Singers.com

In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument

Home | Doo Wop | Barbershop | World | Contemporary | Christian | Vocal Jazz | Choral | Christmas | Instructional | Arrangements


Bel Canto Singing

Bel canto (bel-canto) (Italian, "beautiful singing" or "beautiful song"), along with a number of similar constructions ("bellezze del canto"/"bell’arte del canto"), is a term relating to Italian singing. It has several different meanings and is subject to a wide variety of interpretations.

The words were not associated with a "school" of singing until the middle of the 19th century, when writers in the early 1860s used it nostalgically to describe a manner of singing that had begun to wane around 1830. Nonetheless, "neither musical nor general dictionaries saw fit to attempt [a] definition [of bel canto] until after 1900". The term remains vague and ambiguous in the 21st century and is often used to evoke a lost singing tradition.

Musicologists occasionally apply the label bel canto technique to the arsenal of virtuosic vocal accomplishments and concepts imparted by singing teachers to their students during the late 18th century and the early 19th century. Many of these teachers were castrati.

"All [their] pedagogical works follow the same structure, beginning with exercises on single notes and eventually progressing to scales and improvised embellishments" writes Potter[16] who continues, "The really creative ornamentation required for cadenzas, involving models and formulae that could generate newly improvised material, came towards the end of the process."

Today's pervasive idea that singers should refrain from improvising and always adhere strictly to the letter of a composer's published score is a comparatively recent phenomenon, promulgated during the first decades of the 20th century by dictatorial conductors such as Arturo Toscanini [1867–1957], who championed the dramatic operas of Verdi and Wagner and believed in keeping performers on a tight interpretive leash.

Early 19th-century teachers described the voice as being made up of three registers. The chest register was the lowest of the three and the head register the highest, with the passaggio in between. These registers needed to be smoothly blended and fully equalized before a trainee singer could acquire total command of his or her natural instrument, and the surest way to achieve this outcome was for the trainee to practise vocal exercises assiduously. Bel canto-era teachers were great believers in the benefits of vocalise and solfeggio. They strove to strengthen the respiratory muscles of their pupils and equip them with such time-honoured vocal attributes as "purity of tone, perfection of legato, phrasing informed by eloquent portamento, and exquisitely turned ornaments", as noted in the introduction to Volume 2 of Scott's The Record of Singing.

Major refinements occurred to the existing system of voice classification during the 19th century as the international operatic repertoire diversified, split into distinctive nationalist schools and expanded in size. Whole new categories of singers such as mezzo-soprano and Wagnerian bass-baritone arose towards the end of the 19th century, as did such new sub-categories as lyric coloratura soprano, dramatic soprano and spinto soprano, and various grades of tenor, stretching from lyric through spinto to heroic. These classificatory changes have had a lasting effect on the way singing teachers designate voices and the way in which opera house managements cast their productions.

Displaying 1-21 of 21 items.


Karen Bauer : The Essentials of Beautiful Singing: A Three-Step Kinesthetic Approach

Review: Voice research has revealed much about the singing voice, but this valuable information does not necessarily transfer into fine singing. In The Essentials of Beautiful Singing: A Three-Step Kinesthetic Approach, performer and scholar Karen Tillotson Bauer bridges this gap by reframing the complexities of voice science with a cultivated simplicity of style and terminology that speaks directly to the singer's experience of singing. With her three-step approach, Bauer integrates fact and application in a logical order, step by step. With clarity and immediate relevancy, this work takes the mystery out of singing by approaching it as a kinesthetic experience. Through the use of short verbal prompts and guided exercises, The Essentials of Beautiful Singing helps the singer discover good breath management, realize good resonance, and achieve clear enunciation. The focus throughout is on the skillful use of the body as a musical instrument, the source of fine singing. For the experienced voice teacher, choral director and singer at any level, Bauer's three-step approach offers a fresh perspective on the familiar principles of vocal function. Clear explanations of the singing processes replace vague notions, and a relevant terminology makes refined singing more accessible. The Essentials of Beautiful Singing cuts to the heart of vocal technique and challenges some common pedagogical assumptions while defining a dependable foundation for fine singing.

