And I'll give you a chance to ask questions later, but our question for this week comes from Felicity M. in Santa Cruz, Aruba and Felicity writes, "Dear Justin, I've been told if I could sing Messa Di Voce I'd become a vocal god. What do you think?"
Well Felicity that's just an awesome question. And yes messa di voce is one of the most coveted skills in all of singing. It's so difficult that when we can do it we do become a kind of vocal hero or vocal heroine and our voice takes on a quality that's almost divine.
And the Italian word "messa" means "to place" or "put" and "di voce" means "the voice". It's different from "vocal placement". But this is kind of saying, if I can do that skill well I can "put" my voice wherever the heck I want. [hits piano]
But let's talk about why we need to learn messa di voce. Messa di voce emerges from the classical tradition. But really it's not just for classical singers. All singers can benefit by working on messa di voce.
Now, later we're going to do an exercise for it. But think of it this way, if we can go from soft to loud to soft and back, we have control over our vocal cords. This is the very same thing we're trying to do when we work on the mix.
We also talk on the show a lot about laryngeal control. Singers who have mastery over multiple larynx positions tend to be good at messa di voce and vice-versa. So it's great for your laryngeal control.
Finally, it's great for your soulfulness. It's easy for me to say, "to indeed be a god [softly] or, "to indeed be a god" [loudly] or, "to indeed be a god". [shouts] That's easy to do in the speaking voice. But can we have that kind of dynamic and soulful control over our singing voice? That's what messa di voce can bring.
And so next we're going to look at it in a song. Now the song I chose is, "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis. And Felicity, this has a kind of heavenly and prayerful quality to it. And it's really a perfect song for demonstrating how messa di voice can bring a song to life. So let's have some fun with "Bring Him Home".
And you hear how that push-pull of messa di voce gives this song life. Now it's very pretty just doing it softly... "God on high, hear my prayer" But compared to the messa di voce it doesn't have the same life.
The first pillar is breath control. To master messa di voce we're going to need control over our breathing. Yes, when you get louder you need more air and when you get softer you need less. That's how singing works.
But we don't want to be blasting the air to get louder. ♪ Ah ♪ Right? We want... ♪ Ah ♪ I press gently on the gas pedal for that crescendo and then gently take the gas pedal away for the exhale. So it's going to be very subtle. A little bit of pressure goes a long way.
Something like... ♪ Ah ♪ Where the pitch goes up and I didn't mean to. Or... ♪ Ah ♪ And when I take away the volume the pitch goes flat. And I didn't mean to. It's pretty difficult to keep.... ♪ Ah ♪ ...the exact same pitch as the volume changes. So really be mindful of your pitch when you're working on messa di voce.
Next pillar, compression control. In singing, we have a tendency for our soft sounds to be too light, too breathy. And our loud sounds to be too squeezy, too tough. And this is what makes messa di voce so hard.
And then the hardest part of messa di voce is coming back. ♪ Ah ♪ We don't want to go too far loosening. We want... ♪ Ah ♪ compression to stay on duty as the air and volume is taken away. That's the hardest part.
But as we move from soft to loud, you might feel a little larynx movement and vice versa. ♪ Ah ♪ There might be a little bit of drop on the louder sounds and a little bit of raise on the softer sounds. A little is okay, but try to minimize it as much as possible.
The softer sounds have a sort of chestier airflow ♪ Ah ♪ And then as the crescendo happens ♪ Ah ♪ it becomes more absorbent in the head. So it really reverses the instinct of the voice. Which is why it's so hard to do.
So there's your five pillars of messa di voce. And now we're going to try it on an exercise.
The exercise will be HAH-EH-EE-EH-HAH. On, of course, a single note. For our messa di voce exercise we're really going to let vowels be our friend. And use stronger vowels for our softer sounds and headier more stable vowels for our louder sounds. Really reversing the tendencies.
Fantastic work. We just got one more to do and I want you to keep in mind all those principles, alright. You're going to control the breath. You're going to feel the change in compression. You're going to notice your larynx's stability. You're going to feel that resonance move up and in on the strong one. And of course, watch your pitch.
Here we go with the last... ♪ HAH - EH - EE - EH - HAH ♪ ♪ HAH ♪
Awesome, awesome work. So I hope Felicity and all that you are feeling heavenly. I hope you are feeling divine. I hope you are feeling like vocal heroes. Because if you've done this messa di voce, you really are.
If you're looking for a vocal course to do at home, you can download the Voice Lessons To The World Vocal Course. This is a 12-part course that takes you on a singing journey from beginning to master. Hundreds of vocal exercises that you can do at home, or in your car, wherever you may be.