached 
to its natural beauty, besides being out of the scien- 
tifically correct pitch. The result is that the efforts 
and large expenditure of energy used by singers 
serve the sole purpose of deforming and wasting 
what nature provided in a correct form the 
precious gift of a beautiful voice. 

From this fundamental fault many others of 
psychological nature originate, all of which com- 
bine to make of the most spontaneous and easy act 
of singing a very difficult and dangerous function. 
The fatal consequences are the deformity and the 
deterioration of the vocal organs, which are des- 
tined to wear out more easily than any wind instru- 

The fact that many singers force their voices with 
the idea of getting better results invites this ques- 
tion: Do they realize that they are forcing? Do 
they foresee the disastrous consequences which they 
are inviting by doing so? 

Usually not. As a matter of fact any remark 
made to them to the effect that they are abusing 
their vocal organs is always emphatically denied; 
they assure you that they are not using any force ; 
that their singing is the easiest and most spon- 
taneous action. Meanwhile they are giving full 
evidence that they have not voice enough left for 
making this explanation convincing a peculiar 
and unfortunate psychology! An intoxicated 
person, while trying to stand on his feet, always 
persists in saying, "Do you think I am drunk?" 

Thus we find this class of singers always ready 


to make an emphatic show of the expansion of their 
chests, and to parade around asking people to feel 
with their own hands the resistance of their dia- 
phragm ; and while their strenuous singing is a real 
effort they do not hesitate to say that it comes to 
them most naturally. 

These singers see only the spring of their careers 
and vanish before the summer. 

What is responsible for this absence of self -judg- 

A little thought brings about this conclusion. 
The mechanism of voice production which these 
singers, by discarding natural laws, employ under 
high pressure of breath, establishes from the very 
outset of their voice education a false background 
of rules and theories on which their psychological 
conception of singing is formed. Adding to this 
the faulty training which gradually deteriorates 
their vocal organs by exercises of an injurious 
nature, it is inevitable that the wrong foundation 
becomes the natural standard of voice production 
for these students who are to be the future singers. 

On the other hand, the fact that they have never 
been accustomed to a normal production of tones 
makes them unaware of the difference between their 
voice production and the correct one. 

Therefore, they can never see their own defects, 
just as the ragtime player, while he bangs heavily 
on the piano, cannot see the difference between his 
playing and the delicate touch of a refined inter- 
preter of Chopin. 


The real responsibility for the false conception 
of the important part breath control plays in the 
production of the voice rests entirely with the in- 
competent teachers of to-day, whose methods are 
based on erroneous principles. 

The absurd and unnatural use of the breathing 
apparatus, and especially the magic power centered 
on the diaphragm, constitute the true cause of so 
much bad singing nowadays. The few celebrities 
of the singing stage we possess offer us the best 
evidence against these erroneous methods. 

If it were true that the power of breath and the 
strength of the diaphragm play such an important 
part in the mechanism of voice production, what 
would happen to those who are not endowed with 
such physical resources of large proportions? It 
would seem that those of small stature and of deli- 
cate structure would be deprived of great vocal 

Bonci, for instance, is one of our greatest and 
most correct singers, whose breath has never failed 
to assist him in his artistic delivery; yet everybody 
knows that Bonci is not built like an athlete. 

It is a strange coincidence that many coloratura 
sopranos and lyric tenors who sing mostly in the 
upper tones of the range and who, according to 
the theories in vogue, should require a huge amount 
of breath and terrific strength of the diaphragm for 
the support of their sustained tones, happen to be 
rather undeveloped physically and oftentimes have 
not even the power of breath resistance given to 


the average person. We can cite the case of a 
world-famous coloratura soprano, very frail and 
delicate, who startled the musical world with an 
instantaneous success, and whose breath never 
failed her in the most difficult executions of her 
coloratura variations. On the other hand, we could 
name a large number of strongly developed singers, 
with large chest expansion, whose voices are pain- 
fully poor and insufficient. Taking into considera- 
tion their physical appearance, their developed 
lungs, muscles of respiration and all other organs 
related to the vocal apparatus, these athletic speci- 
mens could offer no excuse for the insufficiency of 
their voice if it were true that voice production 
depends so much on the strength of breath. 

It is evidently untrue that with the aid of physi- 
cal equipment capable of producing a large amount 
of breath, or with a particularly well-developed 
diaphragm a singer is endowed with the indispens- 
able assets for good voice production. This false 
theory, which unfortunately is almost universal 
to-day, can hardly be defied without offending the 
traditional feelings of the faithful believer in the 
diaphragm's almighty power! Furthermore, this 
erroneous principle has so influenced the musical 
world that even those outside the singing field, such 
as some music critics and dilettanti, have set the 
power of breath and the strength of the diaphragm 
as a standard in appraising the value of an operatic 
or concert singer. "Short of breath," "diaphragm 
support," "strength of breath" are the usual epi- 


thets employed in the discussion of artists and their 
singing merits. 

Even the great Caruso has not escaped the appli- 
cation of this false standard of judgment; he whose 
phenomenally sustained tones were not the result 
of a strenuous breath power but of a marvelously 
balanced distribution of it which enabled him to 
indulge in his most striking effects. 

The greatest singers of the past knew very little 
indeed about the diaphragm and the mechanism of 
voice production in general; still their names re- 
main revered in the memories of music lovers. I 
believe that most of our best contemporary singers 
have only the vaguest notion of the physical 
mechanism of the voice, but they are not to be 
reproached as long as their singing conforms with 
natural laws. 

The following incident has been related to us by 
a prominent American soprano. The famous 
Adelina Patti was visiting the studio of a world- 
renowned singer and teacher in Paris to hear some 
of his pupils. After one of the students, who had 
been cautioned by the professor as to the use of his 
diaphragm, had finished singing, Patti turned to 
the teacher and very candidly inquired, "Well, 
what is that diaphragm? I never heard of it during 
my career." This is one of the most striking re- 
marks made by an indisputable authority in con- 
firmation of our theory. 

In the fields of Italy the author has heard the 
peasants while they work at picking olives or 


grapes from the ground sing in a chorus their 
popular folk songs, as is their custom. Among 
them he could detect some soprano voices reaching 
such high pitch that it was almost inconceivable to 
imagine that human voices could attain such alti- 
tudes. Yet these natural singers were kneeling on 
the ground in a cramped position, arid, judging 
from the beauty and the ease of their voices, won- 
derful and blessed seemed the absence of theories 
and methods about the use of the diaphragm in 
singing. Their voice production was physio- 
logically as perfect as it was unconscious, and I am 
sure that the diaphragm-apostles of the teaching 
fraternity of to-day would feel doubtful about their 
theories had they the opportunity to hear them. 

Here, in New York, a little boy eleven years of 
age, born of poor parents, was discovered by an 
American physician, who, while passing through 
one of the streets of the lower East side, was 
attracted by a beautiful voice coming from one of 
the crowded tenements. The physician made in- 
quiries about the possessor of the beautiful voice 
and was greatly astounded when he was presented 
to a tiny, underdeveloped lad. The same evening 
the child was presented to the writer, who, looking 
at the tiny singer, concluded that the matter of his 
voice had been exaggerated by the enthusiastic dis- 
coverer. He asked the child what he could sing. 
"Pagliacci, Martha, Rigoletto," was the unexpected 
answer. Who taught you to sing?" "Caruso . . . 
on the phonograph," he answered. And the child, 
taking the floor like an experienced tenor, sang 


one after another of the most difficult arias from the 
above-mentioned operas, with a big resonant voice, 
in which the natural sentiment and pathos were not 
secondary to the dramatic force and expression 
suggested to the child by the powerful singing of 
his teacher Caruso. 

During the wonderful and touching performance 
of this little singer one could not refrain from a 
sense of pity for those mighty disciples of a trained 
diaphragm, who, while trying in vain to produce 
perhaps one-half the amount of voice of that minia- 
ture tenor, look almost ready to explode like rubber 

What then, is this concern about the breath? 
Why the need of such long training for the artifi- 
cial development of the diaphragm? 

Breathing is a natural function, independent 
even of our own will. We cannot prevent breath- 
ing. Let nature, then, take care of this function; 
she will provide for it when necessity presents it- 
self. Let nature suggest or rather carry out her 
own mechanism of breathing, and let us not attempt 
to interfere with it and deform it. 

We breathe all the time, whether awake, asleep 
or unconscious. Our very life is dependent on this 
providential function and we have no reason to 
think of it. Why then should we devote so much 
thought to it when singing? 

Of course we must discriminate between force 
of breath and skill of distribution. If more atten- 
tion and effort were given to the latter a proper 
conception of the mechanism of singing would be 


obtained. The singer who after a few tones is com- 
pelled to take another breath does not know how 
to distribute his breath, even though he may be an 
expert in breathing and in the art of using his 
highly trained diaphragm. 

On the other hand, the singer who knows how to 
distribute his breath never runs short of it, and the 
normal respiration furnishes him enough power 
with no cause to worry about the strength of his 
diaphragm or his intercostal muscles. Nature helps 
him in the most exceptional instances, such as exist 
in certain operatic arias where a surplus of air is 
necessary to produce dramatic effects, coloratura 
variations and long cadenzas. Caruso's singing in 
the "Pagliacci" aria was the typical demonstration 
of this statement. 

Our conception about the all important factor 
the moving power in the mechanism of voice pro- 
duction discards all theories and suggestions related 
to the different types of breathing, such as the 
clavicular costal or abdominal respiration because 
we believe that the student of singing should not 
be conscious while performing this natural func- 
tion of life. The physiological respiration, which 
we employ from our birth, is the natural one, and 
it must also rule our breathing when we are sing- 

The beginner who applies to a teacher for assist- 
ance in voice culture, and is put under the shame- 
ful training of artificial means for developing his 
breathing apparatus like a circus athlete, and whose 
mind is fed on the absurdity that the secret of good 


singing lies in the strength of his breath and the 
power of his diaphragm, is misled at the very out- 
set of his career, and is given a false foundation. 
He invariably loses the spontaneous conception of 
singing, which usually is given by nature itself as 
a compliment of her gift of a beautiful voice. It 
should, therefore, be left to nature to take care of 
her own product the voice and if the student is 
endowed with intelligence and a marked musical 
sense he does not need any artificial help other than 
a guiding hand to watch his development and to 
keep him always under the control of natural laws. 
The guiding hand should be the teacher and noth- 
ing artificial should be substituted for nature itself. 

The strength of the breath and its volume in 
singing must be the result of a correct mechanism 
of voice production; by the prolonged but normal 
employment of breath the muscles of respiration 
become naturally stronger and gradually increase 
their power of resistance. This system alone, after 
years of voice training and a singing career, will 
acquire that perfect control which is one of the fun- 
damental pillars of correct singing. Practically the 
same thing will happen as in the case of dancing, 
fencing, or any other physical sport. 

The physiological laws of respiration, therefore, 
must be the sole rules to follow, and all false notions 
about the artificial development of the respiratory 
organs must be discarded as dangerous by those 
who aspire to a successful vocal career. 



Resonance is the most important factor in voice 
production. It furnishes to the voice volume and 
quality, and emphasizes its loudness. To rely on 
resonance rather than on force is essential for pro- 
ducing a big and pleasing voice. 

To understand the phenomenon of resonance, it 
is indispensable to become acquainted with the few 
laws of acoustics, which are most closely related to 
it. The readers, however, who desire to get a more 
complete knowledge of this interesting property of 
sound, can refer to any treaties on acoustics where 
this subject is widely discussed. 

In order to explain what resonance is, we prefer 
a practical rather than a scientific illustration, since 
it is more advantageous for our purpose. 

A common experience talking into a mega- 
phone shows how the voice can become greatly 
magnified in its characteristics loudness, volume, 
and quality. This is merely the result of a resound- 
ing property furnished by the horn of the mega- 

If we hold a violin string by its extremities, in 
tension, against a brick wall, or an empty space, 
and strike it, an almost imperceptible sound de- 
velops, given by the vibrations of the string. If 



we put the string on an empty case wooden, 
metallic, or of some other material the sound be- 
comes much louder and more resonant. The reason 
is that the amount of air contained in the empty 
case vibrates also under the stroke of the vibrations 
transmitted by the string, thus magnifying the vi- 
brations in number and amplitude. The sound, so 
decidedly enlarged, is the result of the string only, 
in so far as the embryonic element, the vibrations, 
is concerned ; the case is responsible for its develop- 
ment and enlargement. 

The auxiliary function of the megaphone and of 
the case, with their characteristic power of magni- 
fying the original vibrations of the sound consti- 
tutes what we call resonance. 

In the human voice the sounds, as produced by 
the vocal cords, are weak and colorless, but when 
magnified by the resonance furnished by the laryn- 
gopharyngeal and oral tube, plus the resonance 
chambers and body cavities, they become larger in 
volume, stronger in loudness, and of softer quality. 

The laryngopharyngeal cavity and the mouth 
a natural horn as compared with the megaphone 
an artificial horn act as a resonating apparatus 
which magnifies the rudimental vibrations of the 
vocal cords into full voice, just as the megaphone 
makes the sounds produced into it more volumi- 
nous. In both cases the decided improvement in 
their original vibrations is due to the intervention 
of the magnifying power of resonance. 

Scientifically, a tone produced without resonance 
is a simple sound ; with resonance it becomes a com- 


pound or complex sound. The original sounds 
produced by the vocal cords are simple, made up 
of vibrations of limited sounding power. They 
become complex when enriched with the resonating 
power of the body cavities which gives them timbre, 
volume, and loudness. We say body cavities, be- 
cause we venture to assert that the human body, in 
all its cavities, acts as a big resonator for the voice. 

Although a chest and masque resonance, origi- 
nating from the chest, the antrum and frontal 
sinuses, are generally admitted, up to the present 
time no mention has been made of the body 
resonance. Nevertheless if, according to the laws 
of acoustics, the vibrations travel in every direction, 
provided they are not intercepted by any obstacle, 
there is no reason why the sounding waves should 
stop at the aforementioned cavities of the chest and 
masque instead of spreading all over the body, get- 
ting the resonance of all its other cavities the 
head, bones, abdomen, and joints combined. 

What usually interferes with the transmission 
of the sounding waves from the larynx to the body, 
confining the radius of their expansion to the near- 
est cavities is caused in most cases by a throaty pro- 
duction which checks the expansion of the voice. 

As a result of this false mechanism of voice pro- 
duction even the amount of resonance given by the 
nearest cavities is sometimes obliterated also, as the 
exaggerated contraction of the throat prevents the 
sounds from reaching the resonance chambers. If 
this is true of the nearest cavities, it is logical to 
suppose that interferences of similar nature are 


likely to prevent the vibrations from reaching the 
more remote sections of the body, thus hindering 
the cavities of these sections from making the valu- 
able contribution of their resonance. 

The rigidity of the muscles of the body, for in- 
stance, which is usually the coefficient of a forced 
mechanism of voice production, and an instinctive 
act with many defective singers, represents a 
marked physical obstacle to the traveling of the 
sound vibrations. 

A simple demonstration of this can be obtained 
by following closely the phenomenon of resonance 
in musical instruments. A piano, for instance, 
improves its tone merely by being placed on a 
wooden platform, in which state its vibrations are 
not confined to its strings alone, nor to its case. 
They travel in every direction and are transmitted 
even to the floor and walls of the room, from which 
they get other vibrations and resonance, if the 
material of which they are composed has resonating 
power. Piling many articles of heavy material on 
the piano and playing it on a tiled floor, or even 
on a floor covered with thick carpets, are sufficient 
causes for markedly diminishing the power of its 

All opera houses and theaters are constructed 
according to the rules of the physical property of 
expansion of the vibrations and their resonating 
power. Architects take particular pains to obtain 
the best acoustics by scientific methods, which 
guarantee the free expansion of the sound waves, 
so they can reach any empty space within the walls 


of the building, which are constructed of such 
material and in such a shape as to produce new 
vibrations, thus increasing their power of resonance. 

As for the human instrument, a well-built body, 
with all its strong bones and large cavities, un- 
doubtedly furnishes one more factor of resonance 
to the resonating power, which should not be 

There are singers who stand rigidly and heavily 
while singing, and their stiffness creates such an 
obstacle even to the circulation of the blood, as to 
be easily discernible in their spasmodic expressions, 
and in the congestion of blood in their faces and 
necks. These singers undoubtedly deprive the 
voice of most of its resonance, because the rigidity 
of their muscles and tissues prevents the spreading 
of the sound vibrations from the source of their pro- 
duction to the entire body, just as it prevents the 
blood from running freely all through the circulat- 
ing system. 

Several years ago, a prominent London doctor 
startled the entire musical world by saying that 
Caruso possessed musical bones. 

A certain newspaper in New York solicited 
interviews with some laryngologists to inquire into 
the possibility of possessing musical bones. The 
writer was one of those consulted, and he found it 
most difficult to convince the interviewer that, al- 
though there are in truth no musical bones, there is 
a possibility of human beings possessing organs 
made of tissues of exceptional resonating property, 
which is dependent, perhaps, on the quality and 


constructive essence of the cells from which they 
are made. 

Indeed, Caruso had no musical bones; but the 
writer can affirm, from personal knowledge, that 
they had a power of resonance which was star- 
tling. In fact, by tapping on his mastoid with 
a finger, or, as he did himself, with his ear lobe, 
a sound was produced which could be heard at a 
considerable distance. This represented merely 
the exceptional power of resonance of his bones, 
which were composed of very fine, compact re- 
sounding matter. This is not at all surprising when 
we consider that in some musical instruments the 
kind of wood from which they are made has a strik- 
ing influence on the resonance of the tones pro- 
duced, the quality and volume of which, according 
to manufacturers, is even related to the number 
of years of seasoning of the wood. The hypoth- 
esis is naturally suggested that the compactness 
of the cells and fibers of certain trees has the charac- 
teristic property of lending to their wood a more 
remarkable power or resonance. 

Why can not this same possibility exist in the 
human body? The resounding property of the 
masque, head, chest, etc., which are hollow cavities 
surrounded by hard compact matter, may be de- 
pendent upon the nature of the cells, which con- 
stitute the constructive substance of the entire 
frame of the body. 

This subject is worthy of a certain scientific con- 
sideration, and should arouse at least sufficient 
interest for finding out whether the privilege that 


certain races possess, of having a greater number 
of beautiful voices, is not attached to some physio- 
logical property dependent upon their method of 
living, alimentation, climate, etc., which creates a 
certain difference in the anatomical structure of 
the tissues of their bodies. 

The soil, sunshine, air, light etc., which are 
responsible for making the fibers of certain trees 
hardier, drier, and of more compact matter, better 
fit for the bodies of musical instruments than others 
of soft and spongy nature, raised in marshy, damp 
fields, constitute the characteristic conditions which 
influence the different growth of those trees. Can- 
not the same natural conditions have some influence 
upon the physiological development of the human 
tissues of the inhabitants of certain regions? By 
a logical deduction, this should be so. Of course we 
are not talking of beautiful voices in reference to 
their phonetic and artistic qualities; as for singing, 
we must not discard the fact that the more marked 
aptitude of certain races for expressing their feel- 
ings through singing is due to psychological in- 
fluence, such as musical education, environment, 
temperament, and, principally, hereditary disposi- 
tion. We think, though, that even these traditional 
racial qualities have at the bottom a physiological 
ground, which was generated primarily by the 
above-mentioned natural conditions, and evolved 
gradually into a psychological form from genera- 
tion to generation, for centuries. The tempera- 
ment of the Latin races, for instance, especially the 
Italians, has always been associated with a certain 


influence of the mild climate, the bright sunshine, 
the clear skies, the volcanos, etc., all such elements 
which seem to be responsible for some of their 
characteristics and natural dispositions, and have 
undoubtedly influenced the psychology of that race. 

Therefore, the author's hypothesis has some 
scientific and material foundation. The human 
body contributes resonance from all its cavities, 
and there may exist a difference in the quantity and 
the quality of resonance in different persons, 
which is dependent upon the constitutional struc- 
ture and the development of their tissues, and per- 
haps upon the origin of their races. 

The voice has three characteristics which are 
closely allied with its power of resonance: loud- 
ness, timbre or quality, and volume. From the 
combination of all of them a strong, beautiful and 
resonant voice results. 

A recent view, already quoted in this book, gives 
to the resonance the power of producing vocal 
vibrations, besides the function of magnifying 
them, a function which is generally attributed to 
the vocal cords alone. Thus, according to this view, 
the resonance plays a more important role, com- 
bining both the power of magnifying and that of 
producing sound elements. 

The vibrations, by their power of expansion, 
spread from the vocal cords into the larynx, where 
certain resonance is given to the fundamental 
sounds by the ventricles of Morgagni. They then 
expand through the pharynx, all over the mouth, 
the resonance chambers and the entire body. In 


the resonance chambers more vibrations are pro- 
duced by those already traveling from the larynx, 
all of them becoming reinforced in their dimensions 
and characteristics by the resonating power. This 
coordinated strength, resulting from the intensity 
and amplitude of the vibrations produced by the 
vocal cords and by the resonance chambers, and 
their magnified resonance, is responsible for the 
loudness of the voice, which constitutes the most 
striking of its characteristics. 

The second characteristic of the voice the more 
valuable is the timbre or quality, which to most 
experts signify the same thing. It is the author's 
view that the quality or timbre of the voice possess- 
ing the distinct property of pleasing the ear consti- 
tutes the most prominent characteristic in voice 
production. It is worth finding out, therefore, 
what physical factor gives quality to the voice. 

If we strike a tone on the piano, and let the sound 
fade gradually, toward the end of its vibrations, we 
hear a series of lighter tones which are perfectly 
harmonious with the original, though much higher 
in pitch. The tone we hear so distinctly at the be- 
ginning, which fades gradually, after a while, is the 
fundamental tone, which we are playing. The 
other sounds, which are concomitant tones to the 
fundamental one, are the so-called overtones. The 
fundamental tone is the lowest in pitch but much 
stronger than the others; the overtones are higher 
and much softer, and are to the tones what the 
shadows in a painting are to the drawing. A well- 
trained ear can detect the overtones in voices cor- 


rectly produced, while in voices produced by a 
forced mechanism only the fundamental tone can 
be heard, or certain high overtones which do not 
entirely harmonize with the fundamental one. 

Voices produced with only fundamental tones 
are poor in quality and dry, lacking the richness 
in overtones; those in which incorrect overtones 
prevail are disagreeable and decidedly forced. 

The quality of the voice can be enriched only 
through the abundance of its correct overtones. 
Because of their importance, therefore it is of inter- 
est to know their position with regard to the funda- 
mental tones. 

The most important overtones are located on 
the octave, the twelfth, the fifteenth, and the seven- 
teenth notes of the fundamental tone. Striking a 
note on the piano, C below the staff, for example, 
the first overtone is C of the next octave ; the second 
overtone is G above the staff, which is five notes 
higher than the first and twelve notes higher than 
the fundamental tone. The third overtone is high 
C above the staff, fifteen notes higher than the 
fundamental one; and the fourth overtone is E, 
which is seventeen notes higher than the funda- 
mental tone; and so on. 

There are higher overtones, in addition to these, 
but they are difficult to detect, except with the aid 
of Helmholtz resonators, and are of no help in 
singing, therefore useless to discuss. 

According to Helmholtz, the overtones which are 
perceptible to the ear are those which determine 
the quality of the voice. Their presence or absence, 


whether partial or entire together with their inten- 
sity, decides the particular characteristic of the 
organ, whether more or less metallic, and gives to 
the voice its distinctive quality. 

The overtones are so intimately connected with 
the fundamental tone that to change their number 
or intensity means to change its quality. In fact, 
as we said before, a sound without overtones is soft 
and sweet, but feeble, small, poor; with the lower 
overtones those classified above the sound be- 
comes rich, harmonious and full, still retaining its 
softness, if all overtones are produced with the same 
proportional intensity. 

In voice production, when the overtones over the 
fifth become more prominent than the fundamental 
tone, the voice becomes sharp and disagreeable. 
Those overtones which should be ignored are, on 
the contrary, much developed by the current 
methods of singing, based essentially on the force 
of the breathing apparatus, which emphasizes, by 
an exaggerated number of vibrations, only the 
highest overtones. 

The fullness of the voice is due to the prevailing 
intensity of the fundamental tone in relation to its 
overtones. On the contrary, the dominating in- 
tensity of the overtones over the fundamental tone 
causes an emptiness in the voice, which is the result 
of thin, small vibrations. The presence, therefore, 
of the overtones, and their relative position toward 
the fundamental tone, is of capital importance in 
relation to the most beautiful of its characteristics 
the quality. 


The contribution of resonance to the volume of 
the voice is of much greater importance than that 
furnished by the moving power the breath, or by 
the size of the vocal cords the producing power. 

In musical instruments the volume of the tone is 
dependent principally on the size of the case of res- 
onance, which is related to the amount of air it 
contains, and to a certain extent also to the quality 
of material of which it is made. The larger and 
finer the wooden body of a violin, the larger the 
volume of its tone. The tone of a violoncello is, in 
fact, bigger than that of a violin, due more to its 
larger case of resonance than because its strings are 
thicker, although this has some bearing also on the 
volume of the tone. All the foregoing proves that 
the size of the vocal cords in relation to the volume 
of voice is of much less importance than the amount 
of resonance which can be given by the resonating 

As for the moving power the breath it cannot 
be compared with the power of resonance. Increas- 
ing the power of a violin bow for the purpose of pro- 
ducing bigger tones cannot compare with the im- 
provement gained by giving to the violin a Stradi- 
varius body, so rich in resonance. The strings of 
the Stradivarius, when put on another violin, fail 
to give the same tone, even in the skillful hands of 
the greatest virtuoso. All of this proves how im- 
portant is the role played by the resonance and its 
physical properties in all musical instruments. 

In the human instrument the volume of the voice 
is related to the size of all the cavities of the body, 


the quality of its tissues perhaps having some re- 
lation too. 

The chest and resonance chambers, with the an- 
trum and frontal sinuses, being the nearest cavities 
to the source of the voice, have a more decided in- 
fluence on its resonance so that those in whom these 
organs are well developed have the best conditions 
for producing the largest amount of resonance. 

The shape of the palate also has a very marked 
influence on the resonating power of the voice. A 
well-arched palate enlarges the oral space for the 
sounds, and has the same acoustic property as the 
vault of a bridge where even small voices are in- 
tensely magnified by, perhaps, new vibrations 
created by the vault itself. For the same reason 
the tongue has some effect on the resonance. 

Titta Ruffo, the world-famous baritone, has told 
the writer of a singer whose voice was mediocre, but 
who could shape his tongue in a decidedly concave 
position like a cradle, thus creating a larger oral 
cavity for the resonance of his voice, with remark- 
able results. Evidently the instinctive conception 
of that singer was correct, for, by shaping his 
tongue in this position, enlarging the space, he 
created more resonance for his voice. 