Songlist: Setting the Stage for the Three-Step Approach, A Precondition to Beautiful Singing, "Open Body" and Breath Management, Exhalation: Controlled Release of Air, "Open Throat" and Resonance, The Kinesthetic Experience, Resonanting on Sung Tones, Posture Preparartion, The Chiaroscuro Balance, Forward Articulation and Enunciation, Refinements toward Greater Skill, Chest Register, Head Register, Messa di Voce, Developing the Upper Range, Legato and Misicality

More details
8210b | Book | $39.95 |


Mathilde Marchesi : Bel Canto: A Theoretical & Practical Vocal Method

Review: Bel canto (Belcanto, bel canto) (Italian, beautiful singing), an Italian musical term, refers to the art and science of vocal technique which originated in Italy during the late sixteenth century and reached its pinnacle in the early part of the nineteenth century during the Bel Canto opera era. Bel canto singing characteristically focuses on perfect evenness throughout the voice, skillful legato, a light upper register, tremendous agility and flexibility, and a certain lyric, "sweet" timbre. This volume embodies Madame Marchesi's "vocal alphabet," or basic instructions and exercises that formed the voices of her great pupils. An introductory text discusses breathing, attack, registers and similar matters, while the remainder of the book contains many exercises and vocalises that teach voice management and projection. Marchesi's book is today even more important than when it first appeared, for it offers the basis for a construction of the bel canto training system. At the time the book appeared, the bel canto system had gone out of fashion in favor of more modern schools that seemed to offer more rapid maturation, voice volume, and dramatics. Today, a more realistic reevaluation has revealed that the bel canto system gave the singer much longer performing life, a more pleasing voice, and far greater musical ability. As Phillip Miller states in his introduction, "a solidity, a sure technical mastery, an even scale with no register break... strong, even and secure trills, their coloratura masterly." In addition, the resurgence of interest in early 19th century opera renders a work like Marchesi's indispensable to the modern singer.

Songlist: Part One: Elementary and Progressive Exercixes for the Development of the Voice, Chromatic Slur, Diatonic Slur, Portamento, Scales, Exercises for blending the Registers, Exercises on two notes, Exercises on three notes, Exercises on four notes, Exercises on six notes, Exercises on eight notes, Chromatic Scale, Minor Scales, Exercises for Flexibility, Varied Scales, Repeated Notes, Triplets, Arpeggi, Messa di Voce (Swelled Sounds), Apoggiatura - Acciaccatura (Crushed Note) - Mordente, The Turn, The Shake (Trill), Shakes by Thirds, Part Two: Development of the Exercises in the Form of Vocalises, Attack, Portamento, Sostenuto, Diatonic Scale, Dotted Diatonic Scale, Minor Scale, and more

Style: Opera

More details
6480b | Songbook | $12.95 | Solo |


Robert Toft : Bel Canto - A Performers Guide

Review: Bel canto, or 'beautiful singing,' remains one of the most elusive performance styles vocalists strive to master. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, composers routinely left the final shaping of recitatives, arias, and songs to performers, and singers treated scores freely so that inexpressively notated music could be turned into passionate declamation. In other words, vocalists saw their role more as one of re-creation than of simple interpretation. Familiarity with the range of strategies prominent singers of the past employed to unlock the eloquent expression hidden in scores enables modern performers to take a similar re-creative approach to enhancing the texts before them. In this first ever guide to bel canto, author Robert Toft provides singers with the tools they need not only to complete the creative process the composer began but also to bring scores to life in an historically-informed manner. Replete with illustrations based on excerpts from Italianate recitatives and arias by composers ranging from Handel to Rossini, the book offers discussions of the fundamental principles of expressive singing, each section including a practical application of the techniques involved. Drawing on a wealth of documents from the era, including treatises, scores, newspaper reviews, and letters, this book captures the breadth of practices singers used in the bel canto period. Complete with six scores (recitatives and/or arias) for performers to personalize through the old methods, and a companion website offering demonstrations of the principles involved, Bel Canto is an essential resource for any singer or vocal instructor wishing to explore and master historical techniques of interpretation and re-creation from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Songlist: The Principles of Bel Canto, Introduction, Phrasing, Altering Rhythm and Tempo, Tonal Contrast, Register, Vibrato, Ornamentation, Dramatic Action, Bel canto in Practice

