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(vocal art), performing music with the voice; the art of conveying the ideas and form of a work of music by means of the singing voice; one of the oldest forms of musical art. Singing does not necessarily involve the use of words (see VOCALIZATION). There are several types of singing: solo, or one-voiced singing; ensemble singing (the duet [two voices], the trio [three voices], the quartet [four voices], and so forth), and choral singing. Although most songs are performed with instrumental accompaniment, some are performed a cappella, or without accompaniment. In classical music there are two principal genres of singing: the operatic genre, which is associated with drama, or with a theatrical presentation, and which incorporates all types of vocal art, and chamber singing, or the performance of art songs and songs, usually by a soloist or small ensemble. In light music the corresponding genres are the operetta and the variety stage, which includes many styles (for example, folk singing, declamation, the singsong, and singing into a microphone). The voice must be specially trained and developed for the performance of music at the professional level.
Vocal melodies are constructed in three principal ways, each of which is associated with a specific manner of singing. The melodious style demands broad, flowing, legato singing, or cantilena. In the declamatory style, the singing reproduces the structure and intonation of speech (recitatives, monologues). In the coloratura style, the melody departs from the words, to some extent. It is highly embellished, containing entire passages that are sung to single vowels or syllables.
Each of the national schools of singing is characterized by a style of performance, a way of producing sound, and a particular quality of sound. As a historically shaped stylistic tendency, a national school of singing develops with the emergence of a national school of composition that makes certain artistic and performance demands on singers. A national singing style reflects a nationality’s performance traditions; peculiarities of language, temperament, and character; and other typical qualities.
The first European school of singing was the Italian school, which developed at the beginning of the 17th century. Distinguished for their mastery of bel canto and for their brilliant voices, many representatives of the Italian school won international recognition. The vocal quality of the Italian language and the ease with which the human voice can perform Italian melodies made it possible to take full advantage of the potentialities of the voice mechanism. The Italian school developed the standard classical sound that has generally been adopted by other national schools.
The high level of the Italian art of singing influenced the formation and development of other national schools, including the French, German, and Russian schools. The French school is distinguished by declamatory elements associated with the melodious declamation practiced by actors in the French classical tragedy. In its development the German school met the demands made on performers by the vocal works of the greatest German and Austrian composers. The Russian school, a unique approach to singing, is based on the style in which folk songs are performed. It developed under the influence of the artistic demands made by the creative work of the Russian classical composers M. I. Glinka, A. S. Dargomyzhskii, M. P. Mussorgsky, A. P. Borodin, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and P. I. Tchaikovsky. The style of its most outstanding representatives, including O. A. Petrov, F. I. Chaliapin, L. V. Sobinov, and A. V. Nezhdanova, was characterized by masterful dramatic acting, simplicity, soulful execution, and the ability to combine singing with the living word colored with psychological meaning. The Soviet vocal school follows the traditions of the Russian school.
REFERENCESL’vov, M. L. Iz istorii vokal’nogo iskusstva. Moscow, 1964.
Morozov, V. P. Tainy vokal’noi rechi. Leningrad, 1967.
Nazarenko, I. K. Iskusstvo peniia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Dmitriev, L. B. Osnovy vokal’noi metodiki. Moscow, 1968.
Lauri-Volpi, G. Vokal’nye paralleli. Leningrad, 1972. (Translated from Italian.)
Ewen, D. Encyclopedia of the Opera. New York, 1955.
L. B. DMITRIEV
What does it mean when you dream about singing?
Singing in a dream may signify a happy feeling of freeing up the emotional self from restrictions.