This should serve as warning to the many singers 
who hold their tongues in a stiff and contracted 
position, thus abolishing most of the mouth's pre- 
cious space. The illustration in Fig. 11 gives prac- 
tical evidence of how the tongue should be shaped 
to create the largest space and resonance in the oral 




All the author's efforts in the foregoing pages 
tend to show that Resonance is the most important 
factor in voice production. 

To rely on resonance, and not on force, must be 
the aim of every singer; and to remember that the 
largest amount of resonance can be obtained only 
by the complete relaxation of the vocal organs, must 
be the fundamental rule of any method of voice 
culture. The methods in vogue, which base their 
foundation on breath, that is, on force, are as erro- 
neous as dangerous. 



Speaking and singing are similar junctions, pro- 
duced by the same physiological mechanism; there- 
fore they are the same vocal phenomenon. 

The speaking voice acts as the substantial factor 
of the singing voice and constitutes its real support. 
Singing, in its very essence, is merely speaking in 
musical rhythm; hence no correct singing can ex- 
ist without a correctly produced speaking voice. 

Voice is speech made up of words formed of 
vowels and consonants. In its complete form voice 
comprises two like phases, similar and closely con- 
nected, though slightly different in the degree of 
their intensity and effect ; one is related to speaking, 
the other to singing. 

Scientifically, however, there is no difference be- 
tween the speaking and the singing voice as physi- 
ological phenomena, both being produced by the 
same vocal organs with an identical mechanism ; nor 
is there any difference in their phonetic elements, 
except that singing is emphasized by musical colors. 

The speaking voice prepares the words for the 
singing voice, which adds to them the beauty of 
rhythmic melody. Vocal principles and rules re- 
ferring to one must logically apply to the other. 



The idea of claiming an intimate physiological 
relationship between the speaking and the singing 
voice is not new, as many writers on voice have 
given more or less attention to this subject. But its 
vital importance in relation to voice production has 
been entirely overlooked thus far, or underesti- 
mated to such an extent as greatly to have ham- 
pered the progress of voice culture. 

To us, however, it represents a factor of the most 
essential and inestimable value, since it constitutes 
the platform on which our method of producing and 
placing the voice is based. It is, therefore, our 
earnest desire to call the attention of voice experts 
to this subject, so as to create a deeper interest in 
the close connection existing between these two in- 
timately related forms of the same physical element 
which constitutes the human voice. 

Fundamentally, speaking and singing are pro- 
duced by the same physiological mechanism. They 
are both formed by the cooperation of the moving, 
producing, and resonating power, though the vocal 
organs act with more efficiency when the singing 
voice is concerned, and whether in speaking or in 
singing it is to the medium of phonetic expressions 
-words that we have recourse to express our 
ideas or sentiments. 

In the fusion of these two elements, the speaking 
voice constitutes the material part, the backbone or 
the basis of the singing; consequently it cannot be 
disassociated in the mechanism of singing, other- 
wise, by losing its support, the latter would be de- 
prived of its substantial element, In fact, the 


physical phenomenon voice is preceded first by 
the material act of speaking, and followed by the 
complementary and decorative one of singing. 

The sounds as produced by the vocal cords, if 
prevented from being transformed into words can- 
not express anything but physical tones. It is ob- 
vious then, that in singing the psychological mission 
of expressing our feelings is entrusted to words and 
not to sounds, and these words can be furnished 
only by the speaking voice through the myriad com- 
binations of vowels and consonants. Thus, since 
no other element but the speaking voice is able to 
produce them, it is but logical that the basis of the 
singing voice is the speaking voice. 

To give a practical, though rough demonstration 
of the relationship of the speaking voice with the 
singing voice, we must think of the former as some- 
thing material, which serves as the underlying sup- 
port for the latter and constitutes its substantial in- 
trinsic power during the act of singing. It may be 
said that it represents the raw and solid elements 
of the phenomenon voice to which singing adds 
the psychological adornment and finish, through its 
musical rhythms and colors, just as in a beautifully 
finished palace the steel skeleton and brick walls 
constitute the solid, material support of the build- 
ing, whereas the ornamental finish, in the form of 
artistic decorations, lends style to the palatial 

Therefore, since the role played by the speaking 
voice in the mechanism of singing is of such essen- 
tial importance, its correct production is the most 


indispensable factor and asset for creating a beauti- 
ful singing voice. It is the corner stone on which 
the foundation of correct singing is built. 

In cases in which the relationship between these 
two forms of the same element is disturbed, the 
singing voice is always the one which suffers. In 
fact, a deformed and disagreeable speaking voice 
can never develop into a correct and pleasing sing- 
ing voice, because, being its intrinsic factor it can- 
not avoid lending to singing its defects as well as 
its beautiful characteristics, when they exist. 

Cases in which the singing voice proves different 
and more agreeable than the speaking voice are 
those in which the latter is so falsely produced as to 
be entirely deprived of all its natural qualities. 
Likewise, cases in which the speaking voice is cor- 
rectly produced, and the singing voice is defective, 
are those in which the latter is not molded on the 
former, thereby losing all the advantages it would 
derive from it. 

It occasionally happens that the speaking and 
singing voices are produced by the same individual 
independently of each other, as in the case of 
singers who unconsciously talk with one voice and 
sing with an entirely different one. In such cases 
either the singing voice is artificial, being composed 
of only the original sounds of the vocal cords before 
they are transformed into voice (a falsetto voice), 
or the speaking voice is produced by a very de- 
fective mechanism, which becomes improved dur- 
ing the act of singing. 


At any rate, if the mechanism of voice produc- 
tion in singing loses its fundamental relationship 
with the speaking voice, it is almost impossible to 
prevent the tones from being produced in the 
throat, which constitutes the most appalling defect 
known as throaty production. 

Artists who sing with this method never suc- 
ceed in making the audience understand their 
words. In fact, remarks like, "His voice is so 
throaty;" "He (or she) sings so badly, in his 
throat;" "I don't understand a word he sings," are 
very frequently heard in the audience, and it is 
unnecessary to emphasize that even the general im- 
pression of the layman is that a voice produced in 
the throat is entirely misplaced and ugly. 

Theories or practice, therefore, which bring about 
a throaty production are fallacious, and are re- 
sponsible for the worst defects in voice production. 

The erroneous principle that sounds are the cen- 
tral element in singing has been presented in many 
books and enforced by many methods of singing, 
proving a dangerous influence in voice culture. 
These methods, by discarding natural production, 
are compelled to resort to elaborated technicalities 
in order to compensate for the deficiencies of the 
voice resulting from its misplacement and faulty 
production. Therefore, all the gymnastics of 
the voice, and the many kinds of muscu- 
lar exercises inflicted upon pupils, with the idea 
that they constitute the proper and physiological 
ground for voice culture and create an efficient 


mechanism of singing are ridiculous contrivances, 
fit rather for an acrobatic education than for stu- 
dents of the art of singing. 

In a book dedicated by a singing teacher to her 
twenty-nine hundred pupils, we find this statement: 
"It is a positive fact that the voice is in the throat. 
. . . When a maestro says to a pupil who emits 
a bad tone, 'Don't sing from the throat,' he makes 
a wrong statement, as we must necessarily sing 
from the throat, nature having placed the larynx 
in the throat. If he were to say, 'Don't press or 
squeeze the throat,' he would speak more cor- 

Evidently this singing teacher bases her remark 
on the belief that the larynx is the real center of 
the voice, which is not true, and makes no discrimin- 
ation whatever between sound and actual voice. 

While it is true that we produce sounds with the 
throat, we must not necessarily sing from the 
throat, if we are to obey the laws of natural mech- 
anism of voice production which place the voice in 
the mouth. The mere precaution not to squeeze the 
throat does not prevent the defect of producing the 
voice in the throat. That can be accomplished only 
by giving to the throat the sole attribute of forming 
the sounds and leaving to the mouth the function 
of transforming them into voice. The author is 
insistent on this subject, because a throaty produc- 
tion destroys entirely the innate connection of the 
speaking with the singing voice, thereby creating 
a condition contrary to physiological laws. 

The falsitv of all the vocal theories identified 


with physical training is obvious. The throat has 
only the physical power of producing sounds, and 
even these must be the result of an easy mechanism 
so as not to cause any disagreeable sensation or ill 
effect to the throat of the singer. These sounds, 
being only the germ of the voice, are naturally poor 
tones, which cannot be compared with the resonant 
phenomenon of voice as completed in its full form 
in the mouth and enriched by the cooperation of 
the resonance chambers. 

In a resume we wish to state emphatically that 
the speaking voice, as the physical basis of the sing- 
ing voice, is also its psychological medium for ex- 
pressing emotions and consequently constitutes its 
natural element for building up both a correct and 
an artistic method of singing. It is merely a law 
of nature that we cannot disregard the support of 
the speaking voice in the production of the singing 
voice. Speaking beautifully and resonantly, in 
fact, is equivalent to singing, without musical 
rhythm, and with less brilliancy and color. Sarah 
Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and many other cele- 
brated dramatic artists have given full evidence of 
this statement. 

The speaking voice, when correctly and beauti- 
fully produced, lending to singing its substantial 
element in the form of words made up of vowels 
and consonants, makes us think of the well-shaped 
stones of a mosaic, which, being equal, smooth and 
artistically arranged, make of the mosaic a perfect 
work of art. The singing composed of beautifully 
spoken words bends toward artistic perfection. 


Hence, going to the very root of voice production, 
only by forming correct and euphonic vowels and 
consonants can a correct and artistic method of 
singing be established. 

By making of the speaking voice the leader and 
guide of the singing voice, the words become the 
essential elements on which singing is built. There- 
fore a singing voice molded on the speaking voice 
gains the advantage of taking over all its attributes, 
characteristics, and qualities. 

In the singing of that master of song, Enrico 
Caruso, one of the most striking features was his 
rendition of the so-called "recitative" of the operas. 
His "recitative" the nearest thing to melodious 
talking was the clearest, most colorful and bril- 
liant display of what a valuable cooperator the 
speaking voice is in singing. He gave more delight 
to the world, and raised more emotions with his 
musical speaking than many singers with their big 
or pure tones, which, no matter how pure or big, 
are far from reproducing the real human voice. 
Human voice is made of vocal color expressing 
human pathos, a characteristic which is absent when 
producing tones, as in the case of a musical instru- 
ment. Human pathos was the magic power of 
Caruso's voice, that voice which penetrated to the 
innermost depths of the souls of all those who have 
had the good fortune to hear him. 



THE pitch and the dimensions of the singing 
voice the volume, the quality, and loudness are 
determined by the speaking voice. Speaking high 
or low, resonant, loud or soft, in any gradation of 
sentiment and shade of color, lays the ground for 
singing in high or low pitch,, loud, resonant or soft, 
in any musical color and expression. 

In a previous chapter it has been demonstrated 
that fundamentally there is no difference between 
the speaking and the singing voice. Likewise no 
difference can exist in their dimensions. 

The speaking and the singing voice being a sim- 
ilar phonetic act of the same function, their pitches 
and dimensions must stand in the same funda- 
mental relationship. The speaking voice, which 
constitutes the purely physical element of the voice, 
furnishes to the pitch the raw material to which 
the singing voice the artistic element lends the 
musical character and color. 

By talking high or low, or in any intermediate 
altitude of the speaking voice, we produce its vari- 
ous pitches. If our talking is rhythmical and the 
vocal vibrations are equivalent in number to those 
required for producing the different notes of the 



musical scale, the pitches we determine are exactly 
the same as those of the singing voice. Talking, 
then, ceases to be "speech" and becomes "singing." 

It is generally agreed at present among scientists 
that the pitch of the voice is determined by the num- 
ber of vibrations given by the vocal cords. These 
vibrations, reinforced by the resonating power, de- 
termine also, in addition to the pitch, the loudness, 
volume, and quality of the voice, all the physical 
properties called the dimensions of sound. 

The author's views on this subject are partly 
different and this difference is of basic importance, 
as it affects the theory we have demonstrated in our 
First Principle, that voice and sound are not ex- 
actly the same thing and consequently their pitches 
are not the same either. 

As in singing we aim to express our feeling 
through words, it should be the concern of voice 
experts to find out what the pitch of the words, that 
is, voice, is rather than that of the sounds. 

The sounds become voice after a phonetic trans- 
formation in the mouth; their pitch, therefore, as 
determined by the number of vibrations of the vocal 
cords only, represents only the pitch of the laryn- 
geal sounds, in which is lacking the phonetic sup- 
port of the words. When these tones materialize 
into words and are transformed into the speaking 
voice, their pitches, produced by the ensemble of 
physical functions that form the voice, become the 
pitches of the singing voice. 

It is obvious, then, that the same difference that 
distinguishes the sound from the voice also exists 


between the pitch of the sound and the pitch of the 
voice. This consideration is of the greatest im- 
portance in voice production, as it devolves upon 
the speaking voice the task of determining the pitch. 

Dr. Scripture has already aroused doubts about 
the existing theories of the pitch by demon- 
strating, through experiments based on the trans- 
mission of the vibrations of the vocal cords, that 
the pitch is also determined by the vibrations of 
the resonance chambers which are set in vibration 
by the sound waves coming from the larynx. 

Dr. Scripture's new point of view has aroused 
interest among voice experts, and we notice that 
it has been indorsed by no less an authority than 
Dr. Mills, who, in his book on voice, says: "To 
Prof. Scripture belongs the credit of demonstrat- 
ing that the resonance chambers determine pitch 
also," and later on: "Such views have become more 
widely known, and it is hoped that, as they are very 
radical, they may be established by other methods." 

Dr. Scripture's theory, however, differs from 
ours in the same respect as those of other experts, 
inasmuch as he too treats of the pitch and the di- 
mensions of the sound instead of the voice. 

According to our conception, which relies on the 
speaking voice for the determination of the pitch, 
any of its altitudes constitutes the intrinsic basis 
for the corresponding pitch of the singing voice. 
The vocal cords, however, by furnishing the vibra- 
tions for the embryonic sound, determine its pitch 
in the embryonic form; the more the vibrations the 
higher the sound. But the real pitch of the voice 


is established by the various altitudes reached by 
the words, when the vibrations are transformed in 
the mouth into voice. Speaking high or low, or 
in any other degree of the range, constitutes the 
true pitch ; it has the true substance of voice-quality 
and not the shrill characteristics of a whistling 

Those who never gave much attention to the in- 
nate similarity of the speaking and singing voice 
cannot think of the possibility of an analogous 
pitch quality, volume and loudness for both, having 
the impression that, in speaking, voices cannot be 
raised to as high a pitch as in singing, and that 
loud, voluminous voices cannot be produced in 
speaking. This belief is erroneous and is contra- 
dicted both scientifically and practically. 

The great variety of inflections resorted to by 
great orators and dramatic artists in order to bring 
out striking effects or to emphasize the meaning 
of certain words is dependent upon a large range 
of pitches and a richness of color and shades. 1 Talk- 
ing in falsetto, imitating the voices of singers, 
women or children is nothing else than producing 
the various pitches which naturally exist in our 
voices but are not used. 

In reality the use of different pitches in talking 
is very much neglected in general, except among 
the Latin races, who inherit with their languages 
and their vivacious temperaments, the natural dis- 

*Ancient orators used to give so much coloring of speech to the inflec- 
tion of their voices that they gave the impression of singing their orations. 


position for warmth and color in their speech ; their 
voices, therefore, possess naturally the flexibility of 
the different pitches. 

We cannot help remarking that this natural cold, 
colorless and almost monotonous way of speaking- 
is highly detrimental when singers and dramatic art- 
ists are concerned. The advantages of a well- 
modulated speaking voice are of inestimable value 
in the dramatic as well as in the lyric art, as no other 
natural gift has the psychological power and influ- 
ence of a beautiful speaking or singing voice to 
reach the depth of a human heart. Artists like 
Tommaso Salvini, Eleonora Duse and Sarah Bern- 
hardt have realized it ; in this country we may men- 
tion Julia Marlowe, Julia Arthur, and a few others. 
To attain superior success these artists first availed 
themselves of the most important element of the 
art their voices. It is to the exceptional coloring 
of her voice her most striking asset that Sarah 
Bernhardt owes the largest share of her fame. 

The various nuances of the speaking voice, with 
all the gradations of its pitches, give the true ex- 
pression of life to all the emotions of human psy- 
chology love, sorrow or joy, without the aid of 
music, but almost in the same keys as in the singing 
voice. The fact that insufficient consideration is 
given to the great importance of voice modulation 
by the dramatic profession of this country is to be 
highly regretted, as undoubtedly the lack of life, 
brilliancy and expression in the speaking voices of 
most of the actors on the American stage can be 
ascribed as one of the main reasons for the monot- 


ony and the rudimentary heaviness that character- 
ize the American dramatic art of to-day. Educated 
audiences tire of them and with good reason; no- 
body cares to listen for hours at a stretch to the 
monotonous and uniform voices of actors in which 
the spice of the coloring and intonations given by 
varying pitches is almost totally lacking, just as 
very few would care to look at a sky constantly 
blue or to travel through prairies monotonously flat 
without a hill or a tree. 

These same artists could achieve better results 
by educating their voices in the use of different 
pitches than by struggling for sensational effects 
obtained by growling or roaring spasmodically in 
their throats. 

It is of great advantage, therefore, to take into 
consideration the importance of cultivating the 
pitches of the speaking voice, as they are of the 
utmost assistance in the dramatic art and also of 
inestimable value in the formation of the pitches 
in the singing voice. 

The dimensions of the voice volume, quality 
and loudness like the pitch, originate with the 
speaking voice and are transferred to the singing 
voice. We think it preferable and more precise to 
designate these dimensions as the characteristics of 
the voice, because they represent the essential at- 
tributes which differentiate voice from sound and 
even one voice from another. 

The characteristics of the voice, which are less 
prominent in speaking merely because they are not 
emphasized enough, become distinctly marked in 


singing, when the moving, producing, and resonat- 
ing power are compelled to cooperate with higher 
efficiency under the strong psychological influence 
of the music. 

We can, therefore, consider the pitch and the di- 
mensions of the singing voice as determined by the 
number, length, amplitude, and intensity of the vi- 
brations of the vocal cords augmented in number 
and improved in quality by the resonating power; 
but ruled entirely by the psychological influence of 
the words. 

This statement will meet with objections; but 
it is the author's conviction that if we were to rely 
on the pitch and the dimensions of the sound as 
produced by the vibrations of the vocal cords alone, 
the quality, volume, and loudness of the sounds 
would be proportioned to their very limited sound- 
ing power, and would consequently be detrimental 
to the voice. In other words, the voice would be 
thin, poor, and insufficient, as the producing power 
of the vocal cords is actually of so little value in 
the emission of rich and ample sounds that it would 
almost be impossible to conceive of the existence 
of resonant and strong voices were the efficiency 
and the strength of the vocal cords to be considered 
as the only factor. 

The author calls the attention of the reader to 
one more point, which tends to show that the deter- 
mination of the pitch cannot be confined only to the 
number of vibrations given by the vocal cords. The 
idea is based on the law of acoustics relative to the 
resonating tubes. 


The altitude (pitch) of a sound produced by res- 
onating tubes is proportional to their size; the 
smaller the tube, the higher the pitch. 

Applying this law to the human resonating tube 
we see that as long as the sounds produced by the 
vocal cords are kept within the space of the larynx, 
they are ruled in their pitch only by the number of 
vibrations of the vocal cords, and by the resonance 
they get within that organ. But as soon as they 
reach the pharynx on their way to the mouth, the 
resonance chambers and the lower cavities, in their 
expansion toward the chest, by getting into a tube 
of larger size they undergo a physical change in 
pitch, which is similar to the change in tone pro- 
duced by substituting a resonating tube of larger 
size for one smaller. The pitch becomes somewhat 
lower. The human resonating tube, being com- 
posed of elastic tissues the lungs, trachea, larynx, 
pharynx and movable tissues the mouth with 
the tongue, palate, lips is apt to change easily in 
size. By this change the original laryngeal sounds 
can be altered in their pitches, becoming higher or 
lower, according to the change in size to which the 
vocal organs adjust themselves. This shows that 
the privilege of determining the pitch of the voice 
cannot belong entirely to the number of vibrations 
produced by the vocal cords; there are other phys- 
ical properties of the sound, related to the other 
parts of the vocal apparatus, which are concerned 
also. In fact, to give a practical example, if, in 
producing a tone in the human tube, we contract 
the throat and close the mouth, and then gradually 


relax the former and open the latter, we hear a cer- 
tain difference in the pitch of the tone, without hav- 
ing altered the number of its vibrations, however. 

The same experiment can be made by singing or 
whistling a tone into the cavity formed by the 
palms of both hands, while they are held close to- 
gether only on their outer edges, thus creating the 
largest space possible. By contracting them gradu- 
ally and reducing the space inside, or vice versa, 
while producing the tone, a change of pitch is per- 
ceived which evidently is not related to any increase 
in the number of vibrations, but only to the increase 
or decrease in the amount of space created by the 

These experiments should induce singers not to 
diminish the size and dimensions of their vocal or- 
gans, by contracting them, if they wish to keep their 
voices in their natural form. It is true that in sing- 
ing higher tones the vocal organs adjust themselves 
to a smaller size, but this adjustment is almost im- 
perceptible, and is purely instinctive and involun- 
tary, and must not, therefore, be artificially exag- 
gerated by a conscious influence, which most of the 
time is the result of an erroneous conception of 
voice production. 

Condensing in one illustration the relationship of 
the pitch of the sound with the pitch of the voice, 
we conceive of the first as the germ, from which the 
second takes origin and develops. In its funda- 
mental essence, the pitch of the voice is the pitch of 
the sound, but it is not exactly the same thing, as in 
its formation are included, besides the vibrations 


produced by the vocal cords, perhaps some new 
vibrations created by the resonance chambers. If no 
new vibrations are created, though it is certain that 
the original ones of the sound are largely empha- 
sized in size, length and intensity, bringing about a 
decided, if not a radical, change in the dimensions 
of the pitch, which becomes comparatively larger, 
louder and more powerful, and all the character- 
istics of the voice, such as volume, quality, and, to 
a certain extent, loudness, are more prominently 
displayed with it. 

The following sketch gives a rough idea of this 
relationship : 

aaa. The sound and 
the sound waces 
going through the 
pharynx on their 
way to mouth. 
Pitch of sound is 
shown here in its 
original form as 
determined by the 
number of vibra- 
tions of the vocal 
cords. Its dimen- 
sions exist in their 
embryonic form. 
This is the first 
phase of voice pro- 

B. Sound, in its original pitch 

C. Voice. Voice 
contains within it- 
self the sound. 

D. The pitch of the 
voice which in- 
cludes the pitch of 
the sound, plus 
the vibrations 
created by the res- 
onance chambers. 
The volume and 
quality of voice 
are very promi- 
nent in this sec- 
ond phase of voice 

E. The vocal cords 
after reaching mouth to be transformed into 



The real conception of the pitch, then, can be 
summed up as follows: 

Sound is the result of the vibrations of the vocal 
cords, and is confined to the laryngeal cavity. Its 


pitch is related to the number of these vibrations, 
and is merely a sound pitch, lacking the dimensions 
of the voice, in quality and in volume. 

Voice is the result of the sound produced by the 
vocal cords, reinforced through its phonetic change 
into full voice, by the vibrations of the resonating 
power. Its pitch is related to the vibrations of the 
vocal cords, plus the vibrations of the chambers of 
resonance. The embryonic sound produced in a 
determined pitch, if it is transmitted freely to the 
mouth, is transformed into real voice, and retains 
its pitch, enriched by the resonating power of the 
mouth and of the resonance chambers. The reson- 
ating power establishes for the voice its character- 
istics: volume, quality, loudness, etc., and deter- 
mines also its real pitch in every tone of its range. 
All of this mechanism is ruled by the speaking voice 
and transferred to the singing voice, the speaking 
lending to the singing its pitches, its characteristics 
or dimensions in their normal degree, and the sing- 
ing emphasizing them. 

In voice culture the determination of the pitch 
by the speaking voice, especially in raising the voice 
to high altitudes, brings such surprising advantages 
as to render worthy of consideration the adoption 
of rules for making the speaking voice the guiding 
element for producing high pitches in singing. 

No doubt the difficult task of reaching the high 
tones has always been to singers la bete noire of 
their careers. Yet, we contend, this difficult prob- 
lem can be solved satisfactorily by using the speak- 
ing voice as the medium for reaching high pitches. 


A rough demonstration can be given by this 
practical experiment. After reciting a phrase dis- 
tinctly in a low pitch, sing it immediately in the 
same pitch. A musically educated ear can very 
easily ascertain the similarity of pitch. Then, rais- 
ing the pitch of the speaking voice to some point 
at about the middle of the range of the voice, recite 
and then sing the phrase in the same pitch. Finally, 
raising the pitch gradually, continue up to the high- 
est pitch possible for the speaking voice, and place 
the singing voice at the same height. 

It is surprising what results can be obtained by 
this process. Even the highest pitches of the singing 
voice will present no difficulties when their produc- 
tion is performed along the track of the speaking 
voice. Singers who cannot conceive of the pos- 
sibility of reaching certain high tones will be 
astonished at the results of this experiment, which 
is made possible only because the singing voice is 
carried to its high altitudes through the speaking 
voice, by placing the pitch of the former on the 
pitch of the latter. 

In the first act of "Aida," the closing phrase of 
the famous aria, "Celeste Aida," "Un trono vicino 
al sol' 3 - - a difficult task for any tenor because of 
its high pitch if spoken first at its approximate 
altitude, and then sung at the same height, proves 
easy when compared with the usual rule of attempt- 
ing that pitch by means of the singing voice alone. 

Thus through this method great elasticity can 
be given to the singing voice in making its pitch, 
while, if singers attempt to raise their voices 


merely by forcing the sounds produced by 
the vocal cords, discarding the auxiliary help of the 
speaking voice, they will always find great diffi- 
culty in reaching their much coveted B flats or 
high C's. 

The misconception about the pitch of the voice 
is responsible for this difficulty, and by giving to 
the speaking voice the task of determining the pitch 
it will positively disappear. The speaking voice is 
the real mold of the singing voice, in all its charac- 
teristics and dimensions; therefore, it must also be 
the factor for its different pitches. 



THERE are no registers in the singing voice, when 
it is correctly produced. According to natural laws 
the voice is made up of only one register, which 
constitutes its entire range. 

According to almost general understanding the 
singing voice, at certain points of the natural range, 
breaks into series of tones and gives origin to the 
so-called registers of the voice. 

Some w r riters contend that there are four or five 
registers; but the great majority of them claim only 
three, and this classification is universally adopted 
by singing teachers. A few authorities, however 
among them Sir Morell Mackenzie, the well-known 
English laryngologist admit two physical changes 
in voice production, while only a very small number 
of voice experts agree on the existence of but one 
register. It must be said that in none of these 
instances are these divisions founded upon a con- 
crete or definite scientific truth. 

