We often lose ourselves in imponderables such as: Did the people in ancient times realize that they were counting the years backwards up until the birth of Christ? Or do people today realize that money is merely paper that governments just print and allow to be distributed when and to whom they please? Or more likely today money is imaginary digits that occasionally pop up on screen displays, with more zeros added after the digits on screens of those who are more driven and less empathetic.
Today, we wonder what is a “Fantasia”? In more modern terms, we know it is the title to a once slightly popular animated film. But in the realm of historical music, the definition is typically derived from the words of Thomas Morley:
The most principal and chiefest kind of music…is the Fancy [fantasia], that is when a musician taketh a point at his pleasure and wresteth and turneth it as he list, making either much or little of it…In this may more art be shewn than in any other music because the composer is tied to nothing, but that he may add, diminish, and alter at his pleasure. And this kind may bear any allowances whatsoever tolerable in other music except changing the air and leaving the key, which in Fancy may never be suffered. Other things you may use at your pleasure, as bindings with discords, quick motions, slow motions, proportions, and what you list. Likewise this kind of music is, with them who practise instruments of parts, in greatest use. . .
– Thomas Morley A Plain and Easie Introduction to Practicall Music, 1597
It turns out that in earlier times, the term described something more akin to a psychological condition. In Physionomia (1442), a treatise on human physiognomy, written by Michele Savonarola, court physician of Marquis Leonello d’Este, and grandfather of the infamous Girolamo Savonarola, the term pops us in this quote:
“For those who excel in some art appear to have a quality of melancholy, in that such persons are said by ordinary people to lack prudence to some degree. For like melancholics they are fixed in their opinions; they are neither softened by entreaties to exercising the activities of their art, as we frequently see happen with singers and those experienced on lutes [or other plucked string instruments], nor do they carry such activities to a conclusion unless moved by their own fantasia. And ordinary people call such persons bizari, and say that no one can be an excellent artist unless he suffers to some extent from bizaria; from this flaw of bizaria the excellent physician must be altogether free. “
– Michele Savonarola, as quoted in Rob C. Wegman, “And Josquin Laughed…” Josquin and the Composer’s Anecdote in the Sixteenth Century,” The Journal of Musicology,Vol. 17, No. 3 (Summer, 1999), pp. 319-357
From the same article by Wegman, he describes that the term Fantasia as:
“…one of the “inner senses” identified in medieval psychology–others being common sense, imagination, instinct, and memory. Like the latter, fantasia was thought to have a discrete location in the brain, in one of the so-called chambers or ventricles. By this faculty, humans were able to create new images and ideas from forms stored in the memory or in the imagination. In addition, fantasia denoted any thought or image produced by this faculty, including artistic ideas or designs, but also dreams, delusions, and hallucinations…The word fantasia as a conventional designation for a musical genre (usually keyboard or lute pieces in improvisatory style) is not attested before the beginning of the sixteenth century.”
– Wegman, p. 347
Wegman goes on to describe what was probably one of Josquin’s earliest compositions, a three-part instrumental piece called “Ile fantazies de Joskin,” dedicated to Isabella d’Este and presumably dating from the 1480’s. Wegman describes the piece as “the first known composition in history to be identified in terms of the concept of fantasia.”
Lewis Lockwood, in Music in Renaissance Ferrara, 1400-1505 (Oxford University Press, 1984; revised reprint Oxford University Press, 2008), speculates that the piece may not have been composed by Josquin, but rather a “non-canonic” string of points that may have been drawn from other compositions by Josquin. But the scant number of points in the compact piece appear in strict imitation.
For our readers in the lute world, we offer an intabulation of the piece. Due to technical problems, we can’t post it here but you can contact us through our contact form at the header of this blog, and we will send a pdf copy.
ARRANGEMENT OF VOCAL POLYPHONY FOR SOLO VOICE AND LUTE IS NOT A MODERN DEVICE, BUT THE RESTORATION OF A LOST ART THAT WAS IN COMMON PRACTICE DURING THE 16TH CENTURY.
