Why Singing Terms like Appoggio are BS
If you want to sing classical and Opera, then perhaps this tutorial isn’t for you – but if you want to sing Pop, Rock, Blues or any song written after 1850, then you’re going to be very surprised when I explain to you why singing terms like Appoggio are total BS and you no longer need them.
When I first started singing, terms like Appoggio and Inhalare La Voce were seemingly dangled in front of me like they were a ‘secret’ or a ‘badge’ to be earned when I finally agreed to sing classical songs instead of the Chris Cornell Soundgarden, Bon Jovi and Warrior Soul songs I so desperately wished to sing well.
Classical terms like Appoggio are actually a figure of speech, and one that is poorly translated into English at best. Literally, the term Appoggio means “lean” or “support”, like you are “leaning” on a post or wall. A better way to describe the actual application of Appoggio is actually “relying” on your ability to breathe using the diaphragm – it’s not a magic trick, or a secret Opera handshake, it’s a simple matter of balancing your airflow and air pressure when you sing so that you “rely” on the correct useage of your air instead of pushing from your throat or creating vocal strain.
Why do we still use these terms?
I often ask myself this very question. Generally I don’t use classical terms myself unless it specifically relates to a particular student, or if they’ve asked a specific question pertaining the the meaning of classical terms. There is many different ways to explain, teach and demonstrate the same technique or effect in singing beyond 200 year old terms spoken in another language – we don’t say “automobile” anymore, we simple say “car”. We don’t say “asunder”, we say “apart” or “separate”. We don’t say “blackguard”, we say “lowlife” or “bastard” – so why have we retained these archaic singing terms that really illustrate very little in a practical sense, and ultimately serve to add confusion to the simple process of singing?
To sing well, you don’t need to learn Appoggio – you simply need to breathe using the diaphragm while managing your airflow and air pressure. Have you ever heard of the classical term “Spalare La Vanga”? It sounds impressive and important, right? Well, it actually means “shovel” and really has nothing to do with singing – it is simply written in Italian. Does this give it MAGIC powers, or show you HOW to use a shovel? Nope – it’s a random analogy, but you can see my point though, right?
As you can see, one of the most common TRAPS associated with singing is actually the pursuit of secret meaning behind classical terms, and the search of a better voice from a purely scientific understanding of the voice. Singing is largely a psychological process that has many figurative elements beyond the physical or muscular act itself. Just like a sports-scientist is likely not a great runner or athlete themselves, someone who agonises over the fact that an “A” note resonates at 440hz is probably not a great singer themselves.
A great voice coach understands BOTH the physical, tangible, scientific side of singing while also having a strong grasp on the psychological elements of singing and a practical, unique approach that simply works for their students. Relying solely on terms from times-gone-by, and regurgitating scientific terms when all a singer wants to do is sing a damn Bon Jovi song really isn’t effective or helpful tuition or advice for a budding singer.
Are there any classical terms or techniques that you yourself are wrestling with? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll de-mystify them for you.