The teachers who uphold the division of the voice 
in three registers call them the chest, the middle, 
and the head registers. 

The author contends that no such division is sug- 
gested by nature, nor is it needed in voice cul- 
ture. The breaks of the voice are the result of 



abrupt and artificial changes in the laryngeal 
adjustments when the vocal organs are adapt- 
ing themselves to produce higher tones ; the normal 
function of these organs is then disturbed and a 
defective vocal production is thus brought about. 
In fact not only is this classification not essential 
or necessary, but it places the mechanism of voice 
production at a certain disadvantage. 

If we make an incidental analysis of it we are 
at first striken by the incongruous designation of 
the registers as chest, head, and middle. It is 
obvious that in speaking of the chest and head 
registers, reference is made to the resonance ob- 
tained by emphasizing the voice in the chest and 
head cavities. What about the middle register 
then? To what cavity does it allude? 

The supposition that it would be a pliaryngeal 
register would imply that the resonance is confined 
in the pharynx, which would give a throaty voice 
production, the most appalling defect in singing. 

Another current misunderstanding exists in ref- 
erence to the head register, which sometimes is con- 
fused with the so-called mezza voce. There is a 
substantial difference between them, which it is 
important to establish a priori, so that the criticism 
leveled at the head register may not be extended 
to the mezza voce. 

When a singer is called upon to give his entire 
volume and intensity of voice in any part of its 
range for dramatic effect, he carries to the higher 
tones the same proportional volume and intensity 
of voice with the same quality, and this constitutes 


a dramatic style of singing in full voice ; it can only 
be obtained by avoiding the break of the voice into 

But when the meaning of the words and the style 
of the music require lyric and delicate effects, only 
part of the voice the mezza voce is employed, 
being better adapted to express artistically and 
truthfully the meaning of words set to lyric music. 

Caruso a dramatic as well as a lyric tenor in 
singing dramatic roles used his full voice, in lyric 
parts the same voice but in lighter form, which in 
certain soft passages was very similar to a mezza 
voce. His correct mechanism of voice production 
made it possible for him to resort to the most per- 
fect lyric style of singing without changing the in- 
trinsic nature of his voice. 

Singing in the mezza voce is then physiologically 
correct since it is performed without changing the 
mechanism of the full voice, with only this differ- 
ence, that less intensity is used, while the volume 
and the quality of the voice remain the same. 

There exists, then, a substantial difference be- 
tween the head register and the mezza voce, which 
should be better understood. 

The empiricism and the confusion that rule 
the singing field are put in relief by these common- 
place and elementary errors; yet these are only a 
few of the many examples that go to explain the 
stagnant and chaotic condition of the art of singing 
as it is to-day. 

Sir Morell Mackenzie, who wrote the most in- 
teresting book on the hygiene of the voice, admits, 


as previously stated, only two registers, and calls 
them the long or chest, and the short or head 
registers. This classification is by far more rational 
than all the others, and is based on the resonance 
of the chest for the long, and of the head for the 
short, register. 

With all due respect to so great an authority, we 
venture to analyze this division as compared with 
the theory of no registers, except for the natural 
range; and we advance the following hypothesis: 

Dr. Mackenzie defines the registers as a series of 
tones of like quality produced by a particular ad- 
justment of the vocal cords. 

According to this definition, the voice being 
divided into two registers, the chest register of a 
soprano singer, for instance would extend from low 
C to medium E, and would be represented by a 
series of tones of like quality produced by a par- 
ticular adjustment of the vocal cords. 

Following this there would be another series of 
tones produced by another adjustment of the vocal 
cords, with tones different in dimension than in the 
first series, and this would represent the head 

Now, what can justify this change of the vocal 
cords to a second adjustment? Must it be at- 
tributed to a natural law dictating this alteration 
in the mechanism of voice production, or to an in- 
correct use of the vocal apparatus, particularly of 
the producing and moving power, which make this 
change in the mechanism of voice production un- 


No concrete reason has been given by Dr. Mac- 
kenzie for his classification. In fact further on he 
admits that, strictly speaking, there should be a 
different register for every note, which practically 
coincides with the theory generally accepted, that 
slight changes must take place in the vocal organs 
during their progressive adjustments for the 
ascending tones of the scale. But these gradual 
adjustments are not the same as contended by 
register advocates, according to whom the registers 
are originated by marked changes in the shape of 
the vocal organs in certain sections of the range 
where the voice breaks. There is no objection to 
having as many progressive registers as there are 
notes in the range, because practically it is tanta- 
mount to having one big register made up of as 
many small registers as there are notes in the com- 
pass of the voice, like one long chain formed by a 
great number of small links. 

Therefore, Dr. Mackenzie's classification, hav- 
ing no definite scientific basis, remains purely a 
personal view, which, however, stands out promi- 
nently among the many others as the most logical. 

Dr. F. E. Miller, in his book The Voice, after 
illustrating the theory on registers, states that the 
breaks of the voice can be accounted for on scien- 
tific grounds: 

Suppose [he says] there were a man able to produce the 
entire male vocal compass, from deepest bass to highest tenor. 
While for every note throughout the entire compass there 
would be subtle changes in the adjustment of the vocal tract 
the following also would be true: that beginning with the 


lowest note and throughout the first octave of his voice, the 
changes in the adjustments of the vocal tract would not alter 
the general character of the adjustment for that octave; that 
on entering the second octave, there would be a tendency 
toward change in the general adjustment of the vocal tract; 
while for the production of the remaining notes above, an 
almost startling change in the adjustment of the vocal tract 
would take place. 

As much as we respect the opinion expressed in 
the above statement, we fail to perceive the scien- 
tific ground which justifies the necessity of the 
breaks of the voice into registers. 

That slight changes of the vocal tract must occur 
in passing from one tone to the next, when the vocal 
organs undergo different adjustments for pro- 
ducing progressive pitches, has been demonstrated 
by scientific experiments and is admitted by all 
scientists. But that there is a tendency toward a 
change in the general adjustment of the vocal tract 
on entering the second octave, and that, for the pro- 
duction of the remaining notes above that, a start- 
ling change must take place in the adjustment of 
the vocal organs, has not thus far been reinforced 
by any scientific evidence. 

And if it were true that the change in registers 
must occur at a certain particular altitude of the 
scale, it has not been demonstrated, up to this time, 
that this altitude is the correct place. There are 
singers, in fact, whose voices break in any difficult 
passage, and others very few whose voices never 
break through the entire range. We cannot think 
otherwise, then, that the division of the voice into 


registers, far from being a scientific axiom, is noth- 
ing else than an arbitrary and conventional hypoth- 
esis of voice experts, teachers and singers, who do 
not even agree among themselves as to where the 
breaks of the voice should occur. 

Now and then [Dr. Miller adds] in a generation there may 
appear upon the scene a singer, usually a tenor, who for his 
high notes is not obliged to adopt the somewhat artificial 
adjustment required by the highest register, but can sing all 
his tones in the easier adjustments of the lowest or middle 
register. But he is a phenomenon, the exception that proves 
the rule, . . . 

This privilege which Dr. Miller claims for one 
singer in a generation is not so rare, we venture 
to say, and is far from being exceptional. As a 
matter of fact it is the rule with singers who pro- 
duce their voice correctly, and furthermore, it 
should be the universal practice in voice training, 
as it is in absolute conformity with the normal 
physiological mechanism of the vocal organs. 

Nature, as a rule, creates perfection through 
simplicity ; the simpler the mechanism, the smoother 
and the more perfect its function; we can, there- 
fore, hardly credit Nature with the complications 
that occur in the break of the voice into registers, 
and which we maintain are only the result of im- 
proper singing; neither can we think that Nature 
would bestow upon a few chosen singers physio- 
logical privileges which are denied to the gener- 
ality. We are rather inclined to think that as in 
the case of blood circulation the simplest and most 


wonderful function of the human system the 
natural mechanism of voice production is one and 
the same for all of us. 

Those singers whom Dr. Miller considers as 
"phenomena" are nothing more than good singers, 
conspicuous only through their scarcity and the 
deficiency of the others. Their great merit lies in 
the knowledge whether conscious or unconscious 
of how to make use of their vocal organs accord- 
ing to the laws of Nature. 

Duprez, for instance [quotes Dr. Miller in his book] was 
a phenomenal tenor; he could sing the whole tenor range in 
the chest register. He could emit the ut de poitrine, which 
means that he could sing tenor high C in the chest register. 

But there are others: Caruso could sing basso, 
baritone, dramatic and lyric tenor, without any 
breaks in his voice, and we believe he was not an 
exception in this. Of course, there was a slight 
change in Caruso's voice when he used to sing as 
a lyric tenor, which affected only the dimensions 
of his voice, molded most essentially on the signifi- 
cance of the words ,and on the style of the music, 
which, being lyric, required a lighter form of voice 
than in the dramatic parts. 

Lablache, the famous basso, used to sing tenor 
roles as well as basso. Emma Calve, a rare singer 
as well as exceptional artist, can sing as con- 
tralto and coloratura in one and the same voice. 
Galli-Curci uses only one register for the entire 
range of her voice, which covers almost three 
octaves, from G to F ? and Titta Ruffo, the brilliant 


baritone, can invade very gallantly the domain of 
dramatic tenors with the same voice he uses for his 
entire range of baritone. 

All this is not exceptional ; when the vocal organs 
are properly adjusted for the different tones of 
the scale, every singer can acquire a voice produc- 
tion without breaks in the vocal range. In the case 
of many singers the changes of registers take place 
so frequently that they are condemned as "bad" 
singers even by people not well versed in the art 
of singing; the unevenness of their voices is caused 
by the continuous breaks at different points of the 
range, and the fact that the popular verdict is 
against them clearly shows that the public favors 
those who avoid breaks in their voices. This natural 
predilection of the uninformed listener is the best 
proof how essential is the homogeneity of the voice 
in quality and in volume. 

To well-trained ears, the passing of the bow from 
one string of the violin to another produces some- 
what of a peculiar and unpleasant effect which the 
good violinist tries to avoid, and strives to bring 
out all the tones alike in quality which procures a 
more uniform and artistic effect. 

This dissonance, almost unavoidable in the violin, 
is only slight when compared with the disagreeable 
sensation produced by singers when passing from 
one register to another. The acoustic effects are 
obviously against the use of various registers in the 
human voice. To adapt the vocal organs to abrupt 
adjustments, which are only the result of artificial 
efforts to produce voices of different character in 


the same range, amounts to nothing less than the 
introduction of a faulty mechanism, which inter- 
feres with the natural production of the voice and 
destroys its beauty. 

The singing of the greatest tenor in the annals 
of song Caruso gave the most striking evidence 
of the advantage of avoiding register breaks, and 
undoubtedly any singer who produces correctly the 
entire vocal range with a uniform quality through- 
out, and without any division into registers, is the 
nearest specimen to perfection in voice production. 

The artificial division of the voice into registers, 
besides bringing about a complicated mechanism 
is also impractical and disadvantageous. If we 
produce, for instance, a tone of low pitch, belong- 
ing to the chest register, the resonance of which 
must be confined to the chest only, we eliminate the 
valuable support of the resonance of all the other 
cavities of the body and commit a grave error in 
voice production. No obstacles of any kind should 
check the sound waves in expanding from the 
larynx throughout the entire body, so as to get the 
benefit of the resonance of all its cavities ; no reason, 
therefore, can justify a "chest" production or any 
other localization which would prevent the voice 
from getting its full resonance. 

The scientific explanation of the disorder of the 
vocal organs, responsible for the breaking of the 
voice into registers, is that the adjustments of these 
organs for producing the tones are extremely 
exaggerated by two factors: the first is psycholog- 
ical, and is constituted by the spasmodic contrac- 


tion of the larynx, usually at the mercy of psycho- 
logical influences, as nervousness, fright, and other 
emotions, which, instead of a normal relaxation, 
instill into the muscles and cartilages an exagger- 
ated tension; the second is physiological, and is 
represented by the increase of breath which singers 
feel they must force into their throats in order to 
counteract the tension of the vocal apparatus, and 
in the false belief that the harder they blow the 
more voice they produce. 

From this fatal ignorance the notion of registers 
has originated probably. Singers, instinctively in- 
clined to magnify their voices by giving more 
breath than necessary even in the lowest notes of 
their range, produce tones which are forced and 
also somewhat higher in pitch. 

In progressing up the scale, by increasing the 
breath, the tones become more forced and sharp, 
and by persisting in this mechanism of forcing and 
growing sharper, they eventually reach a point when 
the normal resistance of the strained vocal organs 
refuses to lend its assistance any longer, so that the 
distressed singer is compelled to resort to artificial 
means in order to compensate for the lessened 
natural resources of the vocal organs. Then a sud- 
den constriction of the larynx, pharynx, tongue, 
and soft palate combined reduce the vocal appara- 
tus to a considerably smaller size and render it more 
apt to produce higher tones, which, however, have 
no longer the dimensions and the character of the 
previous ones, as we have demonstrated in a pre- 
vious chapter. 


The result is evident: the more strained and con- 
tracted the vocal organs, the smaller the spaces of 
their cavities become, and consequently the volume 
of the voice produced is less ; the greater the amount 
of breath employed under exaggerated pressure, 
the less exact is the resulting pitch of the voice 
and its original quality. 

It is our firm conviction, however, that were the 
adjustments of the larynx but gradually employed 
with no constriction of the throat to interfere with 
the freedom of the tone and with the minimum 
amount of necessary breath employed, a mechanism 
would result which could regulate the entire range 
of the voice without requiring a break into different 

A rough illustration of what could be considered 
a perfect range, without division of registers, 
would be obtained by comparing the voice with a 
ladder; the wider part is at its base, and it diminishes 
in width proportionately as it nears the top. This 
gradual diminishing, however, does not affect its 
evenness. The identical evenness should remain 
in the gradual diminishing of the range of the voice, 
its lower tones, larger in volume, undergoing a 
gradual and slight decrease in ascending the scale, 
without this slight change, however, affecting the 
quality and evenness of the voice in any altitude of 
the range. 

The illustrations in Figure 13 give material evi- 
dence of the breaks of the voice, according to the 
division of registers, with the last one showing the 
entire range without any breaks. 


The first illustration in the group of three rep- 
resents the average compass of any high voice, that 
is, a dramatic tenor or a soprano, and shows where 
the usual breaks into registers occur. These breaks, 
however, are not the same and not equal in number 
for every voice. Some singers the very bad ones 
have breaks at almost every other note and some- 
times, even in the same note, if long sustained, 
toward the end their voices slide into a kind of a 
squeezed sound, indefinite in pitch and disagreeable 
in effect. A certain great singer used to call these 
breaks the tails of the voice. 

This traditional, time-worn divisions of the voice 
into three registers is explained as follows (refer- 
ring to letters on the diagram) : 

a. The chest register which gets its resonance 
from the chest. At the altitude of E or F 
the voice breaks and gives origin to the Middle 

b. The first break of the voice. 

c. The Middle register which, according to some 
authors, gets its resonance from the pharynx. 
At the altitude of E it breaks and gives origin 
to the head register. 

d. The second break of the voice. 

e. The head register, which gets its resonance 
from the head. 

The second illustration in Figure 13 shows the 
defects of the voice, resulting from its breaks into 
register, emphasized by colors, and referred to 
herewith by letters. 




a. Chest register, produced by an exaggerated 
power and tension. 

b. Starting point of the first break. Change in 
the quality and volume of the voiee. 

c. Middle register, the voiee becomes gradually 
stiff, thin and sharp. 

d. Second break. Second change of the voice, 
its production becoming more difficult and 

e. Head register. The voice becomes very sharp 
and decidedly changed in its characteristics- 
volume and quality. Its loses the character 
of human voice, and sounds like an instru- 

In a faulty voice mechanism, the lower tones. be- 
ing produced by an exaggerated effort for the 
purpose of getting more volume and resonance, the 
result is that the vocal apparatus, after a series of 
a few tones, cannot sustain the tension of its organs, 
and collapses. The voice breaks and gives origin 
to another series of tones molded on a new adjust- 
ment of the vocal organs, which suddenly reshape 
themselves into a smaller size, and produce smaller 
tones. Thus, from the chest register suddenly 
comes out the middle register, smaller in size (Fig. 

The middle register begins to show the deformi- 
ties of the characteristics of the voice, which grow 
with the ascendency of its altitude. The volume 
begins to diminish, and the quality becomes stiff 
and sharp. From the collapse of the vocal organs 


at a certain point of the middle register, the head 
register takes origin. 

In the head register the deformity of the voice is 
more appalling. It becomes empty and colorless 
with certain singers, or very sharp, though thinner 
in volume, and more like a sound than a human 
voice a kind of a big, strong falsetto. In many 
instances singers cannot pronounce their words in 
this register, and therefore confine their efforts to 
singing tones only. 

The third illustration in Figure 13 shows the full 
range of the voice as performed by a natural, cor- 
rect mechanism. The lower tones, being produced 
by a normal amount of breath, can reach the lowest 
extension of the range, thus enabling the voice to 
run from E below the staff to high C. These low 
tones, however, are not strong, but rich, because 
the complete relaxation of the vocal organs allows 
their vibrations to expand and get the full res- 
onance from all the body cavities. In singing, how- 
ever, they are not used by tenors and sopranos. 

By gradually ascending the scale there comes a 
point where the voice becomes naturally strong, 
without forcing its production, and this represents 
the natural, brilliant section of the compass, which 
characterizes the different voices basso, baritone, 
tenor, soprano, etc. 

The rest of the range of the voice follows the 
same mechanism, keeping its volume and quality 
almost entirely. The slight changes which may 
occur in its characteristics are related to the 
gradual, slight adjustments of the vocal organs for 


higher tones, but no breaks whatever into registers 
can take place. 

The voice production with no registers, there- 
fore, is able to render the entire range in the same 
form and quality, and relieves the vocal organs of 
any strain, giving also the possibility of training 
and developing a beautiful voice, with astonishing 

Were a clear conception of the natural range of 
the voice to exist, nobody would bother about 
registers. Musical instruments have but one reg- 
ister, and require but one technique for playing at 
any altitude of their range. Why should it be 
essential for the human vocal apparatus the most 
complete and perfect musical instrument to un- 
dergo an elaborated process of breaks and sudden 
adjustments for producing the voice? 

An original view, of a psychological nature, 
why we should supplant the theory of registers 
with one of psychological intonation of the voice, 
is suggested to the author by the fact that the 
speaking voice through the meaning of the words 
rules the singing voice and therefore must rule all 
its modulations in all the altitudes of its range. 

The speaking voice has no registers ; yet we talk 
in high and low pitch, and the modulation of our 
voice, in its different pitches, is dependent upon the 
psychological influence of the words. 

We talk loudly, for instance, when we are ex- 
cited, angry, etc.; softly and sweetly under the 
soothing influence of love, joy and tenderness; low 


on a solemn or sad occasion. All of these psycho- 
logical phases influence and rule the pitch and color 
of our voice. 

The changes in the character of the singing voice 
should be, by analogy, related rather to these emo- 
tional influences than to the physical mechanism of 
voice production, and thus render the entire range 
of the voice equal in form, provided a correct 
technique is used. 

These psychological changes in the altitudes of 
the tones require no artificial adjustment of the 
vocal organs. In recitation, for instance, when the 
artist wishes to express an exquisite sentiment of 
happiness, tenderness, a dream or a vision, he raises 
his voice to a very high pitch (some do it very 
artistically) in order to produce a light and sweet 
intonation, and diminishing it at times to a mere 
shadow of a voice. Human psychology could not 
suggest any other inflection of voice than the high 
pitch for expressing such sentiments, as for the 
interpretation of dramatic feelings the medium and 
low tones are indicated; and the physiological 
mechanism of voice production fully obeys the 
psychological suggestion, without, though, chang- 
ing the intrinsic characteristics of the voice, 
irrespective of how high or low the pitch may be. 

The same must occur in singing; the changes of 
pitch, correctly produced, must not result in a 
change of register, but merely represent the psycho- 
logical color given to the singing by the different 
sentiments to be expressed. In the unsurpassed 
love duet of Tristan and Isolde, for instance, it is 


the beautiful inspiration of the words more than 
technical execution of the notes that communicates 
its mellowness to the voices of the interpreters, and 
the voice production here is less the result of a 
skillful mechanical function than the corollary of 
the psychological influence of the words. The 
"head register" has nothing whatever to do with 
the light mezza voce which is required in this duet 
and is merely the attenuation of the voice under a 
psychological influence, just as would be the case 
if the same words were spoken. 

The close relationship of the meaning of words 
with the altitude of the voice is shown by the fact 
that sometimes, in phrases of very dramatic por- 
tent, high pitches of voice are used, in full power 
and volume, neglecting entirely the change of the 
chest register into the more adaptable head register. 
In the finale of the third act of "Aida," for in- 
stance, the tenor holds the words, Sacerdote, io 
resto a te, in full voice, sustaining several high B's, 
which, according to the division of registers, should 
be produced by the head register; but in so doing 
the quality of voice would not be suited to the 
meaning of the words, and would mar this power- 
ful dramatic situation. 

To sum up, there are no physiological needs for 
the break of the voice into registers; by leaving its 
intonation under psychological control we can 
attain any altitude in the vocal compass, without 
subjecting the vocal organs to artificial efforts in 
order to break the voice into unnecessary registers. 


Let psychology rule the voice within the bounds 
of one register for its entire range ! If singers have 
drama, tragedy and poetry in their hearts, it will 
show in their singing, whether tragic, dramatic or 
lyric. The voice being the product of inspiration 
and natural resources will certainly be the truest 
and most beautiful expression of art when free 
from any artificial influence or deformity like the 
arbitrary break into registers. 




THE personal opinion of Caruso regarding his 
vocal method and his point of view on singing in 
general, besides being of the utmost interest to 
singers and students of singing, constitutes so great 
a moral support for this book that the author feels 
justified in presenting it to the readers before en- 
tering into the illustration of the second part of this 

In 1919, Caruso was requested by a musical 
paper to give some personal views on singing. The 
following are the principal points which he ex- 
plained in the interview and which he represented 
as the guiding principles of his voice and vocal art: 

"The question 'How is it done?' as applied to the 
art of singing brings up so many different points 
that it is difficult to know where to begin or how to 
give a concise idea of the principles controlling the 
production of the voice and their application to 
vocal art. 

"Every singer or singing master is popularly 
supposed to have a method by following out which 
he has come to fame. Yet, if asked to describe the 
method, many an artist would be at a loss to do so, 



or would deny that he had any specific method, such 
a subtle and peculiarly individual matter it is that 
constitutes the technical part of singing. Most 
singers in fact, all of them do many things in 
singing habitually, yet so inconspicuously that they 
could not describe how or why they did them. . . . 
For instance, a singer will know from trials and 
experience just the proper position of the tongue 
and larynx to produce most effectively a certain 
note on the scale; yet he will have come by this 
knowledge, not by theory and reasoning, but simply 
by oft-repeated attempts, and the knowledge he 
has attained will be valuable to him only, for some- 
body else would produce the same note equally well, 
but in quite a different way. 

"So one may see that there are actually as many 
methods as there are singers, and any particular 
method, even if accurately set forth, might be use- 
less to the person who tried it. This is what I 
really would reply to any one putting this question 
to me that my own particular way of singing, if 
I have any, is, after all, peculiarly suited to me 
only, as I have above described. 

"However, there are many interesting and valu- 
able things to be said about the voice in a general 
way. . . . 

"It may be well to speak now of a very important 
point in singing what is called the 'attack' of the 
tone. In general this may be described as the rela- 
tive position of the throat and tongue and the 
quality of voice as the tone is begun. The most 
serious fault of many singers is that they attack 


the tone either from the chest or the throat. Even 
with robust health the finest voice cannot resist this. 
This is the reason one sees so many artists who have 
made a brilliant debut disappear from sight very 
soon, or later on wind up a mediocre career. 
Singers who use their voices properly should be at 
the height of their talents at forty-five, and keep 
their voices in full strength and virility up to at 
least fifty. At this latter age, or close after, it 
would seem well to have earned the right to close 
one's career. 

"A great artist ought to have the dignity to say 
farewell to his public when still in full possession 
of his powers, and never let the world apprise him 
of his decadence. 

"To have the attack true and pure one must con- 
sciously try to open the throat not only in front, 
but from behind, for the throat is the door through 
which the voice must pass, and if it is not suffi- 
ciently open it is useless to attempt to get out a full 
round tone; also the throat is the outlet and inlet 
for the breath, and if it is closed the voice will seek 
other channels or return stifled within. 

"It must not be imagined that to open the mouth 
wide will do the same for the throat. If one is well 
versed in the art, one can open the throat perfectly 
without a perceptible opening of the mouth, merely 
by the power of respiration. 

"It is necessary to open the sides of the mouth, 
at the same time dropping the chin well, to obtain 
a good throat opening. In taking higher notes, of 
course, one must open the mouth a little wider, but 


for the most part the position of the mouth is that 
assumed when smiling. It is a good idea to practice 
opening the throat before a mirror and try to see 
the palate, as when you show your throat to a 
doctor. . . . 

"The tone once launched, one must think how it 
may be properly sustained, and this is where the art 
of breathing is most concerned. The lungs, in the 
first place, should be thoroughly filled. A tone 
begun with only half-filled lungs loses half its 
authority and is very apt to be false in pitch. To 
take a full breath properly, the chest must be raised 
at the same moment that the abdomen sinks in. 
Then with the gradual expulsion of the breath, a 
contrary movement takes place. ... It is this 
ability to take in an adequate supply of breath and 
to retain it until required that makes, or the con- 
trary, mars, all singing. A singer with a perfect 
sense of pitch and all the good intentions possible 
will often sing off the key and bring forth a tone 
with no vitality to it, distressing to hear, simply 
for lack of breath control. 

"This art of respiration, once acquired, the 
student has gone a considerable step on the road to 
Parnassus. ... 

"In the matter of taking high notes one should 
remember that their purity and ease of production 
depend very much on the way the preceding notes 
leading up to them are sung. . . . 

"Singers, especially tenors, are very apt to throw 
the head forward in producing the high notes, and 
consequently get that throaty, strained voice, which 


is so disagreeable. To avoid this one should try 
to keep the supply of breath down as far toward 
the abdomen as possible, thus maintaining the up- 
per passages to the head quite free for the emission 
of the voice." * 

In these few personal remarks on singing, ex- 
pressed by Caruso, there is more precious advice 
condensed to help students and singers in their 
art than could be found in many a book on voice 
culture filled with abstruse doctrines and compli- 
cated rules. 

