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The Art of Singing.

After the voice has been well cultivated the art of singing should be earnestly begun. No one should suppose that because he has a good voice he can sing well. The voice is a physiological matter, singing a spiritual matter, voice is muscle, singing soul. Again, do not think, because you possess emotion in abundance, that your singing will be artistic. As a rule, those possessing a large amount of the emotional element in their natures require much study to enable them to express themselves logically; otherwise their singing is liable to be an exhibition of rant, or sentimentalism. The savage, Ingomar, had a heart overflowing with love, but, had he not been checked, would have crushed the life out of his adored by his ardent embraces. The fact of possessing these feelings amounts to little, unless governed by consistent expression. An ardent nature needs refining, purifying, and being brought under control. If I could suggest but one word to the singer, it would be the word repose. None but the artistic possess it, and none can become an artist without it.

To be thoroughly artistic, one should express much with the face, for “the face is the index of the soul,” the true source of the emotions. The enjoyment of the listener is limited by what the singer himself feels; an audience receives only what is given. One may be ever so well coached in his song or aria; still, its expression will be cold and unfeeling unless he incorporates its sentiments into his own nature, making it, for the time being, a part of himself. To sing well and successfully, one should avoid certain peculiarities too often found among amateurs, and semi-artists. A common fault is affectation in singing, such as closing the eyes, or rolling them upward, etc. These are always disagreeable to an audience, and fail to produce a favorable expression. The tremolo is another affectation. Its office is to express sympathy, tenderness, devotion, and deep, sorrowful emotions, not joy, mirth, and ecstacy (sic); but many always use it, regardless of fitness. One often hears the amateur produce a grating, rasping trembling of the voice, in imitation of the tremolo. The tremolo used by artists is a slight undulating of the waves of sound. The rasping, or throaty, sound referred to is absurd in the extreme, and causes the voice to become harsh and disagreeable. But the tremolo had better be ignored altogether, as even in its best form it has a tendency to make the voice unsteady, unreliable, and useless. Another affectation is the absurd pronunciation of words, as and, pronounced an-da; it, it-ta; with, with-a; sent, sen-ta; good, goo-da; well, wel-la; make, ma-lta, etc. All words, if articulated properly, will be understood, but the above exaggeration is ridiculous in the fullest sense.

To become a vocal artist, sing conscientiously, avoid affectations, forget self, enter into the spirit of the words and music, be reposeful, listen to worthy artists, and if you have a good voice and good health success will crown your efforts.—J. Harry Wheeler.

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You are reading The Art of Singing. from the March, 1900 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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