belting.

JBSinger
Broadway Star
joined:11/12/04
Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 08:39am
Has anyone else noticed that the latest generation of musical theatre leading actresses are all sopranos who can belt.
Audra McDonald
Kristin Chenoweth
Marin Mazzie
Victoria Clark
Christine Ebersole
Kelli O'Hara
Carolee Carmelo
Alice Ripley
Judy Kuhn
Judy Kaye (though she mostly gets belt roles now)
newcomers Erin Davie & Sierra Boggess

I find it so refreshing that (even though I love my belters) that these unique women with non-pop voices have found such success. It truly shows that people really want to hear a beautiful, flexible voice (as long as its backed up by brilliant acting too). Very reassuring.

Feel free to add or discuss.
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 11:02am
It's great that they're so versatile. However, belting is actually bad for sopranos because it takes away the color from your top register and gives you upper passagio issues.
Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 11:27am
I'm just waiting for some fake schmuck to make some stupid reply, with big words related to "vocal technique"...

but I digress.



bwaygal1
Broadway Legend
joined:1/5/07
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:11pm
Some of the more experienced actresses/singers on that list I would not consider belting sopranos, but legitimate ones. Belting seems to be more common among the younger generation of singers. And yes, it's not particularly good for your voice.

I consider Idina Menzel, Shoshana Bean, (basically most of the Elphabas), and Sutton Foster belters.
"A birdcage I plan to hang. I'll get to that someday. A birdcage for a bird who flew away...Around the world." "Life is a cabaret old chum, only a cabaret old chum, and I love a cabaret!"-RIP Natasha Richardson-I was honored to have witnessed her performance as Sally Bowles.
BkCollector
Broadway Star
joined:2/6/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:13pm
How are you guys defining belting? I've heard conflicting reports.
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:26pm
BK - for many, they believe it's open to interpretation. there isn't a clear cut definition for it.

bwaygal - Sutton is a mixer. Idina and Shoshana are belters/screamers. it's either in their chest (aka: throat) or head voice.... no in between. Sutton has a mix, my dear. just listen to "Astonishing"
bwaygal1
Broadway Legend
joined:1/5/07
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:29pm
I'll give that Sutton is mixed. But, I don't think many of those more experienced actresses named are true belters like Menzel and Bean. It tends to be a newer trend to belt. (and a dangerous one, to boot.)
"A birdcage I plan to hang. I'll get to that someday. A birdcage for a bird who flew away...Around the world." "Life is a cabaret old chum, only a cabaret old chum, and I love a cabaret!"-RIP Natasha Richardson-I was honored to have witnessed her performance as Sally Bowles.
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:36pm
hence why they are belters/SCREAMERS.

you're right, it's a new kind of "belting"... with Laura and Eden and others.

the women in the original post are nothing like today's belters. and that's a GOOD thing!
bwaygal1
Broadway Legend
joined:1/5/07
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:39pm
I actually don't listen to the 'belters' if I can avoid it. It just sounds wrong.

The only Elphaba I've heard who doesn't do that screaming is Stephanie J. Block. Her voice is really quite amazing. I saw her coming off a cold and she was still amazing.
"A birdcage I plan to hang. I'll get to that someday. A birdcage for a bird who flew away...Around the world." "Life is a cabaret old chum, only a cabaret old chum, and I love a cabaret!"-RIP Natasha Richardson-I was honored to have witnessed her performance as Sally Bowles.
givesmevoice
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/07
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 12:47pm
I haven't read anything about anyone else's technique, but I'm pretty sure Vicki Clark isn't a belter. she trains, I believe, in the bel canto tradition [or something that stemmed from it]. so she's not belting, she just has a nice strong lower range.

and belting, no matter what your range, can be incredibly dangerous to your voice if you don't know what you're doing.
When I see the phrase "the ____ estate", I imagine a vast mansion in the country full of monocled men and high-collared women receiving letters about productions across the country and doing spit-takes at whatever they contain. -Kad
jrb
Featured Actor
joined:3/4/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:03pm
Here the requisite technical response - but I'm only giving it because people are curious. I'm also really over-simplifying it so please don’t suddenly jump on me with more thorough responses. No need to get super technical on everyone.

Imagine the female voice split into two distinct sections: Chest voice (the thick, darker colored middle/lower section of the voice that engages the vocal folds fully) and Head Voice (the lighter, more “legit” sounding upper range that engages more of the edges of the folds – a more “classical sound”)

The female voice (and male voice, for that matter) naturally shifts into head voice as it goes up in tonal range.

Classical or Legit singers work to strengthen their head voice so that it matches chest voice in color and power and to blend the chest into the head. Operatic singers often develop the head voice to such a serious extent that they do not have to access their chest voice at all.

Belters do quite the opposite – they pull the weight and color of the chest voice up into the higher range. They increase their breath pressure and force the voice to maintain the strength of chest voice in a higher range. They also tend to restrict the natural vibrato, creating a more “straight” sound.

While the sound is thrilling, it can also be damaging as the greater breath pressure coupled with less vibration in the cords can abrade the cords like a sand blaster . This is often why legit singers and operatic singers tend to have longer careers than strict belters (among several other reasons).

This is not to say, however, that there aren’t belters out there who have figured out how to do it in a healthy way.

I won’t even get into mixing.
BkCollector
Broadway Star
joined:2/6/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:05pm
Jrb: Excellent, thank you. Now I understand. I do think that a lot of singers do some healthy belting, and i'm a firm believer that if you do have a solid technique, you can work anything into your voice healthily.
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:22pm
I'm not sure "a lot" of singers do healthy belting... it's hard to acheive. and mixing is another beast entirely.