Here the great singer, in a simple and practical 
form, puts down the fundamental principles of 
voice production which control the art of singing. 
By saying that many artists would be at a loss to 
describe their methods, if they have any, and by 
emphasizing that most singers do many things 
through mere force of habit and so spontaneously 
that they cannot describe how, Caruso has given the 
clearest possible explanation of his marvelous sing- 
ing. In his statement that there is no one method 
of singing, but that there are as many methods as 
there are singers, and that his own particular way 
of singing was peculiarly suited to himself, he es- 
tablished the real truth about methods of singing in 
general. As a matter of fact no two persons can 
follow precisely the same routine in singing, and 
not even two pupils can be taught the same method 
in exactly the same way. This also shows clearly 
that to try and imitate Caruso's singing was futile 

1 In the Musical Observer, November, 1919, taken from the 
Monthly Musical Record. 


and perhaps dangerous, as has been proven prac- 
tically by the attempts made by some tenors, to the 
great injury of their own voices. 

Nevertheless, if Caruso's method of singing could 
not be readily adopted by any one else, as Caruso 
himself stated, the practical illustration of the 
physiological rules of voice production which he 
followed and on which his singing was naturally 
molded are undoubtedly of inestimable value to 
students and singers. 

Caruso said that, although he could not explain 
his method of singing, there were many interesting 
and valuable things he could say about singing in 
general. In describing them as he did, he rein- 
forced the scientific truth which he advocated by 
natural intuition. 

As a matter of fact, many of the personal 
impressions of great singers are often the very 
fundamental principles of voice production, based 
on physiological laws, which they follow through 
mere instinct. The physiological rules which con- 
trol the production of all voices are like the rules 
of proportion and perspective governing the draw- 
ing of a painting or the modeling of clay. They 
establish the correct fundamental basis for every 
individual vocal method. Therefore, while Caruso 
could not illustrate for others his own method of 
singing, he almost unconsciously laid down the 
physiological principles of voice production by de- 
duction from his own experience. 

The author had the rare opportunity of assist- 
ing Caruso in teaching the only pupil he ever had 


a person with a superb voice, but too advanced 
in years to be influenced by any training. By 
closely observing the method by which Caruso 
taught this man, the author saw the application by 
the master himself of the correct physiological rules 
of voice production as propounded in this work. 

These rules coincided exactly with the principles 
presented by the author in this book ; thus Caruso's 
opinions constitute their most valuable confirma- 
tion. The laws of natural singing which he, the 
typical model of natural singing, felt and followed 
by natural instinct and inspiration, are those that 
the author claims must be adopted in voice culture. 
It was not in Caruso's power to formulate his in- 
stinctive feelings into practical rules, as he did not 
have the support of scientific knowledge about voice 
production, and naturally he was rather at a loss 
when asked to explain his method of singing. 

He was, however, deeply interested in the prob- 
lems of human voice, and in the many years of 
friendly association with the author much was dis- 
cussed on this subject between the great singer, 
from his personal point of view and experience, 
and the author from the standpoint of his re- 
searches on human voice. 

Caruso was also much attracted by the analysis 
of his own voice, and his vocal apparatus. His own 
experience and the author's scientific knowledge 
cooperated in studying him as a vocal phenomenon, 
trying to find the link that so closely related his 
art to natural laws. 



IN the suggestions laid down at the beginning 
of this book for the purpose of reinforcing in actual 
form the scientific principles of voice production 
for bringing about a radical reform of voice cul- 
ture, the following is of prime importance: 

Voice culture must be natural in its basis, built 
upon scientific principles ; not empiric or arbitrary. 
There must be only one method of singing, founded 
on physiological laws, taught in a practical form. 

This suggestion constitutes the principal basis 
for the radical reconstruction of voice education as 
conceived by the author, who emphasizes the speak- 
ing voice as the fundamental element for the thor- 
ough education of the voice, particularly inasmuch 
as it is related to the art of singing. 

In applying its rules practical evidence is given 
of the advantages resulting from centering on the 
speaking voice all the practice required for the 
training and the development of the voice, either 
in talking or singing. Thus the marked difference 
between this method and those existing at present 
is made evident, from the very beginning. 

Making the speaking voice the fundamental ele- 
ment for singing is an issue which has a scientific 
basis, as has already been demonstrated in this 



book; therefore, presenting this method of voice 
culture as "scientific" is not claiming for it an arbi- 
trary qualification; it is a logical outcome, derived 
from its intrinsic character. 

This, however, must not suggest the idea of an 
artificial method on account of its qualification as 
scientific. As a matter of fact, the word "scien- 
tific" has often been misrepresented by artificial 
practices; the general impression, therefore, tends 
toward that misleading belief. 

But in the case of the scientific culture of voice, 
science, which is reinforced principally by rules of 
physiology, acoustics, and phonology, working in 
harmonious cooperation, constitutes an essential 
aid in discovering and estimating at their proper 
value the functional laws of nature, making of them 
an illustrative method of voice culture, elementary 
in its structure and true in its contents. 

We therefore emphasize the fact that scientific 
and natural culture are, in reality, synonymous, 
in order to satisfy those outside of the scientific 
field who, from traditional habit, are inclined to 
balk at anything which bears the stamp of scientific 
in reference to the human voice. Science is knowl- 
edge based on truth, and is very simple in its doc- 
trines. Nothing, in fact, is simpler than the physi- 
ology of the vocal apparatus, which conforms with 
natural laws, and which disregards all theories or 
statements based on hypotheses or personal impres- 
sions, without the support of a scientific demon- 

While many schools of singing, by making the 


art of teaching an elaborated exploitation of exer- 
cises better suited to physical culture than to an 
art essentially emotional and intellectual, expose 
the students to a strain which often fatally injures 
their vocal organs, the Scientific culture of voice, 
keeping very close to the natural mechanism, ex- 
ploits a simple and elementary method condensed 
into a few rules. These rules are molded funda- 
mentally on the speaking voice and controlled most 
essentially by the idea of protecting the vocal 
apparatus from any strain during the act of sing- 

Hence, the aim of directing the art of singing 
toward a radical reform and of placing it on a firm 
and scientific basis is made possible by this funda- 
mental change of its culture, in its very roots. 

The rules governing this new form of voice cul- 
ture are summed up in the elementary principle, 
of establishing proper diction as the basis for a 
correct singing voice production. This naturally 
embraces the correct placing and formation of the 
voice, first in talking, and then its development 
along the same line in singing. 

Although this principle is most essentially re- 
lated to and is more important for the sing- 
ing voice, it is applied through the medium of the 
speaking voice, which, constituting the backbone 
or skeleton of the singing voice, supplies all its 
physiological and psychological characteristics 
pitch, volume, quality, expression, etc. 

The Scientific culture of voice, by developing in 
detail the author's original view of giving the 


proper phonetic production to the speaking voice 
for producing the singing voice with the same 
mechanism, gives the latter the advantage of find- 
ing its words already correctly produced, of mold- 
ing its volume and quality on that of the speaking 
voice, and of magnifying its resonance and expres- 
sion by the addition of its musical colors. 

A big and beautiful speaking voice, in reality, 
furnishes splendid material in the raw for a cor- 
respondingly big and beautiful singing voice; the 
larger amount of musical vibrations and melodious 
quality of the latter representing merely an acous- 
tic embellishment. 

In spite of its importance, very little indeed is 
known about the proper production of the speak- 
ing voice, especially as a phonetic platform for 
proper singing and voice development. 

It is the belief of the author, as the result of 
many years of study on the mechanism of the voice, 
and the experience gained through the constant 
observation and care of many of the greatest 
singers, that most of the failures in the singing pro- 
fession are due to the ignorance of the important 
role played by the speaking voice in relation to the 
art of singing. 

The two forms of voice, the speaking and the 
singing, being the same physical element, are so 
closely connected that the neglect of one means 
the abolition of the proper production and beauty 
of the other. It is no exaggeration to state that 
the proper formation of the speaking voice is the 
only sine qua non condition of correct singing, as 


the latter always retains the former's original 
characteristics, whether beautiful or ugly. 

The idea, therefore, of creating a system of 
teaching which begins by establishing all the rules 
for the production of a beautiful speaking voice, 
that the singing voice may be molded on it, has 
been materialized by the writer in this method, 
which has been submitted to some of the greatest 
singers and voice experts. 

The recognition of its real value has been ex- 
pressed to the author in letters and indorsements 
commending its universal use in voice culture, as 
can be seen in the testimonial of Enrico Caruso, 
quoted in a preceding chapter, and those of Emma 
Calve, Galli-Curci and Titta Ruffo which follow. 

The preface of this book, written by no less an 
authority than Victor Maurel, the artist who was 
the first in the musical world to carry out the con- 
ception that singing is merely musical speaking, is 
of the most valuable support for the Scientific Cul- 
ture of the Voice. 

Madame Galli-Curci, in a letter written in Eng- 
lish, has given her full endorsement to the princi- 
ples illustrated by the author, who has also received 
a very enthusiastic letter from Madame Emma 
Calve, translated herewith from the original, which 
is also reproduced. 

A literal translation of the indorsement given by 
Signor Titta Ruffo for The Scientific Culture of 
Voice, as conceived by Dr. P. M. Marafioti, follows 
on the next page. 

Endorsement of Madame Emma Calve for the 
Scientific Culture of the Voice; 



I have just read your admirable book in which you explain 
with clarity a perfect method in which voice culture must be 
based on new scientific principles adaptable to the exigencies 
of the music of to-day. This new method, having become a 
necessity because of the evolution of the modern school, which 
demands above all lyrical declamation rather than the "Bel 
Canto" heretofore required. 

Dear doctor, you who through your science have so mar- 
velously known how to fathom the mystery of the voice, you 
are the one designated for entering into this reform in which 
you should be encouraged and highly praised. 

"The sound soars to the sky," the great poet Baudelaire 
said. Thanks to you, it will raise us, I hope, to the spheres 
of eternal harmony our aim for all. 

Your sincere friend, 


Endorsement of Titta Ruffo for The Scientific 
Culture of the Voice: 

I have read with keen interest the scientific and practical 
study on human voice as conceived by you, and found it so 
marvelous that I feel it my duty to express my opinion in 

It will be of great help to all students of singing and 
declamation because of its extreme clarity and simplicity, 
which can be seen to perfection in the proceeding by which 
you develop your new theories. It is necessary that it be 
given out for publication, so that it may be known in all con- 
servatories of music, and in all schools of singing and decla- 

The education of the voice plays a very important role 
in our intellectual life, as the most elevating emotions of our 
souls are aroused by the harmony of sounds; and singers as 
well as actors will be vocally perfect if they learn to abide 
by the principles which you express in your method. 



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From the psychological standpoint, because of 
its importance, the relationship of the speaking and 
the singing voice deserves far more attention than 
is usually given to it. It is not the sound, in fact, 
produced by the singing voice that gives the im- 
pressive power of expression to the art of sing- 
ing, but what is said and how it is said, through the 
medium of tones. Whether the sentiment the artist 
wants to express be tragic, dramatic, or lyric, he 
must have tragedy and drama in his soul, and 
convey them through his words in order to get a 
really artistic effect. Intense emotions, in singing, 
cannot be expressed alone through the medium of 
tones, tones being rather the medium for musical 
effects and technical embellishment. They may 
emphasize an expression which intensely pleases 
and delights the ear, decorate the singing words 
in a more beautiful manner, make the phrasing 
more artistic, but they have not sufficient power to 
convey a strong message of the mind or an intense 
pathos of the heart, to an educated audience. If 
simple tones could do that, there would be no dif- 
ference between musical instruments and human 
voice, but indeed nobody can deny that the human 
voice is the really supreme power and magic 
medium of human souls, which alone has the 
privilege of carrying with words all feelings and 
thoughts, in any definite degree of expression, and 
shadows of sentiment. 

Therefore, if those singers (unfortunately 
many) who, by blowing very hard, under high pres- 
sure of the diaphragm, or whispering softly in their 


throats with falsetto or head voices, think that they 
are expressing hate or love, SOITOAV or delight, they 
are mistaken. Their psychology is lacking or false, 
and their singing is very far from reaching the 
minds and inspiring the souls of any artistic 
audience. To hear tones which do not carry the 
impressiveriess of the meaning of the words is in- 
deed of very little value to a discriminating public, 
who wants to know what message the singing con- 

There are some artists, though, whose singing 
never fails to reach the hearts of the audience. 
Among them are a few prominent ones, who com- 
bine all the treasures of their voices with the finest 
sense of expression, and so have the privilege of 
delivering to the world the most sublime and artistic 
singing. Everybody, of course, is affected by the 
beautiful and intense spell of their performance; 
but not everybody knows of what immense value 
and support to their artistic efforts is the proper 
use and intelligent cooperation of their speaking 
voice. When these artists sing, not one word is 
lost, and the audiences cry and laugh with them, 
because they understand them and are carried 
away by the emotions embodied in the words they 
are singing. There lies the secret of the striking 
suggestion and powerful impressiveness of their 
voices, and this is also what gave its magic power 
to Caruso's singing. 

But how many singers make the audiences 
understand even in what language they are sing- 
ing? How many have the slightest notion of this 


inestimable cooperating factor the speaking voice 
and make valuable use of it in their art? Opera- 
goers could easily answer this question. 

In some recent instances in New York, when 
operas were produced in English, there was gen- 
eral dissatisfaction and criticism because not a word 
the artists were singing was intelligible to the 
audience. If American audiences were more 
familiar with the Italian, French, Russian, or Ger- 
man languages, they would soon realize that the 
same complaint could be applied to the majority 
of singers singing in any language; nay, some al- 
lowance must be made for the singing in English, 
as this language is, in truth, more difficult in its 
enunciation than most of the above-mentioned. 
There is an intrinsic phonetic deficiency in the lan- 
guage itself, of which we will treat later. 

The lack of discrimination and also of interest 
on the part of some audiences about this matter is 
responsible for the singers' underestimation of the 
importance of singing their words, thus making it 
possible to deliver properly the full message of 
the music as the composer felt and intended it. 
Those audiences, generally, place their interest and 
center their enthusiasm only on the top notes of the 
sensational singers, and real art means very little 
or nothing to them. 

The singers, however, or musicians who are at- 
tracted by the importance of this subject, should 
refer to the following comment by Wagner in 
Actors and Singers and see what his conception of 
the role played by diction in singing was: 


"If to-day I seek out singers for a passably cor- 
rect performance of my own dramatic works, it is 
not by chance the 'scarcity of voices' that alarms 
me, but my fear of their having been utterly ruined 
by a method which excludes all sound pronuncia- 
tion. As our singers do not articulate properly, 
neither for the most part do they know the mean- 
ing of their speeches, and thus the character of 
any role entrusted to them strikes their minds in 
none but general hazy outlines, after the manner of 
certain operatic commonplaces. In their conse- 
quent frenzied hunt for something to please, they 
light at last on stronger tones (Tonaccente) strewn 
here and there, on which they rush with panting 
breath as best they can, and end by thinking they 
have sung quite 'dramatically' if they bellow out 
the phrase's closing note with an emphatic bid for 

"Now it has been almost amazing to me, to find 
how quickly such a singer, with a little talent and 
good-will, could be freed of his senseless habits if 
I led him in all brevity to the essentials of his task. 
My compulsorily simple plan was to make him 
really and distinctly speak in singing, whilst I 
brought the lines of musical curvature (die Linien 
der Gesangsbewegung) to his consciousness by get- 
ting him to take in one breath, with perfectly even 
intonation, the calmer, lengthier periods on which 
he formerly had expended a number of gusty 
respirations; when this had been well done, I left 
it to his natural feeling to give the melodic lines 
their rightful motion, through accent, rise and fall, 


according to the verbal sense. Here I seemed to 
observe in the singer the salutary effect of the re- 
turn of an overwrought emotion in its natural cur- 
rent, as if the reducing of its unnatural and 
headlong rush to a proper rate of motion had spon- 
taneously restored him to a sense of well being; 
and a quite definite physiological result of this tran- 
quilization appeared forthwith, namely, the vanish- 
ing of that peculiar cramp which drives our singers 
to the so-called head-note (Gaumentonn, lit. 
'palatal tone'), that terror of our singing masters, 
which they attack in vain with every kind of 
mechanical weapon, although the enemy is but a 
simple bent to affectation, which takes the singer 
past resistance when once he thinks he has no longer 
to speak, but to 'sing,' which means in his belief 
that he must do it 'finely,' that is, make an exhibi- 
tion of himself." 

The author feels no hesitation nor scruples in 
affirming that this wonderful statement by Wagner 
contains more truth and sound precepts about sing- 
ing than the dozens of books he has read on voice 
culture. With his accurate analysis of the actual 
conditions of the singing field, and with a touch of 
sarcasm and criticism about the operatic common- 
places prevalent among the ordinary singers, Wag- 
ner has condensed into these few lines the most 
solid, scientific, and artistic principles of the art 
of singing. The real essentials also for correct and 
artistic singing are so masterly outlined that they 


make all other methods for voice culture, existing 
at present, unworthy of comparison. 

All the physical and pltysiological doctrines of 
teachers who are hunting for sensational phrases 
and impressive words, the meaning of which is 
often unfamiliar to them, but serves the purpose of 
appealing to the unskilled, untaught, enthusiastic 
pupils who are open to any unknown ideas, become 
insignificant and ludicrous when compared with the 
truth condensed in the few suggestions of Wagner 
in which he leads the singer to the "essentials of 
his task," making him "really and distinctly speak 
in singing," and "restoring him to a sense of well 
being, and to that definite physiological result of 
tranquilization, namely, the vanishing of that 
peculiar cramp which drives our singers to the so- 
called head-note that terror of our singing 
masters, which they attack in vain with every kind 
of mechanical weapon, although the enemy is but 
a simple bent to affectation, which takes the singer 
past resistance when once he thinks he has no longer 
to speak, but to 'sing.' ' Much crime unpunished 
crime is committed in the name of physiology and 
presumably physical theories. 

Although Wagner's ideas, in truth, did not in- 
fluence the author's views in reference to the con- 
tents of this book as the above quoted precious 
document of the genius of Bayreuth came to our 
knowledge when this work was almost ready for 
publication yet we feel that Wagner's precepts, 
and the principles on which we base the reform of 
voice culture, coincide so closelv that it is a matter 


of inestimable pride, as well as invaluable encour- 
agement, to us. 

In the author's mind was always imprinted the 
fundamental principle that singing must first be 
saying. If in his creed, which has been inspired 
by prolonged observation of the decadence of the 
art of singing and careful investigation into the 
causes, he has been preceded by such an authority 
as Wagner, he attributes the greatest of good 
fortune to this coincidence, and regards Wagner's 
conception of the art of singing as the strongest 
endorsement and defense for the reinforcement of 
his principles. 



THE essence of the speaking voice, from the 
physiological standpoint, and its importance as re- 
lated to the mechanism of voice production either 
in talking or in singing, has been largely treated 
at the beginning of this book, especially in the chap- 
ters dealing with the principles about the relation- 
ship of the speaking and singing voice, and the 
determination of its pitch and of its dimensions, 
like quality, volume, etc. (See Chapters XIII and 

But the importance of the role played by the 
speaking voice, from the psychological standpoint, 
either in dramatic art or as psychological basis for 
the singing voice, although not an integral part of 
our program, as previously explained, is a matter 
of such concern that it is unavoidable to enter for 
a moment into the field of psychology. 

When the primitive man tried to give vent to 
his first emotion of joy, fear, or astonishment- 
most probably an indefinite, bewildered sensation 
he cried out a sound which constituted the first 
phonetic expression that vibrated in the air and 
gave rise to speech. It was a psychological in- 



fluence which inspired it, and, no doubt, the gigan- 
tic impression which struck him the sight of the 
sun, perhaps was the first incentive for compel- 
ling him to express his feeling by ejaculating that 
sound. This constituted the primitive form of lan- 
guage spoken from which speech took origin, hav- 
ing as its inspiration and incitement a psychological 
sensation striving for expression. Thus it came 
about that the human voice has been ruled and con- 
trolled entirely, from its very beginning, by psy- 

"Le mot, qu'on le sache," said Victor Hugo, "est 
un etre vivant . . . le mot est le verbe, and le verbe 
est Dieu." "The word, it must be known, is a liv- 
ing being . . . the word is the verb, and the verb 
is God." Such an important mission has Victor 
Hugo seen in the word that he compared it to God ! 

Aside from his poetic emphasis, certainly Victor 
Hugo was right. There is no medium for express- 
ing human sentiments or feelings so high, so strong, 
and so effective as to bear comparison with the 
human voice. Its power of impressiveness is in- 
commensurable, not only in relation to the signifi- 
cance of the words spoken, but at times even 
independent of them, when it lies wholly and in- 
trinsically in the timbre and inflection of the voice 
itself. Its sound is the first to strike our ears, and 
to arouse our interest, which is attracted principally 
by its color and quality, independent of the con- 
tents of the words. That explains why certain 
great artists Tommaso Salvini, for instance, or 
Sarah Bernhardt, or Eleonora Duse, and even the 


celebrated diceuse Yvette Guilbert conquered the 
world, often performing for audiences who were 
not even familiar with their languages, but were 
deeply affected by the accent, the clarity, the 
beauty, the pathos, and musical color of the timbre 
of their voices. 

This very characteristic of the human voice exer- 
cises a power on us even in ordinary life, to the 
extent that we sometimes feel repulsion or attrac- 
tion for a person only because of his voice; some- 
times even on account of the sound of his name. 
Alexander and Napoleon perhaps would not 
appeal to our imaginations as they do if, instead 
of their names, they had been called Prosdocimus 
and Zoroastrus. 

Thus it seems obvious that voices having a 
melodious inflection and beautiful timbre impress 
us immediately and afford us immense pleasure, 
regardless of the contents of their speech. 

As for the significance of the word, of which the 
human voice is the supreme medium, its power of 
effectiveness is far more inestimable than that of 
the simple sound, which, in spite of its beauty, can 
never approximate the same effectiveness on human 
beings as can words. 

The infant expresses his first needs and sensa- 
tions by indefinite, instinctive sounds, which possess 
little power of impressiveness ; but the voice of a 
baby pronouncing for the first time "ma-ma," or 
"pa-pa" is a stirring emotion and triumphal feeling 
well known to all parents. 


The effect which a word of sympathy can exert 
on a distressed soul cannot be equaled by any other 
psychological or material means. By a word, an 
entire existence or a destiny can be changed; but, 
that word, which possesses so much power, does not 
retain its value unless the manner in which it is 
delivered carries its full message. Therefore its 
striking power of convincing and impressing de- 
pends principally on how it is said, which discloses 
the great importance of the euphonic enunciation 
of the speaking voice, not only by itself, but even 
more in connection with the singing voice. 

Hence the relation of the voice and the music, 
as it takes place in singing, makes even more con- 
spicuous the necessity of an intimate relationship 
between the speaking and singing voice, and the 
standing of the former toward the latter as a funda- 
mental basis for singing. 

This relationship is discussed here purely from 
the psychological standpoint, and refers principally 
to the power of effect of the words in music. 

Indeed, music without words has no specific 
means for expressing love, hate, fear, joy, en- 
thusiasm, admiration, contempt, and all the shad- 
ows of human psychology which can be represented 
and portrayed so profoundly, so exquisitely and so 
accurately by words alone. 

Their great help in making music more effective 
is made evident by certain celebrated phrases in 
operas, and even by entire operas. There is no 
doubt that in the instantaneous and striking success 


of "Cavalleria Rusticana" the little masterpiece 
that conquered the entire world in a few months 
a vital part was played by the impressive story of 
Verga, so beautifully and effectively arranged in 
libretto form by Targioni-Tozzetti. The impreca- 
tion of Santuzza: "A te la mala Pasqua," and the 
finale: "Hanno ammazato a compare Turiddu," 
both of which are spoken, constitute two of the 
most striking and impressive points of the opera, 
which no doubt swayed the audience to such spon- 
taneous enthusiasm that Cavalleria was marked by 
immediate and triumphant success unequaled by 
that of any other opera. 

Thus it becomes evident that the words molded 
into the music can create the most intense and 
artistic musical expressions, and the cooperation of 
the meaning of the words with the music is the ideal 
ground for the growth of the most intense and com- 
plete form of art the singing music. This brings 
about the logical deduction that, since singing 
music is strictly dependent on the cooperation of 
the voice, we must take precautions that this ele- 
ment, of such essential importance, be performed 
in its highest and most perfect form. 

This condition mainly depends on the correct 
formation of the speaking voice, as the speaking 
voice in reality lies at the root of the physiological 
and psychological structure of the singing voice. 
At its origin, perhaps, the characteristics of the 
singing voice were first suggested by the speaking 
voice, which was so beautifully produced as to 
strike the ears of the listeners with a musical sensa- 


tion never previously felt, its melodious quality and 
intonation affecting their emotions in an astonish- 
ing manner, and conquering their primitive souls. 

The speaking voice, therefore, is the foundation 
on which the singing voice was built up; and this 
imposes upon us the necessity of cultivating first 
the speaking voice as the essential basis for beauti- 
ful and correct singing. 



THE physical phenomenon voice is, in its 
simpler and primitive form, originated by a few 
elementary sounds, which constitute the funda- 
mental pillars of its phonetic structure. 

The very roots of the voice are represented by 
the vowels five in the classic languages to which 
the consonants are attached as complementary ele- 
ments, thus forming the definite vocal expressions 
called words. Words constitute the speaking voice. 

In developing the culture of the speaking voice 
in detail, both as a phonetic element and as basis 
for the singing voice, the author conceived the idea 
of formulating certain rules, molded on the phono- 
logical structure of the Italian language, with the 
object of creating one sole method of voice culture, 
of elementary character, easy enough to be under- 
stood by everybody and of benefit to students of 
all nationalities. 

This selection is based on the belief that, from 
the physiological and phonological standpoint in 
voice production, there is no simpler, more com- 
plete, and beautiful language which serves so 
large a variety of purposes as Italian. Among 

192 - 


the reasons which fully justify this preference is 
the almost universal agreement that Italian is the 
most melodious and adaptable language for sing- 
ing; and this statement is not the result of per- 
sonal opinion, as dozens of books can be quoted, 
which confirm this assertion and recommend the 
Italian language for voice training. 

Then, too, there is another reason, namely, to 
establish for voice culture solely one method, with 
one language as an educational element, which, if 
universally accepted, would constitute an official 
standard for voice training. This would material- 
ize the aim of having but one system of voice educa- 
tion for all the singing schools, and would provide 
the possibility of giving specific principles and 
rules for vocal training, which, after being recog- 
nized as the correct ones, could be applied by the 
generality, just as all correct principles and rules 
related to any art or science are universally recog- 
nized and practiced. The theory of music, in all 
its different branches is, in fact, taught and exer- 
cised by only one method, with perhaps slight 
variations, but, on the whole, by substantially the 
same procedure. Voice education should be the 

In voice culture, though, voice being the only 
means for its own training, it is necessary that all 
the principles or rules which are laid down in re- 
gard to its culture be centered fundamentally on 
the physiological and phonetic mechanism of its 
elementary form the speaking voice. 

