Page:Essentials in Conducting.djvu/145

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deep breathing and in vocalizing would more than justify the time taken from practising music; but such exercises should not be undertaken unless the conductor understands singing and knows exactly what their purpose is.

It is important that the conductor should understand the difference between the use of the singer's full breath which we have been describing, and his half breath. The full breath is taken at punctuation marks of greater value, at long rests, before long sustained tones, and, in solo singing, before long trills or cadenzas. The half breath is usually taken at the lesser punctuation marks and at short rests, when it is necessary to replenish the supply of air in as short a time as possible, in order not to interrupt the legato any more than is absolutely necessary.

BREATH CONTROLThe next point to be noted is that, having provided as large a supply of air as possible every particle of it must now be made use of in producing tone; in the first place, in order that no breath may be wasted, and in the second place, in order that the purity of the tone may not be marred by non-vocalized escaping breath. This implies absolute breath control, and the skilful singer is able to render incredibly long phrases in one breath, not so much because his lungs have more capacity, but because every atom of breath actually functions in producing vocal tone. And because of the fact that no breath escapes without setting the cords in vibration, the tone is clear, and not "breathy." The secret of expressive singing in sustained melody is absolutely steady tone combined with a perfect legato, and neither of these desirable things can be achieved without perfect breath control, this matter applying to choral singing as forcefully as it does to solo work.