Our energies have of late been diverted from our usual routine, offering us the rare opportunity to pause and take a retrospective look at the sum total of our work over the past 11 years. Despite the fact that we are entirely independent artists who do not engage the services of hype-merchants, and we have very little interest in the antics involved in aggressive self-promotion, we take delight in noticing the way different listeners with very diverse backgrounds and tastes discover our recorded music. We receive appreciative correspondence from notable figures in the world of early music and also from many kind listeners who didn’t know the genre of early music existed.
Our usual routine involves reading through many thousands of neglected works of 16th-century vocal polyphony – sacred and secular – in order to find musical settings that are particularly susceptible to arrangement for solo voice and lute. In secular music, we pay very particular attention to texts from the pens of the best poets.
Without music, poetry is almost graceless, just as music without the melody of verses is inanimate and lifeless.
– Pierre de Ronsard (1524 – 1585)
And, as is the case with every aspect of our music, our choice of repertory is no accident. Particularly when sifting through secular music, we deliberately select pieces that may appeal to a diverse audience because of its attractive melodic characteristics and its appealing harmonic interest. This is a deliberate choice we make with the objective of reaching new converts to early music, those who may be otherwise put off by the anachronistic 19th-century vocal production, either a detached or an overly-mannered extrovert delivery, and the inappropriately precious Victorian diction one hears far too often in performing what was, in its day, considered conversational popular music.
And not popular “lounge” music, nor music that was meant to be heard in a concert hall with row upon row of listless listeners attempting to be polite. Or not polite, as was the case recently when we sat next to a woman, mature in years, who refused to turn off her cell phone, and was constantly texting throughout a concert during which the performers successfully turned a program of beautiful baroque cantatas into a ludicrous vaudeville routine.
Apart from sacred polyphony that was deliberately composed for large forces, and festive music such as the Intermedii, almost all of the music we perform with solo voice and lute was meant for domestic use – music to be played and poetry to be sung for a small number of people in small rooms.
For he…that hearing the sweet accord of instruments or the sweetness of the natural voice feels no joy and no agitation and is not thrilled from head to foot, as being delightfully rapt and somehow carried out of himself – ’tis the sign of one whose soul is tortuous, vicious, and depraved…
– Pierre de Ronsard
We have happily been experiencing a growing interest in our 2009 recording of 16th-century French music, Au pres de vous, despite our usual routine of nearly zero promotion. When we released the recording, we deliberately listed it among modern pop and singer-songwriter offerings, rather than in the early music listings. This is may seem like ineffective marketing, but we see it as effective outreach – and it seems to be working.
Today, we draw your attention to two songs from our recording Au pres de vous that seem to speak across the centuries with an appealing melodic cantus that floats above an intricate web of polyphonic accompaniment on the lute. The first is “Toutes les nuictz” by Clément Janequin (c.1485 – 1558), and the second is a setting of “Pour un plaisir que si peu dure” by Thomas Crecquillon (c.1505 – 1557), one of three settings of the same text included on our recording.
If you believe the engaging sound of the natural voice and the gentle and rhythmically supple accompanying polyphony played on the lute is in any way anachronistic, we beg to differ – and our interpretive approach is reinforced by 16th-century sources. As we published in a recent posting:
“The truth is we invented the early music vocal sound based on what we wanted it to be like, and on the voices of a small number of singers with particular talents. The small-scale, refined, straight, disciplined early music singing that we were used to came out of nowhere..Even when singers began to look at pedagogical sources and so on, they (we) chose to ignore those bits that didn’t fit the model we had in our heads.”
– Richard Wistreich and John Potter, “Singing early music: a conversation,” Early Music, Vol. XLI, No. 1, February 2013
With rumors of Spring in the air and the promise of slightly less ice on the walkways, we stop and take stock of some of the more positive forces of nature that inspire us to continue plugging away in the music racket. A particularly musical force of nature who continues to provide inspiration is one Rob MacKillop.
There was a time when skilled, talented and flexible musicians could easily find outlets for their music that actually paid well enough. Today, it is very difficult for independent musicians to make ends meet without adding a host of other skills to their repertoire. Rob MacKillop, the hardest working man in the plucked string racket, seems to have gleefully embraced the challenge and managed to use all the resources of the internet to get his music out, reaching out to other musicians, students, and listeners around the world. Rob MacKillop is also a talented photographer with a knack for old-fashioned black and white compositions such as this lovely example.
