1) Barbara Doscher, The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice

This is overall my favourite book on vocal technique. It’s up-to-date and the author is open-minded as to theories and methods of vocal development. As must be obvious from the title, the interrelatedness of the various parts of the vocal mechanism is emphasised. I believe it is crucial to understand that each component part of the vocal mechanism affects the function of the other parts.

2) Richard Miller, National Schools of Singing, English, French, German and Italian Techniques of Singing Revisited

The definitive work on the voice teaching methods and principles of the various national schools. Having been trained, (more by luck than judgement, at the beginning of my training) in the methods of what Mr. Miller calls the international Italian School, it came as quite a surprise to me to learn that some of the stranger manoeuvres that I had observed students applying unsuccessfully were actually being taught as the one true way in certain parts of the world. A very enlightening book, by a teacher who has been there and seen it being taught.

3) James C. McKinney, The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults

This book is an excellent reference for teachers of singing, and you can also purchase an accompanying audio cassette with examples of the vocal faults Mr. McKinney refers to. The approach is extremely systematic, and bears some resemblance to the technical ‘pyramid’ on my main technique page. Mr. McKinney is noticeably open-minded, and describes several alternative or mutually assistive ways of correcting each vocal fault. The late Mr McKinney was a President of NATS, and a very experienced teacher. The book is written from a teaching viewpoint, but is also accessible to students.

4) Rolf Leanderson, Johan Sundberg and Curt von Euler, “Role of Diaphragmatic Activity During Singing: A Study of Transdiaphragmatic Pressures,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 62:1 (1987), 264.

5) Cornelius L. Reid, The Free Voice

Mr. Reid’s method of voice training is ostensibly based on the traditional Italian principles of bel canto, and I am very much in accordance with the general principles he espouses, particularly the idea that the goal of voice training is not to produce a particular sound, but to achieve freedom of function for an individual vocal instrument. It is unfortunate that he spends such an inordinate amount of the book explaining in detail why everyone else’s view is incorrect. I find his style dogmatic in the extreme, and would have liked to see clearer explanations of his own methods and more and clearer examples of their application. However, Mr. Reid definitely has something constructive to say, in amongst all the criticism of others.

6) William Vennard, Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic

William Vennard was perhaps the first author to combine substantial teaching experience with the current upwelling of voice science research, and communicate the results in a form accessible to most readers. His writings pre-date a great deal of the most recent research work, yet remarkably frequently his conclusions accord with subsequent discoveries.

7) John Backus, The Acoustical Foundations of Music, Second Edition, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1977), 76.

John Backus’ book is one I discovered in the early ’80s while attending Humber College, and I still refer to it occasionally. The first half of the book addresses the physics of sound and sound reception, the second half the acoustics of auditoriums and rooms, and the production of sound by the various classes of instrument. It would be good reading for anyone involved in arranging, conducting or recording. It only contains a few pages specifically about Voice, so Titze’s book is a better bet for detailed analysis of voice production.

8) Johan Sundberg, The Science of the Singing Voice

This is the best available summary of the research results in voice science up to 1989. Mr Sundberg had been, and still is, personally responsible for a great deal of the research in question. The current knowledge, and support for it, in the areas of the physiology of the vocal instrument, breathing, phonation, and articulation/resonance are described in detail. An indispensible book for the teacher, or the inquisitive student.

9) Ingo R. Titze, Principles of Voice Production

Mr. Titze’s book is up-to-date, and written by one of the foremost current authors and researchers in the field of voice science. This is for those who, not satisfied with the exceptional depth of Mr. Sundberg’s book, wish to know how the facts about breathing relate to the physics of fluid flow, how phonation is explained by scientific models of vocal fold oscillation, and how a detailed understanding of the source-filter theory of vowels contributes to our knowledge of vocal resonance. Not for the faint of heart, but wonderfully complete.

10) Richard Miller, The Structure of Singing

The Structure of Singing is a really good basic reference text. It includes detailed information on the anatomy of the larynx and the musculature of the throat, and is also a good introduction to the acoustics of the voice, vowel differentiation, formants etc. Mr. Miller’s approach is indeed ‘systematic’, as claimed, and there are a number of exercises for the development of each area of vocal technique. His viewpoint is that of a teacher of classical technique, and specifically that of the international Italian School.