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Subject: Re: Kaufman in Otello… NY Times:
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:14:01 -0700
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That E above middle C is the break point for all normally functioning voices, male or female.

Anything that doesn’t transition into head voice there is going to take on a strained and increasingly strangulated quality. Most tenors will transition into head voice (a fully supported head voice that sounds integrated with the rest of the voice) at or below that E, usually below. Baritones can make thrilling “open” chest voice notes on D and E-flat but usually will be transitioning by the E itself. Baritones who don’t successfully transition have strained and constricted high notes - good example of an another wise excellent baritone who had difficulty making that transition for his high notes was Gobbi. Warren, despite the size and power of the sound, was well into head by the E-flat.

A baritone will usually maintain more of a mix for the F and maybe F# but if their G or above is going to have any real “gleam” on the sound, they need to be in head voice.

Tenors singing above the E with a chest voice mix can endanger their ability to get into head voice for their top notes, with few exceptions. Vickers made sounds in the F and F# range that were mixed but managed to transition. Doing that requires the robustness of the true dramatic tenor voice, which is a rarity. This makes Wagner and Verdi’s Otello very dangerous for voices that, even if they have power and projection, aren’t true dramatic tenors. Both encourage the singer to make big, powerful sounds on an F and F# which is not the proper climactic point of the lyric or even spinto tenor. This is why so many “big” lyric or spinto tenors sound so exhausted and sometimes can’t even make the high A at the end of the first act of ‘Walküre.”

Tenors typically sing their upper notes using the same kind of integrated head voice that women, mezzos and sopranos, normally use for their middle voices. The female voice moves into a head voice with a yet higher placement at their “second passagio” (around the F at the top of the stave). Some women claim to transition to yet a different register (called “whistle register” by some, which term has also caused great confusion) for the coloratura top notes.

Some women sing in their middle voice with the same type of head voice that they use for their upper notes. This makes for good, ringing high notes (no need for transition) but murky, foggy sounding middle notes (Leonie Rysanek, sometimes Joan Sutherland).

Many tenors have said that once they learned the integrated head voice that they use for their upper middle and top notes (at least up to C), they lost their ability to even produce a falsetto.

Max Paley


> On Jun 22, 2017, at 5:35 PM, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Max - I'm confused. The E above middle C is just below the passagio for a tenor (or the 
> lowest end of it) - it's essentially the top of the middle range. (The first pitch of "Di quella 
> pira.") Is it possible you meant an octave higher than that? (i.e. in the range of the Puritani 
> high F, and also in the range where metal/hard rock singers usually wail?)
> 
> On Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:18:35 -0700, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> It's somewhat like reading about a tenor singing a high C (or even B-flat) "in chest voice." If 
> anybody sang any note higher than the E above middle C in chest voice, it would be a shout. 
> The B-flat or C above that in chest voice would be an appalling scream.
>> 
>> Max Paley
> 
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