Therefore the phonetic structure of the one Ian- 


guage selected on the merits of its phonological 
elements vowels and consonants universally 
adopted and recognized for teaching, would bring 
through a standardized technical medium a general 
understanding on all problems related to voice cul- 

It must be understood, however, that these sug- 
gestions are intended to serve essentially in assist- 
ing beginners and students in their vocal train- 
ing, or teachers in the practice of their profession. 
As for singers, after they have acquired the correct 
vocal technic, through the Italian language, any 
language should be adaptable and facile for sing- 
ing, provided they conform their voices to the cor- 
rect mechanism of voice production. 

The author, in fact, in emphasizing the necessity 
of adopting the Italian language as a basis for voice 
culture, has no idea of underestimating the impor- 
tance of other languages, though it is certain that, 
among the experts on voice, there is much con- 
troversy over the relative value of the different lan- 
guages for singing, while they unanimously agree 
on the value of the adaptability of Italian. 

Dr. Mills, in his book Voice Production in 
Speaking and Singing, says: 

"All competent to judge are agreed that Italian, 
because of the abundance of vowels in its words, is 
the best language in which to sing, or, at all events, 
to begin with as training." 

Lilli Lehmann in How to Sing, writes : 

"Without doubt the Italian language with its 


wealth of vowels is better adapted for singing than 
the German language so rieh in consonants, or than 
any other language. The organs of speech and the 
vocal apparatus, in the Italian language, are less 
subjected to violent form-modifications. The num- 
erous vowels secure for the singer an easy con- 
nection for the sounds, while the poor pronuncia- 
tion of the many hard consonants interrupts every 
form and tone connection." 

As for English, although the author believes that 
it is not a very flexible language for declamation, 
nor a melodious, resonant and free one for singing, 
because of the great number of consonants which 
prevail in the composition of the words, in compari- 
son with the number of vowels, and the large 
amount of monosyllables in which the language 
abounds, yet it is his conviction that most of the 
deficiency is due to the method of its pronunciation 
by some English speaking people rather than to the 
language itself. 

As a matter of fact, the manner of speech of the 
Australians enables them to produce voices that are 
superior to the English and American in quality 
and flexibility, and more adaptable for vocal edu- 
cation, as has been proven in the singing field like- 
wise. It is well to remember that Nellie Melba, 
and a few other singers less conspicuous, have been 
products of that country ; and the author has found 
from personal experience with some Australian 
students of singing that there is a certain freedom 
in the mechanism of their voice production which 


is dependent on their speaking voice, and is re- 
sponsible for the pleasing quality they possess, and 
for their vocal possibilities. 

It seems that the scarcity, if not the total absence 
of English singers in the operatic field is ascribed 
by some experts principally to the language and 
its enunciation, though there are other reasons also. 

John Hullah, Professor of Vocal Music in 
Queen's College, gives the following version of this 
subject in general: 

"It is generally admitted that the Anglo-Saxon 
race, now the majority of the population of Great 
Britain, are less gifted vocally have the vocal 
apparatus naturally in less perfection, and artifi- 
cially in worse order than any other variety of 
Indo-Europeans. As a rule, the English voice, if 
not always of inferior quality, is almost always, in 
intensity or capacity, inferior to (for instance) the 
Italian, the German, or the Welsh. The number 
of English speakers who can, without too evident 
effort and for any length of time, fill our largest 
interiors, or make themselves audible and intel- 
ligible at an open-air meeting, is as small as the 
number of English singers who can hold their own 
against a modern orchestra, or make their presence 
felt in every part of the Crystal Palace tran- 
sept. . . . 

"To the foreign and unaccustomed ear the 
English language sounds, as to the foreign eye the 
Welsh language looks, made up of consonants, and 
these hardly distinguishable from one another. As 


a rule, our speech is wanting both in resonance and 
distinctness. We reduce to a minimum the sonority 
of our vowels, and omit or amalgamate with one 
another half of our consonants. . . . Certain it is, 
that from the most sonorous of these the Italian 
it is possible to compress into an intelligible sen- 
tence many very uncouth vocables, especially when 
he who uses them knows the value of 'harsh din' 
as a set-off to euphony." 

The most renowned English authority on voice, 
Dr. Mackenzie, has widely illustrated the value of 
the Italian language and given his ideas in ref- 
erence to the English as follows: 

"The effect of living out of doors [he says], is 
not confined to children; one may nearly always 
recognize a person who spends much of his time 
sub dio by the ringing tones of his voice. Miss 
Braddon, the distinguished novelist, once told me 
she has often been struck by the fine voices heard 
among gamekeepers and huntsmen; and many 
people must have admired the melodious, far reach- 
ing cry of the Newhaven fishwives. I am inclined 
to attribute the vocal superiority of the Italians in 
some measure to this cause. Every one who has 
traveled in Italy must have noticed how often 
trades which in our climate have to be pursued in- 
doors are there carried on in the open air. Tailors, 
shoemakers, tinsmiths, etc., work al fresco, making 
the streets ring the while with noisy but not 
unmusical chatter. The balmy atmosphere, as it 


were, coaxes the mouth to open wide and the 
demonstrative nature of the people finds natural 
vent in loud and emphatic utterance. On the other 
hand, it is a common reproach to Englishmen when 
they attempt the pronunciation of a foreign tongue 
that they will not or cannot open their mouths but 
make a rumbling, gurgling sound in their throats, 
which is presently hissed or sputtered out through 
the set teeth, as if the speaker were afraid to open 
his mouth too wide for fear something should get 
into it. This may be a wise precaution in a climate 
like ours and Milton apparently attributes our 
mumbling habit of speech to this cause when he 
says: 'For we Englishmen farre northerly doe not 
open our mouthes in the cold air wide enough to 
grace a southern tongue, but are observed by all 
nations to speak exceedingly close and inward; so 
that to smatter Latin with an English mouth is as 
ill a hearing as law French.' It has also been said to 
be due to our reserved and undemonstrative nature 
which leads us to avoid making ourselves conspicu- 
ous. Whether this be part of our natural character 
we must see ourselves as others see us to determine. 
At any rate, whatever be the amount of our retir- 
ing modesty that stays at home, our travelers do 
contrive (against their will, it may be presumed) 
to make themselves the observed of all observers 
wherever they go. And it may be asked, is the cli- 
mate of Scotland more genial or the character of 
its people more effusive than ours? Yet Scotch- 
men have the gift of articulate speech; and display 
considerable aptitude for acquiring the pronuncia- 


tion of foreign languages, especially of those in 
which open vowels predominate. 

"Whatever be the cause of our peculiar manner of 
speaking, there can be no question as to the utter 
badness of it. Nor is there any reason why this 
national reproach should continue. To any one who 
has been fortunate enough to hear the noble tones 
of some of our great orators, or the elocution of 
some (alas too few) of our dramatic artists, the 
notion that English is an inharmonious tongue may 
well seem absurd. The music is there, but it needs 
an instrument to give it voice, and the instrument 
again must have a player. 'There's the rub.' It is 
not the vocal organs that are at fault in most cases, 
but the method of using them. This, as already 
said, must be taught, and, to be helpful, the teach- 
ing must be of the right kind." 

The contents of the above quotations are of great 
value to the author of this book. Although he is 
not as familiar with the English spoken in England 
as he is with that spoken in America, he has the 
impression that the conditions of speech in this 
country are more deplorable than in the country 
to which Dr. Mackenzie, Prof. Hullah and others 

In certain sections of the United States, in fact, 
the speaking voice is decidedly deformed by typical, 
peculiar inflections, and misplaced in its produc- 
tion, being distinctly emphasized in the posterior 
nasal cavities ; while in other sections it is produced 
much more euphonically, and is more adaptable 


for drama and singing. The latter sections, how- 
ever, are exceptional when compared with the 
English spoken in general throughout the country ; 
but this exception proves that if the pronunciation 
were phonetically correct, English could be made 
a singing language as well as most languages, 
though not to be compared with the Latin lan- 
guages, which get from the abundance of their 
vowels and the proper production of their con- 
sonants a phonetic mellowness and flexibility which 
make them almost perfect. 

In these languages the ease of their phonetic 
production facilitates their placement in the physio- 
logical center of the voice the mouth by an al- 
most spontaneous, natural and instinctive act. 
That is responsible for the smoothness and the 
melodious characteristics of the Latin languages, 
which can never be approached by the Anglo- 

The author has often heard the remark that some 
great singers Caruso, for instance, or Galli-Curci, 
Ruffo, Bonci, etc. can sing as well in English as 
in Italian, as far as voice production is concerned. 
That is true; but their English is substantially 
Italian in enunciation and accent, the vowels and 
consonants being placed and produced according 
to the phonetic rules of the Italian language, and 
the voice emphasized according to the Italian 
fashion of singing. 

The disparity, in reality, between the Italian lan- 
guage and the English, and more particularly 
between the Italian and American, lies, at the bot- 


torn, in the marked difference in placing and pro- 
ducing the vowels and consonants. By correctly 
placing arid shaping the vowels, and producing the 
consonants properly, according to the phonetic 
classification of the classic languages, Italian forms 
its phonetic elements markedly and distinctly in the 
mouth. The English-speaking people, on the con- 
trary, particularly the Americans, misplace these 
elements, giving a decidedly guttural accentuation 
and tight production. The tension of the laryngeal, 
pharyngeal and oral organs during the act of utter- 
ance is the principal cause. VoAvels, when mis- 
placed, become deformed in shape and sound, and 
by their amalgamation with misplaced consonants 
produce words which are consequently phonetically 
deformed, and of disagreeable resonance. 

The emphasis given to the act of singing forces 
these imperfections of voice production to an exag- 
gerated degree, and this marked fault, added to the 
lack of freedom of the vocal organs, constitutes the 
essential deficiency of the English language in sing- 

In reference to the lack of freedom, and the 
traditional New England "Yankee twang," Dr. 
Eugene C. Howe, Professor of Hygiene at 
Wellesley College, startled his class of girls by de- 
claring that " it is due mostly to laziness of the jaw. 
It is not attributed to a lack of jaw exercise, but 
to an unaccountable failure to let the lower jaw 
fall far enough in articulating." 

No doubt the remarks of Dr. Howe have a very 
strong foundation. Americans are decidedly 


handicapped in their enunciation by several bad 
habits, the predominating one of which is talking 
with their mouths shut and tightened, holding their 
throats, palates, and especially their tongues, in 
permanent tension. That brings about a lack of 
flexibility, because of the stiffness and rigidity of 
the oral movements during the act of phonation. 
Americans make of the natural, simple and agree- 
able act of speaking a very complicated, difficult 
function. We do not aim to give the impression 
that we are prejudiced against the American voice 
production; just the contrary. Our criticism, which 
is the result of long observation and study on this 
subject, and is more emphatic than that expressed 
by many experts on voice, purports to call atten- 
tion to the real phonetic causes which are respon- 
sible for these defects, and to propose a radical 
reform of them. 

It is a fact, regardless of how disagreeable it 
may appear, that American voice production, with 
few exceptions, requires much more care and atten- 
tion to restore it to a natural, easy form of speak- 
ing, than is given at present. Americans them- 
selves can scarcely realize how far from natural 
and easy their voice production is. If they would 
look at the rigidity of their vocal organs, while talk- 
ing, especially the throat, the neck and lower jaw, 
they would be convinced. 

This condition is related to many causes : physio- 
logical and psychological, but most essentially pho- 
netic. There are some doctors who contend that 
the climate, dust and noise are responsible for the 


harshness of this country's voices. Other causes are 
attributed to a certain psychological influence. Dr. 
P. Fridenberg, in a booklet entitled Every-day 
Causes of Voice Deterioration, states the follow- 

"The commoner causes of voice defect and voice 
deterioration in the average healthy individual may 
be arranged in three classes, and depend on the 
climatic conditions, including wind and dust; im- 
proper use of the voice, with the factor of strain 
in loud talking as it is made necessary by our noisy 
environment, and, finally the lack of attention to 
voice culture and voice care in our schools. Climate 
is of great importance for the voice. It is impos- 
sible to consider this phase of the subject at length. 
. . . Another and very important one is the con- 
stant noise. In our larger cities it is impossible to 
keep up a conversation out-doors without unduly 
raising the voice, and on most car lines it is neces- 
sary to shout in order to be heard. In this city the 
roar of the elevated railways is added, making high 
pitch and over-exertion inevitable. The amount of 
effort expended is apparent when we note the facial 
contortion, the intensity of oral motion, and the 
loud tone heard during a sudden lull in the street 
noises. Women are the worst offenders, as they 
will continue to carry on a conversation at the top 
of their voices, while most men will, literally, shut 
up until there is a possibility of being heard without 
tearing their throats out. American women have 
been said to converse 'like shrieking canaries,' and 


this is one of the causes. Another is to be found 
in the lack of attention to voice and speech in the 
home and in .the school. In our mixed population, 
each element contributes some peculiarity or irregu- 
larity not only of accent and pronunciation, but of 
modulation, intonation, and timbre as well. Each 
has some typical defect, and some have a large 
number. Instead of being corrected at school, the 
teachers themselves, sprung from the ranks of the 
immigrant, are like the blind leading the blind. 
Any one who has listened to the exercises of one 
of our New York public schools will remember the 
common, slovenly, and unmusical speech of the 
average public school teacher. Distinction and pre- 
cision of speech are often considered affected, even 
snobbish. It is a fact that nowhere is grace of speech 
and voice more truly a class distinction than in this 
country. . . . The great United States language, 
and especially the variants heard in our large cities, 
is a marked exception to the rule of clear and agree- 
able speech. It is true that 'elocution' is taught in 
our schools, and that there are daily recitation 
exercises, but little if any heed is given to inculcat- 
ing the production of beautiful tone, and the pre- 
cept is nullified by bad example and evil communi- 
cations which corrupt good speech no less than 
good manners. The schoolboy imitates the tough 
and vulgar accents of the street gamin, the college 
'man' takes as a pattern the variety actor, the pro- 
fessional athlete and the 'sport' in diction, as well 
as in intonation. The home is a correcting influence 


only in those communities in which there is homo- 
geneity of race, or in the mansions of the wealthy 
where English governesses and maids are employed 
and the children have a chance to forget the 'Amer- 
ican' language." 

The author does not fully agree with Dr. Friden- 
berg on the influence of climate, dust and noise on 
the deterioration of American voices. These con- 
ditions may exercise a certain influence, but not 
one of overwhelming importance, for the same may 
be said of other countries and cities, where they do 
not exert such a deleterious influence on the speak- 
ing voice, nor even on the singing voice. In London 
and Paris these conditions are almost the same as 
in New York, and the author believes that in 
London the voices are somewhat more flexible and 
agreeable, and in Paris they are far superior. 
Milano has one of the most severe climates in the 
world, and is a rather noisy city, yet it is the resi- 
dence of most singers and singing students. There 
are villages in America with much better climate 
and much less noise than New York; yet the 
English spoken there is not better, with the excep- 
tion of some Southern states. 

The third reason given by Dr. Fridenberg is, 
according to our impression, the most important 
one, and personally the author is almost exclusively 
concerned about it as the real cause of the deteriora- 
tion of the American language. It is purely a 
psychological influence that is responsible for the 


voice production of this country, inherited for the 
most part, and is the logical result of its phonetic 

It is, as Dr. Fridenberg says, that this country 
is the out-growth of a mixed population, each ele- 
ment contributing some peculiarity or irregularity 
of accent, pronunciation, etc., each having some 
typical defect, and some having a large number. 

We all admit that the pioneers of this country, 
and especially the vast mixed population that came 
from all Europe, constitute the American masses 
of to-day, who in influencing even indirectly the 
American language and manner of speaking, did 
not lend the most select fashion of speech and pro- 
nunciation of their original countries. As the 
author knows, and as can still be observed among 
certain Italians, they do not even speak their own 
national language, but a number of the various 
dialects. The same condition exists among Irish, 
Germans, Russians and French of the same class. 
Therefore, from this melange of common and 
uneducated voices and pronunciations a pure and 
euphonic American language could not readily re- 
sult. On the contrary, the few originally good 
English-speaking Americans suffered from the in- 
fluence of the others who infiltrated into the 
"American" language all the commonplaces of 
their foreign languages, which they spoke in an 
inferior and corrupted form. 

Thus the American voice production, under these 
evil influences, was subjected to the gradual de- 
terioration which constitutes, at present, the in- 


herited condition of the deformed American speak- 
ing and singing voices. Besides this physical 
inheritance, is the influence exercised by the homes 
and schools, as can be observed by following closely 
a growing child. When he begins to perform the 
function of speech, under the guidance of Nature, 
he produces his words with a natural mechanism, 
in which his vocal organs act without any strain and 
are ruled by a normal rhythm of movements, under 
an instinctive rather than an artificial control. 
Gradually his ears begin to be affected by the voices 
of the people around, becoming accustomed to 
forced and harsh sounds. His vocal organs, by the 
power of imitation, follow the deformed mechanism 
of his models, until unconsciously he himself falls 
into the same habits as those who involuntarily in- 
fluenced him. Commencing from the age of five, 
six, or seven, his voice changes entirely, and ac- 
quires all the characteristics and artificial defects 
which are prevalent among adults. 

The majority of Americans, in truth, make a 
great effort in talking. They make of the simple, 
natural function of speaking, which is no different 
physiologically from the function of eating or 
breathing, or walking, a complicated perform- 
ance, in which all the organs concerned work 
to their utmost efficiency. Yet there is no 
necessity for contracting the larynx, squeezing the 
throat, raising the palate, and stiffening the base 
of the tongue in talking. All of these unnecessary 
efforts create the sensation of an obstacle in the 
throat which hinders the free delivery of the speech ; 


and once that sensation is perceived, instinct sug- 
gests a manner of compensating, by augmenting 
the pressure and amount of breath, which, instead 
of relieving the strained function of the vocal 
organs, adds a new element of artificial nature. 

The average individual gets accustomed to this 
mechanism, which establishes the incorrect habit of 
making force the principal element in voice produc- 
tion; and this effort, in the long run, results in 
impairing the vocal apparatus, adding another 
cause for disagreeable speaking and defective sing- 

In the majority of cases that is the actual funda- 
mental cause of bad voice production, and is re- 
sponsible also for the lack of expansion, resonance, 
and ease. 

In singing, these deficiencies are the source of 
innumerable difficulties, particularly since the in- 
stinctive conception of singers is to compensate for 
the lack of resonance with the force of breath 
the only help known to them having been mis- 
directed by singing teachers and by the methods 
of singing in vogue. 

This error, however, cannot be corrected unless 
we resort to radical means. We must strike at the 
very origin of these deficiencies, and ascertain the 
freedom of voice production by the correct physio- 
logical and phonetic formation of its very essential 
elements the vowels and consonants and the 
natural manner of delivering them. This is the 
most important and fundamental reform to be un- 
dertaken ; trying to educate pupils to the right con- 


ception of the natural function of talking and 

Therefore, since English is phonetically rather 
a difficult language, in some instances made more 
so by inherited bad habits, we must try to modify 
it, to smooth it, to produce it in a more natural 
manner, softening the sounds of the vowels, giving 
the correct phonetic articulation to the consonants, 
and, above all, placing both these phonetic elements 
in the organ suggested by Nature the mouth. 

At any rate, if a reform is to be suggested, it 
must affect the English phonology as it now stands, 
and correct it by uprooting it entirely, because that 
is responsible for the existing conditions. 

The materialization of this program must start 
by giving to children a new phonetic culture, from 
the very beginning of their education. There w r ould 
be no practical difficultly in accomplishing this, if 
public opinion favored this reform. Children learn 
everything easily. 

There are several institutions in America con- 
cerned about the necessity of improving the speak- 
ing language, but the evil lies in the fact that the 
promoters are in the awkward position of preach- 
ing reforms which they themselves do not practice. 
In fact, their concern is confined only to the im- 
proper inflection of the voice and to the lack of 
clarity, refinement, and distinction in talking; but 
as for its correct physiological production with re- 
gard to its phonetic elements vowels and con- 
sonants they are not cognizant of its actual de- 
ficiency. If they are, they do not think it of much 


importance, for they limit all their attention to the 
English language in itself, without investigating 
its defects by comparison with the classic lan- 

As a matter of fact, it is certain that as long 
as the vowels are produced in the throat, and the 
consonants are phonetically misplaced, bringing 
about a forcible function of the vocal organs, noth- 
ing can fundamentally and substantially modify 
the voice production. 

As for singing, the American-spoken English 
brings about defects which are more difficult to deal 
with than almost any other language. 

There is no exaggeration in stating that Amer- 
icans, in spite of their natural gift of beautiful 
voices, which among women are so abundant, and 
their inexhaustible ambition, are more handicapped 
in the art of singing than anybody else, and con- 
sequently very few good American singers exist, 
as far as proper voice production is concerned. It 
is true that English in itself is not an easy medium 
for singing, but with the American pronunciation 
it is made even more difficult. 

While we are aware of the objections that this 
statement will arouse, we are convinced, neverthe- 
less, that this is actually so. 

A natural feeling of protest and a sense of reac- 
tion are innate in all mankind. We resent being 
told our faults. It is an illogical weakness which 
should not affect educated people, for without criti- 
cism there would be no exchange of thoughts nor 
incentive to progress; yet it does affect individuals 


as well as communities or nations, often with evi- 
dent disadvantage. 

Therefore, even after statements like those made 
by Prof. Hullah, Dr. Mackenzie, Milton, etc., 
about the English and Italian languages, and those 
of Dr. Mills and Lilli Lehmann in reference to 
Italian for singing, to which a hundred more could 
be added, resentment and objections to our view 
are not unexpected. We think it proper then, to 
quote an opinion disagreeing for the greater part 
with ours, so as to let the reader decide impartially 
which one, in reality, is of greater advantage to 
American singers. It is our aim to convince people 
that English, and especially "American-English" 
is by no means a language fit for voice culture; it 
must be understood, though, that we do not mean 
for singing, in its finished form, but only for vocal 
training. For this purpose we wanted the support 
of all authorities who are approximately of the 
same mind. We point out now an opposing view 
by Leo Kofler, organist of St. Paul's Chapel, New 
York, and singing teacher also, which is quoted in 
a book on voice by a foremost American laryn- 
gologist, who shares his opinion: 

"It is true, as Kofler says, that the Italian lan- 
guage presents few difficulties to the singer. In 
it pure vowels predominate and consonants are in 
the minority, and even then many of these conso- 
nants are vocal, while the hard aspirates of other 
languages, especially German and English, are 
unknown to Italian lips. But that which is easier, 


by no means is always the most artistic. Ease rarely 
leads to depth. And this ease of pronunciation 
may account for a lack of dramatic grandeur and 
vigor in Italian and for the Italian's method of 
tonal emphasis and vehemence of gesture. 1 

"The German or the English artist has no need 
for such extravagances, because the immense rich- 
ness of these languages the great variety of 
vowels and the vigorous aspirated elements gives 
to his utterance a dramatic freshness and force 
which are life and nature itself. 2 

"The English language is probably the one that 
has been described by foreigners as the most unfit 
for singing. Greater calumny has never been 
uttered. I contend for just the opposite; that 
English is the very best language for an artistic 
singer to use, for it contains the greatest variety 
of vocal and aspirate elements, which afford an 

1 The fact that "ease of pronunciation may account for the lack of dra- 
matic grandeur and vigor in Italian" makes us think of Tommaso Salvini, 
the great Italian actor who played not only in Italian repertoire, but also 
Shakespeare in Italian, for English as well as American audiences. The 
effects of his artistic voice of which we still hear, were not lacking in dra- 
matic grandeur and vigor, which, on the contrary, were very prominent, 
despite the fact that he possessed the easiest pronunciation. 

The pianist, the dancer, the tennis player, or the acrobat, does not lack 
in grandeur or vigor because of his ease in performing; and the unfortunate 
horse who pulls a heavy truck along a road littered with stones is not very 
much pleased with his dramatic grandeur and vigor in accomplishing it. 
He is trying to go ahead until, obliged to give up for lack of strength, he 
stretches himself out on the ground. Ease, after all, is not such a deadly 
evil in the world as Mr. Kofler seems to think. 

2 Lilli Lehmann, the great German prima donna and intelligent artist, in 
a quotation already given in this chapter, shows that she is of the con- 
trary opinion. 


artistic singer the strongest, most natural and ex- 
pressive means of dramatic reality. The English 
language has all the pure vowels and vocal conso- 
nants of the Italian; and besides, it is full of rich 
elements, mixed vowels, diphthongs and an army 
of vigorous aspirates. I admit that it is not as 
easy for singing as Italian is; but just here its true 
merit and advantage arise. 

"The difficulties thus forced upon the singer com- 
pel him to study deeply and perseveringly ; but the 
treasures thus unearthed and placed within his 
reach will amply repay for hard work." 3 

The views of Mr. Kofler, which leave much room 
for discussion, have, in recent years, been the pre- 
dominant concern of certain circles in the musical 
field of America. A campaign for the worthy pur- 
pose of standardizing the "American" language for 
singing, especially in opera, has been widely 
patronized by prominent figures in the musical 
world. Societies have been organized, lectures de- 
livered, opera companies formed, and even all the 
unsuccessful prima donnas, anxious to seek success 
in a new field, interviewed. It was unanimously 
agreed that foreign languages for singing should 
be ostracized and English imposed. The result was 
as follows : In some opera houses where all operas 
were sung in English, most of the audiences openly 

3 We can appreciate the true merit of anybody compelled, because of the 
difficulties of his language, to study it deeply and perseveringly; but we do 
not see the benefits accruing to voice culture by training the voice through 
as difficult a medium as the English language, when it can be so easily 
avoided by adopting a much more convenient one. 


declared their dissatisfaction and deserted the 
houses. "How can anybody," they said, "enjoy a 
performance of Carmen in English, and one in 
which it is impossible to understand even what they 
are singing?" 

As for American operas written on English 
librettos, which have been given by the largest 
operatic institution in this country for several years, 
they also brought out evidence of the real sentiment 
of the public. Their performances were criticized 
by the critics and the audiences principally on ac- 
count of the language. Furthermore, in one of 
these operas it was generally remarked that in the 
cast which included only one foreign singer, the 
others being American, this singer was the only one 
whose words were intelligible to the audience. One 
could barely detect that the others were singing in 
English, though when the same artists were called 
upon to sing in Italian they usually could make 
themselves better understood. 

This proves that there must be some causes re- 
lated to the voice production of American singers, 
or to the language in itself, or to both, which be- 
come more conspicuous in singing and are respon- 
sible for these conditions. The enunciation of 
American singers, with very few exceptions, is 
painfully tight and so throaty that only with diffi- 
culty can their words reach the audience. Yet it 
cannot be entirely the fault of the singers. The 
language, too, is responsible, to a certain extent, 
as is shown in the case of the foreign singer above 
mentioned, whose singing was intelligible, certainly 


not because of his superior intelligence, but rather 
because he molded his English on a foreign lan- 
guage in which he was trained, and by that means 
he could sing much easier in English. 

