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Thread: Appoggio Technique?

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    Default Appoggio Technique?

    Hello all,

    I'm sure some of you have heard of the Appoggio breath management that's internationally perceived as one of the, if not the, best breath management for (classical/opera) singers.

    With that in mind, I went on YouTube and the internet generally to read and know more about Appoggio. One of the YT uploaders who clarified this technique as much as possible is Maestro Franco Tenelli.

    There, he was talking about it, and said that the higher one goes, the more dynamical opposition one should practice, using the diaphragm. The singer's physical sensation of doing this would be "pushing down the diaphragm" (not literally).

    I've watched and read the Appoggio explanations again and again, yet I still don't know how to create this dynamic opposition/pressure, even though I can control my lower abdominal muscles and the lot around it.

    #

    Basically, what I'm doing right now, is keeping my sternum up in both inhale- and exhale moments. In addition to this, when exhaling, I try to "delay" the muscles of my lower abdominal cavity to collapse/pull in. I also breath in "sideways" and it mainly happens around the lower ribcage & lower back area. And last but not least, I try to refrain pulling in the area right underneath the sternum (the diaphragm area).

    So essentially, my physical sensation when inhaling is as if I "breath through usage of my back".

    Now, having mentioned that, I can't see where this dynamic opposition is going to come in? Is this dynamic counter-pressure the "delay of collapse", basically, or is something else being referred to here?

    Also, when singing higher notes, as I mentioned above, I heard that one should create more dynamic opposition in order to support that note, and in order to maintain the same timbre - which would mean the entire voice is one register (since supporters of Appoggio don't believe in multiple registers sensation-wise).

    So, when going to higher notes, how is this reinforced/hardened dynamic opposition created? Is it by pulling in your belly (without pulling in the diaphragm area) right before singing that higher note (let's say F#4 or G4)?

    I really want to know how this is practiced because it's highly frustrating to not know it, despite reading and watching about Appoggio countless times.

    Thanks!

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    <<<So, when going to higher notes, how is this reinforced/hardened dynamic opposition created? Is it by pulling in your belly (without pulling in the diaphragm area) right before singing that higher note (let's say F#4 or G4)?>>>

    Alain,

    For me, this is too much thinking and theory. The way that I was taught this approach over 30 years: the lower part of the Rectus Abdominus muscle, as it is rooted into the top of the pubic bone, has to be lengthened and stretched upward while you lengthen upward, through the top of your cranium, and then with totally natural speaking placement at the lips, quietly produce the vibration on a NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Later 'ng'eeeee, which allows the column of air to seamlessly shift to the post nasal hole and into the cranial sound chamber. BUt start with the least amount of air to experiment. The breath expenditure is physiologically similar to whistling; so putting together speech and when the vowel arrives, lengthen gut up and in as low as possible near the Rectus' origin (speaking anatomically): it's insertion is the entire front of the chest cavity.

    Tell me is this helps please.

    D2
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    Member AlainB's Avatar
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    Hey there and thank you for your reply.

    I'm not sure whether I follow you completely there, especially on the "has to be lengthened and stretched upward while you lengthen upward, through the top of your cranium" and "lengthen gut up and in as low as possible near the Rectus' origin" parts. It would be great if you could clarify that a bit more.

    Thanks!!

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    His description of the diaphragm is pretty confusing. I guess I would attribute it to him being a dramatic tenor type singer.

    Basically what he means is that, if you want "One Register Singing" the diaphragm has to retain a slight downward balance in-order to maintain the timbre in the high notes, which is correct, but he incorrectly states the the downward pressure is directly attributed to the amount of support being attained.

    In reality, support builds on it's own, as long as the right configuration, to a more or less extent, is achieved. For instance, if I do his method and put a little extra pressure on my diaphragm, I can go from a baritone range around g#2-g4/g#4 in a single baritone timbre, but not any higher. But If I used a completely balanced diaphragm, and let my timbre shift a tiny bit higher, I can go from g#2-b4(sometimes c5) and still maintain vibrato in those high notes.

    I'm not sure if franco tenelli suffered from the same problem as pavarotti, but before pavarotti started training in a full style, his high notes were pretty horrid sounding. By the time pavarotti had started balancing his diaphragm properly, he would have possessed to ability to start singing above c5, but he never pursued it because the "one register" voice was much more beautiful.

    Franco Tenelli takes after this approach, simply because they are scared to attempt a more contemporary timbre, and he ends up assuming that the lower timbre is where the support actually develops.

    I hope that makes perfect sense. Tenelli likes a diaphragm with a little extra dramatic tone, or you could balance the diaphragm completely, either way works if done right.
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    Hey DoverOs, and thank you for your interesting reply.

    It would be great if you could clarify the definition of "balanced diaphragm" - what should the sensations feel like? Are you referring to the delay of collapse?

    I'm trying to get my diaphragm balanced, but I feel like I'm not doing it entirely correctly yet. And as a consequence, I sound over-darkened and gooey whenever singing higher than C#4 (my range being Eb2 to G4/G#4).