More details
6922b | Book | $29.95 |


Esther Salaman : Unlocking Your Voice: Freedom to Sing

Review: Esther Salaman's singing career started in 1940 with regular concerts and broadcasts. For the last 30 years she has been teaching and during this period has evolved a distinctive method which many singers - some now famous - have found invaluable in developing their voices. This book covers every aspect of voice production. Ester Salaman discusses her experience of personality behind the voice and comments on the drive and courage needed for a singing career as well as the fears and inhibitions that assail both professionals and amateurs. She has worked with boys' unbroken voices as well as those of adults and her ideas therefore appeal as much to singers in school choirs as to the operatic stage. She gives a detailed plan for vocal health and technical exercises in the form of musical examples. It should be of use to singers of all ages, their teachers and choir trainers.

Songlist: Unlocking Your Voice, The Start of the Note and Vowel Centering, Freedom and Agility, Vibrancy, Expression: Dynamics, Resonance, 'Covering the Sound" and Registers, Your Daily Voice Limbering, Vowels and Consonants, Tension and Performance, Voice Strain and Other Hazards, More About Bel Canto

More details
2949b | Book | $19.95 | Solo |


Giovanni Battista Lamperti : The Technics of Bel Canto

Review: This is a reproduction of the original book published in 1923. One of the great masters of the vocal arts shares his timeless thoughts. Most interesting.

Songlist: General Onservations, Preliminary Studies, The Vocal Organs, Studies in Tone, Exercises for Steadying the Vocal Attack, Vocal Development, Blending of the Registers, Vocal Agility, The Trill, Tones, Observations on Change of Register, Remarks on Musical Style, Care of the Voice, Conclusion

More details
7473b | Book | $15.95 |


Giovanni Battista Lamperti : Vocal Wisdom

Review: 2010 Reprint of 1931 Edition. Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1839 -1910) was an Italian singing teacher and son of the singing teacher Francesco Lamperti. He is source for Vocal Wisdom: Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1931). His preferred teaching arrangement was having three or four students present at each lesson: each would get their turn while the others observed and learned thereby. He was said to be a strict, exacting instructor not given to flattery, but who enthusiastically praised his students upon exceptional achievement. Many of Giovanni's students became international opera stars including Irene Abendroth, Marcella Sembrich, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Paul Bulss, Roberto Stagno, David Bispham and Franz Nachbaur. The Technics of Bel Canto is the only book (other than the maxims recalled and published posthumously by his pupil William E. Brown) that Giovanni ever wrote on his method.

Songlist:

More details
7472b | Book & DVD | $14.95 |


Heinrich Panofka : The Art of Singing - Twenty-Four Vocalises for Soprano

Review: Panofka (1807-1887) was one of the great 19th century voice teachers. His background as a choral composer greatly influenced these athletic bel canto vocalise compositions. This work presents 24 studies in The Art Of Singing and is suitable for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, or Tenor.

Songlist: Major Scales, Minor Scales, Agility, Triplets, Groups of 2 Slurred Notes, Portamento, Dotted Notes, Syncopation, Legato, Appoggitura, Gruppetto, Turn and Mordent, Preparatory Study for the Trill, Agility, Trills, Arpeggios, Chromatic Scales, Study on Chromatics, Intervals

Voicing: Soprano
Style: Opera

More details
6489b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $7.95 | Solo |


Heinrich Panofka : The Art of Singing; 24 Vocalises, Op. 81

Review: Panofka was one of the great 19th century voice teachers. His background as a violinist and composer greatly informed these athletic bel canto vocalise compositions. Op. 81 is for soprano, mezzo-soprano or tenor.

Songlist: 24 Vocalises

Voicing: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, T

More details
4069b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $12.95 | Solo |


Heinrich Panofka : The Art of Singing; 24 Vocalises, Op. 81

Review: Panofka was one of the great 19th century voice teachers. His background as a violinist and composer greatly informed these athletic bel canto vocalise compositions. Op. 81 is for Alto, Baritone, or Bass.