It is not unpatriotic to recognize and admit the 
existence of these inconveniences. It is more so 
not to try to overcome them. We know of a very 
prominent American prima donna an artist more 
than a prima donna who has always refused to 
sing roles in English. We admire her frankness 
and courage, though we think that if her voice had 
been correctly placed and trained at the beginning 
of her vocal studies by molding it on the Italian 
language, she would not find English so objection- 
able for singing, since, with the aid of her excep- 
tional intelligence, she sings in all other languages 
which do not possess the phonetic difficulties of the 

Therefore, we claim that English can be made 
a good language for singing if its training is begun 
with an easier language which secures the natural 
placement of the voice and the correct freedom of 
its production. But we do not agree at all with 
the opinions emphasized by Mr. Kofler, that 
English is the very best language for an artistic 
singer to use. This statement contains an exag- 
gerated dose of praiseworthy but not helpful 

At any rate it is the general opinion that English 
is not the best language for singing much less an 
easy medium for voice training, and that the Amer- 
ican-spoken English is not the most pleasing 


tongue to the ear, as has been remarked most fre* 
quently by prominent American laryngologists and 
voice experts. If, therefore, singers, actors, and 
speakers are handicapped in delivering their voices 
properly because their vocal organs act under a dif- 
ficult mechanism, why not resort at the start of their 
vocal training to an easier language, Italian, for 
instance? If the formation of the English pho- 
netic elements is not easy and proper, why not go 
to the very root of this troublesome cause and apply 
a radical remedy? 

These conditions suggested to the author the idea 
(which, in truth, is not intended for reforming 
English phonology, but only for simplifying it in 
behalf of those who are directed toward a stage 
career) of giving to beginners and students the 
phonetic rules of a new language, thus appealing 
to their imaginations in a new manner which stimu- 
lates the upbuilding of a new conception of the 
phonetic mechanism of voice production. 

By this means speaking and singing can be per- 
formed in a natural and easy manner, the voice be- 
ing placed, with the guidance of another language, 
in its scientific center the mouth. Thus singers 
are enabled to avoid the long and difficult struggle 
with their vocal organs, which are already accus- 
tomed to the deformed production of the language 
they have spoken since their infancy. 

A new language is also more apt to train the 
organs of elocution to radically different adjust- 
ments, building up an entirely new mechanism. 
The vocal organs cannot change the habitual 


rhythm of their function after having worked for 
years in a certain direction; only a different ele- 
ment, acting under a new influence, can easily re- 
adjust it, and for this reason the author feels 
justified in selecting the Italian language as the 
most adaptable for this purpose. At any rate, this 
attempt would not bring any injury to the English, 
but make it smoother, softer and more suitable for 
voice culture, and if coming generations gain more 
possibilities in the field of singing, as a result of 
the help given to their voice production by Italian 
as an educational element, the experiment will have 
been generously repaid, and the aim of the author 
fully accomplished. 4 

In this method of scientific voice culture, illus- 
trated in the following chapters, the medium 
adopted for all vocal exercises will be the Italian 

4 This conception coincides entirely with the ideas of Wagner, as ex- 
pressed in the following: "If Italian singing is practicable in a German 
throat, it can only be through acquisition of the Italian tongue." Wagner, 
Actors and Singers. 



BEFORE illustrating the essentials of our vocal 
method, we wish to make an explicit statement. 
We do not believe that any method of singing, no 
matter how simple, clear, and complete it may be, 
is by itself an efficient medium for voice culture. 
Students must be taught by competent teachers 
who alone, through their knowledge and experience, 
can guarantee that the work of the pupils is correct 
and progressive. Thus we do believe in teachers, 
but our belief is conditional. 

This method of voice culture has been built on a 
faithful interpretation of the natural principles 
which governed the singing of Enrico Caruso, a 
most valuable example and medium of comparison 
for students. It will reveal to them how correct, 
and how close to natural laws our method is, and 
how to safeguard the physiological rules of voice 
production advocated in this book. The strongest 
followers of this method, however, should be the 
free-minded and unprejudiced singing teachers, 
those who believe in evolution, in progress, and are 
earnestly concerned about the restoration of the art 
of singing. We stated that we believe in teachers, 
but our belief is conditional; we make reservations 
about their mission and their methods of practicing 
the important profession of teaching. 



According to our conception, teachers must be 
the guides and advisers in the solution of the many 
problems related to voice, and in the application 
of the natural laws governing it. We do not be- 
lieve in teachers as creators or builders of voices. 
There should no longer be room for such charlatans 
in an epoch in which science controls most of human 
efficiency and progress. 

We do not believe in those instructors who claim 
that they can benefit pupils by a few weeks of 
teaching. This is only a commercial exploitation, 
vastly different from the important profession of 
teaching the truth about voice culture. As a mat- 
ter of fact, nobody but Nature can create, make, 
or build the physiological product of the vocal 
apparatus the voice and nobody can efficiently 
assist students in their education except by years 
of constant work in the pursuit of good vocal re- 
sults, and by mutual understanding. 

The art of singing cannot be taught to any one, 
unless the sense of music, and the call for singing, 
naturally exist in his soul and blood. To be sure, 
we owe to nature alone the genius for song. We 
inherit it with our disposition, enthusiasm, and 
natural sentiment for singing. The great number 
of natural singers found among the masses of cer- 
tain gifted races, who never received any vocal in- 
struction, is the most striking evidence of this. Yet, 
although a natural gift, our singing may not be 
correct. The mechanism of voice production, 
which when correct is the fundamental guarantee 
not only for good singing, but for the preservation 


of the vocal organs, may be improperly performed. 
That is the reason the vocal education must be in- 
trusted to experienced teachers who can insure the 
proper production of the voice, thus guaranteeing 
the required resistance of the vocal apparatus for 
an extended career. 

The first duty of the teacher is to ascertain how 
near to natural is the singing of his pupil, and 
whether or not he observes the correct rules of voice 
production. He must then direct the pupil's voice 
in its full, natural form, through a progressive 
development, avoiding any attempt to change it by 
artificial and complicated technicalities. 

The singing teacher must keep the beginner's 
mind free from poisonous theories about the breath 
support, the artificial division of the voice into 
registers, and the training of the diaphragm and 
intercostal muscles (the strength of which must re- 
sult from years of singing and not from an 
unnatural development). All these conventional 
suggestions bear the stamp of scientific doctrines 
but in reality are banal ideas, opposed to the 
true physiological rules of voice production. 
Though they seem important to the elaborate 
makeup of teaching, in reality they add nothing 
useful to the learning of pupils, and in many in- 
stances prove harmful. The piano teacher does not 
ask his pupils to familiarize themselves with the 
physiology of their fingers, nor does he teach them 
physical maneuvers for developing their muscles. 
Pupils are not expected to know about doctrines; 
they must sing by inspiration, free from any artifi- 
cial influence. The teacher, as a guarantee that 


his method is correct, must be acquainted with the 
physiology of the vocal apparatus in general, which 
calls also for a corresponding knowledge of the 
anatomy of the vocal organs. It is quite unneces- 
sary for the pupil to know any of this, unless he 
is interested in making a more profound study of 
the voice from a scientific point of view. The con- 
ventional nomenclature which is so boldly flaunted 
to impress inexperienced beginners in singing 
schools is most often founded on arbitrary or 
imaginary beliefs, and must be condemned. The 
singing teacher must be thoroughly acquainted with 
the science of voice for the sake of his pupils, and 
not merely to make a pompous display or superfi- 
cial doctrines for vain or commercial purposes. 

The singing teacher, capable of judging how 
near to natural laws is the production of his pupil's 
voice, will respect its natural production and con- 
fine his teaching to a purely guiding influence, leav- 
ing the gradual development of the voice to its 
progressive training. The teacher who aids the 
pupil in developing his voice, embellishing its 
quality, extending its range, and perfecting his 
style of musical phrasing, taking particular care to 
avoid exaggerated and sensational effects, sets him 
on the right road for securing a. proper and artistic 
style of singing, thus fulfilling his important mis- 
sion most efficiently. 

When the pupil's voice has certain set faults 
either natural or acquired due to an erroneous 
voice production, then another responsibility, of 
more vital importance, is thrust upon the teacher. 

The means of correcting voices which have de- 


viated from their natural course, of working on 
deformed material, deteriorated by incorrect func- 
tions of the vocal apparatus, is a problem which 
schools of teaching have thus far struggled in vain 
to solve. It is evident that they must resort to 
different methods. 

In reference to this subject there is a perplexing 
and decisive matter to be settled. Who should be 
entrusted with the delicate mission of restoring to 
normal a deformed voice production? To whom, 
most logically, does it belong; to the laryngologist, 
to the singing teacher, or to some new professional 
element? This is the very vital question which must 
be answered definitely. 

"Under present conditions," as Madame Galli- 
Curci wrote to the author, "singing teachers know 
very little about the science of voice, and scientists 
know just as little about the art of singing." That 
is true. In general the scientific men who are in- 
terested in voice are not well enough acquainted 
with the musical equipment indispensable for the 
culture of the singing voice; and among the sing- 
ing teachers very few exist who are at all cognizant 
of the mechanism of voice production. Therefore, 
neither of these two elements is eligible to under- 
take the teaching of voice culture. 

The vast number of teachers, whose origin may 
be traced to that class of singers who, having had 
short-lived careers because of their bad singing, 
sought refuge in the teaching field, or those pianists 
of mediocre ability and no success who tried to 
commercialize their profession to better advan- 


tage, becoming vocal instructors, are not the ex- 
perienced men to whom the education of the voice 
can be safely intrusted, especially in its preliminary 
and fundamental period, which is the most essential 
in voice culture, and requires a thorough knowledge 
of the natural principles for its placement and pro- 

The same objection applies to coaches, conduc- 
tors, or any other class of musicians (to make no 
mention of the unscrupulous outsiders of the 
musical world) who, as a result of failure in their 
own field, direct their activity to that of teaching 

Another prevailing idea in the singing world is 
that pupils should apply, for their voice education, 
to the very best singers of the past, or to great con- 
ductors. That is a banal error, and a dangerous 

A child who begins to attend school needs the 
supervision of an experienced pedagogue to start 
his education. If, instead, it is intrusted either to 
a great literary man, or to one who presumes to 
be such, the child is improperly instructed, for the 
theories presented to his mentality are not suited 
to his age. Everybody can see the mistake of the 
medical student who aims to become a surgeon by 
assisting a professor of surgery in his operations, 
without first going through the preliminary studies 
of anatomy, pathology, and all the other medical 
branches which are the foundation and support of 
surgery. In the study of singing, however, this 
error is easily overlooked. Great artists or con- 


ductors are undoubtedly persons well fitted to assist 
students in their preparatory artistic education for 
the stage, inasmuch as interpretation and style of 
singing are concerned. In this they excel all others. 
But they are not competent in preliminary voice 
culture, for many obvious reasons. 

It is universally known, in fact, that most of the 
greatest singers never knew how they produced 
their voices. Prominent examples were Patti, who, 
as we quoted before, when questioned about her 
singing would say, "I know nothing about it"; and 
Destinn, who could explain her physical feeling 
about her voice, but not her method of singing. 
Caruso himself tried to investigate his own voice, 
but his analysis was fruitless. His marvelous sing- 
ing was natural, eminently natural, and his voice 
production could not be governed by any conscious 

If the great stars who shone in the firmament of 
opera, and are teaching at present, were capable 
of forgetting themselves and their artistic achieve- 
ments, and could teach beginners voice placement 
and production instead of their own manner of 
singing, they would perhaps be of more assistance 
than experience has generally proved them to be. 
Singing is a personal inspiration and act; no two 
persons, perhaps, can sing in precisely the same 
way, though they may have the same method. Two 
voices, just as two faces, cannot be the same; there- 
fore two mechanisms of voice production can 
operate along the same lines, but do not produce 
the same results, and the possibilities of one voice 


cannot coincide exactly with those of another. The 
principles are the same, but their application differs 
slightly, because the vocal means used are different. 

The majority of great singers of the past sang 
only by natural disposition and inspiration, know- 
ing little or nothing about the physiology of the 
voice. As teachers, consequently, they cannot 
master and apply the physiological laws which are 
in general unknown to them ; thus their instruction 
must be confined purely to a method of imitation 
of their own singing, which bears no scientific sup- 
port. An unconscious self-admiration also seems 
to be a weak spot in their teaching. Easily enthused 
with pupils' voices, without judging their personal 
possibilities at the proper valuation, they try to 
make them counterparts of their own individuality 
and art. The result is that most often their teach- 
ing proves not only unsuccessful but injurious be- 
cause it calls for work on too high a mental and 
physical plane for the minds and voices of the be- 

We remember a popular and successful lyric 
soprano, widely known for the beauty of her voice, 
who owes her downfall to a short course of study 
with a prominent coloratura star retired from the 
stage. When the ambitious young singer applied 
to the great star for assistance to improve some 
slight shortcomings in her high tones, the teacher 
felt that in this pupil's voice lay the very chance 
to reincarnate an edition of herself. Her dream 
would have been justified had the judgment been 
correct. The vocal means of the young singer 


could not withstand the strain of both lyric and 
coloratura soprano. The teacher, therefore, had to 
resort to an artificial voice production, which 
changed the original, natural voice into a series of 
forced and empty head-tones. The successful 
young woman went abroad with a voice of rare 
beauty, which she had used to great advantage for 
a few years in the large number of simple and 
artistic songs suitable to her natural means, and 
returned, after a few months, with the pompous 
addition to her repertoire of "Casta Diva" and 
other difficult arias, but not with the same voice of 
soft, natural, velvety quality, which had formerly 
made her prominent in the singing field. This artist 
paid dearly for the tragic influence of her teacher, 
for she was gradually forced to abandon her public 

Great artists, it appears, cannot discriminate be- 
tween their own mental and vocal attainments and 
those of pupils. They cannot get away from their 
personal assets, but instead strive to teach their so- 
called "secrets" to their pupils, in the hopes of 
making great artists of them. Meanwhile the 
elementary steps of voice culture are of scarcely 
any importance to them. Thorough physiological 
voice production is overlooked in their imaginative 
and temperamental teaching. It is a lamentable 
waste of valuable energy, misdirected ; it is a regret- 
table handicap to the progress of the art of singing. 

Therefore, who is the man to whom the funda- 
mental education of pupils must be intrusted? The 


The teaching of laryngologists endowed with 
natural musical disposition, upheld by a thorough 
knowledge of the physiology of voice, could no 
doubt benefit beginners and singers whose vocal 
defects are the result of forcible voice production. 
Since voice is the product of the physiological func- 
tion of the vocal apparatus, laryngologists, rather 
than self-appointed teachers, can ascertain if the 
mechanism of the vocal organs is operating 
naturally and correctly, and, if not, can restore it 
to its normal function by detecting the immediate 
source of these defects and giving the proper as- 
sistance to pupils, which the present-day singing 
teachers cannot. But laryngologists who have suf- 
ficient musical experience for competently doing 
this work are at present very rare. Circumstances 
are not in their favor. Their professional career 
does not permit them to cultivate enough music; 
and the general belief that voice culture must be- 
long only to musicians does not tempt them to enter 
into the difficult enterprise of restoring to Nature 
the command of voice production. They could save 
the present decadence of voice culture, but not with- 
out exposing themselves to many humiliations and 
sacrifices, as their advent into the field of teaching 
would throw them into competition with profes- 
sional elements, which, in most cases, are not on 
equal level with their intelligence, dignity and 
standing. Hence the men to whom voice culture 
should be intrusted, provided they acquire more 
musical competence, are definitely kept out of the 


To place voice culture in the hands of an infal- 
lible element, therefore, we must resort to a new 
professional man, an expert of the voice, who must 
combine all the musical requisites indispensable for 
voice culture with sufficient scientific knowledge to 
guarantee that singing conforms with natural laws. 

This new professional man must be a product of 
the singing class, selected from those students 
whose natural gift voice is not remarkable 
enough to raise hopes for a great career as a singer, 
but whose talents can be utilized to better advan- 
tage in the art of teaching. These students, though, 
must be really intelligent, and endowed with gen- 
eral culture, to be properly equipped to enter a 
field of this importance. 

These students must constitute the professional 
element which the author points out as the cham- 
pions for promoting and spreading the radical 
reform of voice culture, conforming with the prin- 
ciples and suggestions already given. These men 
must be the founders of that new class of voice 
experts who will be known as Voice Specialists. 

The Voice Specialist must possess a keen sense 
of understanding and of criticism which will enable 
him to detect the qualities and faults of his pupils. 
Above all, he must have sound knowledge of the 
physiology of voice, of its natural production, both 
as speaking and singing voice. He must be en- 
dowed with a fine ear in order to be able to place 
the voice in its natural center, and take care of its 
development under the guidance of the funda- 
mental laws of acoustics applied to the vocal 


apparatus. He must have a facile way of clearly 
communicating his ideas to the pupil, making him- 
self easily understood, and must mold his teach- 
ing according to the plane of his pupil's intel- 
ligence. Almost every pupil must be taught in a 
different manner; the teacher must find the easiest 
means of impressing his mind with the fundamental 
needs of a correct method of singing. 

The Voice Specialists, although not exceptional 
singers, must be correct singers, in order to demon- 
strate to pupils, in practical form, the correct voice 

To create these new and competent elements, 
the author advocates a school of Voice Culture for 
young teachers, which must be founded as part of 
some important public musical or scientific institu- 
tion. This school should be recognized by the Gov- 
ernment, if the Government feels that this branch 
of popular education is important enough to be 
taken into consideration, and if it can foresee of 
what great service it may be to the musical element 
of this nation. 

Private institutions, private benefactors and 
many a Maecenas of art are spending millions for 
the education of gifted young people. Thus far 
results have been almost entirely negative. Voices 
exist; ambition, too; money is lavishly expended. 
What, then, is the actual obstacle? 

It lies in the very roots of the elementary educa- 
tion of the speaking voice, from which the real basis 
of the singing voice takes origin. Therefore, the 


Voice Specialists must first be instructed in the 
correct phonology of the speaking voice. 

The method of singing which the author presents 
in later chapters is merely a continuation of the 
phonetic method for speaking. If official recogni- 
tion were given to this method by the Govern- 
ment, starting its application in the elementary 
schools in the form of phonetic rules, children would 
learn, from the beginning, an easier and more cor- 
rect form of speaking. Consequently, those en- 
dowed with the natural gift of a beautiful voice 
would find the road to correct singing an easy one. 
School teachers should be instructed along these 
lines, to enable them to competently instruct 

It is part of the author's program, if aided by 
public approval and moral support in his attempt 
to carry out the radical reform of Voice Culture, 
to establish a special school for conducting the 
education of those new teachers, the Voice Special- 
ists, who are willing to enter the teaching field 
through the main door knowledge and truth. 

The Voice Specialists as we suggested at the 
beginning of this book, must be subject to exami- 
nation before a special Board of Scientific and 
Musical Experts, appointed or recognized by the 
Government. They must get their licenses from 
this Board, as in the case of any other profession. 
This alone can protect the singing field from all 
kinds of intruders, charlatans, and impostors. 

This is the aim of the author. The rest depends 
on public opinion and moral assistance. 



ITALIAN is perhaps the only existing language 
which has the phonetic property of pronouncing 
its vowels and consonants always in the same man- 
ner. To read Italian it is only necessary to know 
the enunciation of the twenty-four letters repre- 
senting its alphabet, all of which take but a few 
minutes. This constitutes the essential advantage 
of the Italian language, especially for the student 
of singing, who, after acquiring a thorough knowl- 
edge of the correct pronunciation of the Italian 
alphabet, finds his voice already naturally placed 
in its physiological center, Italian being a naturally 
placed language. 

All the phonetic sounds of the English language 
are included in the twenty-four letters of the 
Italian alphabet, except the combination of th 
which, however, is very similar to the Italian d, 
pronounced with the breath reinforced a little, 
while the tongue is held quite relaxed between the 

The vowels, which are the fundamental elements 
in the formation of the voice, are simpler in the 
Italian language than in the English, from which 
they differ greatly, for they are composed of only 



five sounds, produced very smoothly in the front 
part of the mouth, while the phonetic organs are 
kept in relaxation. Therefore, it is of the utmost 
importance to learn their correct pronunciation, be- 
cause most of the advantages of Italian, for sing- 
ing, lie in their phonetic excellence and perfection. 

The vowels are five in number, and are always 
uttered in the same manner, with no exceptions in 
any case whatsoever. 1 Each vowel has a character- 
istic shape, dependent upon the adjustments of the 
organs which take part in its formation. 

The first vowel is A. It has the sound of A as 
in the English word father, emphasizing its pro- 
nunciation in a broad way. It is the largest vowel, 
and is open and round in shape. 

It is most essential to learn the enunciation of 
this vowel as perfectly as possible, because it rep- 
resents the first phonetic element from which the 
other vowels can easily be derived through a simple 
phonetic evolution. 

For its correct production the mouth must be 
opened wide, though not by a forced movement; 
the throat, likewise, must be opened entirely. This 
act should be spontaneous and similar to the open- 
ing of the mouth in eating. 

To be certain that this important movement is 
done correctly, two conditions are indispensable: 
The tongue must lie flat and completely re- 
laxed on the floor of the mouth (see Fig. 19), its 

ir The classification of Italian vowels is similar to that of the Latin 
and Greek. See Goodwin, Greek Grammar] Allen and Greenough, Latin 


tip in contact with the lower teeth or lip. The 
relaxation must be almost passive, no sensation of 
any sort accompanying the act of pronunciation of 
this vowel. The palate must be in its normal posi- 
tion, relaxed, taking no part in this phonation. 

As very few people pronounce by leaving the 
phonetic organs in complete relaxation, the author 
thinks it better for beginners to have these rules 
more than well emphasized, for they will be of the 
greatest benefit in singing. To those who have 
been accustomed for many years to one language, 
which has very different phonetic rules, it is of great 
help to exaggerate somewhat the rules of the new 

It is necessary also to point out that pupils, from 
the very beginning of their study of this method, 
must leave aside entirely the English pronuncia- 
tion in practicing the vowels and consonants, avoid- 
ing the confusion of the two languages. 

By using only Italian, and always with the cor- 
rect pronunciation of its phonetic elements, students 
will acquire the habit of their permanent and 
proper use. 

The vowel E pronounced as in the English 
words late, fate, is but an evolution of the vowel A 
above mentioned. 

In this evolution, the mouth modifies its shape 
slightly, becoming smaller in size, almost half the 
size of A. This change is performed essentially 
outside the mouth, by the upper and lower jaws 
coming nearer, and making a narrower space in 
the cavity of the mouth (see Fig. 15) . 


The organs of phonation the tongue, palate, 
etc. are left in almost the same position as the 
vowel A, taking very little part in the change, the 
tongue and palate alone being very slightly raised. 
The whole difference in the size of this vowel de- 
pends on the diminution of the oral cavity resulting 
from raising the lower jaw toward the upper one. 

The vowel I is enunciated like the I in machine, 
and is formed by approaching the lower jaw to 
the upper one as closely as possible without, how- 
ever, using any muscular tension. The size of this 
vowel is the smallest of all. The vocal organs in- 
side the mouth are left in almost the same relaxa- 
tion as in the preceding vowels, except for a little 
tension of the tongue and palate, which are raised 
upward, more than in the vowel E (see Fig. 16) . 

The focus of the vibrations of the voice in this as 
well as the other vowels must be centered precisely 
inside the base of the nose, where a certain vibratory 
sensation is created and can gradually be felt by 
the pupil in the form of a tickling sensation, be- 
coming perceptible first in producing the vowel I. 

The A, E and I (pronounced as in father, fate, 
sneeze) are, therefore, differentiated only by the 
size of the oral cavity, the A having the largest 
space, the E half the amount of space, and the I 
the smallest possible without contracting the pho- 
netic organs. The following is an illustration of 
the comparative size of these vowels, the opening 
of the mouth to its full extent, without any exag- 
geration or effort for the A, constituting the start- 
ing point in the formation of all of them. 






The vowel O, which has the sound of O as in 
bone, is also an evolution of A, in the forma- 
tion of which the lips play the decisive part by con- 
verging into a rounded form, thus closing the 

Inside the mouth the phonetic organs retain the 
same shape during this transition as for A, holding 
their same position. This gives O the same space as 
A in the mouth, and the approach of the lips form- 
ing a megaphone improves the color of its sound, 


which gets the characteristic darkness of the O, like 
a tone produced in a closed box. 

The vowel U, pronounced like the U in prune, 
or like moon, is an evolution of the O, produced 
simply by protruding the lips forward, without 
squeezing them, as in the act 
*f -J ^ whaling or blowing. 

\l^ Si^T The phonetic organs inside 

the mouth must be in com- 
plete relaxation in the same 
position as for A, and special 
care must be taken not to 
retract the tongue backward 
in prolonging the sound of 

FIG. 18. THE VOWEL u the U 


It is of the utmost impor- 
tance to emphasize time and again that all these 
sounds must be produced with the complete relaxa- 
tion of the vocal organs, without any pressure on 
the part of the respiratory apparatus, with no in- 
terference of the laryngeal organs except for the 
necessary vibrations given to the sound by the vocal 
cords. In other words, the breath must" be normal, 
the larynx almost passive, the phonetic organs in 
complete freedom, particularly the tongue. The 
full sound of the voice must be directed to the 
mouth, with a specific focus centered in the base 
of the nose where all vibrations must converge to 
get the proper resonance. 

An X-ray illustration showing the vowels and the 
position of the tongue during their formation is 
given in Figures 20 to 24. 


The shape of the mouth and the position of the 
tongue in the formation of the vowels is shown by 
the following X-ray illustration taken while the 
vowels A E I O U were being sung by one who 
took particular care to produce his voice according 
to the rules of correct vocal mechanism. 


bb. Upper and lower jaw at required distance for shaping a wide-open 
mouth, ttt. Tongue entirely relaxed on the floor of the mouth. The tip 
of the tongue extends far enough to cover the lower front teeth. 



66. The distance between the upper and lower jaw is almost half compared 
to the opening for the vowel A. This constitutes the difference between 
these two vowels, ttt. The tongue is raised upward only very slightly, but 
in the same position and relaxation as for the vowel A. 


bb. The opening of the mouth is smaller in size compared to the vowels 
A and E. ttt. The tongue is raised upward toward the palate, its tip 
likewise extending far enough to cover the lower front teeth. 


bb. The relationship of the upper and lower jaw is very similar to the 
vowel A, though somewhat smaller in size. ttt. The tongue is in the same 
relaxation and position. The marked shape of this vowel, is established by 
the lips, which cannot be seen in the X-Ray, 



bb. The relationship of the upper and lower jaw of this vowel is very 
similar to the vowel E. ttt. The tongue is likewise relaxed and extends over 
the lower front teeth. The marked difference in the shape of this vowel is 
established by the protrusion of the lips, which cannot be seen in the X-Ray. 