As a teacher and sharer of repertory for several different instruments, we could spend the entire day listing his contributions and accomplishments. Rob keeps Mel Bay’s printing press busy – we easily located 24 titles for ukulele and banjo alone. As a guitarist, he has performed and published several examples of Scots music but he also chooses to play some of the finer examples of modern “classical” guitar rep, such as this lovely waltz by Antonio Lauro. Rob convinced me (RA) of his great good taste when I stumbled across his project to make videos of studies and example pieces from an old guitar tutor, the same book I use for teaching, published by my guitar hero, George Van Eps.
On more than one occasion, we have begun our day listening to Rob’s playing; lute, guitar, banjo, or some other unusual instrument like the Harp Lute, an instrument he had on loan for only a few days and on which he learned to play lovely music in no time at all. Yesterday, we were treated to Rob’s performance of a French courante from the Panmure 5 manuscript, wonderfully played on an instrument by Bill Samson. The performance brought to mind the following quote from another manuscript source roughly contemporary with Panmure:
One must then sit upright in playing to show no constraint or pains, to have a smiling countenance, that the company may not think you play unwillingly, and [to] show that you animate the lute as well as the lute does animate you.
When you begin to play something well, you must alter your way of striking and flatter (as we speak) the lute-that is to strike it sometimes gently. For as the lute is a kind of language, you must imitate the orators,who now raise their voice and then abate it; now they get asleep the hearer, and now they awaken him; now they charm him and now they amaze him…
– from “Miss Mary Burwell’s Instruction Book for the Lute,” as edited by Thurston Dart, The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 11 (May, 1958), pp. 3-62
Since the video was posted on a certain social media outlet that one of us refuses to acknowledge and is not otherwise available, we are not able to share it here. But suffice it to say that Rob’s performance is among the most musical examples of lute-playing we have heard to date. Wonderfully phrased, sensitively balanced, and gracefully delivered, Rob seems to indulge in the musical experience with as much pleasure and delight as we derived in the listening.
Rob MacKillop’s playing is the definition of musicality, and we return his words in the same spirit – lang may your lum reek!
As we notice the infiltration of electronic devices into every dimension of our lives, we also notice how dependence on one’s phone seems to have resulted in complete erasure from memory the recollection of phone numbers. All it takes is the loss of your phone, the crash of your hard drive, loss of an internet connection, to bring modern life to a screeching halt. We all seem to be supremely confident that all will be restored very soon and we can resume life as normal. But is this a realistic assumption, especially in view of so many examples of efforts to rewrite history?
“The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?”
– George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903 – 1950), Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part 1 Chapter 3 (1949)
There are far too many political reasons to rewrite the past to gain control of the present and future, such as recent destruction of important traces of past civilizations.
“It’s a crime against Assyria, against Iraq, and against humanity. Destroy the past, and you control the future. The Nazis knew this, and the Khmer Rouge – and the Islamic State clearly understand it too.”
If you spend most of your time buried in old music with the goal of recreating sounds from the past, it is almost essential to work from printed paper scores with pencil in hand to clarify ambiguities, correct original written or printing errors, and scrawl interpretive ideas and notes to self. We now hear of musicians reading from electronic score pads on music stands, and this seems wrong. What if some evil hacker in the audience decided to add wrong notes to the electronic scores, and an elegant string quartet by Mozart suddenly morphed into nightmarish notes of Bartok?
We have remarked on this theme in the past. Aside from this weekly bit of tapping on the laptop, which oftentimes includes links to information we cannot verify as the accurate truth, we read books printed on paper—and we prefer to play from paper scores.
This interesting article suggests that people who read and handle books printed on paper actually absorb and retain information more effectively.
Some of the earliest forms of writing, such as Sumerian cuneiform, began as characters shaped like the objects they represented—a person’s head, an ear of barley, a fish. Some researchers see traces of these origins in modern alphabets: C as crescent moon, S as snake. Especially intricate characters—such as Chinese hanzi and Japanese kanji—activate motor regions in the brain involved in forming those characters on paper: The brain literally goes through the motions of writing when reading, even if the hands are empty. Researchers recently discovered that the same thing happens in a milder way when some people read cursive.
