As I was adjudicating last weekend at the Classical Singer conference in Chicago, I kept track of the songs from the High School Musical Theatre (Legit) second round.
In no particular order, here’s the list:
What good would the moon be. Street Scene
Make Believe. Showboat
I feel pretty. West Side Story
If I were a bell. Guys and Dolls
Art is calling for me. Victor Herbert (four times)
Into the fire. Scarlet Pimpernel
How could I ever know. Secret Garden
I don’t know what I’d do. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (twice)
Tell me on a Sunday. Song and Dance
Waitin’ for my dearie. Brigadoon
The beauty is. The Light in the Piazza
Stars. Les Miserables
Les Poissons. Little Mermaid
The Impossible Dream. Man of La Mancha
Mr. Snow. Carousel
Green Finch and Linnet Bird. Sweeney Todd (five times!)
Beyond my wildest dreams. Little Mermaid
If I loved you. Carousel
I’m a stranger here. Touch of Venus
And this is my beloved. Kismet
The life I never led. Sister Act
Warm all over. The Most Happy Fella
Cool. West Side Story (complete with choreography, flips, and a muscle shirt)
I rise again. On the 20th Century
If ever I would leave you. Camelot
White Christmas. Holiday Inn
My white knight. The Music Man
The devil you know. Side Show
Bless your beautiful hide. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
I could have danced all night. My Fair Lady
Il mondo . . . The Light in the Piazza
My true love. Phantom
Wishing you were somehow here again. Phantom of the Opera
Classical Singer postulates some very clear statements about ‘legit’ musical theatre singing, as contrasted with ‘belt’ singing.
For instance, the legit sound is characterized by the dominance of head register, with vowels and consonants having clarity of sound that is more sung than spoken. Vibrato is active throughout phrases. Vocal tone has great flexibility and gradations of fullness.
Belt sound is built on the dominance of chest register, incorporating more speech-level style of singing. The sound is narrowed and brightened, but some traditional and contemporary stylistic elements are allowed.
Full disclosure: I cribbed these ideas from their judging guidelines, published last week at the annual competition in Chicago.
I am increasingly convinced that one powerful way to develop a voice that sounds the same from top to bottom, and from bottom to top, is to really slide and feel connection between pitches. And I’m a huge fan of not singing thirds or steps all the time.
Try this exercise on an open vowel, starting the first pitch with an M or an N so that the sound is firmly in the mask. Move up by half-steps for three sets, then down one half-step and start up again, so that we avoid the inexorable tension of moving higher, and so that we cover some of the same pitches over and over again. Listen and feel diligently to be certain that no pitch bumps or crunches. The aim here is total uniformity and unification from top to bottom.