Cornelius L. Reid: interpreting the vocal registration tradition of bel canto
Cornelius L. Reid is one of the 20th century's most knowledgeable modern vocal pedagogues. What makes Reid's work unique is his interpretation of the Bel Canto tradition and the nature of free singing.Reid's research explores the old teaching masters' methods of developing the professional voice, based upon the knowledge of physiology and psychology they possessed at that time.Beginning with his first book, Bel Canto: Principles and Practices (1950), Reid presents the a priori upon which the rest of his works are founded. Underlying these principles is a two-register theory, which was expounded upon by every major, early pedagogue of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The topic of this dissertation is how Cornelius Reid interprets the old recognized principles and conveys the classic method to his pupils.Nineteenth century philosophies Organicism and Positivism, borrowed from science, made a profound impact on the way pedagogues of voice viewed and taught their art. Today, vocal pedagogues have the benefit of data from clinical research in medicine, speech therapy and technology. Modern pedagogy is the result of the interpretations of this vast data. Concepts of vocal registration have also been affected.Reid believes the interpretations of clinical data regarding vocal registration differ in important ways from the old masters' ideals. While he is devoted to the ongoing study of both historical and modern evidence, Reid bases his teaching method upon the empirical wisdom of the Bel Canto masters. Doing so involves employing important listening skills, which Reid has coined "functional listening." He is convinced this will duplicate the old masters' success. In more than 62 years of teaching, he has amply demonstrated that he has.Studio observations made of singers over a series of lessons delineates Reid's methods.
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