Songlist: 24 Vocalises

Voicing: Alto, Baritone, Bass

More details
4068b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $14.95 | Solo |


Heinrich Panofka : Twenty-four Progressive Vocalises, Op. 85, Volume I

Review: Panofka was one of the great 19th century voice teachers. His background as a violinist and composer greatly informed these athletic bel canto vocalise compositions. Op. 81 is for alto or tenor.

Songlist: Twenty-four Progressive Vocalises

Voicing: Alto Tenor

More details
4070b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $9.95 | Solo || Vocalises


Kendrick Jacocks : Anatomy of Bel Canto

Review: This book of the 'bel canto' series by author Kendrick Jacocks takes the anatomical and physiological route to explaining why the 'bel canto' position achieves the timbres, calibration, and control native to it. The book proves the functional aspects of the nasalis (nose muscle system), and provides detailed descriptions of the paranasal sinuses: ethmoid, sphenoid, maxillary, and frontal, and their effect on tone quality. It explains chest tensions; the connection between the pelvic floor and mask in supporting the breath, and the chest position. The books explains how to use the muscles that open and close the tone, the importance of the relaxation of the spine, and explains resonance. The book provides anecdotes from such writers, artists and teachers as Giovanni Sbriglia, Joan Sutherland, G.B. Lamperti, Regine Crespin, and Manuel Garcia. Kendrick Jacocks is a professionally active dramatic tenor, pedagogue, and critic whose life is dedicated to the practice of opera as a means of transmitting human emotion. He has performed with symphony orchestras and opera companies in the United States, Europe, Eurasia, Canada, and Central America. He received a BM in voice and literature from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and his MA in voice pedagogy and performance from the University of ND at Grand Forks. He plans to complete a DMA at Rutgers University.

Songlist: Bel Canto Technique, Anatomy of the Nose, Soft Palate, Tongue and Jaw, Breathing and Support, Discussing the Ancient Manner, The Cavities of the Head, Head Resonance, Buccel Resonance, Chest Vibrations, Open and Closed Tones, Pelvic Support, Chest Voice, Chest Tone, Stage, Consonants, Technique of Chest Resonance, Sbriglia, Closing

More details
5291b | Book | $19.95 | Solo |


Kendrick Jacocks : Bel Canto - A Professional Manual

Review: This guide somatically explains how to sing using fundamental 'bel canto' technique. It is unique because it explains the physical technique of 'bel canto' in plain words, rather than discussing opinions and observations, style, vocalises, history and theory. The author, Kendrick Jacocks, has used the method, which was identified as 'bel canto' by professionals in the field as he prepared for his debut performances of Verdi's "Otello' with the Donetsk State Opera in The Ukraine and on tour in Spain. His performances held interest for his unique ability to transmit real emotion through the use of timbre, intensity, and dynamics, which was enabled by three essential physical movements. The 'bel canto position' was taught to him by the successful 'bel canto' teacher and soprano Virginia Zeani. The technique was then applied by the actions he sets forth in this book, and aided by his own studies and practice. The second half of the book provides helpful remedies, suggested listening, a short explanation of the teachings of Manuel Garcia II, Enrico delle Sedie, Mathilde Marchesi, and Giovanni Sbriglia, "Constantin Stanislavsky on Singing in the Mask", quotations on the value of humming and suggestions from Zinka Milanov, Virginia Zeani, Marian Anderson, G. B. Lamperti, Jean de Reszke, and Rosa Ponselle, and a short gallery.

Songlist: Introduction, Foundation of Bel Canto the Development of Bel Canto, The Magic Word "HUNG", Tone of Bel Canto, Legato of Bel Canto, Attack of Bel Canto, Consonants, Agility, Pianissimo, Messa di Voce, Mezza Voce, Vocal Registers, Breathing, Breath Support for Bel Canto, Bel Canto Resonance, Timbres of Bel Canto, French The Language of Bel Canto, Beauty of Tone, Increasing the Higher Range, Summary

More details
5292b | Book | $13.45 | Solo |


Lucie Manen : Bel Canto - The Teaching of the Classical Italian Song-Schools

Review: Lucie Manen's career - as lieder and opera singer and physiotherapist - uniquely qualified her to write this manual. Here are the findings of her extensive investigations into the "lost" art of Bel Canto, its history, and its techniques.

