PF Tosi’s "Observations on the Florid Tune" (1723)


“This was the teachings of the varsity of these masters whom, disdainfully, many mediocre singers now name ancients. Observe fastidiously its guidelines, look at strictly its precepts and, if not blinded by prejudice, you will notice that this college teaches to sing in tune, to venture the voice, to make the phrases understood, to precise, to make use of correct gesture, to carry out in tempo, to improvise applicable elaborations, to compose, and to review delicate, delicate singing, through which alone good style and judgment triumph. Examine this college with yours, and in case you ought to discover an space missing in its precepts to instruct you, take from the Trendy the remainder.” Pier Francesco Tosi, Observations on the Florid Tune, p. 78.

The foundations of the bel canto methodology and magnificence have been laid throughout the creation of opera and monody solo singing within the late 16th century. As the brand new artwork kind developed, virtuoso singers emerged on the worldwide scene with nearly inhuman agility, vary and wonder. Principally castrati, but in addition together with all voice sorts, these extremely educated singers grew to become the primary rock stars of the world, with affect, incomes and existence to match.

The strategies of those bel canto singers (and a lot of the singers themselves) originated completely from the conservatori and personal voice studios of Italy. The coaching and strategies they used have been handed down orally from grasp to apprentice for generations with little or no recorded in writing. Pier Francesco Tosi was the primary to publish (in 1723) a singing treatise of any appreciable size and element. It rapidly grew to become a basic and stylistic mannequin for the generations of singing treatises that got here after, from Mancini in 1777 to Richard Miller and Clifton Ware right this moment. Inside 40 years, Tosi’s Opinioni de’ cantori antichi, e moderni, o sieno osservazioni sopra il canto figurato had been translated into English, German and French.

A castrato himself, in writing Opinioni, Tosi drew from his personal bel canto musical coaching as a boy in Italy (almost definitely Milan), in addition to his intensive expertise as an expert singer and voice trainer. He additionally clearly developed his repertoire and style in ornamentation from the various singers he noticed over his profession, together with “Il Cortnoa,” “La Santini,” “Sifacio,” Rivani and particularly Pistocchi. Whereas his treatise is directed to and expresses a transparent bias in the direction of the castrated male voice, Tosi’s occasional point out of singers of different sorts reveals that he believed all singers to be educated in the identical manner.

From Tosi’s writings we uncover the shocking proven fact that bel canto coaching centered on aural aesthetics with nearly no physiological instruction. Opposite to the various process-based singing strategies developed beginning with Garcia’s Traité (1840) which have centered on respiration, belly assist, throat and head resonance, and laryngeal and pharyngeal positioning, the “previous Italian college” methodology was results-based, specializing in intonation, tone and the profitable, tasteful use of ornamentation. Certainly, the extent of Tosi’s bodily recommendation to the singer was: “by no means endure the Scholar to carry the Musick-Paper, in Singing, earlier than his Face,” (p. 29) “compos[e] [the mouth] in a Method […] moderately inclined to a Smile” (p. 12) and “the Voice of the Scholar […]ought to at all times come forth neat and clear, with out passing thro’ the Nostril, or being choaked within the Throat; that are two probably the most horrible Defects in a Singer.” (pp. 10-11) It may be seen that even these instructions got to particularly repair an oral or visible aesthetic, moderately than as a part of a technical methodology.

Opinioni is primarily directed to the singing trainer, laying out what and the way they have to educate their pupils. It additionally features a chapter and several other passages addressed to the long run skilled singer with recommendation on good style, ornaments, efficiency abilities and the life and enterprise of singing professionally. Tosi stresses the necessity for a protracted interval of pupil coaching in studying and composing music, singing and establishing ornamentation, in addition to in grammar, diction, social decorum and performing. All the usual ornaments of the time are totally offered: appoggiatura, messa di voce, eight sorts of trills, passaggi (divisions), and portamento. Tosi additionally dedicates a chapter every to recitative and aria singing, preaching all through the need of improvising one’s personal graces and divisions on the spot in performances.

