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  • Sam Darling

The primer for classical singing

It’s almost like a totem. When an individual has signaled their readiness to become a classical singer a teacher will lead them one of these Schirmer books.


[A slew of singers just smiled with recognition.]

The art of classical singing is learning the best possible, healthiest, most effortless way to sing bel canto. Instructors have told me different definitions for what is literally translated as beautiful singing but I’ve come to understand that it means the technique whereby a singer can take any of the songs in this book as it suits their voice range (notice mine is for medium high voice) and sing each one with appropriate style, meaning, long flowing lines of unbroken sound, and to do it all in a healthy way. Ideally a singer could sing every song in this book in a row and not experience vocal fatigue. You’re also supposed to sing it as though you never need to take a breath.

This is an excellent practice book because it comes with a CD that plays the accompaniment for you. You could study this music on your own and learn a great deal about how to read musical notation. Though I do recommend a teacher to guide you so you don’t develop bad vocal habits.

I’ve done the video below singing one of the songs with the playback. This is pretty typical for my home practice session after a bit of warm up. Singing with playback is harder because you have to keep to the strict metronome and can’t go off on flights of artistic interpretation, as we sopranos are known to do.

Caccini wrote the madrigal Amarilli, mia bella in 1602. Late Baroque music was the foundation for later Italian opera.

“Amaryllis, my lovely, don’t you believe you are my heart’s sweet desire? That you are my love? Believe me, and if fear assails you, doubt not my truth. If I could, I would open my breast and you would see it written on my heart. Amaryllis is my beloved.”

Typical teenage pop music lyrics really.

And just to make all beginner female singers feel terrible about themselves, the stunning Cecilia Bartoli decided to record all of these songs. Why, Cecilia? Hearing the heavenly host interpret these songs isn’t daunting at all! But I comfort myself in knowing they remove the breath sounds in the recording as a matter of style. She needs to breath like the rest of us.

I assume.

Pants… one leg at a time… that sort of thing.

Gawd, what an asshole with her perfection.


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