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On the Art of Singing$
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Richard Miller

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195098259.001.0001

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The Invisible Instrument?

The Invisible Instrument?

72 The Invisible Instrument?
On the Art of Singing

Richard Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the “unseen” vocal instrument, that is, the vocal folds cannot be directly viewed. The finger of the pianist can be placed in exactly the desired position on the keyboard, the proper angle of the wrist can be demonstrated, and the posture of the elbow as it relates to the body and to the forearm can he manually adjusted. Physical aspects of string playing can be monitored visually. Lips and fingers of the wind player are readily observed. Other instruments, it is thought, are visible, while the voice remains unseen. In general, what cannot be seen is not easily understood. The descriptive language of vocal pedagogy often becomes subjective and mystical. While it is true that the complete resonator tube is not accessible to external viewing, a large percentage of the vocal tract is visible. External observation, coupled with information about physical function and a knowledge of vocal acoustics, can assist in raising the teaching of singing beyond subjective speculation and reliance on mythological language.

Keywords:   vocal instrument, vocal folds, voice, resonator tube, vocal tract, singing, vocal pedagogy

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