Technical training and dance

from themodernvocalist.com [quote=ronws]I know this thread has aged a little bit. But I have thought about it some more. I think most any system of training, whether full of technical jargon or hokey imagery can benefit and expand a range and ability, primarily because it is offering some training and method by which to approach singing.
I still get plenty from technical descriptions. To me, knowledge is like a salad bar. Try the julienned carrots, they might be good.[/quote]

Can we learn dancing best by naming the muscles, explaining how ligaments worked, and  analyzing the physics of muscle contractions?  That is, instead of teaching steps and movements and interpretations, dance instructions becomes more anatomical, for example, contract the tibilias posterior slightly, tighten the peroneus brevis, set the rhomboideus major at 30 degrees, would dance teaching be served?

The ridiculous part of singing via SUBTLE anatomy descriptions is evident.   This isn’t to say anatomy descriptions can’t be used– just as in dance, one can say, move the calf half way forward, but the subtle anatomy descriptions such as accelerate the gastrocnemus while lengthening the peronus longus are inane. 

And worse yet, these subtle descriptions are 90% likely to be wrong.  I’ll bet the physics-physiology for even the simplest dance is extremely difficult, as the body is a vertical figure in balance, counter-balance, and doing all kinds of 3D, very complicated supports, contractions, and motions.

If we can’t even understand well the physics-physiology of dance, which we can see and uses the physics of better understood hard motions, what makes one think one can use physics-physiology for singing, which we can’t see and deal with lesser understood physics of soft tissues?

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One Response to “Technical training and dance”

  1. ronws Says:

    I wanted to continue this discussion a little more, even though the admin of the other site is a bit weary of it. There are times when reading a description from one of others with the technically correct anatomical lingo that my eyes start to glaze over and I think about how I am going to season the steaks I will be cooking. Other times, I even find the scientific description given in such a discussion to be at odds with what I see in a pictographic representation or stroboscopic video of the action. For example, I was told recently that for high notes, the cords do not shorten but elongate or stretch. Yet, a simple drawn diagram of the anatomy that even a simple electrician can understand, or even a video, shows that the cords, which cannot elongate anymore than their natural state, such as when breathing, actually come quite close together and on higher notes, less of the total cord is vibrating, though that portion may be vibrating very fast for a high note. This is quite relevant to my earlier mental image of creating a high note. “zipping up”, which is a misnomer, almost closed except for a small section that is doing the vibrating. This also necessitates a higher air pressure, but not much, than what it takes to speak in a normal relaxed tone.

    What is left is how the note is resonated. What part of the vocal tract, air column, what have you that gives the best shape for acoustically reinforcing that note. So, to hit high notes, I imagined making my cords smaller and “squeaking” through a small portion with solid air support and resonating behind the soft palate, though I think “behind the nose.” My hokey imagery gets translated into muscles adjusting in the throat and keeping the tongue relaxed, even slightly raised in the middle and I produce the note. Quite loudly. On a performance of “Gethsemane,” another person thought I had quite a good “heavy metal scream.” I informed him I wasn’t screaming at all. In fact, the note was quite comfortable and not a strain. And more than loud enough to overload the mic, which has the danger of flattening in response, making something sound pitchy and even clipping, causing what sounds like distortion, when actually, I hit that note clean.

    How do I get air support? Not with chest muscles and the diaphragm is an inhalation muscle, not an exhalation muscle. With stomach muscles in a controlled tension. Something I learned from doing a kiai in martial arts. I do a modified kiai.

    Anyway, would I have done better if I had the words laryngeal and pharyngeal and all the specific muscles named? Probably not. It all started with a smile from Graham Hewitt’s “How to sing olympically” which I read back in 1988. He had pictures and some technical terms but mostly, imagery and sound exercises, that I got from his book. There was no accompanying cd or dvd or any sound media. And yet, I can hit the high note in “IRS” by Guns and Roses. His method was proper closure of the cords, such as a angry bee sound, smile to brighten tone and bring on the “twang.”

    That’s another thing. In the South, twang is part of an accent. Chef Paula Deen speaks with a twang. And through her nose. In terms of singing parlance, it means something slightly different. So, there is sometimes a problem with semantics or clear nomenclature. I think the scientific terms were meant to clear that up. Should we give up on scientific terms? I don’t think so. But then, sometimes, a scientist knows what he is talking about but doesn’t always have the courage or means to express it in imagery, for fear of saying something that might be inaccurate or lead someone down the wrong path.

    Other times, I get befuddled by a person’s on colloqiualism. Even my own. Such as hitting a high note but “wasting air” to soften the brightness. I don’t know if that helps but it might be easier for someone to understand than saying that this or that muscle eased off 1.2 mm to equalize air pressure and in so doing, gets mixed with the actual vocal tone.

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