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Subject: Re: Tunings
From: "Takis Pavl." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Takis Pavl.
Date:Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:16:32 +0000
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Yes, that is a rule of thumb Max but in such extreme notes, especially for large, full voices, the third higher is usually impossible. At least I'm guessing it was (impossible) for sopranos like Flagstad, Tebaldi, Traubel, Crespin, Nilsson, Varnay and a few others. They probably could whistle a few higher notes but sing them and modulate the sound, probably not. That's how heavier, richer voices are guys, you can't have it all. Both the Flagstad sound, and Devia's Eflat at the tender age of 70 just doesn't happen. That's why Verdi didn't ask his Aida to sing the Eflat. A high C is for a big voice like a high F for a coloratura. It doesn't mean all coloraturas sing the third above the high F... 

Therefore I'm very satisfied with the high notes of these big voiced ladies. I never said an Aida doesn't need a high C. In 2016, at the MET, I was disgusted that Latonia Moore decided to chuck both high Cs and the audience couldn't care less. However, if I hear a soft and easy high C I'm usually disappointed by other, low passages in the role that are certainly not less important or not less exposed to a pair of trained ears. In fact there are many more low lying passages or moments where Aida needs stamina, volume or other qualities that an easy high C doesn't guarantee. Price is the best example I can think of. A glorious, gentle, high C but so many weak lower lying passages elsewhere in the opera. I'd take Dusolina Giannini with her loud (but beautiful, "dolce" as requested in the score) high C any day. She was an amazing Aida. 
Back to tuning, I'm not sure how most recordings of the early 20th century reached us Bob. Are you sure that when they were transferred to LPs or CDs, some bored engineer didn't simply pitch them all at 440 to make his life easier or because that was the only option his software offered? 
A rather quick search I did on youtube brought me to Muzio in 1918, she is on pitch but I don't hear her singing at 440.. the high C is in tune but it's slightly lower than a high C at 440.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCCb7ZUM0GI

Some early singers seem to be at 440. others higher! Pitch appears to be all over the place in some early 20th century recordings, it's hard to tell for sure what the diapason was based on these. 
Takis





    On Monday, 19 February 2018, 22:12:13 EET, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  
 
 Aida is not “about” the high C but the one in “O patria mia” is so exposed and so clearly in the spotlight that I’d go as far as to say that a soprano who isn’t really comfortable with her C, and that means being able to “play” the voice on that note with dynamic control and not just slam it out, should not perform Aida.

Re: the E-flat: a soprano who has the control for that C almost has to have a good E-flat as “headroom.” But then, to decide to “perform” the E-flat at the end of the Triumphal Scene, she needs yet more. The rule of thumb is that, to have enough margin to perform the highest note in a role day after day, including days you don’t feel at your absolute best, you need to solidly vocalize at least a minor third higher regularly.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Feb 19, 2018, at 11:33, donald kane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> "Aida is not about the high C"
> 
> We should all be required to write that down a hundred
> times so we never forget it. But what do I know; I like
> the high E.
> 
> dtmk
> 
>> On Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 3:18 AM, Takis Pavl. <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> It is  a b s o l u t e l y  true. There is a very informative video of
>> Cappuccilli (and Tebaldi on the panel) demonstrating the effects of a
>> higher pitch to a singer's instrument and vocal emission. Cappuccilli never
>> had trouble with high notes and his voice lasted for ever so why would he
>> have any reason to advocate for a lower (Verdi) pitch? Even a quarter of a
>> tone makes a difference in our vocal technique. As Cappuccilli explains,
>> Verdi knew about voices and wanted to use a certain colour, for baritones
>> in his case. If you make a singer stretch his passaggio too often during a
>> performance, the voice will get tired sooner and the chords will lose their
>> ability to recover and keep their focus especially in the lower area.
>> 
>> I'm no Cappuccilli but a professional musican (singer) and I have no doubt
>> that 440 or higher tuning is not appropriate for works of the 19th century
>> (even of the early 20th century). Now if certain lighter singers such as
>> Mado Robin enjoyed raising their scenes a tone or more higher, that's
>> because they wanted to demonstrate what their higher placed voices could do
>> or how pretty their high voices were, not how the roles were written.
>> In Baroque times pitch often had to do with the tuning of the city's
>> church organ. Hence some Bach cantatas feel too low or too high if you sing
>> them in modern pitch. Having sung a lot of Bach, I know most singers are
>> petrified when they don't sing with period instruments because modern
>> instruments pitched half a tone higher make some already difficult Bach
>> passages a trial. Having to sing those a few times during daily rehearsals
>> in modern pitch and often having to perform the piece on the same day
>> (saving venue booking costs for the ensemble) means your voice is stretched
>> beyond its limits. And after all that stretch on the top, the low and
>> middle suffers. Also some string instruments (tuned in 440) will tune
>> slightly higher before the concert, thinking that the tuning might drop in
>> a warm hall. It doesn't matter if the singers protest, if it's choosing
>> between a stretched singer or an out of tune orchestra, the orchestra will
>> prefer to stay in tune and not consider the singer.
>> 
>> Now you may wonder, why don't they use a higher voice that has no trouble
>> with those passages instead? All the interpretative tricks a singer can do,
>> don't make up for a certain vocal colour that matches the piece. The chosen
>> tonality also has a meaning. Yes, you can ask Edita Gruberova, Diana Damrau
>> and Mariella Devia to sing Aida, they can pop out the high C any time. But
>> Aida is not about the high C. If you don't get that, there's no point
>> discussing this any further.
>> Takis
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>    On Sunday, 18 February 2018, 23:18:45 EET, Kiwi <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> That was the contention, that over time the turning has been raised to the
>> benefit of the orchestra and the detriment of the singer.
>> 
>> And also it led to bigger orchestras because the brighter sound needed more
>> support.
>> 
>> I think (I don't have the article in front of me at the moment) that writer
>> says if you, as a singer, are singing with an orchestra tuned to 435 or
>> 432,
>> the sound production is easier and more fluid / flexible, producing a more
>> even and less stressed sound.
>> 
>> ????  Is there at least some validity to the point that a lower tuning
>> allows most singers to have (for lack of a better sense) a richer, more
>> easier sounding emission?
>> 
>> 
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Bella Malis
>> Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2018 3:36 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Tunings
>> 
>> Just to help a little, as a former tuner.....etc. albeit a short term one.
>> 
>> A 440, per min. Or sec.  I can’t remember which.....just means that there
>> are 440 beats each time the A is sounded...that is the third A, up from the
>> bottom of the piano.  Over the years, SOMEBODY decided to brighten the
>> tones
>> by raising of the tuning of the instruments.  All the instruments raised
>> and
>> the voices too.
>> 
>> Makes for a brighter tone.....who knows which tuning should be done....
>> A440....A 435, etc., etc.
>> 
>> ***Bella
>> 
>> Sent from my iPad
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