Good music is created when “Voice” produces the sound at the correct pitch, accurate loudness and with good quality. Voice culture is the science of perfecting and using one’s voice effectively. It is also called science of the human voice. “Voice” is also an instrument for a vocalist to communicate his/her musical ideas. “It has to be kept finely tuned. And Voice –Training and Voice –Culture helps to improve its quality, its power and endurance. Voice is the only instrument that can be cultivated, improved and cultured, by variation of pitch, intensity and timbre (tonal quality). In Sangeeta Ratnakar, “sareera” is a term which refers to a gifted voice without any regular practice. Sareera is a “natural voice”. The Voice –training method turns the gifted natural instrument into an exquisite and melodious “Vadhyam” or instrument.
Read the previous post Voice Parameters in this series
Voice – The instrument that can be cultivated
Voice is an only instrument that can be cultivated, improved and cultured by variation of pitch, intensity and timbre (tonal quality). Indian Classical Music is based on spirituality. For a vocalist of Indian Classical Music “Voice” is to sing the glory of God. Any determined effort focused towards attaining perfection is called ‘Sadhana’. A vocalist has to exercise and make the vocalcord music worthy towards attaining perfection and is called ‘Kantha–Sadhana’. In Western Music it is called “Voice-Culture”. Indian Classical Music is always connected with spirituality. When a vocalist of Indian Classical Music sings in correct tone, the whole environment becomes spiritual and soothing. It seems to pour forth freely from the Heart spontaneously. There is no evidence of calculation, of carefully directed effort, of attention to the workings of the voice, in the tones of a perfect singer.
In Indian Classical music both Hindustani and Carnatic, the teaching of Voice production has been purely on empirical basis so far, relying on the pernicious system of trial and error, with the result that this branch has been exposed to more charlatanism.
What helps Voice Modulation ?
A proper understanding of the structure and foundation of the physiological mechanism, acoustical principles of voice emission and psychological factors of the individual help to deduce scientific facts which would guide through the tangle of confusion which has beset the art of Voice Culture. Although the classical system of music has been enriched with many exercises to develop the skill of singing, a comprehensive study of all the scientific aspects related to voice cultivation and also the practice of technically developed exercises will help the singers to analyze the own voice and to manipulate the vocal apparatus for the perfect voice modulation.
There is a very important fact that an effective and impressive voice is a must for singers to succeed. That is why Voice Culture is becoming very important for a singer. One interesting thing is that it is helpful for other professionals also like Public Speaker, Actor, Teacher whoever is related with impressive voice. Conceptually, an ideal voice differs according to the System of Music. Western music is based on Harmony while Indian music is based on Melody. Carnatic music has its own unique style whereas in Hindustani music every Gharana’s voice training is different. Soft singing is necessary in film music. But the best voice is one which is most flexible.
Voice training has become imperative in the current scenario, it helps Voice flexibility and ensures Control of Breath, Uniformity in voice, Clarity in voice, Articulation, Resonance and Vocal range. Scientific and the medical aspect of voice culture is to maintain Voice hygiene and preserve the Voice from Voice disorder. As is the case with most other systems of the world, Carnatic music also uses the human voice as well as several instruments of both Indian and Western origin. There is an amazing open-mindedness when it comes to adopting good things from other systems. Several instruments like the violin, mandolin, guitar and the saxophone have been adopted successfully, of course, with a few modifications to suit the requirements of Carnatic music.
Though vocal music is popular among those who are sufficiently exposed to Carnatic music, the listener invariably gravitates to instrumental music. Instruments can be classified into four categories namely, Stringed, Wind, Percussion and others unexposed.
Figure 2.2 Examples of string, wind, percussion and unexposed musical instruments
THE HUMAN VOICE
Of the innumerable instruments developed by man, very few can match the most natural instrument – the voice. Carnatic music gives pride of place to Vocal music. This is because vocal music has the added dimension of lyrics, which is one of the basic components of Carnatic music. A vocalist can project the lyrics and the theme of the music the best. Even the melody instruments try to approximate to vocal standards. Hence, a student interested in instrumental music career generally learns vocal first and then repeats the music on the instrument.
Singing can be defined as the musical expression of feeling through the medium of vocal organs and the organs of speech. The technique of voice production for singing is more complex than it is for speech, as this requires the control of three sets of muscles – inspiration and expiration (respiratory muscles), phonation (intra and extra-laryngeal muscles) and those of articulation (muscles of tongue, jaw, lips and soft palate).
Next in series would be on Vocal Techniques
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