In most cases, paper books have more obvious topography than onscreen text. An open paperback presents a reader with two clearly defined domains—the left and right pages—and a total of eight corners with which to orient oneself…Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled. All these features not only make text in a paper book easily navigable, they also make it easier to form a coherent mental map of the text.
At least a few studies suggest that by limiting the way people navigate texts, screens impair comprehension. In a study published in January 2013 Anne Mangen of the University of Stavanger in Norway and her colleagues asked 72 10th-grade students of similar reading ability to study one narrative and one expository text, each about 1,500 words in length. Half the students read the texts on paper and half read them in pdf files on computers with 15-inch liquid-crystal display (LCD) monitors. Afterward, students completed reading-comprehension tests consisting of multiple-choice and short-answer questions, during which they had access to the texts. Students who read the texts on computers performed a little worse than students who read on paper.
When reading on screens, people seem less inclined to engage in what psychologists call metacognitive learning regulation—strategies such as setting specific goals, rereading difficult sections and checking how much one has understood along the way. In a 2011 experiment at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, college students took multiple-choice exams about expository texts either on computers or on paper. Researchers limited half the volunteers to a meager seven minutes of study time; the other half could review the text for as long as they liked. When under pressure to read quickly, students using computers and paper performed equally well. When managing their own study time, however, volunteers using paper scored about 10 percentage points higher. Presumably, students using paper approached the exam with a more studious frame of mind than their screen-reading peers, and more effectively directed their attention and working memory.
– Ferris Jabr, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens,” Scientific American, Thursday, April 11, 2013
In the old days before music was free, the idea of musicians generally tightening the belt and finding ways to economize brings to mind historical examples, such as this response by the late Christopher Hogwood.
Good instruments becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain, the following photo demonstrates how we used to economize in bygone days. Of course, one has to be very good friends to get this close in the summertime, even out of doors.
Since the repertory is not extremely demanding, such duet playing allows ample opportunity for discussing the latest fashion in clothing styles, metaphysical conversation, storytelling, balancing one’s checkbook, and chord substitution.
Then there is the more challenging sort of economizing.
Rehearsing with another favorite musician “A Galliard for two to play vpon one Lute at the end of the Booke,” for a concert of music from John Dowland, A Pilgrimes Solace that also included all the lute duets attributed to Dowland – and then some. This particular piece is not recommended for those who may be experiencing back problems.
Skipping the left-hand technique, we quote from Thomas Robinson, The Schoole of Musicke (London, 1603), found in his “Generall Rules.”
“…Now for your right hand, called the striking hand leane upon the bellie of the Lute with your little finger onelie, & that, neither to far from the Treble strings, neither too neere, and although you ought to lean lightlie, yet carie your hand steddilie, not sliding out of his place, also remembering, to leane lightlie upon your arme upon your Lute, for otherwise it will paine the sinewes and hinder your play.”
As we observe so frequently, history as we know it is written by the victors, those who have the best archival tools, and those with the most effective means of conveying it to others in the short term. We read recent stories of certain states in the US wanting to erase from the history books any events or facts that may raise embarrassing questions for those among us still capable of critical thinking.
In the field of music history, we tend to create a collection of “the best of” whatever, whether it be style, genre, or composer. I’ll personally never forget the experience of visiting a local CD shop and when I asked whether there was a category of music listed under the composer “John Dowland,” being told that there was not, since he was not considered an “important” composer.
Generally speaking, in the world of art, we tend to think that what has been preserved is the best representations of the past. But this is faulty logic. For instance, lutes that survive intact from the 16th century may not be the best examples to copy and play today – maybe they survived because they sounded terrible and weren’t considered worth playing.
We may be missing the point entirely until we dig deeper and attempt to discover works that were less popular. A good example of this line of thinking can be read in this interesting article by Jonathan Jones from the Guardian, Tuesday 17 February 2015, where he states:
Putting faces on people from the past is a dangerous delusion. It makes us think we can understand past centuries more easily than is the case. But worse, it casts a spotlight on a tiny number of individuals and throws the vast majority of humankind into their shadow. Inevitably, the best-preserved, most-portrayed faces are those of the few – kings and queens, ladies and lords.
