(from Dundalk Md Charivari, Tom Wheatley, editor)
Breath control is certainly an important factor, and material is available to make it possible to learn or to teach how to breathe properly. It's important to avoid flatting in particular because it is necessary to keep an adequate supply of air exerting pressure against the vocal chords. Wasting breath initially by uncontrolled attacks at the beginning of phrases or taking too little breath causes the singer to run out of air before reaching the end of the phrase. This will result in flatting.
Singing softly seems to cause special problems for many singers. They have the tendency not to energize themselves sufficiently, thus permitting the pharynx to collapse, eliminating the resonance and destroying breath support. This results in a lowering of tone.
To control this, have the singer show his upper teeth slightly when singing softly. This helps take the weight off the voice. An elongated movement of the jaw should be minimized. On the other hand, singing loudly with too heavy a tone quality also leads to flatting, as will excessive vibrato and tremolo. These last two do not allow the other parts to tune to the problem voice.
A quartet or chorus that fails to embrace the basic balance rules of volume relationships as written up in the singing category and the Basic Barbershop Craft Manual will sometimes produce a rough or dissonant sound. This impedes the singers' ability to hear good tuning. The dissonance also may be perceived as being out of tune.
Next month, we will touch upon other causes of flatting. Remember, there's a test coming. Actually, the test is given each time we have a chance to sing together. Next month, we'll get into more of the discussion of control aspects needed for good singing.
To Tuning Chapter Five