Human beings' favorite instrument is our own voice. The song is the most widespread form of music worldwide and demonstrates the importance and prevalence of our ability to produce articulate sounds.
In a book of human anatomy one can find all kinds of aspects of our physiognomy. Now, if we look for the voice. In very good books we will find something, but nothing in most of them. Why? Because the human voice apparatus employs many parts of other apparatus. To begin with, the respiratory system, but also the digestive and auditory.
Language characterizes Human Beings as an intelligent being, able to communicate with their peers through highly complex systems.
Voice is a stream of air that we produce in the lungs and articulate in the head. It is a genetic adaptation, since the vocal cords, which are just a few folds that close the larynx, preventing any foreign object getting into the lungs, they serve to articulate sounds and breathing, while being involuntary, becomes a conscious and concontroled when we sing or speak.
Voice can be related with the wind instruments considering that the lungs are the bellows that cause the air column and the reeds are all parts of our body that articulate voice, specially vocal cords, but also mouth, sinuses of the head and nasal pits.
Correct breathing while singing, either sitting or standing, is called costodiaphragmatic, produced by the diaphragm, the rib cage and the intercostal muscles. If done appropriatedly , a person can sing and talk tirelessly without overly strain his or her voice. In addition, certain skills are needed to project the voice.
The controlled air collumn rises through the larynx and down to the vocal cords, which acquires its first modifications up into the mouth through the pharynx. There the tongue, palate, glottis, teeth and lips articulate diction finishing voice quallity with the facial sinuses, the nasal passages and the alveoli, along with the rest of the body, giving voice its presence.
We educate the voice to sing with maximum power within our own range (tessitura). That is called voice projection (or in spanish, impostación).
The classic casification of voices is based on the order of the tessitura. Within this classification are sopranos, altos, tenors and basses.
Singers of popular music does not have ratings as strict as in classical music since each of their voices is different from the other singers and they always seek the maximum naturalness and clarity.
Voices can be classified in Classical Music into two main categories: Male and Female Voices. As you can see, they are broad and very imprecise. It takes in acount only the gender of the singer.
When we draw near into this classification, two more labels can be added: treble and bass. Female Treble voices are called Sopranos, and Female Bass voices are called Altos. The Male Treble voices are Tenors, While Male Bass voices are called (sic) Basses.
Well, but that's not all. How about Male voices above the Female range? They are called Sopranists (if the singer uses his full voice) or Countertenors (if they use falseto).
And how about intermediate voices? There are Mezzo-Sopranos in the Female voices and Baritones in the Male voices.
As you can see, this simple dual classification has a lot of labels, but, wait. There is more. We can then divide the voices into children and adult voices. Then we can find Boy Sopranos and sometimes only Trebles.
Wow, that's a lot of things to think about, don't you think? And imagine that some voices as better than others in singing Stage Music (Opera, for example) and other voices are better to use in Chamber Music (Lieder, for example). And some singers can add more drama to the Music while others can sing more Light Music.
Options are so diverse that classification could takes us for long hours of subdivisions and new ideas.
When we think about Choral Music, we think about a lot of people singing together at the same time and with similar strength.
While in the Vocal classification we heard of dozens of kind of Voices, in Choral Music the goal is to sound together. Therefore, it is better to stick to only four categories (like Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass) instead of the whole set of ranges. The only division is Female and Male and sometimes Children.
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