Tongue Position

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby Aureliano » 13 Feb 2016, 17:14

pagliaccio wrote: What intrigued me of that particular character was that some clips of his alleged students have nice voices with nice amounts of squillo, for one thing. I don't hear that a lot these days.
If it's not too much trouble for you, would you mind posting examples or links to these clips so we can listen here and see what it is that is so impressing you? Cheers.

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby pagliaccio » 21 Feb 2016, 02:35

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Aureliano.
I'll ponder that more intensively, and look if I can dig up the audio examples, when I have more time.
Currently lots of studying next to full time job. Not opera, though. I entertained the idea for a while when I was younger, maybe 10 years ago, but my voice was and still is just too unreliable / unpredictable for a career (airways react to airborne irritants), so much that I only relatively recently (few years) picked up lessons again after the voice being many years neglected. I'm not even sure how long I'll be following through with that, though, as I'm not happy with the kind of progress rate I'm having, and considering the cost... then again, I don't really have a reference of how somebody moderately talented at my age (over 30) doing this "as a hobby" would be progressing ideally.

Though, I don't think that all the pondering in the world will make more appealing those unpleasant or hardly present high-ends of vocal ranges, sometimes almost buffo voices for grand opera or the "I've got a golf ball stuck in my throat!" hero Kaufmann.
Is that too negative? Well, who thought somebody named pagliaccio would be positive ;)

Guessing from your forum name, you're not too averse to old world singing yourself :-)

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby pagliaccio » 22 Apr 2016, 00:16


I still didn't get to search for the examples I mentioned, but I saw he had old, damaged recordings of concertos of the singer he calls his mentor, Tom LoMonaco, restored by an expert, and posted them on a new channel (or is this someone else? no time to check)
I thought I'd share. With some inspiration from the "pre vs post 1950's singing" thread I though to myself, that guy had some rather caruso-ish qualities, but certainly did not record into a horn in 1954, when large membrane condenser mics had been around for quite a while.

I'm a layman, but to me the clips of students I remember apparently also had some of the qualities audible here, the fullness of sound even on higher notes. If in those particular clips I haven't found yet they seemed to somewhat lack control over their massive instruments, as if the voices were running away, having a life on their own, but I guess that might be a normal phase in development of the voice, freeing it of unwanted tension.

(That channel has two each approx. 1 hour videos of concerto, one from 1953, the other from 1954. it seems those shorter clips are excerpts from that, but I have not checked whether they all are indeed contained by the longer vids)

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby Aureliano » 26 Apr 2016, 15:56

Yes, this is a new channel created by Scott Flaherty who is a wonderful person (I met him on one occasion and he was very kind and complimentary) and from what I have been told by friends who work with him, an excellent teacher. Scott was very close to his teacher and has restored very faithfully his old concert recordings. If you are indeed interested in pursuing this approach to singing I would say he is the only person to be trusted on the subject. For what it is worth, I find the recordings excellent and showing a remarkably talented singer with a powerful and compelling voice. I do not, however, see all that much similarity to Caruso technically. Perhaps only by comparison to singers of the current era can one draw a comparison to Caruso. If you want to listen to a singer who really does sound a lot like Caruso, then I recommend Alfred Piccaver.

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby FrancoFiglio » 19 Jul 2017, 12:55

Lots of good input for the OP here.

My 2cents. As mentioned previously, its dangerous to draw an equivalency between tongue tip and phonation. Certainly we can see it does not always stay completely relaxed forward in portions of the scale apart from the zone of speech. It goes back further for some singers than others, but it would be just plain silly to build a technique based on its recession.

It IS a good barometer as to what is happening in the unseen portion of the vocal tract around the larynx, and so most teachers rightly encourage it to be forward. Strategically, it is always going to be ideal for the vocal tract's freedom to build into one's technique the entirety of the tongue staying forward, not down and/or back. To not do that, but to bring it back places muscle mass inside a primary resonating zone (the pharynx) and diminishes it.

Not only does it diminish space by utilizing too much grapefruit feeling, but it also invites tongue root involvement around the aerepiglitstic region, thereby placing the tongue root squarely against the epiglottis in an inordinate amount, a huge problem. Its a seductive one because it retains sound inside one's head and give biofeedback which is detrimental ("ooo, don't I sound goooood?!"). No, the wise singer narrows this region very selectively without a preponderance of tongue root involvement (usually by directing the sound toward the mask, or aiming for the cheeks, or whatever system you use) but NOT by attempting to bring blockage into the whole paradigm, which is what tongue retraction will certainly do.

