Vocal Authority: Singing Style and Ideology

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Overview

Why do singers sing in the way they do? Why, for example, is western classical singing so different from pop singing? How is it that Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe could sing together? These are the kinds of questions which John Potter, a singer of international repute and himself the master of many styles, poses in this fascinating book, which is effectively a history of singing style. He finds the reasons to be primarily ideological rather than specifically musical. His book identifies particular historical 'moments of change' in singing technique and style, and relates these to a three-stage theory of style based on the relationship of singing to text. There is a substantial section on meaning in singing, and a discussion of how the transmission of meaning is enabled or inhibited by different varieties of style or technique.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… immensely stimulating … This book should encourage us, and also make us take more seriously the need for a very different type of voice.' Early Music Review

'The book brings enlightenment of some kind on each page …' Musical Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521027434
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

John Potter is editor of The Cambridge Companion to Singing (2000) and his book Tenor: History of a Voice was published in 2009. He has contributed articles to many academic journals and chapters to other books, including The Cambridge History of Medieval Music (forthcoming) and The Cambridge History of Musical Performance (2012). He is Reader Emeritus in Music at the University of York, having stepped down from his lectureship in 2010 to focus on his portfolio of freelance projects. His most recent book, published by Cambridge University Press in 2012, is A History of Singing (jointly authored with ethnomusicologist Neil Sorrell). As a singer John has partnerships with instrumentalists in various parts of the world, notably the Argentinian lutenist and vihuelist Ariel Abramovich, the American medieval harpist Jan Walters and the British electro-acoustic composer Ambrose Field. He also sings with Red Byrd, The Dowland Project, the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and German group The Sound and the Fury. His most recent venture is Cantum Pulcriorum Invenire, a research project at the University of Southampton, which will see the release of three CDs of twelfth-century music on Hyperion, and a multimedia live version with tenor Christopher O'Gorman and video artist Michael Lynch. John spent eighteen years with the Hilliard Ensemble and his complete discography runs to some 150 titles. He also coaches vocal ensembles all over the world and chairs the ensemble contest jury at the Tampere Vocal Festival (Finland).

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1 Classical ideology and the pre-history of singing 1
2 The medieval period: religion, literacy and control 14
3 The Italian baroque revolution 31
4 The development of the modern voice 47
5 Concerts, choirs and music halls 67
6 Armstrong to Sinatra: swing and sub-text 87
7 Early music and the avant-garde: twentieth-century fragmentation 113
8 Elvis Presley to rap: moments of change since the forties 133
9 Singing and social processes 158
10 Towards a theory of vocal style 190
Notes 200
List of references 206
Index 216
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