    Thank you.
    My thread - check it out and leave criticism if you have the time please! =))))

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    On two ends of the spectrum, if your mouth has too much pressure, then it kills the diaphragm production. I consider this the high end, because it starts in the top of your throat, and blocks the lower parts.

    On the lower end, if you carry too much weight on the bottom, it simply adds weight to the diaphragm. Weight is ok, but too much weight will also hinder the high notes.

    The balanced sensation, has the configuration of the lowered larynx and such, however it's very relaxed. Think of it as a white voice, but instead of shortening the voice, keep the wide and deep configuration, while just singing completely relaxed.

    If you are having trouble with the diaphragm in general, it feels like a small ball in my chest, where my chest dips in between my pectorals. And it only squeezes/compresses very lightly, it's not like there's a huge force going on it.
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    Once it's relaxed and balanced, you will find that you can increase the air flow, but the voice won't become too weighty, or too over pressurized in the mouth.
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    keep in mind, when I say relaxed, it doesn't mean the voice is completely relaxed when singing, there still has to be weight. The goal is to get to the point where the weight and lightness balance perfectly as quickly as possible.
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    Thank you for the explanations, DoverOs.

    My larynx is low whenever I inhale and it happens naturally, so I'm happy to hear that.

    Also, I wonder: my teacher also tells me that most of the actions happen in the lower abdominals (as in, pulling it slightly in like a reflex (just above your pubic area) when approaching a higher note or singing in staccato). Would this also be a part of the technique, or do you consider this outside of appoggio (or plainly wrong)?
    My thread - check it out and leave criticism if you have the time please! =))))

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    Classical singing style is basically composed of two things, resonance and support. Appoggio aims to address both of those at the same time. Resonance is key to making operatic tone, while support acts as muscle memory, ensuring you stay consistent.

    So when you approach a high notes, the overall resonance muscles have to sing in a smaller resonant space. If you end up singing straight, it means you are over powering that resonance. Support acts as muscles memory, meaning the better you get at your resonant function, the easier it becomes to revisit those notes.

    With the point of the abdominals, my stomach does pull in on the exhale, but the contraction is pretty much the same regardless of the note. It's not something that should be voluntarily monitored.

    Classical style is just vocal resonance in a limited singing space. In that manner, it should always be devoid of excess pressure.
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    Yo,

    I realize this thread is a bit old but i will comment if it's okay. As you may have noticed in your studies, Classical Vocal technique is a very disputed subject matter. Even among well respected instructers, people are very strongly opinionated about it and divided in many regards. One reason is because much of singing takes place internally, where we cannot see what is going on. The subject of appoggio is no exception.

    If you re-visit Franco's YT page, you will see some new videos with some clearer explanations. While i respect his teaching, he is a bit hard to follow and "scatter brained" in his presentation of appoggio. One thing that he mentions is the way that appoggio is used to control the breath flow by "dynamic opposition". This occurs naturally as we sing but Franco's interpretation of appoggio is intended to isolate the proper muscles in the process and make it an intentional practise that can be strengthened.

    Since it is a natural part of vocal production, it may be confusing to you because you probably already do it to some degree. The breath is PRIMARILY contoled at the abdomen via the diaphram and supporing muscles as opposed to the throat via constriction and cord closure. Franco uses the analagy of "riding the brakes" on a bike to control speed on a downhill ride. when this concept is translated to the voice, the resulting sensation is much like holding the breath back to some degree ( though it is not exactly the same ) with the diaphram.

    We create a "V" sound by holding the teeth against the lips, correct? try it.

    One way to focus on the appoggio techinque that franco teaches is to first sustain a hard vvvvvvv sound, controling ( or holding back ) the airflow with the lips and teeth. make sure that the throat and vocal muscles are completely relaxed aside from a healthy closue of the cords. Then, SLOWLY release the vvvvvv to an open ahhh sound TRANSFERING the restraining power from the lips and teeth to the diaphram. as you release the vvvv sound to an ahh sound, you have several choices to sustain an even flow of breath. these include constriction of the throat, pulling with the upper chest, or pulling with the "diaphram", abdominal, and lower back and sides. the last one is your goal in this excersize.

    I UNDERSTAND that many will speak against this technique, and interpretation of appoggio. I am merely attempting to clarify franco's interpretation of appoggio. I am not writing a verse in the vocal production bible
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    Hey Aaron,

    Bet you thought no-one would reply to the thread. I tried your vvvv exercise and lo and behold this massive rush of air (and sound of course) rushed out and it felt soo good so i thank you for that. Seeing as you're familiar with appoggio, i'm wondering if you have any other exercises that lead to that same "amplified-while-relaxed" sound. I ask this because right on f4# when i attempt it, i get a really "boyish" sound...it sounds so pathetic and unmanly!
    Another dilemma (probably related) at the moment is not knowing when to introduce a "cry" to my exercises - is it prepassagio or during the passagio?