Always go toward freedom and ring OUTSIDE one's head, not inside.

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby Negenbari » 20 Jul 2017, 18:03

The tongue needs to be out of the way. End of story. If it's not, it needs to be relaxed. Not consciously depressed, not gliding around the teeth, not pressing against them, etc,. I basically agree with the previous comment.

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Re: Tongue Position

Postby HighC » 01 Jun 2018, 05:45

I have studied with Mr Silver. I would highly recommend him as a teacher. I know of no one better. He is extremely knowledgeable of the voice and its development. If you want to be a great singer he will get you there. If you are willing to stick through the process. He also has a great voice. As a teacher he is quite good to work with. I never had any issues.

His personality outside teaching is another story. There is a stigma that has followed him around from his previous forum engagements. Some of it is unjust. Some ring true. He certainly has issues, he is eccentric in the way he behaves. I think if you do not mix study with friendship you will not have an issue. I think many have taken to offence his assuredness of his opinions and attacked him for it. The problem is, people do not like a know it all. In the end he is a good hearted person that wants the best for his students. I do not see the point in speaking against others. Unfortunately there are many charlatans in this industry. We have to use our wits to work things out.

The fact is he knows a lot about the voice. This knowledge has come down from the great vocal scientist and teacher Douglas Stanley. This information has been improved on, and polished up by his teacher Dr Thomas Lo Monaco and passed on to Mr Silver, who spent ten years sitting in on Lo Monaco lessons.
I would not recommend people to go by heresay, but actual find things out for yourselves. From experience, have a few lessons with a teacher to find out what they are really like. Listen to their students. If you are not sure have longer lessons. When i teach i do not teach to impress. So some do not continue with me after the first lesson. Some times it takes time to understand different concepts that are foreign to your way of thinking.

A teacher should be able to explain why they do everything. Explain how things function and work. If you teach, you have to have knowledge, you have to demonstrate. Having a great singing career doesn't make you a great teacher. It is another level. Many singers sadly, do not know too much about their technique. Many great singers refused to teach for that reason.

In regards to the tongue. It is a very important organ in relation to singing. The tongue is a big muscle that extends from the tip to the base. The tongue connects to the larynx via the hyoid bone. All muscles tense to act. So tension is normal. Constriction is not. But constriction is part of the learning process. Any constriction in the larynx can put constriction on the tongue and vice versa.

A flat tongue seems to increase the space in the mouth, but it actually takes up vital pharyngeal space(resonator) and generally a flat tongue depresses down onto the hyoid bone causing constriction. The reason for this is because the large tongue needs to find a place to go. The mouth isn't really the resonator, the pharynx is, so the space and formation of the pharynx is vital.

Not all singers have the same tongue position, they can still be successful as a singer. Understanding the tongues role in singing can dramatically improve the quality and quantity of the voice.
Some singers like Jesse Norman seem to minimize the use of the tongue when they form their vowels. They seem to have to compensate by over manipulating the mouth to get a clear articulation of these vowels.

The tongue is generally responsible for the formation of vowels. It is quite evident when you try to sing an ee vowel, the tongue will rise quite distinctly. If you look at ct scans of singers you can clearly see the tongues role in the formation of the vowel and its influence on resonance.

The concept of a retracted tongue is based on anatomical function. The tongue can be divided into three parts. The tip, the middle, and the back or base part. The tip of the properly retracted tongue will pull back, this action will actually do the opposite to what people think. The back of the tongue will actually move forward giving more space to the very important resonating pharynx. This will in turn give freedom to the center of the tongue to articulate the vowels.

Generally, the tongue normally retracts in a normal persons voice (one that hasn't been manipulated by teaching) when the singer sings darker. Most singers that sing bright and constricted have a tongue that touches the bottom of the teeth and they have a high larynx. Both seem to go hand in hand.

A retracted tongue and dark sound goes hand in hand with a low larynx. But it also can go with a depressed larynx. Which causes constriction and woofiness. There is a balance that needs to be worked out. Stick your tongue forward and back and see how your larynx moves up and down. The tongue is very important in the structural development and formation of the voice. Training it, is the hard bit.

As you see the tongue is important in the function of the voice. People think the more space you have in the mouth the better it is. Singing is based on quality and efficiency of production and correct resonance and vowel adjustments for that sound made. If it was all about the space the people with the biggest mouth cavities would be the best singers.

I hope that clears things up for you.

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