There are a number of teachings of Tosi’s in his Opinioni which have been notably fascinating to singers and students over time. Tosi clearly advocates uniting and mixing the chest and head registers, (p. 11) the primary recorded vocal pedagogue to take action. Whereas earlier writers similar to Zacconi (Practica di Musica, 1592, ch. 2) and Caccini (Le nuove musiche, 1602, intro.) said that singers should solely sing of their “pure voice,” Tosi went as far as to say “If [the chest and head register] don’t completely unite, the Voice might be of divers Registers, and should consequently lose its Magnificence.” (p. 11) Tosi’s can also be the primary recorded encouragement of using rubato as an embellishment. Whereas he many times rails on singers who by chance sing out of tempo or self-aggrandizingly maintain out notes as within the trendy fermata, he encourages “[t]he stealing of Time […], offered he makes a Restitution with Ingenuity”; which means, offered the singer catches again up the accompaniment, permitting them to maintain tempo. (p. 67)

One other fascinating factor of Opinioni is Tosi’s discussions on intonation and sol-fa-ing. Throughout a interval through which varied strategies of temperament have been utilized by keyboards, strings and even singers, Tosi laments that “besides in some few Professors, that trendy Intonation may be very dangerous.” (p. 9) He speaks of a differing “Semitone Main and Minor” (or a bigger and a smaller semitone) whose “[d]ifference can’t be recognized by an Organ or Harpsichord, if the Keys of the Instrument should not break up.” (p. 9) Consequentially, he warns that “if a Soprano was to sing D sharp, like E flat, a pleasant Ear will discover he’s out of Tune, as a result of this final rises.”(p. 10) Tosi’s treatment to poor intonation is to start the singer younger on solfege, utilizing the standard gamut created by Guido. Whereas each the Guidonian hexachord system and meantone temperament have been changing into antiquated on the time Tosi wrote his treatise, he nonetheless insisted on their use.

Opinioni was in truth a watershed for way more than simply early Baroque music concept and tuning. Tosi spends a substantial period of time in his treatise praising the “historic” cantabile (or “Pathetick,” as the unique translator put it) model of his era, across the flip of the 18th century. He can not appear to grasp why “the Mode” has moved to the speedy, extremely ornate “Allegro” model in style on the time of his writing, which he lumps with inadequate singer coaching, ignoring the standard Church modes and “tasteless” virtuosic shows as the good sin of the “trendy” music era. Being a pragmaticist, nonetheless, he nonetheless encourages “it will likely be of Use to a prudent Scholar, who’s wanting to be skilled in each Manners.”(p. 40)

Pier Francesco Tosi was born in Cesena, Italy in 1653 or 1654. There’s a disagreement amongst sources whether or not he was the son of composer Giuseppe Felice Tosi. He was castrated earlier than puberty to protect his excessive voice. Whereas it’s not recognized the place he acquired his rudimentary music coaching, he sang at a church in Rome from 1676 to 1677 and on the Milan cathedral from 1681 till 1685, when he was dismissed for “misconduct.” Thereafter, he made his one recorded look in opera at Reggio nell’Emilia in 1687 (in Varischino’s Odoacre) and was based mostly for a time in Genoa. In 1693 Tosi relocated to London the place he took on singing college students and sang in weekly public concert events. In 1701 he entered into the service of Austrian Emperor Joseph I and Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, whom he served as a musical and diplomatic agent, touring extensively till 1723. In 1724 he returned a London ablaze with the works of Handel, the place he once more taught and was a founding member of the Academy of Historic Music. He took holy orders someday earlier than his loss of life in Faenza, Italy in 1732. Along with being a well known soprano (of the cantabile model, singing principally chamber music) and voice trainer, Tosi was a composer of a number of arias and cantatas. (Biographical info drawn from “Tosi, Pier Francsco,” New Grove Dictionary of Opera.)

John Ernest Galliard (1666-1747), English translator of Opinioni, was a profitable opera composer and oboist in London, enjoying a major half within the musical lifetime of the town within the first half of the 18th century. He was a founding-member of each the Royal Society of Musicians and the Academy of Historic Music, the latter on which Tosi additionally sat. Because of the high quality of the interpretation and his lengthy private acquaintance with the creator, Galliard’s translation and annotation of Tosi’s Opinioni (printed in 1742 as Observations on the Florid Tune) has lengthy been thought of as a high-quality and authoritative rendering. (Biographical info drawn from “Galliard, John Ernest,” New Grove Dictionary of Opera.)


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