• avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    I'm most comfortable singing the from the G below middle C, to the A above it. But nearly everything we sing, in any church, in any book, is played/written from the D above middle C, to the 2nd D above. Even the supposedly flexible chant notation: Ubi Caritas always starts up on the G, Gloria VIII always starts up on the A. For me, and people I've talked to, this is all too straining, too uncomfortable, too high (or too low, if we swing down).

    At adoration, our Pastor will just sing hymns with us, using no accompaniment. He always clusters his melodies around middle C, and it's sooo much more comfortable. Same thing when he chants the mass parts. But as soon the organ or piano or choir kick in, the note range jumps and I have to keep switching from treble to base cleff as the melody wanders.

    I'm trying to learn how to sing with some office books and the Gregorian Missal. But all of the choirs and recordings I can find are so high. My pastor and friends all seem to have about the same range of comfort as I do, but the choirs and books leave us behind. Can I get some help in understanding what's going on here?
  • mrcoppermrcopper
    Posts: 647
    Your range, you must admit, is unusual: a restricted alto or a young person, a cambiata. So ... learn to find your place in the more usual voicings. Good luck!

    [edit]OP clarified initial post off by octave, so remaining discussion, when relevant to the topic, is about a baritone without high notes.
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    Well, without actually hearing you sing, it's difficult to say for certain what's going on. I would imagine that since you already know you can hit the low G, you're probably an alto or perhaps mezzo-soprano, but that wouldn't preclude tones above the A in the staff from your range, including the D above C in the staff (D5 by the way). I imagine you are keeping your voice in the chest register when you go higher, as this is one of the ways you can lose some range. The exact area of your range where the switch would need to happen is different for everyone, but a professional coach could help you find out more about your individual voice and how to get the most from it. I've always been a G to G baritone, so singing more than an octave has never been difficult for me. There are range building exercises you can do, and exercises that help you sing on true resonance instead of forcing the voice (not saying you are, as I haven't heard you sing, but I've got cantors who give me the same complaint about music being too high at D5 and they force, force, force with no head/mixed register)! The "C to shining C" range is pretty comfortable for most people, as this is the standard, one octave range we all have as children. However, the voice develops as you get older, and you gain higher tones and lower tones.

    I almost forgot, are you male or female, and are you an adult? It would change some of my advice.

    The "what's too high?" discussion has been kicked around on this forum several times before and it always gets heated.
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    I didn't know that my range is unusual! (I have no choir experience whatsoever, and don't know what the different part ranges are.) But I've noticed that my pastor and friends like to sing melodies around middle C, but church music is always up around the G and A.

    I'm a 33 year old male. I didn't know that there's a chest range, and then another one that's higher (throat?). I'll see if that idea helps.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    The two most commonly identified vocal registers are chest (mainly lower portion of the voice) and mixed (usually the higher portion), but beware: they do not always divide the voice equally. For example, my chest register is short, only about a fifth or sixth into my total range, then I have to use mixed for the rest of it, which happens to be the majority of my range. Yours will likely be different, as everyone's voice is unique to them.

    As an adult male, you are likely a bass, baritone, or tenor, however there is a fourth class called countertenor, which is an adult male most comfortable in the alto range. These are rare, though, but they have a beautiful sound. You should have your choir director give you a range test to see where you might fit. That would be the best thing to do to get started.
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
    Well, your range preference as you describe it is highly unusual. That you appear to notice fellow travellers in your range preference is all the more unusual. (As a former horn player, for a moment I was thinking you were describing your voices as a F instrument player might in its own tuning, but I digress....)

    If voice ranges were imagined on something like a bell curve distribution, the most common adult female voices would be mezzo-sopranos, and the most common adult male voices would be baritones. (The fact that sacred choral music is typically voiced in a way that requires amateur/untrained mezzos and baritones to sing an adjoining voice part is a frequent source of problems in amateur church choirs....)

    http://www.singwise.com/images/vocalRangeFigure.png


    Thanked by 2mrcopper avscvlta
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    I downloaded a pitch detector and have been testing myself. Come to find out, I was wrong before. My low is about the F2 (according to Wikipedia's numbers). Which is exactly where baritones start on that chart Liam linked. My problem is I can only get up to the B3.

