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The Aim Of Each Module
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INTRODUCTION TO THE BASIC CALISTHENICS (modules 2 & 3)

The ten basic calisthenics have been used to achieve the voice developments and transformations described in the introductory pages and should be studied extensively in as many ranges as are comfortable for your voice to firmly establish the idea of pathways for the voice to follow. These paths can then be used in the higher range categories to increase vocal range by safely moving the voice through register breaks or instabilities, which in this system are defined as the channels between the cranial sinuses, and the physical action for this is the arching tongue 'levering' against the lower front teeth, as will be described and emphasised throughout the manual. I have found that the calisthenic ideas and techniques can be readily taken across into the singing of songs by:
 

INTRODUCTION TO THE ADVANCED CALISTHENICS (modules 4 & 5)

The advanced calisthenic section introduces some interesting challenges by changing the key of some of the basic calisthenics to their tonic natural or melodic minor. This means that you are looking at familiar shapes which now have to be reinterpreted according to the key signature. For instrumentalists this involves taking note of different visual information which defines which key or valve or finger position is selected, and this selection configures the instrument to play the modified note, whereas a singer has to develop a keen sense of tonality in order to effect this major/minor switch. The calisthenic ideas in conjunction with an understanding of the effect of the new key signature on interval size and relationships will aid this development. The particular points to watch for will be annotated for each exercise. Exercises 15 and 16 are based on sections from Handel, introducing more complicated shapes and dealing with the analysis of such shapes to find sub-phrases which allow you to apply a 'grammatical' structure to a long sequence of notes and thus communicate the composer's intention to the listener. A long-note study is provided by exercise 17 and this will build stamina for those times when a sustained phrase is required, but there are many times when it is inappropriate to sing right through a long sequence of notes and/or words and the choreographic studies will deal more with the use of the breath to apply the subtle punctuation required in these situations.

 

CHOREOGRAPHY STUDIES (module 6)

Extending the choreography idea, these studies illustrate the use of the calisthenic vowels to create pathways either for a complete song (study 1), or for complex melismatic passages from the oratorio repertoire. Again, the principle is that repetition of the pathway will inform the placement of the words and syllables of the lyrics so that an inappropriate vowel shape does not destabilize the voice, especially when negotiating a register-break region.The tempo of these studies will also increase with each modulation within each pitch range. For each study an accompaniment only track is provided (Accomp/MR) which will allow you to explore the rubato achievable as you follow the calisthenic pattern while singing the words.

 

 

PATTERN STUDIES (module 7)

This study section demonstrates how to find the basic ‘scaffolding’ which underpins the complex  melismas of the music of Bach, Handel et al. The basic pattern essentially tracks the chord progression of the segment which the singer should at all times have in mind in performance. The first improvisation indicates how ‘non-essential’ notes can be added in to give more interest to the line – as an exercise try adding in a few more notes to construct your own 2nd improvisation before moving on to the performance version-this being what the composer actually wrote. For each exercise an accompaniment-only track is provided to allow the exploration of the improvisation ideas by choosing at the start of a bar which version you are actually going to sing - in other words, setting up an aleatoric performance in which the result is due to chance.

 

All exercises in Modules 1 - 7 are supported by backing tracks covering the 6 pitch ranges notated HERE
 

INTRODUCTION TO THE SCALE AND MODE STUDIES (module 8)

From the time of Pythagoras the octave has been the fundamental reference point for defining and ordering differences in pitch and our Western music scales have been selected from the plethora of different ways of filling in that octave gap. The most influential has been the group of “modes” ascribed to the Greeks which became the musical language of the Christian church and out of this collection came the powerful major/minor system which catalysed the incredible development of Western music in the 2nd millennium. These modes were based on steps of tones and semitones and their particular character was related to the position of the semitones in the sequence of eight notes. In the manuscript of each mode and scale, the semitone steps are asterisked. This section also gives examples of octave spanning scales which contain less than eight notes with the corollary that these patterns includes steps of a tone and a half or three semitones.

In addition to the selection of our major/minor system there was a second profoundly important decision which resulted in the establishment of the equal temperament tuning system for keyboards which meant that the instrument could modulate though all possible keys without the need for retuning. The significant marker for this development was the publication of J S Bach’s ‘The Well-Tempered Klavier’. While these exercises are of necessity presented using the equal-temperament system the techniques do allow the singing voice to adjust the tuning of leading and ‘accidental’ notes to obtain the subtle nuances of modulations which have been compromised by the rigidity of the keyboard tuning. Eg the ability, denied to the piano, of making a difference between Eb and D#.

The television series ‘Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs’ is an excellent introduction to this important part of music history.

 

The following pages introduce 20 of the 26 exercises