Songlist: Preamble, Introduction, Investigation of Bel Canto Voice-Production and Breath-Control, Characteristics of Bel Canto, Building the Bel Canto Instrument, Bel Canto Breath-Control and Voice Production, Fundamental Principles of Bel Canto, Mastery Of Bel Canto Technique, Coloratura, Articulation, Voice Types and Vocal Timbres, Appendix: Summary of Research, Bibliography

More details
7076b | Book | $28.95 |


Mathilde Marchesi : Elementary Progressive Vocalises - Low Voice

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods". These 20 vocalises are perfect for your daily vocal practice and having been used by some of the great singers of the past 100 years.

Songlist:

Voicing: Low
Style: Classical

More details
6466b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $7.95 | Solo |


Mathilde Marchesi : Twenty Elementary and Progressive Vocalises - Med. Voice

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods". These 20 vocalises are perfect for your daily vocal practice and having been used by some of the great singers of the past 100 years.

Songlist:

Voicing: Medium
Style: Opera

More details
6408b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $7.95 | Solo |


Mathilde Marchesi : Twenty Elementary and Progressive Vocalises, Op. 15

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods".

Songlist: Twenty Elementary and Progressive Vocalises

Voicing: Medium

More details
4058b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $9.95 | Solo || Vocalises


Mathilde Marchesi : Twenty Elementary and Progressive Vocalises, Op. 15

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods".

Songlist:

Voicing: Alto

More details
4057b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $9.95 | Solo |


Mathilde Marchesi : Twenty-Four Vocalises for Soprano or Mezzo-Soprano

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods". 24 excellent vocal exercises that will help develop, strengthen and warm up your voice. Specifically for Sopranos and Mezzo-Sopranos and have been used by some of the great singers of the past 100 years.

Songlist: Swelling and diminishing upon a tone - Larghetto, Portamento - Andante e molto legato, Portamento - Sostenuto molto, Smooth, even singing - Moderato, Smooth, even singing - Larghetto, Diatonic Scale - Andantino, Diatonic Scale - Allegretto, Diatonic Scale - Moderato, Diatonic Scale with dotted notes Andantino, Quatrains - Allegro giusto, Chromatic Scale - Andante, Chromatic Scale - Andantino, Theme with variations - Andantino, Minor Scales - Andante, Repeated Notes - Andantino, Triplets - Allegretto, Arpeggios - Allegro giusto, The long and short appoggiatura - Moderato, Gruppetto and Mordente - Andantino, Syncopation - Allegro giusto, Detached and accented notes - Moderato, Large Skips - Deciso, Shake - Andantino, 1st Recapitulation - Andante, 2nd Recapitulation - Allegro

Voicing: Mezzo-Soprano Soprano
Style: Classical

More details
6477b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $9.95 | Solo || Soprano Voices


Mathilde Marchesi : Twenty-four Vocalises for Soprano or Mezzo-Soprano, Op. 2

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods".

Songlist: Twenty-four Vocalises

Voicing: Mezzo-Soprano

More details
4071b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $9.95 | Solo || Vocalises


Mathilde Marchesi : Twenty-four Vocalises for Soprano, Op. 3

Review: Mathilde Marchesi was a mezzo-soprano, teacher of singing, and exponent of the bel canto technique. She was an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods".

Songlist: Twenty-four Vocalises

Voicing: Soprano

More details
4062b | Vocal Warm Up Exercises | $12.95 | Solo || Soprano Voices


Various Composers : Cantolopera - Belcanto Arias for Soprano

Review: This edition includes vocal scores and a CD containing a complete version as well as an accompaniment-only version. It includes the lyrics and background notes in Italian and English and information on the Compagnia d'Opera Italiana.

Songlist: Bel raggio lusinghier (Semiramide), Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (Die Zauberflote), Regnava nel silenzio (Lucia di Lammermoor), Al dolce guidami castel natio and Piangete voi? (Anna Bolena), E strano! e strano! and Ah fors' e lui che l'anima (La traviata)

Voicing: Soprano
Style: Opera

More details
8549b | Songbook & CD | $24.95 | Solo || Soprano Voices | Cantolopera