    So sounds like ClergetKubisz is correct, the problem is me. I need to figure out how to get my head register activated...so I can get the higher baritone notes. I've been sitting here at home trying to figure it out, but no luck. Just a bunch of silly squeaks! I'll have to find someone to teach me.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 811
    It is difficult to discuss such matters over the internet. By all means, find yourself a qualified voice teacher and take some lessons.
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    I was just thinking...is that what people mean by singing "falsetto"? Are baritones basically asked to sing falsetto if they wish to sing at Mass?

    If so, maybe that's why my pastor and friends have trouble. None of us can sing falsetto! (There's also a bit of a stigma attached to it for manly men, right?)
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    Okay, the council to get some lessons is much appreciated. I'll try to find someone who can help in person. Thanks.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    No, b-tones don't have to sing falsetto at Mass :) I use full voice all the time. As for the "manly" part: that's one thing that causes trouble for untrained male singers. They all want to be basses at first, until some of them realize they'll never be. Don't be too caught up in that. Also realize that falsetto is not considered full voice for men. When reading treble clef, you will actually be singing an octave lower, so don't try to match pitch exactly with the ladies! The way I describe head voice is the same explanation given by the Italian soprano Louisa di Tetrazzini in her treatise "The Art of Singing:" I can feel vibrations mostly in the lower jaw along the sides. For chest voice, it's in the chest area immediately beneath the neck, sort of where the neck meets the chest. It is important to make sure there is enough space in the mouth for proper resonance. Raising the soft palate is central to this. You can Google any of this for definitions if you need them, but that should get you started. This of course is no substitute for proper vocal training, and as always YMMV.
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    That neck / chest / jaw thing was very illuminating! Using that, I was able to extend up to the F4. That a gain of 6 pitches! I guess I'm officially a baritone...and I'm pretty excited. Thanks for sharing.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Actually, I recall both from research and anecdotal testament that the bass-baritone laryngeal structure is more successful when developing the timbre and flexibility of a countertenor.
    For the gentleman seeking to extend your formant (chest) range thru to the mixed and falsetto, the first objective is to simply know you have a falsetto in the first place. Do some ascending/descending siren vocals on "oo" and get passed the " yodel break" and keep the siren pitch ascending as high as is comfortable, no matter if the sound displeases you.
    Then the next step would more involve the coordination between your ear (inner and outer), brain and voice to recognize that you can match specific pitches in the two upper ranges with accuracy and stability.
    From there, with work, the voice should open.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    That's true Melo: exercises in the falsetto using true resonance are extremely effective at developing full voice timbre and resonance.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,112
    Yes, meloCharles, that is correct. Most successful countertenors (men who sing as altos/mezzo-sopranos while utilizing primarily falsetto) would sing as baritones when using their modal register or "chest" voice. It is unusual for a natural tenor to sing successfully as a countertenor.
  • I think it is absolutely wonderful that you have this interest and desire to improve your singing. Would that more in the congregation shared your concern and zeal! Do enlist the aid of a good voice teacher. Very good luck in your endeavours.

    (It was said above said that countertenors were rare...
    they may be in this country, but they're not in Britain.
    The English cathedral choirs couldn't do without them.
    Nor are they an uncommon experience in Houston, or anyplace where early music floursishes.)
    Thanked by 2avscvlta cesarfranck
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
    Melofluent

    I am one of those people who doesn't have a falsetto. FWIW. It may have been a function of years of horn training, but my vocal chords won't form the right way to move past that second passaggio point.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Fair enough, KLS, that's a pathology particular to you, not dissimilar to nodes or other maladies I've had which have screwed up the mechanisms.
    But in general, all largynx's of both genders are capable of going passed the second passagio, can we agree?
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 25
    Thanks again to you all, especially ClergetKubisz. I'm making it through all the chant recordings now (well, except for the graduals)...hitting all the high pitches. It's been wonderful for me, taking out my new Gregorian Missal and singing along with the ordinaries and the propers. I want to encourage everyone to keep up your efforts to bring this beautiful music to the world's parishes. (And yes, I've been throwing out word locally, to see if I can find someone to teach me properly.)
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,972
    You might have luck looking in the NATS directory.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    I feel like all the professional musicians here are missing the point of the Original Poster's issue and question.

    avscvlta:

    1. Your range isn't unusual. It is typical of untrained male singers. I imagine your priest is also not a trained singer (and male).

