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

not nea
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.