Messa di voce is a musical technique that involves a gradual crescendo and diminuendo while sustaining a single pitch. This can be used for great dramatic effect in your singing, and in this video, Lari explains how to get this sound from your voice.
- Messa di voce is a technique, a delivery of a tone that involves creating a gradual crescendo, or increase in volume, and then a decrescendo, a decrease in volume, on a single sustained note, using vibrato or a straight tone, but whatever you commit to, that's what you stick with. In other words, the volume is the only aspect of the tone that changes.
A gradual increase, and then decrease in volume over a sustained note. So, you keep the pitch the same, you keep the speed and depth of the vibrato the same if you're using vibrato, or the straight tone, you keep the tone constant if you're using a straight tone. And, of course, you keep the pitch in tune. This requires a very concentrated control of airflow. It's an excellent practice that, when you get into the muscle memory of controlling just this one aspect of the note, the volume, over a sustained length of time, you are really putting good muscle memory practice into your body for controlling your airflow.
For a listening exercise, my favorite example of perfect use of messa di voce in a pop song comes from the most recent incarnation of the movie A Star is Born, on a song called Evergreen, written by Paul Williams. Barbara Streisand performs this beautiful ballad, and on the very last note of the song, it's in the key of G. ♫ Ageless and ever, ever, And then the last note of the song, on the word green, ♫ Evergreen At the very, very tail end of it, she introduces just the slightest, most beautiful vibrato to finish out the note.
It is one of the most beautiful and perfect performances on a pop record I've ever heard, and as a 13 year old girl, when this movie came out, I sat with my turntable and studied that note. I don't know how many times I sat and listened to her delivery and practiced singing with her, trying to match how long she could sustain that note, trying to match the perfection of her pitch. This is how we learn, by imitating and practicing.
Every great singer imitates other great singers and practices these skills, believe me. Nobody is born knowing how to do it. You have to develop it. And this is a skill, this messa di voce skill, that's very foundational in your ability to control your airflow, and to control pitch with the subtle workings of your throat muscles, your soft palette, your tongue.
These are all these very subconscious tools that we use to maintain pitch and tuning. So it's a great exercise for that. We're going to supply an exercise where you can sing with me, and then also a backing track with just some pitches so that you can practice by yourself. But just remember, messa di voce. This is the skill of maintaining a pitch. That was on a C, I'm going to do it on an A now, just for one more example on a different vowel.
Here's an example of messa di voce on an O vowel, on the note A. You want to make sure your base is nice and solid. You're going to fill your ribcage. (singing) This requires a lot of focus, and a lot of attention, and a lot of control to maintain the pitch, maintain the same tone.
You don't want your tone to change. You don't want to get a brighter, harder tone as you increase the volume. You want to keep the tone nice and round and warm, no matter what the volume is, and the pitch the same. So the only thing you're changing is the volume. Let's practice some messa di voce.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We're pleased to host this training in our library.
- Singing harmony and straight tone
- Crafting your vocal tone
- Using vibrato and messa di voce
- Working with the chest and head voice
- Singing in a low or high register
- Selecting a microphone for live performance and recording
- Understanding the Nashville Number System