    2. When your priest just sings something unaccompanied, it's going to be about in the middle of his range, which is going to be about in the middle of yours. This seems totally normal.

    3. All the talk about falsetto is really beside the point.

    4. It is typical for church choirs to sing things higher than you, as a typical untrained male singer, are comfortable. There's a range of factors contributing to this:
    -a historical assumption of SATB singing, giving the melody to Sopranos
    -the rise in concert pitch over the last 150 years (coupled with a fussbudgetish adherence to written scores)
    -the imbalance of women over men in music ministry
    -the prevalence of frustrated sopranos with operatic aspirations
    -a culture of "song leader"
    -David Haas

    5. Moreover - one of the bigger issues with an untrained male singer trying to sing with a female song leader is more of a brain problem than a voice problem. You (usually) have to sing an octave lower than the female singer, and this can sometimes be weird or confusing, if you don't know what going on.
    -Sometimes, if your lower range isn't all that great, you'll find yourself comfortably sing in the same octave as the women in the lower end of the song's range, and then flipping out as the pitch ascends.
    -A similar problem then happens in reverse.
    -The octave jumping sometimes happens without you noticing it, or being able to control it.
    -The timbre (sound quality) of men's and women's voices are (usually) different. Because of this: for the set of notes shared by both ranges, females tend to sound (feel) low and rich, while men tend to sound high and dramatic. Even though it's exactly the same pitch. It's can be very confusing.

    6. Because of all the issues in [5], you may be having problems because you're trying too hard to match exact pitch (D above middle C) instead of relative pitch class (which D is right for your voice range). You may also find it uncomfortable that your voice is sticking out of the texture, even though you're singing the right notes.


    If you want to become a better singer, by all means get some voice training. Also, if it's an option, think about joining the choir.

    But, I'd be surprised if the root of your problem is REALLY about your own range and abilities. I think it has a lot more to do with the culture and sonic environment of your parish (which is not unusual at all) and the larger context of American Catholic parish music.


    When in the congregation, just try to relax about it and sing God's praises. If someone complains about your voice sticks out like a sore thumb, tell them that if they sang louder themselves they wouldn't hear you anymore.
    Thanked by 1Ruth Lapeyre
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Adam (I suppose that means I'm serious),
    Your post was very helpful, save for the condescending first sentence.
    I'm sorry you felt "professionals here" missed the point. Decades of learning, listening, thousands of $ in seminars and workshops, many former students who've followed us into the teaching field and graced stages and choirs from Main St to Broadway, our own children inherting the mission to help refine young voices, and so forth, professionals bring nothing to the table.
    Yup.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    the condescending first sentence.
    I'm sorry you felt "professionals here" missed the point.


    I was not trying to be condescending.

    If a child asks what 4 + 5 is, a dissertation on number theory is missing the point. Mentioning this is not an attack on number theory or professional mathematicians.

    I'm not sure how you got to the idea that I have some issue with professional musicianship or academic training or whatever it is you are reading into one sentence.

    If it's not clear, all I meant was that the frame of reference for answering the question was off, and that that this misalignment has to do with precisely the fact that professional (high quality, well trained) musicians here are used to thinking about a different set of issues than the ones I think the OP was asking about.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Adam, first of all, quite a few of us offered concrete advice for the gentleman's query, as he so mentioned by thanking all and Clerget particularly. The gentleman asked a pedagogical question, it is entirely appropiate to offer pedagogical perspectives. For the obvious example, for a male singer and his tessitura's extension, a brief discussion of the three physiological anatomical realities is appropriate, as is then some "off the cuff" quick remedies offered. There was nothing "professional" or didactic about some of the vocalization remedies proposed to the OP.
    As I said, your commentary was illuminating and a welcome contribution. However, whether you or anyone else regards it thus or not, your first sentence wasn't necessary to advance your solutions, aka "gratuitous." In addition for myself, I didn't associate the OP's query with the cognitive level of a child.
    I suppose the best summation of my POV would be if Mary Ann Carr Wilson speaks to vocal pedagogy in action at the parish level, to me she's "E.F. Hutton" and I pay attention.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    I wasn't comparing the mentality of the OP to a child. I was making an analogy about answering the wrong question.

