Articulation for Coloratura

Although aspirated fast notes are sometimes called for by the musical
and dramatic demands of an aria, in general, aspirated singing has
never been considered the proper way to achieve rapid note singing.
The fast notes are meant to be connected without any kind of
detachment.  The rapidity of note change is achieved through proper
coordination of breath with vocal fold adjustments but neither the
breath nor the tone should be  stopped and restarted such as in
aspirated singing.

Learning to sing coloratura or fioratura etc. requires great skill.
It is an extremely refined vocal process and should never be achieved
through any kind of overpowering energy.  The vocal folds are some of
the fastest muscles in the human body; they can negotiate rapid
changes that are startling and they can do it without the need to
start and stop the breath.  A continuous flow of breath is the ideal
and the rapidity of the notes should never be taken faster than the
individual voice can handle.  For this reason, some leeway is allowed
in the tempos of arias or sections of arias that contain a lot such
scales, roulades, etc. etc.

If a violin were to play a fast scale on the stroke of one bow, that
would exemplify the ideal singing form of a similar vocal scale.  If
the violinist were to change bow direction for each note of a rapid
scale that would be similar to an  aspirated rapid vocal scale.  And,
as we all know, violinists do it both ways but which method is used is
determined by the music score, it is not usually considered acceptable
for the violinist to chose one that is not so marked in the score.

Vocal scores usually have similar markings put there by the composer.
They should be observed.  At times, singers may find it easier if each
note is given a slight pulse to differentiate it from the preceding
and following note but even this must be done with the greatest of
taste and refinement.  The pulsing of short notes is more common to
the lower mens voices because of the thicker nature of their vocal
folds yet many of the finest basses and baritones achieve rapid note
production without the need to pulse individual notes.

In short, aspirated fast notes are not considered good vocal technique
and it is sometimes even labeled as a kind of vocal “cheating”.
Overdone pulsing of short notes can fall into this same category if it
is overdone.

Finally, aspirated singing is very wearing on the vocal folds; it
requires a greater slamming of the vocal folds against each other and,
through the years, an advanced thickening of the vocal folds results.

All of the above says nothing about present day or individual
preferences.  But preferences do not change the proper demands of the
singing genre nor do they remove the wear and tear on the vocal
instrument.  A singer must be true to both the demands of the music
and the proper care of the voice.

One Response to “Articulation for Coloratura”

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  1. Katherine Posner says:

    Lloyd, I would like to hear how you go about working with a singer on fioritura.
    Thanks.

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