The question is posed, what is “support” , what part of the body is being talked about?
An initial answer is that support is working against the natural urge of the diaphragm to release the air that has been inhaled….” by Martin at http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=250 .
Martin says “This is achieved by resisting its movement. During singing, the waist muscles and solar plexus are pushed outwards, the abdomen around the navel is gradually pulled in in a constant and sustained manner, and the back muscles are tightened. The muscles in the loin are trying to push the pelvis backwards while the muscles in the abdomen are trying to pull the pelvis up under your body. This battle created between the abdominal muscles and the muscles in the loin is a valuable and important part of the support.
The support must however happen in a sustained and continuous manner as though working against a resistance, for as long as a sound is being produced. When the muscle contractions stop being sustained and continuous (for instance, if you can not pull the abdomen around the navel inwards any further or push the muscles of the waist or solar plexus outwards any further) then there is usually no more support. It is important to conserve your support energy so you do not waste it or use it at the wrong point in time. Do not use support before it is necessary for example when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase. Support is hard physical work so you should be in good physical condition.”
Thank you, Martin. This is very interesting. Is your defined support term different from the use of the word usage meaning breath support?
I like what you wrote (rare for me, as you know), but want to add a few more challenges. I agree with you on the strengthening the lower abdomen to gain support and improve singing. But, until I’ve had a chance to really test the intracies of the muscles you’ve described, am unsure what will really happen.
“Do not use support before it is necessary for example when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase.”
Also, regarding not to use before it is necessary, why is this?
To elaborate, in yoga, there’s a great deal of emphasis to gain elasticity and strength in the lower back and the waist area. And in Chinese thought, there’s an emphasis on an area immediately below the navel, called the Tan Tien. In yoga and other Hindu thought, the lower abdomen and waist is where the kundalini energy arises. So, it would seem that the support for a lot of physical power is already in other thoughts. The major difference between what you’ve described and Eastern thoughts is the application toward the voice. Hence, there’s a great deal of similarities between learning how to sing and Eastern “spiritual” practices (which include martial arts, yoga, and meditation). But, there no such “Do not use support….” that I’m aware of. It seems support is continually cultivated here.
So, my next question is…. Is support a postural support that is to be continually practiced on and strengthened, or is it an occasional usage in singing?