    The apparently gratuitous and offensive first sentence of my response above was simply an attempt to say: I think the majority of respondents here are answering the wrong question. I thought it was worth mentioning this point. Particularly I thought it was worth mentioning because he seemed to think the answers had been helpful, and it was JUST MY FEELING/OPINION that the answers provided weren't at all addressing the underlying issue. And had already thought this was case from the first couple answers, and felt so even more when the OP asked if men were expected to sing falsetto at Mass. That question was a big red flag that the discussion was on the complete wrong track.

    It did not occur to me that anyone would think I was disparaging musical professionalism or otherwise engaging in any form of anti-academic musical proletarian agit-prop. If it had even occurred to me that anyone would have taken it that way, I probably would have thought, "Nah. People know me better than that."

    Maybe my perception of how I come across to others on the Forum is not at all what I think it is.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Welcome to my world.
    I appreciate your explanation, so I'll call it a day with "And my feeling was that the expression of your feeling was gratuitous and unneeded" and the discussion was not off-track at all: the remedies offered to the OP are a necessary part of the solution to his problems, and not directly tied to the "use of falsetto" at Mass. You know that.
    And I regularly get spanked here by many who feel that the forum is open to all facets of discussion because they perceive I'm trying to stifle or censure discussion. Well, if the forum's open, then we have a goose and gander situo happenin'. Let's drop it, okay?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
    Is that cisgoose and transgander or transgoose and cisgander? It's so confusing.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,956
    Another possibility to consider, avscvlta, is your local community chorus. Often they sing sacred works, and the instruction you get there will help you with your singing in the parish choir.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    +1
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    Why can't you just use the thank button like everybody else?
    Thanked by 2melofluent Liam
  • -1 that should put things back on an even keel.

    Thanked by 1Carol
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    CK, wouldn't be easier just to ask Why can't you just be like everybody else?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Why can't you just use the infinity sign like everybody else?
    IIRC, it was Liam who started the +1 thingy over at PTB!
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
    Yes. It doesn't have a rating or like feature. And it is certainly bereft of purple lettering, if not purple prose.

    I also started this red flag for folks who lapse into habitual spin:

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/737666faa2d722da289d00bae18778f5/tumblr_mkzwb4HQ8R1qztvpwo1_500.gif
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Nice marmet, er, manatee. Channeling my inner "Dude" and can't stop watching it spin. That was your intention, was it not?
  • It's been awhile since I've posted on this Forum so some or all of you may no longer be here. After all, this question was originally posted about 6 years ago. I want to thank all of you and to say I am glad I hit the search button before asking my question.

    I have two male singers at the seminary and one is a real Bass and the other a Baritone and we just found out he is a Baritone. Each of them approach their register "break" from opposite directions. Because they have "limited" themselves by not wanting to move into their pissagio and learn how to smooth out the "break" neither are able to successfully sing a hymn at Mass.

    My Bass can't sing above the G just above Middle C so he needs to get out of his chest voice. My Baritone has been working with me a year and a half. Somewhere in the last month he has found his chest voice and discovered a 4th below middle C which he didn't have a month ago.

    Now I just have to convince my Bass that he has a falsetto because he can use it to find his "blended" register. It's going to be interesting.

    If anyone is still listening and wants to comment please do. I've been teaching men who, more often than not, are non-singers. I have been teaching them for almost 20 years. Most of them can manage well enough to sing the hymns at Mass, some are very proficient singers but occasionally there are men who seem to have pitch problems. Most of the time the pitch problems turn out to be their desire to stay in a comfortable range. When the hymn or chant goes to high or too low they try to find the right note in that comfortable range or they just sing the melody an octave lower which seems to irritate a lot of people, mostly Formation.

    All of your comments have been very helpful, thank you guys!
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,112
    Remember that for a man to sing higher, he must sing with sufficient *energy*! Don't be afraid to encourage these men to sing out, perhaps even comparing it to shouting. (Yes, for real!) In my 7 years as a seminary music director, I had 100% success in getting men to sing up to around actual middle C (261 Hz or so). They need to get out of their comfort zone and sing with energy!

