Pietro Reggio on the Fundamentals of Singing
‘Many great lovers of Singing are discouraged from Learning for want of a good Voice; which by experience I know they ought not to be, the worst Voice imaginable, being improvable by a frequent exercise of it in an artificial manner.
The First thing I would have a Schollar to observe, is to be very carefull of tuning his Notes right; that being the foundation of singing true, for though a man has the best Voice in the world, he had better be silent with it, than by singing out of Tune, make himself ridiculous to any judicious Company.
That which we should in the next place observe, is how to Humour any Song. If the Song be in a flat [minor] Key I would have him put forth his Voice somewhat lowd; (sharp notes require a brisk way in the singing of them) not stretch it with all his strength; for beside the unpleasantness of such an unbridled noise, it may prove dangerous the the Opticks, if frequently used: the Natural cause thereof, I shall not now insist upon; but the Truth of it, is evident, in Trumpeters, Cornet-winders, and those who by putting their Lungs to such hard service, in the hasty fetching of breath, bring blindness upon themselves, before old age.’
Pietro Reggio, The Art of Singing (Oxford: Leonard Lichfield, 1677).
The image below was painted between 1618 and 1628 by the Dutch artist Gerard van Honthorst.