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Use and Training of the Human Voice: A Bio-Dynamic Approach to Vocal Life Paperback – 29 Jan 1997

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mayfield Publishing Co ,U.S.; 3rd Revised edition edition (29 Jan. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559346965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559346962
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 1.5 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,005,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having read so many voice books in preparation for my MA, I was recommended Lessac for his teaching specifically regarding diction - consonant work. I must say this is the first book that actually makes sense to me. I've read Linklater, Houseman, Carey, Thomas, Rodenburg and Berry who are all very good, but this is the first book I've found that doesn't alienate you by being too technical or make you feel stupid trying to make sense of the academic language. It's easily accessible, incredibly useful (exercise wise) and a valuable (worth the price tag) resource to have in your library, whether as a teacher of voice, a drama student or actor. Spend the money and get it. It's worth it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e8582a0) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f307f30) out of 5 stars The alpha and omega in voice 14 Aug. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is everything anybody (actors, speakers and liars) will ever need to know about discovering, developing and using with confidence the voice as a tool to communicate. Westerners especially, I believe, have trained and maimed their voices to suit ideals (The average woman speaks about 6 tones higher than her natural voice prescribes). This book, a trusted training manual in many theatre and opera schools, teaches practically and without pretence, the real abilities of the voice. This is all one needs to acquire/rediscover, with practise, how the voice can be an (extemely flexible) extension of oneself in a physical world. A wholistic adventure which necessarilly encompasses correct breathing and posture, which will eventually be effortless, simply because it is natural. From an acting perspective the Arthur Lessac voice system becomes a perfect partner to the Stanislavskyan system of acting (associated with 'The Method' in USA). The practice of the Lessac system can easily be taught to a child and has proven successful in overcoming a stutter. This probably because the learner is made aware of the manoeuvre-ability of sound and how it is created, and not only on voice as a carrier of language. The book contains many excercises, each making one discover and realise the immense power of (self-generated) sound. Living in Africa one often wonders at the vocal powers of its people. Westerners can also feel at one with their true voices. The Lessac system would be the first (and last) step on the route to rediscovery. This is a popular book (I had two copies stolen from me when it was out of print) amongst performers and all those who believe their bodies are instruments.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e67d990) out of 5 stars Singers, pay attention to this one - 12 Aug. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a voice teacher for many years, I am always being complimented on my speaking voice. Arthur Lessac's book was not my speaking coach, my operatic training was - but the technique is the same. Lessac has done a masterful job explaining the "old" Italian, bel canto/good singing technique that's been around since the 1600's - but he's done it for the speaking voice. Singers need to use the same technique for both speaking and singing, and this is the best book I've found on speaking technique.
Now everyone can understand logically how to improve their speaking and singing voice, and perhaps operatic voices will be better understood as not being something elitist or unnatural. Using the power of your instrument to produce quality sound is amazingly natural - it ain't magic. The "magic" is being given the vocal chords of an angel, inspiration from God, the constitution of a horse, the luck of (all) the Irish, and the intelligence of an Einstein to develop that voice into a Pavarotti, a Sutherland, etc.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e691d14) out of 5 stars Voice development from the inside out 9 Mar. 2008
By Karen Chung - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you get just one book on voice development, it certainly should be this one. As a phonetics teacher, I don't agree with every single detail in the book. But as someone who has taught English pronunciation and oral skills to ESL learners for decades, and also as a radio broadcaster, I feel a strong resonance with Lessac's approach. Differing in the details doesn't really matter, since the core of Lessac training is heightened sensitivity and slightly understated but focused control rather than specifics.

Lessac uses orchestral instruments as analogies to teach better articulation of each English consonant, e.g. the "N-violin" and the "T-snare drum drumbeat". Though impressionistic in approach, it does helps the student have an optimal quality in mind to aim for, and to pay closer attention to each internal physical event and the effect it produces.

Lessac has a fondness for coining his own jargon, like "NRG" ('energy'), "esthetic" (not "aesthetic"; 'anything that promotes sensitivity and induces awareness of sensation and perception in the body'), "kinesensic" ('intrinsic "self-to-self" sensation'), and of course the famous "Y-Buzz". The new terms are however well justified, since each figures importantly in the framework he teaches. The glossary in the back of the book can help keep everything straight. I also flipped to the index several times when trying to sort out the differences between terms like "tonal NRG" and "structural NRG" in the context of the book.

This is a solid course book, not casual reading, so take the chapters one at a time, mindfully, to reap maximum benefit from the book.

This edition is attractive and carefully edited; I found not a single typo in the whole book. My one criticism is the price. The outstanding content makes it definitely worth the cover price, but I don't see why a paperback needs to be so expensive. Like with Peter Ladefoged's A Course in Phonetics (with CD-ROM), I guess it is because it is a popular university textbook that commands a captive audience. About a third of the cover price would bring it more in line with similar editions. But that's not the author's fault, I assume, and doesn't merit taking off a star. And speaking of Ladefoged's book, it would be helpful to readers if this book included a CD-ROM as well.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e879228) out of 5 stars "Good Voice, Good Man" can be you! 17 Sept. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The design is here for a lifetime's care and growth of the human voice. Lessac presents an integrated system of correlating vocal life with all the facets of the actor's instrument (physical, vocal and sensory-imaginative). The techniques teach the concurrent development of the whole through relaxation, breath control and correct posturization, with vocal life itself divided into structural action, tonal action and consonant action. Fun, tongue-twisting exercise poems by Arthur's son Michael. A must for public speakers, politicians, and professional actors alike. --Jack Marston, Anaheim, Californi
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e6d9f0c) out of 5 stars A Must for Musical Theater Performers 8 Aug. 2007
By james - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is probably the best technique out there for freeing and developing a strong vocal instrument for speech and singing. This is the only voice text (and I've read and studied them all: Linklater, Skinner, Berry, Rosenburgh)which gives a spicific structural breakdown for the production of healthy and tonal sound. Most other texts are just exercises, but Lessac's System gives exact physical placement for each vowel, consonant, and dipthong sound as well as extensive tonal work. Especially good for the dancer due to the strong physical emphasis of placement of the tongue, lips, jaw etc. His work on Consonant action is quite inovative, drawing on the actors imagination and assining each consonant sound to an instrument in the orchestra, thereby allowing the actor to more quickly understand the musical quality of speech. Here is a basic overview of what is covered in the text; anatomy of the vocal instrument, the alignment of the body and the economical use of muscular effort to produce sound, the use of optimum pitch to discover and develop the presence of tonality and broaden pitch and range, the use of melody and the onomatopoetic nature of language to communicate ideas, and the application of these skills to a text.
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