    Give this a try and let us know how it goes. If it doesn't work, send me a PM and I would even be willing to FaceTime with your singer to help him get a little higher.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 726
    I use an app called Erol Singer's Studio. It's not private instruction, but it can help.
  • jcr
    Posts: 67
    Just a brief comment on the thread. There are two stories that illustrate the difficulties that are to be encountered in any field as burdened with controversy as vocal pedagogy. I speak as a 50 year voice teacher and singer and one who has studied voice science at the graduate level as well as actually studying singing with demonstrably competent teachers.

    1. At a music repertoire session some many years ago a well known composer of choral music commented from the podium that it was really nice to see so many voice and choral people enjoying each other's company because usually the only thing one can get two voice teachers to agree upon was the incompetence of a third.

    2. It seems that a young tenor who was having great success in a developing career was invited to give a master class near his home town. At a Q&A session one of the attendees ask him "to what do you most attribute your recent success?" He replied,"I studied with a series of terrible voice teachers and misunderstood everything they taught me."

    Peace everyone. It is good to remember that most pedagogical schools have some successes to point to. There is even the E. G. White school of "Sinus Tone Production" that states that the vocal cords are not the source of vocal tone. The tone is caused by the wind whistling through the sinus cavities of the skull. They claim to have taught some fine singers. I don't doubt it, but I know that their "science" is nonsense.

    Much in singing is taught through imagery-too much, I think, but often a good "pedagogical fiction" comes in very handy.

    I find little to quarrel with in the foregoing discussion. This fellow will benefit from some singing experience and some good instruction. The biggest problem in choral singing is the difficulty of getting singers to learn to play their instruments.
    Thanked by 2Kathy CHGiffen
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 88
    I have similar issues. I am a baritone, closer to the tenor end than bass, since I have no low notes. But I must have a small range - or rather, I have too undeveloped of an upper range. I took voice lessons while in college (I got a B.A. in music with piano as my primary instrument). I definitely learned the basics of singing from this, in addition to singing in the music department's chamber choir and the schola.

    However, I do often look at this from the regular layperson's experience in the pews, since these days we like to look at "active participation" and giving the congregation the opportunity to sing what is proper to them. And the reality is that very few in the congregation, even among those who really do want to sing, for example, the Gregorian ordinaries and whatever hymns are being sung, are going to do much (if anything) to learn the techniques of singing. For this reason, it seems good for choirs to sing anything that they expect/hope the congregation to also sing in a singable range for the average person. I'm not saying that we need to growl everything out, but since most liturgical melodies and hymns that the congregation would sing have the range of an octave or slightly more, it would seem reasonable for choirs to sing these melodies so that the bulk of the notes are in, say, the D to A range, the higher end being C or maybe D and the lower end being A or so. If the range is exactly an octave, there is no reason for the hymn to go outside C to C.

    I can understand that this may not be possible for hymns, when the choir wants to sing it in four parts and singing it in this lower range would be too low for basses. But for Gregorian chant, it seems ridiculous to subject the congregation to high ranges when the pitch could easily be lowered a step or two without any problem.

    For example - my parish just sang Mass IV this past Sunday. Here are the pitches and ranges we used:

    Kyrie - started on B-flat, making the range E-flat up to D-flat. This wasn't too bad, although I know many in the congregation wouldn't be comfortable singing parts of it in this range. There is no reason why we could have lowered it at least a half-step; personally I would have thought that significantly easier and would have appreciated a whole step lower.

    Gloria - started on a D, making the range D up to D. Again, this isn't too bad either, but that would make it uncomfortable in each of the sections which rise to the D (there are 4 four of these sections). There is no reason that it couldn't have started on C, making the bulk of the chant in the D to A range.

    Sanctus - started on a G, making the range D up to D. Once again, there is no reason this couldn't have been lowered one step, especially since this is a mode 8 chant making the bulk of the notes in the G-C range and up to D in the 5 parts that swing up there.

    Agnus Dei - started on an F, making the range E up to D. Especially with this smaller range, there is no reason we couldn't have started at least a step lower.

    I am speaking as one who holds the opinion that chant probably sounds better a little higher than lower - it gives it a lighter character as (I think) it should have - it's just that in a parish setting, if we really want to insist that the people should sing the parts proper to them, we should make it within their range of comfort.

