Sacred and Secular Performance Practices: The Vocal Pedagogy of Nineteenth Century European Choirs

The last one hundred years of Choral Pedagogy has steadily splintered into various beliefs and methodologies. Although choirs have become more diverse, pedagogy related to previous periods may be lacking the requisite skills for performance. Within the choral spectrum two camps have become primary to performance. One, commonly known as the straight-tone method requires singers to use very little vibrato, while the other requires much vibrato and strength. Both practices are suitable for current trends in choral music, but they lack the requisite skills for performing Nineteenth Century music. Up until the early Twentieth Century, Bel Canto technique was primarily used for training singers. Vocal training consisted of exercises related to intonation, unifying registers, clear diction, vocal flexibility and pathos. This project report will illuminate the philosophies and training used for training singers. The basic tenets and attributes of singing will be contrasted with those of today. The discussion will include the application of the Bel Canto technique to choral music.