Chanting is not just an element of training, but the most important tool for developing the voice and "warming up" it before a performance. Neglecting this step is sometimes fraught with serious problems.
A chant is a vocal exercise aimed at developing a particular aspect of the voice or practicing a certain technique. The goal may be to increase the range, instilling the skill of correct breathing, developing hearing and intonation, mastering new performing techniques, etc. In addition, chanting helps to "warm up" and prepare the vocal cords for more serious stress, which is why any lesson begins with it, and for professional vocalists - and preparation for a performance.
Preparing for chanting
Before embarking on any vocal exercise, you need to prepare: stand up straight, but relaxed, so that the air circulates freely and there are no "clamps". It is not recommended to sing while sitting, especially with your legs tucked into your chest. This affects the work of the diaphragm, interferes with the normal extraction of sound and, accordingly, does not allow high or low notes to be sung beautifully on the support.
Types of vocal exercises
Vocal exercises can be classified according to various criteria depending on their purpose and technique, for example:
- For the development of breathing, these are the most important exercises for beginners, as breathing is the foundation in vocals. Such chants prepare the diaphragm and lungs for active work, gradually develop their strength and, as a result, allow the sound to be supported.
- For the development of the range, it is no less important, especially for opera performers. The exercises in this group begin with teaching pure intonation in the middle notes, gradually expanding the performer's capabilities, helping him to hit higher and lower notes. As a result, the list of songs that the soloist can work with is also increasing.
- For the development of diction. Agree, it is more pleasant to listen to a clear pronunciation than an indistinct "mess"? This can be achieved by working on the muscles of the tongue, lips and lower jaw release.
- For the development of the voicing of the voice, or, in other words, for "switching on" the resonators. It is they that give sonority throughout the entire range and lightness of sound.
If we rethink and regroup the presented classification a little, then we get the division of all exercises into two basic groups of chants:
As the name suggests, resonator chants are designed to work with resonators. Many of them are working on diction in parallel. Among the classic exercises in this category, the following can be distinguished:
- "Moo". You need to stand up straight, imagine that a rope runs from floor to ceiling through the spine, along which sound will travel. The lips are compressed, but when you make the "mmm" sound, they should vibrate slightly, causing a slight itching sensation. This exercise develops the chest and head resonators.
- "Rrrr" - the teeth are clenched, but the lips are stretched in a wide smile, while you need to try to make the most sonorous sound.
- "Zhzhzh" and "zzz" are short - similar to the previous chant, the goal is to pronounce the sounds as clearly and on a support as possible.
- "Zhzhzh" and "zzz" are long - in general, the technique remains the same, with the exception of the duration: now you need to hold the sound until the air runs out. You can work with other consonants in a similar way.
This type of chants is built on melodies and frets, they are performed to the accompaniment of a piano. These exercises are designed to expand the range, form the habit of singing on a support, and breathing correctly.
- "Mi-Me-Ma-Mo-Mu" is perhaps one of the most basic and most famous vocal chants.The indicated syllables need to be sung on one note, then - take your breath with your nose and sing them a semitone higher, then inhale again and raise another semitone. You should start the performance from the lowest note you can take and reach the highest note, and then go back down. In the process, you need to ensure that all vowels are sung in the same position and do not "disperse".
- "A-O-U-I-E", "U-O-U", "I-E-I" - as in the previous exercise, the basic principle is preserved - the chanting of all vowels in one position.
- "A-y-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i" is a chant for practicing iotated vowels. You need to sing with a smile, but at the same time make all the letters rounded.
- "Wa-a-a-a-Va" is an exercise that teaches you to hit the notes and sing on a support. At first, when moving up, the sounds are performed abruptly, in staccato, then - legato down. You need to try to open your mouth wide, while during the downward movement, the jaw should be lowered lower than during the upward movement.
- "Bra-a-a - Bra-e-e - Bra-a-a - Bra-e-e - Bra" - when performing, you need to imagine how you send the sound forward, it should be powerful.
- "Chhi - Chhe - Chhi - Chhe - Chhi" - an exercise for support. On each syllable, the stomach should be pulled inward.
- "Vieux - Vieux - Vyi" - during this chant, the vowels must be pulled, going down. The task is to sing the notes, that is, to perform them separately, but legato, in a volumetric manner.
You can pick up other exercises, today there is a lot of information on this topic on the Internet, and YouTube even offers training videos. Those who plan to practice vocals at a professional level should familiarize themselves with the exercises of Nikola Porpora. He is an outstanding Italian composer and teacher, who paid special attention to opera works. His operas have rather complex parts and require perfect vocal skills from the performers.
Is there a difference in chants for male and female voices?
Everyone knows that women and men have different timbre. The female voice is usually more sonorous and high-pitched, it lacks depth, which should be emphasized while singing.
Male vocals, on the other hand, are most often low, deep, and lacking sonority. For this reason, exercises for male voices should be aimed at acquiring sonority, especially at the top notes.
But one way or another, you should look at the individual characteristics of the performer and select the chants that are necessary specifically for him.
In no case do not neglect chants and start any activity with them. This will help not only make the lesson more effective, but also avoid voice trauma when performing complex compositions.