By comparing all the illustrations of the vowels already given in this 
book with those presented by the majority of books on voice, the readers 
can see the marked difference in the use of the phonetic organs (especially 
the tongue and lips) as suggested by this method of voice culture. 



Objection may be raised with regard to the 
accuracy of our suggestions about the pronuncia- 
tion of the fundamental phonetic elements the 
vowels. What entitles us, it may be said, to assert 
that the pronunciation of the Italian vowels, so 
different from the English, is the right one? 

The answer is a very simple one. Physiolog- 
ically, their formation corresponds to the funda- 
mental principle of any function, namely, the 
minimum of energy for the maximum of efficiency. 
The mechanism of their production, which requires 
the complete relaxation of the vocal organs, entails 
no waste of energy. The X-ray illustrations 
already exhibited show also that phonetically, the 
Italian vowels are larger in shape, therefore more 
resonant, more melodious, softer and yet fuller in 
volume than those of any other modern language. 

Hear the Italians talk, hear the street venders 
calling their wares, and you will realize the most 
obvious truth. 

People who had the opportunity of hearing 
Caruso, whose voice nobody can deny was the most 
resonant and full, as well as the most melodious 
and beautiful, had practical evidence of this state- 
ment if only the formation of his vowels ever came 
to their attention. 

The following photographs, taken while Caruso 
was singing the five vowels, show the different 
shape of his phonetic organs in the formation of 
each vowel. On close examination one can almost 
see the vocal vibrations, running freely all over the 
masque, and localize the focus of the voice. 

Photo *y Betttnt Syndicate. Inc. ^ 25_ VoWEL A 

In this illustration the great tenor is singing the vowel A, with very 
dramatic expression. Note how wide his mouth is open, while his lips 
are completely relaxed, and his tongue lies flat on the floor of the mouth, 
its tip in contact with the interior of the lower lip. 


Photo by Bettini Syndicate, Inc. _ 


This illustration shows Caruso singing the vowel E, with lyric expression. 
The mouth is half open when compared with the size of the vowel A. Note 
the marked relaxation of the masque and tongue which, as in A, is in con- 
tact with the interior of the lower lip. 


Photo by Bettint Syndicate, Inc. 


In this illustration Caruso is seen singing the vowel I. Besides the 
relaxation of the masque, as in the vowels A and E, and its characteristic 
expression which makes it almost evident where the focus of the voice is 
centered, his lips approach without the slightest evidence of tension. 


Photo by Bettinl Syndicate, Inc. 


This illustration shows Caruso singing the vowel O. The prominent 
feature lies in the shape of the lips, which are protruded, making a mega- 
phone for the vowel. The lips, however, are in complete relaxation. 


Photo by Bctttnt Syndicate, Inc. 


This illustration shows Caruso singing the vowel U. In this vowel the 
prominent role is played by the lips, which by protruding markedly give 
the shape to the vowel U, 



It is otherwise known that Italian is the natural 
descendant of the classic languages Latin and 
Greek from which it has adopted its phonetic 
rules. These constitute a most valuable and pre- 
cious inheritance, and are the best asset in building 
up its phonology. 

All these illustrations reinforce the author's as- 
sertion that the Italian language forms its vowels 
by a correct physiological and phonetic mechanism, 
and these practical examples given by Caruso 
justify the broad statement that Italian is the most 
adaptable and most suitable language for singing. 

Although we have already given all the rules for 
the formation of the Italian vowels, we think that, 
in practicing, it is advisable for pupils to associate 
them with the Italian consonants, which, by their 
articulation, succeed better in placing the voice in 
its natural center for singing. As a matter of fact, 
it is true that the sound of the voice is given by the 
vowels, 2 but phonetically its placement is more dis- 
tinctly directed by the consonants. Their denomi- 
nation of Labials, Linguals, Palatins, etc., serves 
to indicate the place where they are to be articu- 
lated, and the organs which take part in their pro- 
duction. The consonants, therefore, are of great 
help in the correct pronunciation of the vowels, and 
a sure guide for the placement of the voice. 

2 The word vowel, in fact, is derived from the Latin vocalis, the root of 
which, vox, vocis, means voice. Therefore, vowel means voice. 



ITALIAN molded the formation of its consonants 
entirely on the Latin language. This accounts for 
their correctness which, even independently of 
other reasons, is confirmed by their natural, easy 

The consonants of the English language, on the 
contrary, are the very phonetic elements which 
have greatly deteriorated from their original pro- 
nunciation in the classic languages, and do not con- 
form entirely with the natural laws of voice 

The phonetic rules of the classic languages 
established certain classifications of the consonants, 
based on the predominant use of the organs taking 
a prominent part in their formation, which have 
not been retained by the Anglo-Saxon languages, 
except in a small part. This has brought about dif- 
ferences in the mechanism of the vocal organs when 
producing them, and it clearly shows the causes of 
their deformity when compared with their original 

It would take too long to make a detailed com- 
parison between the actual formation of the English 



consonants, so different from Greek or Latin, and 
therefore from Italian; but readers who are par- 
ticularly interested in this important subject may 
refer to numerous books on voice where the conso- 
nants are treated at length in their English form, 
and then consult any Greek or Latin grammar to 
ascertain the difference. 

The Italian consonants are classified as follows: 
Labials (lips), Linguals (tongue), Dentals 
(teeth), Sibilants (whistling), Palatins (palate), 
and Gutturals (throat. See Figs. 30-31). 

Other classifications, with slight differences exist, 
but for our purpose these will serve best. 

The denomination of labials calls for a prevailing 
use of the lips in pronouncing these consonants, 
and a specific placement of the voice on the lips. 
Their exact pronunciation is: Em (E pronounced 
as in empty), Bi (I pronounced as in machine), 
Pi, Ef, Vi (pronounced similarly) . 

These consonants, formed principally by the lips, 
must be produced only by approaching and putting 
them in contact without any muscular contraction 
or pressure. The act must be natural, and with- 
out force. This is of the greatest importance in 
singing, because a production forced even in the 
slightest degree in talking is always emphasized to 
a much greater degree in singing. 

The pronunciation of the consonants alone, how- 
ever, is not very important for this method, as they 
are never disassociated from the vowels in talking 
or in singing. Therefore, it is preferable for 
students to become acquainted with their sounds 


when connected with vowels in forming words, 
which in voice production constitute the real sounds 
of the voice. 

By associating the labials, M, B, P, F, V, with 
the five vowels, the following syllables result: 
(Read with Italian pronunciation. All exercises 
should be read from left to right.} 

Ma Me Mi Mo Mu 

Ba Be Bi Bo Bu 

Pa Pe Pi Po Pu 

Fa Fe Fi Fo Fu 

Va Ve Vi Vo Vu 

The ordinary difficulties arising in the pronun- 
ciation of these syllables are the following: First, 
the contracting and squeezing of the lips (espe- 
cially for the P) forcing the consonants' produc- 
tion, because of the English classification of them 
as explosives B and P, aspirates F and V, and reso- 
nant M, which require a very efficient mechanism, 
while in Italian no emphasis of the sort is necessary, 
it being sufficient for their formation to approach 
the lips and to enunciate them with the slightest 
amount of breath, taking care at the same time 
that the organs inside of the mouth take no part in 
the act of their formation. 

Another usual difficulty is to avoid making 
double vowels during the utterance of these syl- 
lables. Many people, in saying Ma, are uncon- 
sciously induced to pronounce Maaaa; in saying 
























Me, to pronounce Meeee; Mi, Miiii, etc. That 
happens because, in prolonging the pronunciation 
of these syllables, they drag the sound of the vowels 
by pulling their tongue back toward the throat, 
accomplishing actually the same act as in swallow- 
ing. They swallow their voices. 

That can be avoided by reading staccato, and 
pronouncing only one vowel, like Ma, Me, Mi, Mo, 
Mu, leaving the tongue relaxed all the time, and in 
contact with the lower teeth. 

Likewise particular pains must be taken with 
their correct formation in reference to their shape, 
opening the mouth and throat wide for the Ma, 
and changing its size for the other syllables, accord- 
ing to the rules already given. 

The second set of consonants the Linguals, N, 
L, R call for special attention in the use of the 
tongue for their formation. In English these 
consonants differ radically from the Italian, being 
produced by raising the tongue against the palate 
with a stiff movement, while in Italian the tongue 
is in complete relaxation, its tip moving very gently 
toward the upper teeth. Their pronunciation is 
En, El, Er, the tongue relaxed touching the base 
of the upper teeth. Of the three consonants the 
most difficult is the R, requiring particular care in 
the relaxation of the tongue, and its movement, 
which must be exactly the same as in N. The palate 
takes no part in the formation of these consonants. 

For our purpose it is better to associate these 
consonants with the vowels, as has been done with 
the labials. The pronunciation must be in staccato 


form, avoiding the dragging of the vowels into the 

Na Ne Ni No Nu 
La Le Li Lo Lu 
Ra Re Ri Ro Ru 

The usual interferences to be overcome are the 
stiffening and raising of the tongue against the 
palate, the double vowels, the forcing of the articu- 

The third set of consonants the dentals, D, T 
are also much different from the English, as they 
are formed by leaving the tongue between the teeth 
and pressing it very gently, while in English the 
tongue is raised toward the front palate, exerting 
a certain pressure against it. Their pronunciation 
is Ti, Di, the T produced by using a little more 
pressure of the teeth on the tongue than the D, 
which is softer and quite similar to the English 

In their connection with vowels they are: 

Ta Te Ti To Tu 

Da De Di Do Du 

Care must be taken to prevent the same inter- 
ferences as in the labials and linguals, especially 
not to stiffen the tongue or force their articula- 

The sibilants, S, Z, differ from the English inas- 
much as the English, in their articulation, hold the 
tongue in tension, and the amount of breath em- 


ployed is exaggerated. 1 In Italian, the tongue is 
left in complete relaxation on the floor of the 
mouth, and the amount of breath used is the small- 
est necessary. The sound of the S is sweet, and 
similar to the English C, as in Cinderella, the Z 
being a little stronger, almost the same as in 
the English word zuzu. 

By relaxing the tongue, and by using a moderate 
amount of breath, it is easy to get the right sound of: 

Sa Se Si So Su 

Za Ze Zi Zo Zu 

The same care must be taken as in the preceding 
paragraphs not to create double vowels, especially 
for the Su and Zu, which most often are uncon- 
sciously pronounced Suuu, and Zuuu, swallowing 
the U. 

The palatins, C, G, present more difficulties 
than the others, as in English they are articulated 
in the throat with a guttural production in which 
the base of the tongue and the palate undergo a 
marked contraction, the breath being forced also. 
In Italian the pronunciation is approximately that 
of K, as in kerosene, keen, kalendar; and G is like 
that in gallant, gospel. 2 The contraction of the 

1 Dr. Mills says that S cannot be sounded without more or less of a hiss- 
ing sound, suggesting the escape of air, which is very unpleasant to the ear; 
and unfortunately these hissing sounds are very common in English, so that 
the speaker or singer is called upon to use all his art to overcome this dis- 
agreeable effect. 

2 These consonants, when associated with the vowels e and i, keep 
the sound of k only if written with an h between, as in che, chi ghe 
ghi. Otherwise this sound is soft, as in chest, gem, chill, gin. 


throat, palate and tongue, and the pressure of the 
breath must be entirely abolished, leaving the 
tongue relaxed on the floor of the mouth, the center 
of the palate slightly raised, and the vibrations of 
these consonants precisely focused inside the base 
of the nose. 

Singers who succeed in forming these consonants 
in their natural place establish a wonderful guide 
for their voice production, as this little center rep- 
resents exactly the focus of a physiologically and 
phonetically correctly produced voice. Madame 
Galli-Curci very appropriately calls it il pun- 
tino the little point and claims that it is the 
control of her voice placement. When she feels 
the vibrations of her voice in that puntino, she 
knows that the production is right. 

Pupils, especially those endowed with light voices 
coloratura and lyric must try to create some 
vocalizes by using the consonant C, correctly pro- 
duced, in connection with the vowels, pronouncing 
as in Ka, Ke, Ki, Ko, Ku. They will find this the 
greatest help for their voice placement and the 
flexibility of their voices. 

The guttural consonant in Italian is Q. It is 
used so seldom that it is not worth devoting any 
time to it. Its pronunciation is like in English. 

Summing up, we see that the mechanism of the 
formation of most Italian consonants, as compared 
with the English, is radically different, and the 
difference lies first in their placement and the 
mechanism of their formation. 

The Italian followed the classification and the 


phonetic rules of the classic languages, while the 
English modified and altered them, with evident 
deterioration from the point of view of euphony. 
That deformity brought out the necessity of forc- 
ing the mechanism of their production, establish- 
ing a false ground for the entire voice production, 
which is based on the pressure of the breath. This 
condition, of course, has been of detrimental in- 
fluence in singing (see Figs. 30, 31). 

Pupils, therefore, must attach the greatest im- 
portance to the correct formation of the consonants, 
which in connection with the vowels constitute the 
corner stone of correct and beautiful talking and 

To make it easier for pupils to practice properly 
the Italian vowels and consonants, the following 
exercises are arranged in such a way that to the 
syllables formed by the five vowels and a consonant, 
for instance M in Ma, Me, Mi, Mo, Mu, there is 
a corresponding syllable attached, made up of A 7 
and the five vowels in succession, that is, Na, Ne, 
Ni, No, Nu. 

Applying this to the labials, M, B, P, F, V, we 
have the following: 

Ma'na Me'ne Mi'ni Mo'no Mu'nu 
Ba'na Be'ne Bi'ni Bo'no Bu'nu 
Pa'na Pe'ne Pi'ni Po'no Pu'nu 
Fa'na, etc. 
Va'na, etc. 


Linguals, N, L, R. 

Na'na Ne'ne Ni'ni No'no Nu'nu 
La'na Le'ne Li'ni Lo'no Lu'nu 
Ra'na, etc. 

Dentals, T, D. 

Ta'na Te'ne Ti'ni To'no Tu'nu 
Da'na De'ne Di'ni Do'no Du'nu 

Sibilants, S, Z. 

Sa r na Se'ne Si 7 ni So'no Su'nu 
Za'na Ze'ne Zi r ni Zo'no Zu'nu 

Palatins, C, G (pronounce c like k) . 

Ca'na etc., etc. 

Ga'na etc., etc. 

From this first exercise the pupil will gradually 
pass to the very important one which has the pur- 
pose of creating for the vowels alone the same pro- 
nunciation as they have when associated with the 

The exercise is: 

Man An A 

Men En E 

Min In I 

Mon On O 

Mun Un U 

A E I O U 


Ban An A 

Ben En E 

Bin In I 

Bon On O 

Bun Un U 

A E I O U 

The same combination of vowels with all the 
other consonants must be repeated in succession. 

In this exercise, when the vowels are pronounced 
alone, particular care must be taken to keep 
exactly the same formation as in their association 
with the consonants. The vocal organs must be 
used with the same mechanism, without emphasiz- 
ing the breath, without making double vowels, and 
by giving each vowel its exact shape. Pupils are 
usually inclined to pronounce as follows: Man 
an aaa, Men en eee, etc., which is very unsatis- 
factory, because it can never lead to the correct 
formation of the most important vowel, the A. 

All the above exercises are of great importance, 
for those same syllables will form the words, or the 
raw material, which will afterwards be transferred 
into the method of singing for preliminary train- 

By establishing the Italian phonetic rules with 
the aim of creating a correct and easy medium for 
voice production in talking, we have founded the 
most important factor for voice culture in singing. 
These same rules, brought into the field of singing 
by the speaking voice, will furnish to the singing 


voice its proper, natural placement and its correct 
voice production; above all it will relieve the sing- 
ing voice of the responsibility of elaborating every 
physiological and phonetic function related to 
voice production. 

The pupil who will give due importance to the 
correct formation of his vowels and consonants, and 
will learn them to perfection, will gain years of 
profit without struggling with tone production, 
breathing exercises, and voice building. 



THE first singers of past ages knew nothing 
about singing methods. Instinct suggested that 
they embellish their speaking voices with musical 
colors and rhythms, thus originating the primitive 
forms of singing, ruled by individual methods. 
These methods were merely the spontaneous out- 
come of natural inspiration, sentiment and emo- 
tion, musically expressed according to the singers' 

A vocal method, therefore, which aims to build 
up a natural form of singing, must have at its com- 
mand pupils who possess, in addition to an adapt- 
able speaking voice, the required inspiration, senti- 
ment and intelligence; and it must be applied 
individually also, though molded on general funda- 
mental principles alike for all singers. 

The aim of this method is to guarantee that the 
natural equipment, the voice, is trained and de- 
veloped according to the dictates of Nature, so that 
it will improve instead of deteriorating from its 
original form and beauty. As for the inspiration, 
sentiment, and intelligence, Nature alone can be- 



stow these on pupils. Teachers, nowever, can 
direct and develop the psychological dispositions 
of pupils with advice based on their own experience. 

The speaking voice the primary element for 
singing is the basis for voice culture in this 
method, which in its principles does not differ from 
any other method for musical instruments. 

A close examination of the modern teaching of 
piano, violin, etc., makes it evident that freedom 
and ease are the indispensable requisites for a thor- 
ough and correct technique. No physical exercises 
are recommended for strengthening the fingers of 
a violinist or pianist ; it is understood that they will 
gradually develop their power by long training. 
Therefore, students of singing, contrary to the gen- 
eral practice, will not be requested by this method 
to undergo any physical or breathing exercises for 
putting the vocal organs in readiness for voice cul- 

This new point of view about the breath may 
surprise the majority of readers, but it is our con- 
ception that through the normal function of sing- 
ing, which requires a specific amount of breath, the 
vocal organs gradually develop, by constant use, 
enough resistance for any emergency that may 
arise in the vocal training of pupils. In profes- 
sional singing, of course, there is some slight dif- 
ference in the use of breath, as it frequently occurs 
that a stronger amount of it is required for certain 
intense musical phrases of operas of dramatic 
character; but these emergencies concern only 
finished singers who, after long study and practice, 


have their voices in readiness for any emergency. 
Beginners have no right to attempt trials which, 
in reality, are a danger to even the vocal organs 
of advanced and well trained singers. Sensational 
outbursts are very commonplace among inex- 
perienced and enthusiastic students ; but these tem- 
peramental pupils should recall the fate of Icarus 
who tried to fly with artificial wings of wax, which 
melted when he flew too near the sun, so that he 
fell into the sea and was drowned. Furthermore, 
they must remember that the vocal organs of pro- 
fessional singers who, on occasion, indulge in stren- 
uous efforts, are physically hardened from long 
training, while the same effort on the part of be- 
ginners brings on fatigue, and paves the way for 
more disastrous consequences. 

Therefore, beginners must start their course of 
study as real beginners, proceeding in voice culture 
as they would in learning a new language, art or 
science. From the most elementary and simple 
exercises they must gradually advance to more dif- 
ficult ones, never losing sight, however, of the basic 
principle, that ease and freedom are the basis of 
voice production. 

Ease and freedom must be psychological as well 
as physical, each depending so closely on the other 
as to make it difficult to ascertain which is the 
actual support in their cooperative mission. 

A singer who is positive that he can rely on the 
full control of his voice and on the normal efficiency 
of his vocal organs gets from this assurance the 
strongest assistance in singing confidence and 


courage. Hence his physical freedom, the result 
of his correct mechanism of voice production, be- 
comes the support of his mental freedom which, 
relieved of the worry of safely getting through the 
difficult passages, helps to make his singing tech- 
nically perfect. Thus his mind is concentrated on 
the meaning of the words, which lends to his sing- 
ing impressiveness and style. 

But in the absence of the support of correct voice 
production, the singer feels under a nervous strain 
which destroys his mental and physical freedom. 
It is true, however, that some singers, by natural 
disposition, are so affected by outside influences, 
especially by that inexplicable sensation of stage 
fright, that they lose complete control of their 
voices. In some cases this abnormal psychological 
state of mind influences even singers of renown 
and renders them entirely helpless, though they can 
otherwise fully rely on their voices. Good singers, 
however, may overcome such conditions by long 
training and will power; but in cases in which the 
absence of confidence is due to lack of correct voice 
production, no improvement can be hoped for, un- 
less a new method of singing, the correct one, is 

What is the correct method of singing? 

The method of voice production which borrows 
from the speaking voice the physiological and 
psychological elements essential to the art of sing- 
ing, that is, the voice in its physical form, the 
pathos, expression, clearness, and meaning of its 
words, and combines them with musical rhythms, 


colors, and artistic style, is the correct method of 

The Scientific Culture of Voice takes its start- 
ing point from this conception ; thus it begins where 
the phonetic rules for talking end, without, how- 
ever, causing any breach, as the culture of the sing- 
ing voice is but a continuation of the speaking 
voice's proper formation. 

Three conditions are practically indispensable 
for achieving correct singing. 

1. The amount of breath employed must be pro- 
portional to the exact number of vibrations required 
by the tones to be produced; balanced in distribu- 
tion, and under steady control. 

2. The vocal apparatus must act normally, as 
in talking, with no strain or abrupt adjustments 
of its organs. 

3. The resonating apparatus, made up of all the 
cavities of the body, must be easily accessible to 
the vibrations, and must not be hampered in its 
free distribution of the sounding waves during their 

The first and second conditions are essential in 
the production of sounds, but the resonating ap- 
paratus is the power which lends to the voice its 
volume, quality, beauty, and all its psychological 
characteristics; therefore, it is the most valuable 
coefficient in singing. 

In a very sensible criticism, made by E. W. 
Myer, about the vocal-effort school, as he calls it, 
and the relaxed school, he very strongly condemns, 
on one hand, the muscular school which makes of 


man a mere machine instead of a living, emotional, 
thinking soul, and, on the other, he makes some 
interesting comments on complete relaxation in 
singing. He says that "flexible firmness without 
rigidity, vitalized position, and action is the only 
condition for singing, and that the tone of the re- 
laxation school lacks vitality." 

We agree on the whole with this statement of 
E. W. Myer, but we discriminate between the con- 
ditions ruling the singing of finished singers, and 
the essentials needed for voice culture of beginners. 
In voice culture we discard entirely all emotional 
influence during the preliminary work of stu- 
dents, in which the full relaxation of the vocal 
organs is indispensable for properly placing the 
voice and establishing a correct mechanism for sing- 
ing. The training of beginners, at least for the 
first year, must be confined to the simplest form 
of musical expression, exempt from any strong psy- 
chological influence. This period of time is no spe- 
cific; it is related to the intelligence of the pupils, 
and their conscientiousness in studying. 

The correct phonetic use of the voice and its 
most accurate mechanism in regard to its placement 
and production must be the only aim on which they 
must concentrate their minds and work. This rep- 
resents the first period of voice culture, in which 
singing must have the form of musical talking, 
avoiding all sustained tones and musical effects. 
When the thorough technique natural, not artificial 
technique is attained, so that a free, natural voice 


production is assured, then pupils can gradually 
be led into exercises and practices of more marked 
musical and psychological character. The "flexible 
firmness and vitalized action" claimed by E. W. 
Myer can at this period be gradually employed. 

Therefore, the principle we advocate for begin- 
ners is the complete relaxation of the vocal organs, 
leaving the flexible firmness and vitalized action to 
finished singers who are entitled, by reason of their 
competence, to make use of all the technical dex- 
terity for embellishing their voices and their style 
of singing. 

The first condition for correct singing, as we 
stated before, is related to the amount of breath 
used and its distribution. 

The proper amount of breath cannot be mathe- 
matically established; if it were possible it would 
perhaps solve the most perplexing problem of cor- 
rect voice production. The author, however, be- 
lieves that as long as its quantity is fully sufficient 
for the support of the voice, the less breath used, 
the better the singing. There are two reasons for 

1. The minimum of breath places the voice on 
its exact pitch, producing only as many vibrations 
as are required for a determined note, and not more. 
The vogue of screaming which prevails at present 
is principally dependent on the large amount of 
breath singers use, under strong pressure. The 
surplus of air is instinctively augmented in the as- 
cending altitudes of the scale, producing very sharp 


tones, and establishing that mechanism, so universal 
nowadays, which makes of most singers strenuous, 
sharp-pitched blowers. 

2. The minimum of breath establishes also a 
balanced function for all the other vocal organs, 
besides the lungs, which take part in voice produc- 
tion, that is, those forming the voice the vocal 
cords, larynx, and mouth and those providing its 
resonance the body cavities. Therefore, the effi- 
cient cooperation of the breath, the throat, the 
mouth and the resonance cavities is primarily gov- 
erned by the balanced power of the breath. 

At the beginning of the training, in order to pro- 
duce the singing voice the same amount of breath 
must be used as in speaking the syllables or words 
of the exercises. For instance, if the exercise is 
made up of the syllables Ma, Me, Mi, Mo, Mu, 
or La, Le, Li, Lo, Lu, the same amount of breath 
used for pronouncing them distinctly must be used 
also for singing them. To carry this out correctly 
the tones must be sung in staccato rhythm, which 
has the advantage of freeing the vocal organs by 
using them in rapid adjustments, not allowing them 
enough time to become rigid. Singing staccato 
helps likewise to place the voice, for when the 
syllables to be sung are first spoken correctly, in 
staccato rhythm, they can easily be kept in the same 
place for singing. The singer then has no chance 
to drag the voice backward into the throat, as he 
often does in singing sustained tones. At times 
when even the attack of the tone is correct, prolong- 
ing the sound of the vowel toward the end makes 


it throaty. A great soprano used to call this "swal- 
lowing the little tails of the vowels." 

When the vocal organs begin to operate in com- 
plete freedom, and pupils are thoroughly accus- 
tomed to the correct distribution of a normal 
quantity of breath, then sustained tones must enter 
into the vocal training, as there is no longer danger 
of a forced production. 

Pupils, we repeat again, must not forget that it 
is not the quantity and power of breath that is of 
great importance in making voices big and beauti- 
ful. It is, rather, its intelligent and balanced dis- 
tribution, combined with freedom in singing, and, 
above all, with the largest amount of resonance 
possible. They must begin their training with the 
conception that singing is nothing more than 
musical speech. 

The posture of their bodies, therefore, must be 
natural, as in talking, without artificial maneuvers, 
just assuming the same attitude as in addressing 
some one. That helps in getting psychological free- 
dom also. 

