This is a great work by a great vocal scholar. I studied this book in detail, and found it to be most helpful in my vocal studies. Although I am just a novice singer, I found Professor Miller to be very readable. I did, however, have to spend extra time studying the physiology terms, with which I was unfamiliar.
I found it useful to outline the key points in each chapter. I am including these as they may prove useful to other readers. Additionally, I found it helpful to prepare my own glossary of terms. There is also an excellent glossary toward the end of the book.
As one example of the benefit I received from this book, I followed Prof Miller's suggestion to watch some of the great baritone performances of past days. I found Leonard Warren's Largo al factotum absolutely enchanting. In addition, I especially appreciated the chapters on the "passaggios."
In sum, truly a great book. I'm delighted I purchased this book. Not too hard a read, and very rewarding--even to a novice singer.
1 Overview of bass/baritone classifications
2 Onset must be precise
3 Strive for silent, smooth breath renewal
4 Poor chiaroscuro balance due to maladjusted lips, tongue, jaw, or pharynx
Tongue misplacement is common error
Using hum helps sense resonance balance
5 'Strive to achive a stable, even scale. This requires:
(1) Increased vocal energy (not volume)
(2) Vowel modification, or cover (It."copertura")
Vowel modification is gradual mouth opening beginning at primo passagio, with
more at the secundo passagio.
6 Singer must develop ear towards uniformity. There isn't any one rule for vowel modification.
Middle voice (about A>D) is critical passage. Need gradual balance of timbre
Typically, vowel adjusted to be more rounded to reduce shrillness. Exception: u.
7 Agility depends on brief onset.
Best achieved by practicing short stacatto passages.
8 Not helpful to use imaginary ideas of resonance; instead, study actual physiology of voice.
9 Strive for stable larynx position, somewhat low.
10 Falsetto practice improves larynx flexibility.
11 Vibratto is normal effect and should as a rule be employed.
Vibratto suffers if pitch not precise at onset.
12 Technical security cures anxiety.
This confidence due to applying common tonal physiology + personal distinctives.
"Wisdom of the body" a composite of:
a) Feel: Natural grace, not methodology, should prevail.
b) Sound: We should listen both internally and externally.
c) Visual: Be aware of your facial expressions.
13 Over time, build your own tonal concept. This forms basis for all singing.
Important to listen to elite singers as examples
14 Gradual energization should be your goal.
Strive for consistent timbre at all dynamic levels.
15 Men need greater vowel modifiction and breath control when navigating passagio area
16 Strive for serene air, with just minor body shifts.
Helpful exercise: Farinelli breath exercise.
Don't inject nasality into singing.
Avoid strohbass (special larynx lowering.)
Avoid open voice--voce aperta. This may happen if vowel not modified at passagio.
17 Dedicated study, not raw talent is #1 factor in singing success.
Technical security cures anxiety.
Publicly perform only pieces completely mastered, thus building positive track record.
Text and music must be totally ingrained before performing.
Focus on artistic communication, away from self.
Traversing zona di passagio is challenging because energy level increases,
resistance to breath exit increases, and glottis closed-cycle increases over open cycle.
Use entire-body warm-up (about 20 min)
Success requires creating a "tonal ideal" that matches one's instrument.
This involves daily effort to achieve stable technique.
Artistic creativity CAN be nurtured.
Precisely know the meaning of the words in the text--not just vague familiarity.
Visualize the scenario as sharply as possible.
Strive to accurately portray the song's emotion.
During performance, occasionally look at different sections; make eye contact.
Daily regiment should include (after physical warm-up) technical points in this book.
18 Suggested material
19 For audition, use best piece first.
Realistically, young singers should seek small roles first.
Arias should be fully mastered, but actual performance should have "spark of immediacy."