The Psychology of Singing

David C. Taylor
The Psychology of Singing, by
David C. Taylor

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Title: The Psychology of Singing A Rational Method of Voice Culture
Based on a Scientific Analysis of All Systems, Ancient and Modern
Author: David C. Taylor

Release Date: June 28, 2007 [eBook #21957]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by David Newman, Sigal Alon, Chuck Greif, and the
Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

A Rational Method of Voice Culture based on a Scientific Analysis of
all Systems, Ancient and Modern

New York 1922 All rights reserved
Copyright, 1908, by the MacMillan Company. New
York--Boston--Chicago--Atlanta--San Francisco MacMillan & Co.,
Limited London--Bombay--Calcutta--Melbourne The Macmillan Co. of
Canada, Ltd. Toronto
Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1908. Norwood Press:
Berwick & Smith Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

To My Mother

A peculiar gap exists between the accepted theoretical basis of
instruction in singing and the actual methods of vocal teachers. Judging
by the number of scientific treatises on the voice, the academic
observer would be led to believe that a coherent Science of Voice
Culture has been evolved. Modern methods of instruction in singing are
presumed to embody a system of exact and infallible rules for the

management of the voice. Teachers of singing in all the musical centers
of Europe and America claim to follow a definite plan in the training of
voices, based on established scientific principles. But a practical
acquaintance with the modern art of Voice Culture reveals the fact that
the laws of tone-production deduced from the scientific investigation of
the voice do not furnish a satisfactory basis for a method of training
Throughout the entire vocal profession, among singers, teachers, and
students alike, there is a general feeling of the insufficiency of present
knowledge of the voice. The problem of the correct management of the
vocal organs has not been finally and definitely solved. Voice Culture
has not been reduced to an exact science. Vocal teachers are not in
possession of an infallible method of training voices. Students of
singing find great difficulty in learning how to use their voices. Voice
Culture is generally recognized as entitled to a position among the
exact sciences; but something remains to be done before it can assume
that position.
There must be some definite reason for the failure of theoretical
investigation to produce a satisfactory Science of Voice Culture. This
cannot be due to any present lack of understanding of the vocal
mechanism on the part of scientific students of the subject. The
anatomy and physiology of the vocal organs have been exhaustively
studied by a vast number of highly trained experts. So far as the
muscular operations of tone-production are concerned, and the laws of
acoustics bearing on the vocal action, no new discovery can well be
expected. But in this very fact, the exhaustive attention paid to the
mechanical operations of the voice, is seen the incompleteness of Vocal
Science. Attention has been turned exclusively to the mechanical
features of tone-production, and in consequence many important facts
bearing on the voice have been overlooked.
In spite of the general acceptance of the doctrines of Vocal Science,
tone-production has not really been studied from the purely scientific
standpoint. The use of the word "science" presupposes the careful
observation and study of all facts and phenomena bearing in any way

on the subject investigated. Viewed in this light, the scientific study of
the voice is at once seen to be incomplete. True, the use of the voice is
a muscular operation, and a knowledge of the muscular structure of the
vocal organs is necessary to an understanding of the voice. But this
knowledge alone is not sufficient. Like every other voluntary muscular
operation, tone-production is subject to the psychological laws of
control and guidance. Psychology is therefore of equal importance with
anatomy and acoustics as an element of Vocal Science.
There is also another line along which all previous investigation of the
voice is singularly incomplete. An immense fund of information about
the vocal action is obtained by attentive listening to voices, and in no
other way. Yet this important element in Vocal Science is almost
completely neglected.
In order to arrive at an assured basis for the art of Voice Culture, it is
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