What is the name of this symbol? asks Vincent.
— A silence?
He smiles, politely at me.
— It’s a sigh, a rest, and it bears his name well. So it’s not quite a silence, actually, it is, but silence with an intention. Do you understand?
I answer in the affirmative while telling myself that this is another one of those explanations that mean nothing and yet say everything (he threw another one of those koan sentences at me: the throat that sings well does not sing). Since music does not require words, it must be expressed through symbols, and this one is one of them.
Nourished by this data, I sing again the line I had just made by letting the sound soar a little over the silence, to reach the next note. Vincent is happy. I understood. We must not be silent when we encounter silence, the composer did not write this symbol just to let us breathe. In fact, sometimes you have to catch your breath in places where you would have liked a lot more space between notes!
My third course went very quickly. Vincent took a long time to try to stabilize my bass. So I learned, at least I started to learn, to return to a voice with a little more chest when I have to go down to the bass. I must understand that this is not a question of singing from the throat, but instead of making the seat of the voice vibrate. The techniques for understanding this mechanism of song transmission may sometimes seem primitive, but it is mostly a matter of breaking molds, splitting the rock and closing habits. Then, as you can quickly guess, the shear cuts are refined, and the result is improved.
The exercise, therefore, consists of singing regularly to switch, at the teacher’s signal, to a more guttural sound. Magically, by singing like an animal, the bass opened up. Then, remembering the opening of the larynx, I had to sing all the way along without using that rough voice. In a few attempts, I managed to go down beyond the A that I had previously skinned. Finally, later, by singing a little Italian melody, Vincent reminded me of the exercise of the loud voice, which allowed me to make the last notes vibrate more, without it seeming extinguished.
Never, ever leave a note to itself. Always remain tense as an arch, flexible, and strong.
Learning to sigh has never been so stimulating!