I lend out my books fairly regularly, and 90% of the time, they find their way back to me. Of the 10% that don’t, very few are ones that matter to me that I have on my shelf.
But I’ve discovered at least two of my favourite books on voice and singing have gone walk-about, hence I’ve re-ordered them. These are number one and two on this list, and are incredibly easy to read, but contain a wealth of knowledge and story-telling from great singers and musicians.
Books 3-5 are reference books that I refer to reasonably often, but are very definitely not “read cover to cover” books. I’d suggest picking these up if you’re especially interested in either the history or physiology of singing.
1. Pavarotti Up-Close
Leone Magiera was Pavarotti’s close friend and accompanist for most of Pavarotti’s life. It’s the perfect story interwining actual events, music, singing, Pavarotti’s personal life, and escapades from his teens all the way through to his later years. I truly wish all books were written with this blend of biography and musical experiences.
NOTE: It appears to be in short supply in Europe, but if you find somewhere selling a copy (even 2nd hand) do pick it up.
2. Great Singers on Great Singing
Jerome Hines is an experienced bass singer, who went and interviewed 40 odd singers on their experience of singing. He has some questions he asks each of them, but he allows each singer to explain their approach to and experience when singing. Each chapter is only a few pages long, so it’s very easy to dip into for a short read whenever you fancy. There are a few copies of this book in stock on Amazon, at time of writing.
3. Anatomy of Voice
Blandine Calais-Germain, François Germain
This is a beautifully illustrated book covering how the body enables the vocal instrument to operate and work. There’s cutaways, explanations, plus links to ways one can experience some of these mechanisms working first hand. This is certainly not one you’d read cover to cover, but is easiest to digest if you dip into specific chapters as and when specific questions come up.
4. Bel Canto
James Arthur Stark
This book covers a lot of the history of the development of singing. I especially found the sections detailing how as vocal technique has developed and been refined, our cultural preferences for what a great vocal sound should be has evolved. If you find the differences between different eras of singing fascinating, this is a great read.
5. The Structure of Singing
I refer to this book the least of the five, but is a very helpful addition to have on the shelf. I’d pick up the other four before picking up this one, but it is also worth having if you want to devour more voice info.
Please note that many of these books are in short supply, so if you do want a copy, pounce on one when you see it.