Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Notes on the Master Class (March 29, 2010)

On Mon. March 29th I held my monthly Master Class at Chelsea Studios on 26th St.

My students demonstrated with focus and artistc integrity what it's like to use their knowledge and understanding of the Mezza Voce in both classical and contemporary styles in singing. A healthy atmosphere of positive feedback and criticisim was in full swing.

I am encouraged that this is such a great way to build confidence and strength as an artist. Vocal health and longevity is the order of the day.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Jazz, a fusion of many musical elements derived from the African American experience, emerged as a unique American classic. Because of the African American approach to making sound, the part of the human vocal chords most utilized had its origins associated with the falsetto. Chants and choral sounds were long associated with South Africa; other parts of that continent were falsetto based.

Most of today's pedagogy does not give importance to an understanding of vocal development from a falsetto perspective, particularly when training the male voice.

The falsetto is totally self manipulative.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Metamorphosis

In early American Music - Blues, Jazz, Vaudeville, Musical Theatre and so forth - we turn to important artists of African American and European descent who all vocally used the Middle Voice (Mezza Voce) as a means of expression. It is important to understand that this voice quality was an expected, natural, and loved quality, not one which was an effort or unnatural to the human spirit.

Being on faculty in major institutions has validated the fact that fresh young voices respond instantly to this form of development. If you approach this form of development looking in any way for self aggrandizement, you will fail. In so many parts of the human experience we have witnessed man's constant arrogance and unwillingness to bend to the unseen power of the Spirit.

It is this state of grace that supports the magic of true Bel Canto. The Mezza Voce propagates itself to full legitimate functioning. "The Metamorphosis."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Master Class

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Master Class
On March 29th I'm having a Master Class from 7pm-10pm at Chelsea Studios at 151 West 26th Street. This class is always exciting & informative. The participants demonstrate the ability to use the same technical approach in singing classically and in Jazz or other genres. We have two accomplished pianists; one from NYC Opera, and a new young Jazz pianist from Japan.

My desire is to make maintenance and longevity an integral part of these young people's thinking concerning their vocal gifts. I think it was Tony Bennett who attributes his long vocal career to the Art of Bel Canto, and it is Magda Olivero who debuted at the Met at age 65, still sings at 99, and can be seen on YouTube singing Panis Angelicus at 81 or 87.

In the words of Leontyne Price, "It Can Be Done."


Friday, March 19, 2010

Mezza Voce

As an artist and teacher, among my ambitions was the desire to develop in myself and in others the ability to grow in the Art of Bel Canto singing, a form of opera singing which displays absolute beauty, flexibility and power. A unified column, not resorting to chest voice or falsetto, but combining both registers, which results in vocal health – meaning, maintenance and longevity. The singer would learn about something I call “the middle way” -- as in Siddhartha, neither too strong or too soft -- the “mezza voce”, the middle voice; the muscular coordination between chest and falsetto; the coming together of two different energies.

What has not been generally understood concerning the “mezza voce" is its myriad uses in other genres of singing: jazz, Broadway, pop, and so forth.

In regards to this, you may be interested in knowing that I am in concert on April 3, 2010 at 2:00 PM at the Countee Cullen Library at 104 West 136th Street in Harlem. My programming will consist of European classics, African-American spirituals, and an entire half devoted to jazz.

You can also take a peek at Kenneth Kamal Scott on YouTube. Here are linked clips from my February 22, 2009 concert at The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and from Billy Cobham’s album, "Simplicity of Expression, Depth of Thought." The two pieces on the album that feature my voice are "Bolinas" and Early "Libra."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Message

It's a magical moment where a person is suspended in time, when you create a beauty that is almost unexplainable in a sense. The human voice has always been intriguing, but people have become very muscular with it. They think that they control the voice, and the Art of this is giving up control to find out how the body does that by itself--an involuntary action like martial arts, like great pianists.

It becomes an involuntary muscular reflex and it's never been considered to be true of voice, but in the Italian school that's what they learn to do. The others may sing beautifully...they think they are singing like the Italians. They have great voices but it's not the same thing, and I think that needs to be understood by everyone.

Bel Canto singing is a particular scientific development that takes a minute, and it takes giving up a lot of one's self. You have to be selfless and have a tremendous passion. It creates freedom, total vocal freedom, total! And I've always wanted to know that, so that's my idea, and then it allows me to sing other forms of music, too.