What are the chances of a medieval peasant being remembered as an individual? Bertolt Brecht defined the dream of a “history from below” when he asked:
Who built Thebes of the 7 gates?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
We tend to go out of our way to find lesser-known music by less famous composers, and then discover the significance of the text and the magic of the music hidden in the scrawled notes. This is the most satisfying work, and we encourage students of art and music history to ask for more opportunities to dig deeper than the received “important” works.
After performing a concert last week that mingled Gregorian chant with 16th-century sacred polyphony – perhaps a little too soon after experiencing major spinal surgery – we had a very interesting Q&A session with a sizable and inquisitive throng of students, most of them organists and many of them vocal majors. The prevailing question (paraphrased) was:
“How is it that the voice and lute are so evenly balanced in volume and in terms of polyphonic interplay, and how was it so easy to understand the texts?”
While neither of us is particularly given over to soapbox oratory, especially after having just performed an exhausting program of highly intricate music, we always rise to the opportunity to explain to inquiring minds that our music is not the result of happenstance. We always approach our chosen repertory with a sense of deliberate purpose, and our mode of performance is the result of years of research into surviving historical evidence of performance practice, exceptionally hard work in rehearsal, and is presented with a keen sensitivity to programming and to style.
We deliberately choose to perform nearly all our repertory at a pitch that is lower than what appears in the modern off-the-shelf edited versions, mainly because it is abundantly clear to everyone who has done his or her research that 1) historical pitch standards are now and always have been flexible and, 2) despite the additional effort required on the part of the lutenist, a lower-pitched vocal delivery nearly always communicates text with more warmth and clarity than a higher-pitched performance. Besides, higher-pitched vocal performances are typically more successful at drawing attention to the beauty of sound produced by the voice, but always at the expense of clarity of diction.
Perhaps most importantly, we deliberately use a natural vocal production in order to achieve balance of volume and clarity of diction. We are a duo – not a singer posing somewhere proximate to her accompanist. We perform polyphonic music that must be tightly controlled with a spontaneous sense of interplay and effortlessly balanced with a strong sense of direction. The only way to successfully achieve this sense of balance is to sing polyphonic music in a small ensemble, where all participants are obliged to hear, heed and blend sensitively.
It makes absolutely no sense to perform 16th-century domestic music in the modern concert hall format with a singer standing a polite distance from her accompanist. Generic vocal production techniques that may be appropriate to music from the 17th-century virtuoso arias of Monteverdi to the 20th-century art songs of Mahler, are simply not appropriate to the intimate music of the 16th century – and we’re not talking about scaling back the vibrato. The sheer volume of sound emanating from a (modern) conventionally-produced voice would not only overbalance the naturally delicate volume of the lute, but would also drive attentive listeners with nice ears out of the room to escape the frightful din.
It is truly reprehensible and shameful for certain oafs in choirs and public chapels as well as in private chambers to corrupt the words when they should be rendering them clearly, easily, and accurately. For example, if we hear singers shrieking certain songs – I cannot call it singing – with such crude tones and grotesque gestures that they appear to be apes, are we not compelled to laugh? Or more truthfully, who would not become enraged upon hearing such horrible, ugly counterfeits?
The singer should know too that in church and in public chapels he should sing with full voice, moderated of course as I have just said, while in private chambers he should use a subdued and sweet voice and avoid clamor.
– Gioseffo Zarlino ( 1517 – 1590), Le istitutioni harmoniche (1558)
Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to unlearn modern operatic vocal production, and the only effective way to achieve a proper sense of balance and intimacy between voice and lute is to approach the music and mode of performance from the past looking forward, rather than the other way round. While the statement quoted below is a bit dated, it reflects an approach to singing that is still all too current in modern academic institutions:
Members of the Academy are troubled by the increasing complaints of colleagues. Their students are being asked to apply purportedly historical vocal techniques in the performance of Renaissance and Baroque music before they are able to perform the much simpler vocal tasks relevant to the basic development of their voices. The problem is compounded when the aesthetic choices of vocally ill-informed or unaware directors extend to questions of vocal vibrato and timbre. Certainly, the uses of wide vibrato, rapid-fire flutter, or wavering tremolo have no place in any singing repertory. The natural vibrato that every healthy voice develops is something else entirely. Vocal authorities of today and in years past are generally in agreement that demands for so-called “straight tone” singing for extended periods, or the deliberate alteration of a natural characteristic and healthy vibrato (one that does not call attention to itself as too fast or too slow) can be injurious to the vocal health and natural progress of young voice students.
