Friday, October 1, 2010

Sing Like Sinatra!

by Stephen J. Gertz

SINATRA, Frank, in collaboration with his vocal teacher, John Quinlan.
Tips on Popular Singing. NY: Embassy Music Corp, 1941. 32 pp.

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you...*

But if you want to sing exactly like Frank Sinatra your fairy tale will probably stay just that. Yet there is hope.

Tips On Popular Singing, which, like Buddy Rich's classic Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments, was not actually written by its nominal author, is scarce. OCLC notes only six copies in institutional collections worldwide, and it appears in the marketplace like Brigadoon; only one day in a hundred years. It is a rarer than rare book. The last one to come to market that I am aware of was offered by Guernsey's Auctions in 2002, estimated price $6,000 - $8,000. It is considered to be  one of the most highly desired and coveted pieces of Sinatra memorabilia.

Title page to first British edition, 1941.
"Tips on Popular Singing by Frank Sinatra contains all that is necessary in the way of vocal instruction. All  instructive matter in this book is written in a clear, understandable manner and, if strictly followed, will be of great value to the aspiring student in the popular field." (Advertisement).
 Let's begin at the beginning:

When making a pass at Ava Gardner...
Once your mouth is where it's supposed to be, try this exercise:

Got it? "Give that boy some bread!" Use little mouth opening on GIVE, open it up a bit for THAT, still more for BOY, and close your mouth a little on BREAD - but do not chew the word, hungry though you may be: E-nun-ci-ate!

Now, take a breath. This is very important. It's the bobby-soxers that should swoon, not you.

The book contains A Word of Commendation  by Sinatra's then employer, the trombonist and Sentimental Gentleman, Tommy Dorsey. Also within are chapters on The Art of Breathing; the Care of the Throat; sixteen exercises; and Concluding Remarks:

"Now that you have concluded the foregoing exercises you will, undoubtedly, notice the marked improvement in your voice; that is, if you have followed all the instructions carefully...Remember that a good voice cannot be developed overnight, and that only through ambition, intelligence study, hard work and patience will you be able to gain perfect voice control."

"Hmmm...Open mouth a little on RING,
  A little more on A,
Further on DING,
Same another DING.
Yeah, I can make that swing!"

Cover to first British edition.
This was a very popular little book, immediately reprinted in Great Britain and Australia. A second American edition was issued in 1946.

A Concluding Remark of our own: When caring for the throat, avoid whiskey and cigarettes - do as Frank says, not as he does. He can get away with it; you can't. It's up to you, New York, New York.

Now, sit back and let Ol' Blue Eyes show you how it's done. (Mouth in Jaw-Drop position):


Content pages to Tips on Popular Singing courtesy

* Young At Heart lyrics by Carolyn Leigh.

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