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Country Vocals Lessons: Messa di Voce

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Messa di voce is a technique,
a delivery of a tone, that involves
creating a gradual crescendo, or
increase in volume, and
then a decrescendo,
a decrease in volume on a single,
sustained note.
Using vibrato, or a straight tone, but
whatever you commit to,
that's what you stick with.
In other words, the volume is the only
aspect of the tone that changes.
A gradual increase and then decrease
in volume over a sustained note, so
you keep the pitch the same, you keep the
speed and depth of the vibrato the same.
If you're using vibrato or
the straight tone,
you keep the tone constant,
if you're using a straight tone.
And of course you keep the pitch in tune.
This requires a very
concentrated control of airflow.
It's an excellent practice that
when you get into the muscle
memory of controlling just
this one aspect of the note,
the volume over a sustained Length
of time, you are really putting
good muscle memory practice into your
body for controlling your airflow.
For a listening exercise,
my favorite example of perfect use of
messa de voce in a pop song,
comes from the most recent incarnation of
the movie a Star is Born on a song called
Evergreen, written by Paul Williams.
Barbara Streisand performs
this beautiful ballad, and
on the very last note of the song,
it's in the key of G.
And then the last note
of the song on the word green.
At the very,
very tail end of it
she introduces just
the slightest most
beautiful vibrato
to finish out the note.
It is one of the most beautiful and
perfect performances on a pop
record I've ever heard.
And as a 13 year old girl when this movie
came out, I sat with my turn table and
studied that note.
I don't know how many times I sat and
listened to her delivery and
practiced singing with her,
trying to match how
long she could sustain that note, trying
to match the perfection of her pitch.
This is how we learn,
by imitating and practicing.
Every great singer imitates other great
singers and practices these skills.
Believe me,
nobody is born knowing how to do it.
You have to develop it.
And this is a skill, this messa di
voce skill, that's very foundational
in your ability to control your
air flow And to control pitch
with the subtle workings of your throat
muscles, your soft palate, your tongue.
These are all these very
subconscious tools that we use
to maintain pitch and tuning.
So, it's a great exercise for that.
We're gonna supply an exercise
where you can sing with me.
And then also back in track
with just some pitches just so
you can practice by yourself.
But just remember, messa di voce,
this is the skill of maintaining a pitch.
That was on a C,
I'm going to do it on an A now just for
one more example on a different vowel.
Here's an example of messa di voce
on an O vowel, on the note A.
Want to make sure your base is nice and
You're going to fill your rib cage.
[SOUND] It requires
a lot of focus and
a lot of attention and
a lot of control to
maintain the pitch.
Maintain the same tone.
You don't want your tone to change.
You don't want to get a brighter,
harder tone as you increase the volume.
You want to keep the tone nice and
round and
warm, no matter what the volume is,
and the pitch the same.
So the only thing you're
changing is the volume.
Let's practice some messa di voce.