    I spent time at a monastery that did almost every chant *really* high; and that is probably okay, since chant is all they sing and all they spend time learning to sing, and thus can learn reasonably well how to sing higher. It can't be the same way in a parish setting for the average lay person.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,648
    we should make it within their range of comfort.
    Has anyone ever surveyed the range of typical untrained congregational voices? Without adequate information we are reduced to anecdotes, mostly about ourselves.
    If the how to find your voice type websites are to be believed - there is only one D in the Bass vocal range, one F for Baritones, one A for Tenors, one E for Altos, one G for Mezzos, one B for Sopranos. Therefor a useable tune cannot have more than one octave. And that is for people who can and do sing well enough to have an identifiable vocal range! Writers of hymn tunes (particularly in the 70s) often fail to understand this.
    700 x 394 - 39K
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
    For mixed unison singing in much of the USA, one would pitch for baritones and mezzos because they are much more widely represented than the SATB voices further out in the normal distribution.
  • jcr
    Posts: 67
    In general, people whose musical interests are in the popular culture (most of them who comprise the largest common denominator) listen to singers who sing with a low register dominated production. We do not, as a people, sing together very much at all as those of my parent's and grandparent's generation did.("follow the bouncing ball") "Show choirs" have replaced the a'cappella choirs many of us sang in in high school and with it comes the "belter's" technique that is a product of a badly corrupted popular music and that has taken over the American musical theater. In our schools there is a fear of the singing of "Religious music" which has had to be replaced in the repertoire by some rather unfortunate substitute compositions. Add to that the natural tendency of men to want to sound "bassy" in order to sound more masculine and the women in our choirs to imitate their favorite Popular "artist" and it should come as no surprise that our congregations cannot sing above a b natural or c. Listen to the Anglican congregations of the UK and some Protestant congregations even today where the singing has been in continuity with older hymnody and the singing of the d naturals and even the e naturals that appear occasionally in the original keys of a number of hymns don't seem to be a problem. This loss of the third or so at the top is a cultural phenomenon and not really a physical limitation.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,896
    Yes, though one might say that the addition of a third or so on top is no less a cultural phenomenon in terms of putting effort into development. Anyway, even before Rock & Roll, in the middle of the 20th century were one to conjure the likely first-off-the-tongue ID of dominant female and male white popular singers of the Great American Songbook tradition in the US, I suspect Judy Garland - contralto - and Frank Sinatra - baritone - would likely top the lists and form a cultural baseline expectation of what idealized female and male voices should sound like. And that was from a time when having pianos and instruments in the home were still common aspirations of American bourgeois life - where people were actively engaged in making music themselves. Just. (Grand opera and the voice cultivation for it were already moving into the swamps of amber.) Then the afterlife of this culture: garage bands.
    Thanked by 1jcr
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 88
    Well, of course that brings up an important issue - obviously a major part of the problem of why people can't sing very well is the lack of a (good) musical culture. It is a huge problem because I would argue that music, as one of the liberal arts, is an important component of the formation of the whole human person. There is no longer this formation in our schools - many (maybe most? not sure) Catholic schools included - and there is no longer a culture of music/singing in the average home or community.

    I am extremely thankful to my parents for bringing my family up with some semblance of a culture of music. I suppose that, by the grace of God, I could have come to love to know and sing Gregorian chant without that upbringing, but who knows. I say this because when I was growing up, my primary interest was the piano (secondarily the violin). I had little interest in singing, though I sang in grade school and even voluntarily sang in the choir for two years in middle school. I believe that (in addition to God's grace) it was my musical upbringing that made me open to developing a love for liturgical music as an adult, which I did not have in my childhood/adolescence. Probably the only thing lacking, in fact, which may partly explain why I did not have this love as a child, was the fact that we were a part of our diocesan parish which rarely (if ever; I'd have to think back more closely on it) sang anything truly sacred. The few times we did attend Latin Mass (there was an FSSP parish 1 1/2 hours away which we would attend every so often), I was less than impressed, I am sure partially due to the fact that it was so different than what I was used to.

    So this is what I mean on this point - one may come to these realizations as an adult, since our good God will work in all of us according to our circumstances to come to the fullness of truth if we are open, but it will be much easier for us if we are brought up with it from the earliest point in our lives. I.e. we may not have to come to any realization if we have known it for as long as we can remember.

    Perhaps one might think this is off-topic - and perhaps it is, since it is not answering the OP's questions - but it is still a related and, in my view, very important topic.