Nasal Nasal Singing
By raising the back of the tongue toward the soft palate and lowering
the soft palate toward the tongue, we produce nasal sound, such as is
heard in the pronunciation of the word hanger, for instance. The air
is then expelled chiefly through the nose. The nasal sound can be much
exaggerated--something that very rarely happens; it can be much
neglected--something that very often happens. Certain it is that it is
ly enough availed of. That is my own everyday experience.
We Germans have only small opportunity to make the acquaintance of the
nasal sound; we know it in only a few words: Engel, lange,
mangel, etc.,--always where ng occurs before or after a vowel.
The French, on the contrary, always sing and speak nasally, with the
pillar of the fauces raised high, and not seldom exaggerate it. On
account of the rounding up of the whole soft palate, which, through
the power of habit, is cultivated especially by the French to an
extraordinary degree, and which affords the breath an enormous space
as a resonating surface to act upon, their voices often sound
tremendous. The tenor Silva is a good example of this. Such voices
have only the one drawback of easily becoming monotonous. At first
the power of the organ astonishes us; the next time we are
disappointed--the tone color remains always the same. The tone often
even degenerates into a hollow quality.
On the other hand, voices that are not sufficiently nasal sound clear
and expressionless. Madame Melba, for instance, whose voice is
cultivated to favor the head tones, and sounds equally well in all its
ranges, apparently lowers the pillars of the fauces too much, and
has her chief resonance in the head cavities; she cannot draw upon the
palatal resonance for single accents of expression. Consequently she
loses in vocal color. This procedure, as soon as it becomes a habit,
results in monotony.
In the first case somewhat less, in the second somewhat more, nasal
resonance would help to a greater variety of effect.
There are singers, too, who pursue the middle path with consummate
art. Thus Madame Sembrich, in recent years, appears to have devoted
very special study to nasal tones, whereby her voice, especially in
the middle register, has gained greatly in warmth.
To fix the pupil's attention on the nasal tone and the elasticity of
the palate, he should often be given exercises with French words.