The Sensation Of The Resonance Of The Head Cavities

The sensation of the resonance of the head cavities is perceived

chiefly by those who are unaccustomed to using the head tones. The

resonance against the occipital walls of the head cavities when the

head tones are employed, at first causes a very marked irritation of

the nerves of the head and ear. But this disappears as soon as the

singer gets accustomed to it. The head tones can be used and directed

by the breath on
y with a clear head. The least depression such as

comes with headaches, megrim, or moodiness may have the worst effect,

or even make their use quite impossible. This feeling of oppression is

lost after regular, conscious practice, by which all unnecessary and

disturbing pressure is avoided. In singing very high head tones I have

a feeling as if they lay high above the head, as if I were setting

them off into the air. (See plate.)

Here, too, is the explanation of singing in the neck. The breath, in

all high tones which are much mixed with head tones or use them

entirely, passes very far back, directly from the throat into the

cavities of the head, and thereby, and through the oblique position of

the larynx, gives rise to the sensations just described. A singer who

inhales and exhales carefully, that is, with knowledge of the

physiological processes, will always have a certain feeling of

pleasure, an attenuation in the throat as if it were stretching itself

upward. The bulging out of veins in the neck, that can so often be

seen in singers, is as wrong as the swelling up of the neck, looks

very ugly, and is not without danger from congestion.

With rapid scales and trills one has the feeling of great firmness of

the throat muscles, as well as of a certain stiffness of the larynx.

(See Trills.) An unsteady movement of the latter, this way and that,

would be disadvantageous to the trill, to rapid scales, as well as to

the cantilena. For this reason, because the changing movements of the

organs must go on quite imperceptibly and inaudibly, it must be more

like a shifting than a movement. In rapid scales the lowest tone must

be placed with a view to the production of the highest, and in

descending, the greatest care must be exercised that the tone shall

not tumble over each other single, but shall produce the sensation of

closely connected sounds, through being bound to the high tone

position and pressed toward the nose.

In this all the participating vocal organs must be able to keep up a

muscular contraction, often very rigid: a thing that is to be achieved

only gradually through long years of careful and regular study.

Excessive practice is of no use in this--only regular and

intelligent practice; and success comes only in course of time.

Never should the muscular contractions become convulsive and produce

pressure which the muscles cannot endure for a long time. They must

respond to all necessary demands upon their strength, yet remain

elastic in order that, easily relaxing or again contracting, they may

promptly adapt themselves to every nuance in tone and accent desired

by the singer.

A singer can become and continue to be master of his voice and means

of expression only as long as he practises daily correct vocal

gymnastics. In this way alone can he obtain unconditional mastery over

his muscles, and, through them, of the finest controlling apparatus,

of the beauty of his voice, as well as of the art of song as a whole.

Training the muscles of the vocal organs so that their power to

contract and relax to all desired degrees of strength, throughout the

entire gamut of the voice, is always at command, makes the master


As I have already said, the idea of singing forward leads very many

singers to force the breath from the mouth without permitting it to

make full use of the resonating surfaces that it needs, yet it streams

forth from the larynx really very far back in the throat, and the

straighter it rises in a column behind the tongue, the better it is

for the tone. The tongue must furnish the surrounding form for this,

for which reason it must not lie flat in the mouth. (See plate, the


The whirling currents of tone circling around their focal point (the

attack) find a cup-shaped resonating cavity when they reach the front

of the mouth and the lips, which, through their extremely potent

auxiliary movements, infuse life and color into the tone and the word.

Of equal importance are the unimpeded activity of the whirling

currents of sound and their complete filling of the resonating

spaces in the back of the throat, the pillars of the fauces, and the

head cavities in which the vocalized breath must be kept soaring above

the larynx and soaring undisturbed.

In the lowest range of the voice the entire palate from the front

teeth to the rear wall of the throat must be thus filled. (See plate.)

With higher tones the palate is lowered, the nostrils are inflated,

and above the hard palate a passage is formed for the overtones. (See


This air which soars above must, however, not be in the least

compressed; the higher the tone, the less pressure should there be;

for here, too, whirling currents are formed, which must be neither

interrupted nor destroyed. The breath must be carried along on the

wall of the throat without compression, in order to accomplish its

work. (See plate, high tones.)

Singing forward, then, does not mean pressing the whole of the

breath or the tone forward, but only part of it; that is, in the

middle register, finding a resonating focus in front, caused by the

lowering of the front of the palate. This permits a free course only

to that part of the breath which is used up by the whirling currents

in the resonant throat form, and serves to propagate the outer waves,

and carry them farther through space.