The body of the voice in contemporary singing pedagogy


Tracey Cooke

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Originally presented as Cooke, T. (2012). The body of the voice in contemporary singing pedagogy. Paper presented at the 2nd Symposium: Horizons Crossing Boundaries, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Singapore, 25-28 October 2012. Abstract available here.


In my Master ʼ s research, “Investigating the ranges of the female voice”, I aim to discover the factors that contribute to vocalists favouring one part of their vocal range over another. In the Western paradigm the female voice is loaded with attachment to identity issues and cultural preconceptions, which influence the particular vocal registers in which singers choose to operate. By the word “register ” I am referring particularly to two ranges: the upper register of the female voice which is sometimes known as “head”, “legit”, “classical”, “falsetto ”, or “ thin fold dominant,” amongst others; or the lower range which is sometimes known as “chest”, “speech” and “thick fold dominant”. In my presentation I will trace the historical origins of the use of Saturday , 2 7 October 80 both these registers. I will show examples of African Am erican singers who first brought the chest range to Western attention at the turn of the 20th century with what was then known as “Coon Shouting”. I will also trace classical singers throughout Europe who predominantly used their upper range for performan ce. I will also demonstrate these vocal ranges with audio examples and the use of my own voice. The second part of my presentation will focus on the emotional and physical manifestation of tension that can arise through singing outside of one ʼ s naturally - comfortable register. I will explore the possible options and theories encountered in my research that may help singers overcome these tensions and therefore allow greater access to their complete vocal range

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