The vowels and consonants being the fundamen- 
tal elements of the singing voice, correct voice 
production is dependent principally on their proper 

Just as in a pearl necklace the rarity of its pearls, 
their size, shape, smoothness, luster, and arrange- 
ment make the necklace beautiful and valuable, so 
in the human voice the perfection of the elements 
of which it is composed vowels and consonants 
by their clear enunciation, their volume, resonance, 


quality, and smoothness, lay the ground for perfect 
and artistic singing. Therefore, pupils must prac- 
tice very accurately the phonetic rules already 
given for the speaking voice, and take infinite pains 
with their production. 

Associating the vowels with the labial conso- 
nants, at the beginning, helps to make the voice 
placement easier and more precise, the labials be- 
ing articulated by the lips. 

For pupils to whom the pronunciation of the 
phonetic elements proves an easy matter, it is a 
good scheme to try, in the first exercises, to asso- 
ciate all the vowels with the consonant L, which 
though more difficult to articulate, and having a 
tendency to stiffen the tongue in its production, 
creates on the contrary a marked flexibility of that 
muscle when correctly produced. 

The flexibility of the tongue is of most essential 
importance in voice production, as this organ is 
decidedly the worst enemy of singers, often con- 
stituting the most obstinate impediment to the free- 
dom of their voices. By an instinctive act they 
usually retract the tongue toward the throat, and 
keep it in tension, thus preventing the laryngeal 
sounds from freely coming out and reaching the 
mouth. This causes a serious interference, which 
must be overcome at any cost at the beginning of 
voice training, for the flexibility of the tongue 
assures the freedom of voice production. Demos- 
thenes, the greatest orator of Ancient Greece, 
thought the tongue such an important organ for 


the voice that he used to practice his orations with 
a pebble in his mouth to make his tongue more re- 
laxed and flexible. 

It is certain that in the singing of Caruso one 
of the actual causes of the ease and brilliant enun- 
ciation of his voice was the flexibility of his tongue. 
It was his servant, and without constraint he could 
shape it in any way he pleased. His marvelous 
rendition of the "Tarantella" of Rossini was the 
most striking evidence. One of his peculiarities was 
his morning inspection of his vocal cords, which he 
could easily examine by keeping his tongue so flat 
on the floor of his mouth as to make it possible to 
see his larynx in the laryngoscope without protrud- 
ing his tongue, a maneuver which is very difficult 
even when performed by a laryngologist. 

Before a performance the author often saw him 
pull his tongue repeatedly, to make it more relaxed. 
By natural instinct he put great faith in the flex- 
ibility of this organ, and trained it so well that as 
a "stunt" he used to hold the center of his tongue 
concave, and curl the end and side up, forming a 
cup, triangular in shape. 

The tongue, in singing, must be kept in relaxa- 
tion on the floor of the mouth, except in the pro- 
duction of the vowel I, in which it must be raised 
slightly, though in relaxation, toward the palate, 
and in the lingual consonants N, L, R, in which its 
movement is indispensable for their formation (see 
illustration of tongue X-ray, Fig. 27). 

This method of singing, built up on the speaking 


voice, calls also for a demonstration of the use of 
two other important phonetic organs the palate 
and the lips. 

The palate, which when naturally conformed and 
well arched, improves the resonance of the voice 
remarkably by creating a larger space in the mouth, 
must be in relaxation also. Exception is made dur- 
ing the enunciation of the vowels A, O. U, in which 
the soft palate raises the uvula but very slightly, 
while the tongue is left entirely flat or concave on 
the floor of the mouth, thus creating the largest 
space possible. Space in the mouth proves a great 
coefficient for the volume, softness and darkness of 
the voice, owing to the magnified resonance. 

The lips must always be left in normal relaxa- 
tion, as in talking. They are of great importance 
in the formation of the vowels O and U, for, by 
approaching them without squeezing, a tube is 
formed in front of the mouth which acts as a mega- 
phone for their resonance, making these vowels 
soft, dark in quality, and larger in volume. 

The attention to teachers and beginners is called 
to another important matter in regard to the sec- 
tion of the range which must be used at the begin- 
ning of vocal training. 

The author believes it is a necessity to confine 
the preliminary exercises to the lowest tones of the 
range, beginning at the altitude of B or C below 
the staff, and descending to its lowest part, until 
the voice gradually disappears. In the case of a 
soprano or tenor, if the tones are not forced this 
takes place at approximately E below the staff. 


That voice production should commence in the 
lowest section of the range is advisable for at least 
two reasons: 

1. In the low tones it is easy for pupils to employ 
the normal amount of breath required to place their 
voices on the exact natural pitch, while in the higher 
tones it is more difficult to control this amount, 
owing to a psychological influence which suggests 
to singers, in general, to give more breath than is 
necessary in ascending to the high sections of the 

2. It is important also to develop the voice (al- 
ways without forcing), first in its very low part, 
which, although not used later in singing, for 
physiological reasons forms the support of the 
higher section of the range. It has been demon- 
strated in the first part of this book that the lower 
the level of the voice, the higher its range can de- 
velop ; the more correctly the vocal organs produce 
the lower tones (that means without forcing), the 
further can the upper range be extended, without 

It is similar to the construction of a building. 
The deeper the foundation, the higher the building. 
In voice production this proves to be the case, be- 
cause, having trained the vocal organs to the maxi- 
mum of relaxation and freedom through the lower 
tones, by keeping the same mechanism of voice pro- 
duction all through the range, pupils can find no 
difficulty in producing the tones at the altitude in- 
tended by natural laws. As a rule, only artificial 
interferences make the range of the voice shorter; 


therefore, the common belief that Nature creates 
short voices is erroneous. Short voices are the re- 
sult of false mechanisms of voice production. 

Pupils, at the beginning of their training, must 
not expect to produce big tones. Their attention 
and care must be concentrated only in having their 
vocal organs operate in complete relaxation, and 
placing the voice in its correct center, guided by 
the speaking voice, which, if correctly produced, 
can establish both the place and pitch of the singing 

This new conception of determining the pitch of 
the singing voice by that of the speaking voice is 
of the greatest assistance in producing the voice, 
especially in high tones. It is a fact that if pupils 
hear the tone they are to sing, produced by the 
piano, and succeed in saying the syllable in that 
pitch, or if by mental influence they direct the pitch 
of their singing to the altitude designated by the 
speaking voice, the resulting tone will be easy in 
production and correct in pitch. In the first part 
of this book, in the chapter related to the pitch of 
the voice (p. 123) , this subject is amply illustrated. 
Beginners and singers should, therefore, learn to 
talk in any pitch, consequently enabling them to 
mold every tone of their singing on the pitch of 
the speaking voice. The advantages are manifold. 

A habit common to beginners, and also to singers, 
is that of neglecting to open the mouth sufficiently 
when it is essential, as, for instance, in the vowel A, 
or of opening it forcibly. Some teachers object to 
the opening of the mouth. It is an error. The 


mouth is the door of the voice; it must be opened 
to allow it to escape. Even instinct suggests that 
the mouth be opened in producing the voice. When 
a child starts to cry, which is a primitive psycholog- 
ical expression, he opens his mouth wide. In sing- 
ing this must be done naturally; not forcibly. In 
eating we open our mouth spontaneously and in- 
stinctively by dropping the lower jaw; the same 
must be done in opening the mouth for singing, 
thus avoiding a rigid, muscular mechanism. 

In the case of professional singers who wish to 
learn and practice this method, we caution them 
that the task is much more difficult than for real 
beginners. Singers, undertaking this, must forget 
and renounce entirely their previous method of 
singing; they must put themselves in the place of 
beginners, which is usually very difficult to do. The 
more primitive an element they will become, the 
more will the progressive influence of this method, 
by gradually substituting new rules for voice pro- 
duction, destroy their originally faulty mechanism. 
Their practicing at the beginning must be colorless, 
and more like musical speech. This is very impor- 
tant, because the mere suggestion that they are 
singing will unconsciously bring them back to their 
original faults. 

It will also be difficult for them to discard the 
influence of the diaphragm and breath pressure; 
therefore, it is a good policy for them to remain 
seated while performing their exercises, as if they 
were merely talking to the teacher. In this manner 
they will be kept away form the unconscious 


psychological influence of their professional sing- 

Fundamental voice production at the beginning 
must be correct, not artistic. Gradually, after 
the pressure of the breath is controlled, the voice 
correctly placed, and freedom in singing is ac- 
quired, exercises of more musical style can be 
attempted, beginning with sustained tones in the 
lower part of the range. This constitutes the second 
phase of their new training. In the third phase, 
when this method of practicing the exercises is ap- 
plied to songs or operas, they have nothing to fear, 
as their solid preliminary training will have pre- 
pared their voices for any vocal emergency. 

With these general hints for correct voice pro- 
duction, we have prepared the ground for our vocal 

Care must be taken that they are strictly and 
constantly observed, if progress is desired. Until 
pupils get the proper mechanism of voice produc- 
tion they must think of nothing else, nor be in- 
fluenced by any other ambition. Later they will 
realize the value of these suggestions. 



THE pupil, either standing in a natural pose, or 
seated comfortably, avoiding all muscular rigidity, 
must conduct himself as if carrying on a conver- 

In the case of professional singers who can 
hardly overcome the habitual pose of the stage, it 
is better to be seated, with head bowed slightly, 
concentrating their mental attitude on the idea of 
telling rather than singing their exercises to the 

The first series of exercises are staccato in 
rhythm, and are made up of the five Italian vowels 
in combination with the consonants B and M in 
alternation with L, as in Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu, and 
La, Le, Li, Lo, Lu (Italian pronunciation) . 

In cases where the pupil finds that another 
consonant is easier to articulate, he can use it for 
a preliminary length of time. 

It is understood that these syllables must be pro- 
nounced very distinctly, observing strictly the pho- 
netic rules of Italian vowels and consonants as 
given in Chapter XVIII, and special care must be 
taken to avoid the formation of double vowels, 



Pupils, after hearing the exercises on the piano, 
must first enunciate clearly the syllables to be sung, 
as nearly as possible on the pitch of the tones 
played; then, by using the same mechanism as in 
the speaking voice, that is, the same pronunciation 
and amount of breath, carry them into singing. 

For practical convenience in practicing, we 
emphasize again, in a brief summary, what pupils 
must do in singing these exercises, according to this 
method, and what they must avoid: 

1. They must act as real beginners, children, in 
fact, and they will learn much more quickly. 

2. Give no emphasis to what they are singing, 
except in regard to its correct pronunciation. 

3. Have the mental suggestion of being tired; 
it helps to relax. 

4. Open the mouth wide by dropping, not forc- 
ing, the lower jaw in producing the first syllable, 
Ma, La, or Ba, etc. The larger the space of the 
A, the greater the resonance. 

5. Sing with full voice, not falsetto. Often 
pupils who are self-conscious fail to give their full 
voices. This must be avoided, at any cost from the 
very beginning. 

6. Practice before a mirror so as to be certain 
that the rules are observed. Do not depend on the 
ear for that ; its control can be easily misleading. 

7. Watch the tongue; that is of most vital impor- 
tance. Keep it in soft contact with the lower lip; 
it helps its relaxation. 

8. Sing the exercises in staccato rhythm for three 
or four months, or more, until the voice is placed 


and produced with the vocal organs in complete 

What pupils must avoid in singing: 

1. To prepare themselves for singing. 

2. To take a breath before starting, thus sing- 
ing on the breath. The breath already existing 
into the lungs must be used first, then replaced by 
a new supply. This establishes a natural rhythm 
of breathing. 

3. To attack the tone by a stroke (stroke of 
glottis ) . It must commence exactly as in talking. 

4. To sing double vowels, like Ma-a, Me-e, Mi-i, 
Mo-o, Mu-u. In doing this the second vowel will 
always be dragged back into the throat by the 

5. To accentuate the top notes, or the last of the 
exercises. This is done by most students. The 
tones must all be perfectly equal and colorless from 
the first to the last exercise. 

Once pupils have acquired a certain freedom and 
dexterity in doing these exercises with the conso- 
nants B, M, L, they must practice all the other 
consonants of the alphabet. Thereafter start to 
use the syllables La, Le, Li, Lo, Lu, in alternation 
with the vowels alone, A E I O U in stac- 
cato form, until their experience in placing the 
voice is completely assured. 

The above suggestions, besides being a valuable 
guide in placing the voice, can correct almost any 
defect in voice production, and establish the proper 
vocal mechanism for beginners. 

In order to acquire the full command of a correct 


voice production, available for all styles of music, 
pupils must enter into the practice of sustained 
tones the most difficult achievement in the art of 
good singing only after a perfect control of the 
staccato tones has been attained, and in the begin- 
ning they must be attempted only in combination 
with staccato tones. This constitutes the second 
series of exercises. 

The third series is made up of only sustained 
tones, which, when produced correctly, commences 
to take on all the musical characteristic^- of the 
singing voice: volume, color, expression, which 
gradually develop the pupils' personal style of sing- 

FR iz m MAU^ra TO IV- -m AI 

L \MUHH ff/ JJfff^S IV"- 



Before going into the vocal exer- 
cises of The Scientific Culture of 
Voice it may be of interest to study 
closely an original manuscript writ- 
ten by Caruso himself as an aid in 

The importance given by Caruso 
to his enunciation in singing is 
shown by the care with which he 
translated into English the front 
page of this Neapolitan song, spell- 
ing the English version according 
to the Italian rules. 

The handwriting of both the 
music and the words is his own, and 
the underscored words represent 
the English pronunciation "Ital- 


This series of staccato exercises is suggested for 
the purpose of making students attain the correct 
enunciation of their words as the best means for 
placing the singing voice through the proper forma- 
tion of the speaking voice. 

When once the voice is placed, by the means of 
the consonants, these same exercises must be prac- 
ticed again by using the vowels A, E, I, O, U alone, 
in staccato form. 

The vowels are more difficult to place, therefore 
in singing them alone particular care must be 
taken to enunciate them as they are enunciated 
when connected with consonants as, for instance, la, 
le, li, lo, lu. It would be a good practice at the 
beginning to alternate, la, le, li, lo, lu with a, e, i, 
o, u. 





In singing all the exercises which follow, the singer must strive to use the 
correct Italian pronunciation of the vowels and consonants. 


Tempo moderate 

la le li lo lu 

la le li lo lu 

la le li lo lu 


This exercise starts on C, using- the major triad, descending- four semi-tones; 
then on Dl descending in the same manner; then on D, Eb and E, descending on 
the latter nine semitones to and including- G below the treble staff. 

Copyright, Iflaa. by D.Applttoni Company 




Tempo moderate 

la le li lo lu 

lale li lo lu 

la le li lo lu 


Major triad beginning on dominant (G), followed by same triad on tonic (C); 
then ascending by semitones with same figure from At to F; then descending by 
same figure reversed to G below treble staff. 

When correct voice production has been attained in each of the fore -going" 
exercises with the consonants M, B, L, practice each of them with every consonant 
of the alphabet: for example 

Ta, Te, Ti, To, Tu 
Sa, Se, Si, So, Su 

taking special care to articulate them properly 



Tempo moderate 

Ascending- an<T descending: the scale, starting- on the tonic (C) and ending- on 
the dominant (G), descending four semitones, then starting- on Dt and descending- 
in same manner, then on D, EK and , descending- in last instance a full octave 
to E below the staff. 



Tempo moderato 

Major scale starting on dominant (G) ascending- and descending- a fifth; then 
on tonic (C) in same manner; then a major third below (AW ascending to Et>, and 
descending in same way progressively to E below the staff. 



Tempo moderate 

thoroughly practising this exercise with the syllables la, le, li, lo, lu, 
work with the other consonants of the alphabet, for example 
Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu 
Ma, Me, Mi, Mo, Mu 
Sa, Se, Si, So, Su etc. 

Pronounce every syllable distinctly and clearly- this is one oT the most important 
features in connection with the exercise. 




* J Ji ji ji j 

1 J> r ' i 

La la la la la la la la lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

J ' IB ff J i 

la la la la la la la la lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

la la lit la la la la la, lo lo lo lo la lo lo lo la 

After practising- these exercises by singing the syllable Lo on the top and 
descending: notes, having acquired their correct production, the syllables La. Le. 
Li, Lo, Lu must be substituted and practised in place of Lo. 




Tempo moderate 

la la la lo lo lo la la la la lo lo lo la 

J "' J J 


la la la lo lo lo la 

la la la lo lo lo la 


When the correct production of this exercise is acquired, change the syllable 
on the top and descending notes, as in exercise 3. 




Tempo moderate 

. . - t \ k -| , i 

> J' J d " j J j' 
1 J J 

La ia la la la la lo lo lo lo lo lo la la la la la la la 

lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

la la la la la la 

lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

& J.~- lJ 

IP jJ0M JV i 

la la la la la la 

lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

^^ jiji i' 

la la la la la la 

U JJ -^ . 9 jl-^- 

J ff J ^nJ^j^ 


When the correct production of this exercise is acquired, change the syllable 
on the top and descending: notes, as in exercise 3 



Tempo moderate 

-htJ 5 ^ J^-h k i 

*&* ^JjJ) 

7 > 

-T r 

vr b j^' 

la la la la lo lo- lo lo la 

la la la la lo lo lo lo la rtc - 

When the correct production of this exercise is acquired, change the syllable 
on the top and descending notes as in Exercise 3 



Tempo moderate 

la la lo lo lo lo la la lo lo lo lo la la la lo lo lo la 

k htt-h ^ -h K I i -MJ^ ^' J^ .h I i hd-b ^ -h N I ir 

j\ w ] *-- ~ V -A T^ f ' Juf'*- V 1 'ift 

la -la lo lo lo lo la la la lo lo lo la la la lo lo lo la 


la la lo lo lo.lo la la la lo lo lo la la la lo lo lo la 


When the- correct production of this exercise is acquired, change the syllable 
otrthe top and descending notes as jn Exercise 3 



Tempo moderate 


la la la la lo lo lo. lo 

Continue Exercise 8 as in Exercise 2A, also in same manner as Exercise 2B 
and ^C. Voice production must- be equal in volume and quality in every passage, 
and pronunciation must be perfect or voice will be misplaced. Also change syllables 
on top and descending notes as ia Exercise * 


Tempo moderato^ 

lalalalolololalalalololo lalalalolololala lalololo lalalalolololala lalololo 


la la la lo lo lo la la la lo lo lo 

lalalalolololalalalololo lalalalolololalalalololo lalalalololo la etc - 

Use the least amount of breath possible in order to become accustomed to its 
proper distribution. After each passage breathe deeply, and do not begin the next 
passage before complete relaxation is obtained. 

When the correct production of. this exercise is acquired, change the syllable on 
the top and descending notes as in Exercise 




Tempo moderate 

la_ lala.talo_lo lo lo to lo la_ la la la lo_ lo 

lo lo lo lo la_ la la la lo_ lo -lo lo lo lo la_ 





Tempo moderato 


la la la la lo __ lo lo lo la_ 

la la la la lo __ lo lo lo 

la_ la la la la lo lo fo lo la_i lalalalalo__ 

_ lo lo lo la_ la la la la lo lo lo lo la_ 



Tempo mqderato 

la la la la lo _ lo lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

lo lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

lo lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

Practice this exercise in same order of transposition as that given in Exercises 
2, 2\>, and 2<? (First Series) 

When the correct production is acquired, change the syllable on the top and de> 
scending notes as in Exercise 3 (First Series} 






r PTi^'jM 

la on de la la la la lo lo lolo la_ la on de 


IT p 'i^ 

la la la la lo lo lo lo la la- on 4e la la la la 



lo_ lo lo lo la la on de la la la la lo_ lo lo lo la 


In practicing this exercise, cafe must be taken that on the syllable de the tongue be 
completely relaxed between the teeth and left there until the next bar begins. 



Tempo moderate 

V h J^ J* ff P P I ^ r P ft Hr-ftrr 
jl J' * *' P ' - - k P- ' 

la la la la la la la la lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

fa la la la la la la la lo IQ lo lo lo lo lo lo la 

,,P , v J.jFjffr= 

fr j?j>MJ P P 

H la la la la la la la la 

lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo 

3 etc. 

-} j 

. ^r j 

* ~ ** etc 

Continue this exercise, ascending first to A below the staff up to and including C be. 
low the staff. 




J ^ . 

on la - on la- on la on 


rt Lg e ato 


la - on la - on la ' - on la 

la -- on la - on 



Continue this exercise up to C above Middle C and descend to the starting point. 
The preceding exercises of Ihe first and second series must be practiced with sus- 
tained tones as in the above exercise. 



MANY books on voice and voice culture, written 
by singing teachers, assume almost the proportions 
of a Treaty on Physical Culture or on Laryngology 
by prescribing a large number of physical exercises 
or by dispensing advice of a purely medical charac- 
ter regarding the hygiene of the voice and the care 
of the throat. 

As a laryngologist of many years' practice, mostly 
among professional singers, we cannot refrain- 
before closing this book from having our say on 
these medical recommendations, coming for the 
most part from outsiders to the profession. 

To the question, What measures of prevention 
against impairing the voice or what particular pre- 
cautions for the throat must be taken by singers, 
we have only one emphatic reply, Correct singing, 
above all things. 

It may seem an exaggerated and severe state- 
ment, but it is nevertheless true that in the majority 
of cases when singers complain about their throat 
and voice, their troubles cannot be ascribed to any 
disease, but are the direct result of a wrong voice 
production, the real source of worry for profes- 
sional singers. "I have caught a bad cold" is the 
ready excuse to which a bad singer usually resorts, 



and which the public always accepts, while the ex- 
perienced laryngologist easily finds out that the 
"cold" is nothing but habitual strain on the vocal 

We may quote here the case of a coloratura 
soprano, whom we kept warning for years, when 
she called on us for treatment usually after per- 
formances or recitals that there was nothing 
wrong with her throat, except the strain of bad 
singing. At last one day she became convinced 
that she should change her method of singing and 
acquire an easier voice production. She has never 
had to consult a throat specialist since then and 
her habitual after-performance colds have com- 
pletely disappeared. Of course, like all ordinary 
mortals, singers are liable to suffer from colds and 
sore throats, and so far science has not discovered 
any special means to render them immune. In 
order to guard against these indispositions they 
must comport themselves as any intelligent person 

Singing does affect the throat, but bad singing 
sets in a chronic congestion of the vocal organs 
through undue strain and violent effort, just as 
correct dancing does not harm the legs, while bad 
dancing may deform or sprain the ankles or even 
cripple the performer. 

In a previous chapter we have already stated 
that a strongly developed breathing apparatus or 
throat is not always a determining factor in good 
singing, but that correct voice production greatly 
contributes to the muscular strengthening of these 


organs. The physical constitution of a singer is 
independent of his natural or inherited gift for the 
art, and the physical training which is indispensable 
in the case of a prize fighter or an acrobat is of no 
avail for the development of the vocal organs ; some 
great artists are and have been small and thin, some 
others of lesser fame are or have been, on the con- 
trary, endowed with an exceptional embonpoint, 
and, so far, it has been impossible to measure talent 
by inches or by pounds. 

The general health condition of an artist has cer- 
tainly much to do with his singing, but this is true 
with the proper discharge of duties in any other 
walk of life. 

There are hygienic principles which govern all 
the physiological functions of our system, whether 
they be of a more muscular nature, like boxing, 
fencing, and other sports, or more subject to 
psychological control, like painting, playing, sing- 
ing, etc. 

For the proper performance of our work, in both 
instances, we need the assistance of hygienic rules, 
so that our system may be kept in a high degree of 
physiological efficiency; but there is a difference 
in the hygienic rules pertaining to each of the above 
cases. While it is urgent for a boxer or a fencer 
to keep his muscles in continual training, it is hardly 
necessary for a thinker, a writer, or anybody who 
is devoted to a purely intellectual form of activity 
to overtax his physical strength. As singing be j 
longs to this latter class of activities, all books and 
methods advocating physical training for singers 


seem to consider singing more as a muscular action 
than as an intellectual achievement. 

We would suggest that singers take care of their 
health just by following the normal rules of all 
intelligent people, without exerting themselves in 
any form of physical training. The vocal appara- 
tus is a delicate machine, and must be treated care- 
fully and gently; general health is its best support. 

There are no medicinal preparations of any kind 
that ought to be recommended to singers who are 
in normal health; the beauty of their voice cannot 
be enhanced or preserved by doctor's prescriptions. 

We cannot deny that the organs we make most 
use of in our daily occupation are our weakest 
spots, more readily exposed to the attack of adverse 
conditions. It is true, in the case of most singers, 
that their vocal organs are more sensitive than the 
others to exposure or climatic variations. No 
pharmaceutical products, however, can bring a 
radical relief in such cases; singers who are com- 
pelled by their profession to migrate from warm 
lands to cold countries, from dry climates to damp 
climates, must try and acclimatize themselves by 
contracting open-air habits, by avoiding overheated 
rooms, as well as cold and damp habitations; they 
must lead a regular, wholesome life, because a pro- 
fession that is exercised mostly late at night taxes 
more our vital resources than work done earlier in 
the day. 

Moderation must be the guiding rule: cold 
baths, cold applications to the outside of the throat 
for a few minutes in the morning, followed by a 


light massage of the neck to promote circulation; 
but, above all, a daily practice of vocal exercises of 
light nature, which act as an internal massage on the 
vocal organs. These exercises must be done often 
during the day, for fifteen or twenty minutes at a 
time. There is no more danger to the vocal organs 
in practicing even several hours a day, if the voice 
production is correct, than there is to the fingers of 
a pianist or a violinist, though some allowance must 
be made for the vocal organs, made of delicate 
tissues, which must be used with more care than the 
hardened muscles of our fingers. 

Here again in closing our book we cannot 
refrain from mentioning Caruso as the most won- 
derful rebuke of all the prejudices and the anti- 
quated rules that still govern to-day's schools of 
voice culture. The great artist was a heavy smoker 
and indulged in liberties that the majority of 
singers would consider as forbidden fruit. 

We have never known him to use any special 
preparations or to take such precautions as any or- 
dinary mortal would not take. A light salt solution 
was his usual gargle during the performances, and 
when his throat was much congested often on 
account of smoking he used a spray of apotliesine 
and adrenalin, prescribed by us. But the great 
singer was more fond of munching an apple be- 
tween acts than of anything else. 

He was as simple in his living as in his hygienic 
habits, when his vocal organs were concerned. 
Alas, his premature death shows us now that he 


was perhaps over-generous with his own vitality, 
and that on the altar of Art he laid down his life 
as a sublime sacrifice. 

His tragic death evokes in our memory the beau- 
tiful words that the great French poet Alfred de 
Musset wrote almost eighty years ago, at the 
death of Malibran, another great singer: 

Ce qu'il nous faut pleurer sur ta tombe hdtive 
Ce n'est pas I'art divin, ni ses savants secrets: 
Quelque autre etudiera cet art que tu creais; 
C'est ton dme, CARUSO, et ta grandeur naive, 
C'est cette voix du cceur qui seule au cceur arrive, 
Que nul autre, apres toi, ne nous rendra jamais.