Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Department

Music

Committee Chair

Dr. Maryann Kyle

Committee Chair Department

Music

Committee Member 2

Dr. Christopher Goertzen

Committee Member 2 Department

Music

Committee Member 3

Dr. Susan Ruggiero

Committee Member 3 Department

Music

Committee Member 4

Dr. Douglas Rust

Committee Member 4 Department

Music

Committee Member 5

Dr. Jonathan Yarrington

Committee Member 5 Department

Music

Abstract

Male belting is found in many different stylistic forms of musical theatre repertoire. Its evolution began in the late 1960s with the emergence of the rock musical phenomenon and the early musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Belting is a musical theatre singing technique that achieves specific vocal tone qualities derived from speechlike tones. These tone qualities can resonate through a performance space without the use of amplification.

Belting technique has also evolved to support the singing of musical theatre repertoire that requires an extended male vocal tessitura and honest communication of text. The advance of belting as a legitimate vocal technique has been a continuous journey of discovery in the studio and performance realms. As of this writing, there is no published academic text on the subject of male belting.

Male belting is thyroarytenoid dominant vocal production (TDP); in other words, it is chest register-dominant singing carried above the passaggio/break with speech-like production. When belting, the vocal tract assumes a shape that resembles normal speech, resulting in a brighter sound quality due to a lower soft palette.

The first part of the document will offer a brief history of shows and people that were critical to the origin and development of musical theatre styles. The second part of the document will focus on sound expectations, emerging musical theatre vocal styles and pedagogical advances in musical theatre technique from the late 1960s through contemporary musical theatre repertoire. Specifically, it will discuss how musical theatre repertoire influenced the development of vocal technique and vocal styles of the male belt voice.

In addition to published sources, this paper will include information from interviews and masterclasses with international colleagues who have proven critical to the understanding and evolution of male belting during the last thirty years. Musical examples will illustrate important musical pieces, vocal exercises, and information as appropriate.

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