Singing And Imagination: A Human Approach to a Great Musical Tradition Paperback – 21 Sep 2000
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This is one of the best (if not the best) books to be written about singing in recent times. Hemsley talks so much common sense, touches on so many truths about singers, singing and performance, and writes it all in such well-proportioned, unencumbered prose that active singers and aspiring students alike can and should benefit from reading his many wise and enlightening words. The public who attend opera and song recitals would also profit from reading the volume ... With so much wisdom imparted it is no wonder Janet Baker writes in praise of 'the extraordinary wisdom and truth' within the book's pages. (Alan Blyth, Opera)
I couldn't put it down. Hemsley treats the subject seriously; everyone who is genuinely serious about singing, teacher, pupil, or listener, will find, as I did, extraordinary wisdom and truth within its pages ... His ideas should have far-reaching influence on the teaching of singing and the criteria used for accepting pupils into a vastly over-crowded profession' (Dame Janet Baker)
This book is written in the belief that the essential basic principles underlying good singing are in themselves rather few, and very simple, but that their application is amazingly varied in light of the individual's needs. It is not intended as a manual of voice production, and does not concern itself with medical matters, nor directly with anatomy, physiology, and acoustics. While not belittling the value of appropriate scientific investigation, Hemsley believes that modern methods of training have gone too far in the direction of the materialistic approach; that singing in all its aspects and at all times should be guided by the imagination, the feelings, and the intuition; that we have become so pre-occupied by voice per se and the vocal function since the advent of vocal science, that we too easily forget that singing is not voice, but modification of voice - 'not only a language through which we understand the emotions of others, but also a means of exciting our sympathy with such emotions.' (H. Spencer). This book can be seen as an attempt to redress the balance.Quote from reader's report by Professor David Galliver: "Here is a comprehensive and well-ordered philosophy of the art of singing; one which integrates both technical and interpretative aspects. While the technical principles of the classical tradition of singing as expounded by the late Lucie Manen lie at its basis, what is put forward here is very much an extension and development, illumined by Thomas Hemsley's long and exceptionally wide experience as a professional singer and teacher, as well as by a wealth of historical evidence. The second part of the book applies these principles, emphasising the fundamental role played by artistic imagination aund understanding. The picture which emerges is essentially comprehensive, and offers a holistic approach to the art of singing. "The book is addressed to those 'with a gift for singing who would like to understand better how to approach putting that gift to use'. It will appeal to a wide range of singers, professional and others, and will challenge those pedagogues who rely heavily on the so-called 'scientific' approach at the expense of fundamental human and artistic considerations.Hemsley's own scientific qualifications give additional authority to his hard-hitting arguments. The book is engagingly written, with many personal examples and anecdotes; it certainly makes good reading." See all Product description
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After a review of basic voice mechanics, e.g. attack, breath control, vibrato, and falsetto, the author makes his own unique and interesting contribution to the art of singing.
He talks about using the power of imagination, through imagery, to produce the most beautiful and meaningful music.
The book is well written, and easy to read and understand. I found it to be extremely insightful, and very helpful in the course of my own vocal studies. I recommend it to anyone who sings, either professionally or as a hobby.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Reminiscent of Sergius Kagen's "On Singing", Hemsley emphasises preparation of the text and Knowing Thy Score prior to even thinking about singing. Singing ought to start with an urgent impulse to share with the audience a story, which can only be brought about when one has brought the character, music and text to life in one's own head. Again like Kagen, Hemsley spends no time on anatomy or physics, arguing that this can even be detrimental in creating an artist.
A particularly interesting aid is the use of tessitura (which in this case is defined by Hemsley as a single note around which the others are centred). Keeping this note in mind throughout the piece should ensure accuracy of pitch, and better legato.
Overall, Hemsley provides a coherent and common sense framework for a meaningful performance."Testing" his suggestions one by one I found a distinct improvement in my technique and, more importantly, greater enjoyment of the music.