First treatise on vocal technique?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 224
    Who wrote the first treatise on vocal technique (vocal exercises, proper posture, etc.)? Guido?
  • It wasn't Guido, but I would love to know what vocal colour and technique were cultivated in his day. We might consider anything before belle canto to be somewhat if not totally strange. (Think Marcel Perez.)
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,604
    Perhaps a higher likelihood of a reedier, more nasal-forward sound, as that would make it more likely to be heard and understood, as with recited declamation and cantillation (for a more recent example, consider Abraham Lincoln as an exemplar of his era of public speaking: he reportedly had a penetrating reedy tenor public speaking voice, not the deep bass we've come to associate with him because of cinematic license). Aural sweetness as conceived in modern times was not necessarily as important a value as penetrating open air and large interior acoustics.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,691
    What voice in particular are you thinking? Daniel Day Lewis's version seems to be a fairly accurate version…
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,604
    DDL's register is informed by the historical reality, though still delivered somewhat sweetly with microphones in mind rather than actually projecting to be heard by a large crowd in, say, the Cooper Union or at the Gettysburg cemetery.

    By contrast, Walter Huston's bass rendition in 1930 was a powerful influence on popular culture, reinforced by Raymond Massey's bass in 1939. Sam Waterston's baritone for Ken Burns' "The Civil War" was still quite mellow and intimate; it was far from a public speaking voice.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,821
    As my grandfather (an Abe Lincoln impersonator) would say, Old Abe and the theatrical don’t mix too well.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    The first real voice treatise is considered to be Tosi's (1652-1732) Opinioni de’cantori anthichi, e moderni, so fairly late in the game. Zacconi (1555-1627) and Caccini (1551-1618) wrote general treatises that the deal with the voice in some detail.

    For chant, an important source for singing style is Conrad von Zabern's De modo bene cantanti (1473) Translation
  • Geremia
    Posts: 224
    @Jeffrey Quick: Grazie!
    Conrad von Zabern's De modo bene cantanti is exactly what I was looking for; it seemed more geared to singers of Gregorian chant than the other works you mention.

    Zacconi's and Caccini's works don't appear in English, but castrato Tossi's do: Observations on the Florid Song; Or, Sentiments on the Ancient and Modern and in Agricola's commentary on Tossi Introduction to the Art of Singing.
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  • Thanks for the above.
    There is much there that is applicable yet today.