Bel Canto Vocal Studio

K E Querns Langley

Research Methodology

     As is set forth in the Section I, it is necessary not just to define the research in linguist or technical terms, but also to demonstrate clearly the relationship between the voice, technique, and repertoire. Through close analysis of the relevant repertoire a distinct set of demands required for the tenors emerges.  The type of demand, whether it be range, high-notes, tessitura, floridity or any other, demonstrates the particularities of the voice for whom the repertoire was written. When sufficient data is collected, it represents a distinctive set of skills of a particular singer. This information can then be used to compare how singers were treated by different composers, what similarities exist, and how those similarities form groups of skills exploited differently by composers. Subsequently, by examining repertoire that was shared between singers the set of skills held in common can help to further refine the understanding of particular dissimilarities.


     To this end a repertoire was narrowed by using the group of singers which most closely related to the tradition discussed in Section I. The repertoire and composers were identified that would offer the most consistent subset from which to choose by comparing those roles for whom the composers wrote with those who shared those roles. Subsequent repertoire was chosen by identifying operas which were written for more than one of the relevant tenors. This offers the opportunity to analyze how one composer treated different singers within the context of the same work. Furthermore, duets between the tenors offer insight on how the composer viewed two voices, not only within in the same context but also by eliminating variations in compositional style resulting from differences in musical settings i.e. different arias. Duets have proven to be valuable in demonstrating both consistencies and differences in voices which otherwise may have been considered similar.


     It was only familiarity with the vast repertoire that allowed the pieces be narrowed, and bias on the part of the researcher is inevitable, though it is essential to note that individual pieces were not chosen based on those which offered the most secure results. In fact, no assumptions were made on the outcome of the analyses before they were chosen. After the relevant repertoire was identified, it became important to identify the method of analysis by which any given data might be gleaned. Standard musical analyses would not offer sufficiently detailed information from which a reliable conclusion could be reached. Because, as will be shown, visual observation of the music is misleading when dealing with tessitura, and harmonic progression seems to have little influence on the relevant vocal elements. Simple visual analysis is however used to define particular features of the vocal line such as wide intervals, florid passages, tempo, dynamics et. al, but more objective data was required to make a precise graphic understanding of the voices whereby statements concerning tessitura, florid and sustained singing could be made conclusively.


     Without the specific information, only a subjective idea of these elements can be assured, but does this provide relevant useful data? When the results are presented in this manner, the data can be combined into a single graph which would allow for a unique image of an individual’s voice to take shape. Those images can be compared to those of other singers to show demonstrable differences in range, tessitura and when combined with more subjective information such as historical accounts of vocal quality, other vocal abilities can be made clear such as registration events, ability to perform particular feats like wide intervals, fioratura versus sustained singing and vocal dynamics in a given range. All of these elements together help to determine the use of the voce faringea, and how each of the relevant tenors may have employed it and in what manner. If then compared to the information from section I, an understanding of how the voce faringea functions and can be taught is then capable of being suggested.