3 DECEMBER 1954, Page 37

The Fundamentals of Singing. By Charles Kennedy Scott. (Cassell. 42s.)

WITH the present position of singing in this country where practically every teacher has his own 'method' it would be too much to' hope that any single person would agree with every word in this book. The art of singing cannot be learned from a book but Mr. Scott's enquiry into the mechanical and expressive aspects of the art can probably do more to help both teachers and would- be singers towards a really sound approach to their studies than any other treatise. If concentration 'is a leit-motif in this book,' the fundamental principle of tension is the ground bass whose presence, as in a passacaglia, is constantly necessary. Good tone is dependent on both these qualities, which together with emotion, rhythm and the many other essentials of good singing, spring from the proper muscular control of the diaphragm. 'The central effort at the diaphragm is perhaps the most important thing in singing, as it goy erns the general tension that is essenti:1 to a sustained and balanced style.' Although 'speech is of tremendous importance in song' nothing worthwhile can ever be accomplished with- out muscular energy and bodily activity, the right use of which results in that relaxa- tion, the finely balanced interplay of tensions which is the mark of the great singer.

While never leaving the main stream of exposition for long, these 400-odd pages introduce the reader to many fascinating byways and the musical illustrations, ranging from plain-chant to contemporary music and embracing both the choral and solo repertoire.