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Subject: Re: Tuning
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:42:05 -0800
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Following on Roberta’s comment, I find it hard to buy the notion that a slight raise of pitch destroyed voices.

I do think there has been a steady movement in public preference toward higher and brighter. Singers, like any performers, can’t help but try to provide what the public wants and this has inclined toward pumping out the “money notes.”

I do think it’s caused mezzos and baritones to train toward the leaner and higher. I think this is why singers like Terfel and Quasthof came to be referred to as “bass baritones” (to me, they were just good, rich sounding baritones).  I think of bass baritones as being more along the lines of George London, Samuel Ramey or James Morris.

There have always been mezzos who could sing high Cs. However, from around the 70s it become more commonplace to expect mezzos to routinely perform high Cs. Most singers, having to perform a high C in major houses, won’t take a risk: they’ll make sure they regularly vocalize E-flats or higher.  This is the thing about that notorious Ades A above high C: if the soprano is performing it at the Met, she has to be vocalizing the C above that or higher.

For mezzos, I think regular work above C, if not balanced by corresponding low register training, would gradually change the function and sound of the voice.

Tebaldi set herself on a mission and I think she was addressing a career sore spot: her high C. At her best, she certainly had one but all indications (like the very brief attempt at a D-flat in the cadenza at the end of “Tacea la notte” in her 1949 recording of the aria) are that her voice came to a hard stop very shortly after that.

If I were performing roles that required high Cs and I knew that note was very close to my absolute limit, I’d be very paranoid about tuning.

Another singer who was similar in that regard, and who therefore also traveled with a tuning fork, was Ponselle. I suspect that Flagstad also had very little headroom above C even in her prime, and Traubel also clearly didn’t have much or any notes above C.

Leontyne Price rarely performed anything higher than a C in public, but she regularly vocalized high Fs. So did Nilsson, at least up until her 50s.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Feb 18, 2018, at 13:56, R PRADA <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> As with most cause and effect relationships, it is never one causative factor.
> 
> But yes, I do believe higher tunings are a strong component. After all the human voice is not flexible.
> The passaggio is in a fixed place, so that indicates some adjustments are not possible.
> 
> But there is also rushing singers to start their careers because they have a certain look rather than a full preparation.
> 
> Then they get duped into singing the wrong rep. So a lot of slipshod stuff is going on.
> 
> Because there is this half assed culture around show biz and record labels choosing the next big thing, 
> there are plenty of people falling under the bus. It is cultural.
> 
> And just as there are not many managers who carefully groom singers, there are not so many good teachers to take them in hand.
> 
> RP
> 
> Sent from my iPhone
>> 
>> Thoughts?  Is this hogwash or is there something to this theory?
> 
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