I think a lot of singers make it SOUND like it's healthy belting. but when they go get scoped, the results won't be too encouraging!
JBSinger
Broadway Star
joined:11/12/04
re: Rise of the belting-sopranos
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:41pm
JRB - you hit it on the head.
Perhaps I should have titled the thread, the rise of the sopranos with strong chest voices. All of the women above have been cast in roles requiring them to "belt" at one time or another. And most musical theatre roles (even the R&H ingenues) do require some strength at the bottom of their range.

My overall joy in this trend is that these flexible, beautiful voices have been able to work consistantly and find acclaim without "singing till they bleed." (even though Marin did pop a vessel or something during Ragtime).
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:52pm
belting is utilizing a chest resonance but the term "belting" means something different with today's theatre generation...

Thanks to to the pop material that's been written (WICKED, LEGALLY BLONDE, BROOKLYN, Scott Alan's new stuff, etc.) girls have a skewed perception of "belting" and are experiencing vocal damage at such a younger age now.

A dear friend of mine is the Director of one of the top Music Theatre college programs in the country - he told me there is more vocal damage in this year's group of high school girls than ever before.

You can credit that to songs like "Once Upon A Time" and "Defying Gravity"
BkCollector
Broadway Star
joined:2/6/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:54pm
I don't think you can blame the material for unhealthy singing. You can sing anything poorly and hurt yourself.
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 01:57pm
I don't blame Schwartz for writing that stuff, but the pop/contemporary theatre music is basically asking girls to BELT.

I understand it's a young girls choice to sing it. the material just encourages it though.

and you're in denial if you don't think the WICKED (majority of it) or BROOKLYN score screams belt belt belt!!!
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:03pm
I do hope I'm not the "schmuck" in question. jrb said it better, though. I guess I'm just assuming that most sopranos like strength and color in their upper registers, and belting can compromise that.

I myself far prefer the upper register to any type of belting, though I do enjoy belting if it's done correctly. I agree that most of the "belting" being done nowadays is not true belting, but more like yelling.

Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
Updated On: 4/10/08 at 02:03 PM
BkCollector
Broadway Star
joined:2/6/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:06pm
Absoutely I think that music encourages the unknowing to belt and hurt themselves, but ultimately vocal health is the singer's responsibility.
popular_elphie
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/05
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:06pm
jrb, thanks for the explanation. That was really informative.
And then what if you are?
What a Prince would envision?
Although how can you know who you are till you know
What you want, which you don't?
So then which do you pick:
Where you're safe, out of sight, And yourself, but where everything's wrong?
Or where everything's right And you know that you'll never belong?
jrb
Featured Actor
joined:3/4/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:11pm
Any time…I’m one of the few, the proud, the actor/singers who love to talk about technique.

Completely agree about the whole change of standards.

It used to be that technique was being learned and then used to create the thrill of belting. Color changes and use of exciting sounds were choices – artistic choices. I dare say that many of the young belters aren’t belting as an artistic choice…they’re just doing what they’ve heard a thousand times.
We have a whole generation of Defying Gravity cadenzas. Everyone is trying to "out-Bean" each other.

I blame Disney for a lot of this. I can't comment on Ms. Boggess as I haven’t heard her, but I've noticed that Disney tends to skew their ingénues toward a visual rather than a sound (which makes sense since you can’t draw people onto the stage).

It’s sad though. You listen to Paige O’Hara (film Bell) as compared to Susan Egan (stage bell) and you can here a difference in color. One isn’t necessarily better than the other but I think that Disney affected a shift in expectations for young singers. They could care less about health and life-span of the voice. They just want to sound young and current.
givesmevoice
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/07
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:12pm
Absoutely I think that music encourages the unknowing to belt and hurt themselves, but ultimately vocal health is the singer's responsibility.

I agree with that to a degree. a lot of singers of all different ages don't necessarily understand all the mechanics that go into singing. one good example I can think of is Patti LuPone, who has repeatedly said that she got through Evita by muscling through the score. she had taken voice lessons but for whatever reason didn't understand what her teacher was telling her, was able to sound the way they wanted, and got through. after Evita she was lucky she still had a voice, honestly.

[Patti doesn't belt any more, either. she said she got a new voice teacher after Sunset and her vocal cord surgery and went back and completely relearned singing.]
When I see the phrase "the ____ estate", I imagine a vast mansion in the country full of monocled men and high-collared women receiving letters about productions across the country and doing spit-takes at whatever they contain. -Kad
caitlinette
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/07
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:13pm
As a beginning student of voice, I'm not yet sure how belting exactly works. Everytime I hear someone sing Defying Gravity, I just cringe. It makes me feel...like OUCH. I don't see how it's not physically painful to sing in chest voice like that.

Have there been Elphabas who don't belt but mix?
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:15pm
jrb - that is why Sierra is a breath of fresh air.

she has a stronger chest voice (than I expected) but does not BELT. she doesn't mix but utilizes both her head and chest voice very nicely. no damaging going on there.
jrb
Featured Actor
joined:3/4/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:17pm
So glad to hear that. I was getting really tired of the thin-toned soprano with several faces taking on all of the roles I'd come to love in the films.
This is a fun thread.
TooDarnHot
Broadway Legend
joined:4/7/08
belting.
Posted: 4/10/08 at 02:24pm
that's because it's a fairly intellectual/knowledgeable thread.

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