Part of our responsibility as teachers–in large part from the ethical point of view–is the protection of gifted individuals who show great promise and, if properly nurtured, may contribute to the promulgation of the vocal art of the future. Surely it is time to bring to bear our interdisciplinary influence–pedagogical, therapeutic, scientific. and medical–upon those instances of Early Music study and performance that are observed to contain unacceptable levels of risk or manifestations of vocal abuse.
– “Healthy Vocal Technique and the Performance of Early Music,” National Academy of Teachers of Singing Journal, 1994.
Approaching from the opposite end of the spectrum, we can read the frank words of two early music singers who have had long careers in the field (if you’ll pardon the agrarian metaphor) busily making hay before the sun retreated for an interminable hiatus behind the ominously dark digital cloud, now having retired to the comfort of their padded rocking chairs on the cool, shady porch where they can reminisce about the good old days while offering newbies wryly worded advice on how to avoid falling into the baler.
The truth is we invented the early music vocal sound based on what we wanted it to be like, and on the voices of a small number of singers with particular talents. The small-scale, refined, straight, disciplined early music singing that we were used to came out of nowhere..Even when singers began to look at pedagogical sources and so on, they (we) chose to ignore those bits that didn’t fit the model we had in our heads. An entire pedagogy was developed by people who claimed to know how 17th- or 18th-century singing was supposed to go, but whose knowledge was based mostly on their own experience of the late 20th-century early music movement, rather than an understanding of the sources.
The huge success of early music recordings then made it impossible to go back and start again. There’s nothing wrong with the results, incidentally, it’s just that it’s misleading to use a term like ‘historically informed’. The earliest ‘early musicians’ (like us) were self taught, and both you and I were among those who once called for early music singing to be taught in music colleges on a par with the opera singing which increasingly came to dominate conservatory thinking in the late 20th century. With hindsight, I think this was a mistake, as the industrial approach to opera singing is now applied to early music.
For singers, conservatoires essentially remain opera factories, but many now have another production line which claims to produce early music singers as well. They can produce very competent performers who all nevertheless sound rather similar (and in such quantity that many of them won’t find work).
Music educational institutions are programmed to deliver teaching. This is something of a paradox for those of our generation who weren’t taught, and it highlights the fundamental difference between teaching and learning. You can teach the basics of singing (it doesn’t take long), but after that, historical singing is a matter of research. Research is learning—you can’t teach it. Universities don’t help either as they seem to think that teaching and research are umbilically linked to each other: they aren’t.
– Richard Wistreich and John Potter, “Singing early music: a conversation,” Early Music, Vol. XLI, No. 1, February 2013
The fact is, no one really knows how to teach singing early music except those who are successful practicing proponents, proficient artists, and attentive and dedicated teachers. To learn to sing early music, one should begin singing plainchant and then progress to transparent polyphony in small ensembles. One should read and fully understand the texts being sung. One should be fully aware and understand that, like so many other excesses of the late-20th century, the easy times are over, and those of us currently involved in performing early music are doing so with a stronger sense of commitment because, even for the successful artist, remuneration is simply no longer a part of the formula.
As performers, recording artists, researchers of the arcane repertory, and music publishers, we continue to carry out our work with a sense of responsibility to share the rapidly vanishing aesthetic of quiet, refined and emotionally significant historical music with our listeners. Sharing our experiences through this blog format is only one dimension of our work, and one we perform on a weekly basis. But like the rest of our musical endeavors, we do so without organizational support and for very little compensation, mostly from downloads and Spotify streams, for which we receive $0.00012 per.
But we are pleased to know that the sum total of our work is making a difference to many people. Now that we have finally managed to encourage lutenists to approach the once rabidly divisive discussion of right-hand technique with a sensitivity toward era, instrument and style, isn’t it about time more of our prominent early music vocal specialists in the US broach the subject of singing 16th-century repertory in same spirit of honesty as we read from Potter & Wistreich, and perhaps even begin to teach singers how to sing effectively with a natural vocal production?