    Thanks in advance if you or any other pros can help!
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    Aloha Alain and contributors!
    What really helps if you understand that all muscles do only one thing: contract. Like any muscle in your body, the diaphragm has strength only when it's contracting, which in the case of the diaphragm, when it's helping you inhale. Yes, it's a complicated muscle that actually expands while it's contracting! The diaphragm is actually made up of a group of muscles. It is not only one muscle.
    After you inhale (contract the diaphragm), the diaphragm wants to "relax" and allow the lungs to release air. THIS IS THE PROBLEM. The diaphragm needs to be HELD DOWN during phonation (singing) or the breath flow will be excessive and without control. The muscles that provide power (support) are the lower stomach muscles. When done correctly there is absolutely no pressure in the throat regardless of pitch or volume.
    Please visit my blog at shimizuvoice.blogspot.com for more information. Or better yet, stop by when you're in Hawaii. I can guarantee I'll have you singing effortlessly in no time!
    Mahalo!
    Craig Shimizu (Shimizu Voice)
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    Talk about a coincidence; this is the first time I logged on in a good while and there happens to be a reply on this very same day since quite a while, haha!

    Anyway, thank you all for your contributions toward my question regarding appoggio. It is much appreciated.

    -

    Craig,

    I'll check out your site in detail when I have the time later tomorrow - intriguing topics.

    However, I'd like to point out that I understand the concept of delaying one's diaphragm's ascent. What I do not understand however, is how one keeps the very same timbre (mono-registration singing / without any shift) if the muscles are contracting. Yes, they have to contract at some point regardless (or else the chest/ribcage would collapse).

    A lot of the more famous singers [e.g. Pavarotti, Gedda and even Gigli] , as interviewed in Jerome Hines' book "Great Singers on Great Singing", talk about either "more pressure on the diaphragm as one ascends", or as some put it more bluntly: as if you are pushing whilst giving birth or sitting on the toilet. And these singers seem to sing without multiple placements; just a natural placement like Marilyn Horne.

    When I sing higher than a Bb3 or B3, I feel I need to PREVENT the contraction of both the epigastic area AND abdominal areas (or "push down on the diaphragm" even further) in order to allow free phonation; my vibrato and sound otherwise become dull and it gives a pushed sound (as in that you hear as if my vibrato gets a very hard push from below the chords).

    Could you also clarify this please: The muscles that provide power (support) are the lower stomach muscles
    -Are you referring to the contraction of the "pyramid" (just above the groin, below the naval) area upon singing high notes or octave jumps for instance? Or perhaps the pushing down there as well?

    Thank you!
    Last edited by AlainB; Jan-14-2014 at 22:11.
    My thread - check it out and leave criticism if you have the time please! =))))

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlainB View Post
    Talk about a coincidence; this is the first time I logged on in a good while and there happens to be a reply on this very same day since quite a while, haha!

    Anyway, thank you all for your contributions toward my question regarding appoggio. It is much appreciated.

    -

    Craig,

    I'll check out your site in detail when I have the time later tomorrow - intriguing topics.

    However, I'd like to point out that I understand the concept of delaying one's diaphragm's ascent. What I do not understand however, is how one keeps the very same timbre (mono-registration singing / without any shift) if the muscles are contracting. Yes, they have to contract at some point regardless (or else the chest/ribcage would collapse).

    A lot of the more famous singers [e.g. Pavarotti, Gedda and even Gigli] , as interviewed in Jerome Hines' book "Great Singers on Great Singing", talk about either "more pressure on the diaphragm as one ascends", or as some put it more bluntly: as if you are pushing whilst giving birth or sitting on the toilet. And these singers seem to sing without multiple placements; just a natural placement like Marilyn Horne.

    When I sing higher than a Bb3 or B3, I feel I need to PREVENT the contraction of both the epigastic area AND abdominal areas (or "push down on the diaphragm" even further) in order to allow free phonation; my vibrato and sound otherwise become dull and it gives a pushed sound (as in that you hear as if my vibrato gets a very hard push from below the chords).

    Could you also clarify this please: The muscles that provide power (support) are the lower stomach muscles
    -Are you referring to the contraction of the "pyramid" (just above the groin, below the naval) area upon singing high notes or octave jumps for instance? Or perhaps the pushing down there as well?

    Thank you!
    Hi Alain,

    I live life believing there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.

    I've read a lot about appoggio in other teachers' columns and forums and NO ONE has a complete understanding of how it works, myself included. The diaphragm, which is the main part of appoggio is very difficult to "control".

    This becomes complicated because no matter the degree of proficiency with appoggio, if it's not coordinated with the glottis, then breath control or support will fail. Think about trying to hold air in a balloon without controlling where the air is coming out.

    Maintaing the same timbre is of course, what it's all about. This is only possible if one maintains myoelastic-aerodynamic balance or the coordination of the vocal fold tension and closure with breath pressure. This balance is not possible without appoggio.

    The pyramid muscles are the primary muscles for applying breath pressure. But as the diaphragm is difficult to control so is this area. There should never be a feeling of force from this area. There should be a feeling of balance between the "diaphragmic expansion" and "pyramid inward pressure".

    We may not be able to take this further without making some sounds. A "supported" voice is audible. I tell my students I can "hear" their diaphragm.

    Best,
    Craig

    PS I'm going to retitle one of my blogs with the word, appoggio in it. You can see a picture of how appoggio works during phonation.

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