“Maximizing resonance” as a limiting maneuver

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Maximizing resonance is a worthwhile endeavor, if resonance is an important value for you. But can it, should it, and must it have a cost?

Let’s say that you have a flexible, attractive voice that can sing fast coloratura, swell and diminish throughout a wide range of pitches, and you are known for clear diction and interesting, expressive delivery of songs. You are able to sing for an hour and not notice any fatigue. Singing feels good.

Now let’s say that Professor Wowza says “I think you can have a better distribution of overtones so as to maximize formant use and projection.” You use the technology available to analyze your voice’s overtone structure and you learn how to make certain harmonic bands stronger. If this costs nothing in terms of range, expressivity, endurance, flexibility, uniqueness, spontaneity, ease, and vocal beauty, then fine, if you like the result. But if you have to give a little in one or more of those other areas, is it worth it?

Is it OK to have a voice that is a little smaller than it could be if it fits you like a glove? Is it OK to sound warm and exciting in a 300 seat hall but get lost in a 2000 seat hall? Is it OK to sing classical art song and chamber music and not be “able” to sing grand opera? Is it enough to have a great “jingles voice” that records beautifully, in a wide variety of styles, but have no measurable singer’s formant? Is it always desirable for the “classical singer” (and others) to have the loudest forte possible at the ready?

How we chase after bigger, bolder, more cutting, aggressive sounds, and seem to ignore simple beauty! Professor Wowza can be aided dependably by machines to demonstrate an “improvement” for an audience, but I don’t recall seeing a poster or announcement for a class – aimed at a classical audience – on how to make a voice more agile or intimate. Ever.

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