This chapter reviews several studies of singing in different styles. The studies reveal that the differences concern all the main dimensions of phonation: F0, loudness, phonation type, and formant frequencies. Most vocal styles differ substantially from normal speech, though in quite different ways. A difficulty in describing the characteristics of the styles of singing typical of different musical genres is that the same term does not always mean the same to all experts. Some diverging results in voice research on styles of singing may perhaps emerge from such terminological issues. The author suggests that descriptions of different styles of singing should be related to objective findings on the overall phonatory and articulatory potentials of the voice.
Acting and singing have often been considered incompatible activities, but most successful operatic performances depend in part on successful acting. Acting in opera is, however, different from acting in spoken drama. Realistic characterization is often difficult to achieve when acting with music, and often the formal gestures of a more rhetorical representation are more appropriate. A more vivid style of acting was initiated with the bel canto opera early in the nineteenth century, and later verismo opera required acting that brought out the unconscious motivation of characters. Wagner, Stanislavski, and Felsenstein all developed a style of acting that reflected the psychology of the character and encouraged ensemble. Modern operatic performance incorporates a variety of styles, but a combination of realism and minimalism may be most effective on stage. Callas’s performance in Act 2 of Tosca and Nicholas Lehnhoff’s production of Parsifal are analyzed.
John M. Clum
The article points out various aspects of acting in a musical theater. The acting was not always a primary concern in the history of musical theater. Stars of musical comedy were either singers or comedians who could sing competently or who couldn't sing at all. Traditional musical comedy was a hybrid performed by specialists. The chorus was split into singers and dancers. Serious actors usually avoided the musical entirely since there was enough serious drama on Broadway to keep them busy. Operetta, extremely popular in the 1920s, was built on stock characters that include the exotic romantic leading soprano and baritone, the comic mezzo and bass, the wistful tenor, and the perky soubrette. These same characters appeared again and again in different settings and costumes. Acting was definitely secondary to quasi-operatic singing. A singing star such as Ethel Merman was expected to sing and wisecrack with the comics, which she did in a succession of musicals in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Participant-activist engagement with marginal music brings the ethnomusicologist face to face with choice of subjects, self-reflexivity, and musical value, played out in local power politics. Using phenomenological methods and dialogical processes from two case studies of Tamil Dalit (former outcaste or untouchable) folk music from her fieldwork and filmmaking in India, the author argues that engagement with the meaning and value of marginalized South Asian music forces ethnomusicologists to deconstruct local hegemonies of musical style and ethnomusicology’s contributions to their perpetuation, in fieldwork, teaching content, and academic/community programming. The chapter examines methods (including filmmaking and participant activism) to approach contexts where the oppressed use music to assert identity and cultural politics of revaluation against local hierarchies of musical value that contribute to Dalit Action Theory: that is, politicized agency of the oppressed asserted through the arts, necessitating an activist ethnographic methodology focused on collaboration, dialogue, and reciprocity.
The adult “non-singer” (“NS”) remains a common phenomenon in Western society. Until recently, it was accepted as an innate state, reflecting the dominant “can/cannot” view of human singing capacity in Western culture. However, expanding research in singing’s developmental nature has challenged this bipolar view. Evidence establishes that humans possess a species-wide facility for singing as a learned musical behavior. “NSs” who experienced arrested development as children report successful singing recovery/discovery in adulthood. “NS” is as much a socio-cultural as a musical problem, and its socio-cultural nature is contextualized. A comprehensive discussion of “NS” follows from an experiential stance, revealing the negative implications of the fixed “NS” label. A common “NS” attributional process is described, exposing the needs arising from such a socio-cultural attribution. Enablement strategies/techniques for facilitating “NS” singing re-entry are detailed and explicated. Impediments/challenges underpinning “NS” are discussed and approaches to prevent/reverse “NS” are explored.
A considerable amount of study has been devoted to the development of the adolescent male singing voice. By comparison, little attention has been given to the study of the adolescent female singing voice. However, in recent years, there has been increased interest in information regarding the girl’s voice during adolescence. In addition to providing a comparison of male and female adolescent voice change, this chapter reviews the physiological changes as well as symptoms associated with vocal development in the singing voice of adolescent girls. Further, the chapter outlines phases of vocal development as well as criteria for classification according to developmental phase. Finally, the chapter provides a review of research/literature on the topic of the female adolescent singing voice, as well as research regarding self-identity, singing, and adolescent females.
Kari K. Veblen
This article examines current research and practice in formal, nonformal, and informal learning for adult music students. In a formal setting, the teacher controls the materials, pacing, and interactions in a structured environment. Nonformal learning practices involve systematic and deliberate but less regulated pursuits that occur outside of educational structures. Informal practices comprise aspects of knowledge and skill acquisition that are largely experiential.
Advocacy and the Ethnomusicologist: Assessing Capacity, Developing Initiatives, Setting Limits, and Making Sustainable Contributions
Jeffrey A. Summit
What happens when ethnomusicologists’ experiences in the field conjoin with ethical, moral, and religious imperatives to pursue social justice and give back to the people with whom they work? This chapter addresses a set of issues and offers a project framework that ethnomusicologists might consider when moved to partner with the people whose music they study, who so generously help them and sometimes become teachers and friends. When deciding how, and if, to become involved in an advocacy initiative, it is important for the ethnomusicologist to ask a series of questions: How does one assess motivation and personal capacity when deciding if, and how, to engage in advocacy? How can one ensure that advocacy makes a real contribution? With limited time and resources—and often unlimited need—how does one determine the personal, financial, and psychological limits to advocacy? How does one evaluate if, and how, advocacy projects are sustainable?
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis. This chapter uses textual analysis of the music video “Umbrella,” featuring Rihanna, to demonstrate the intricacies of sound and image synchronization. It argues that music highlights subject positions according to the viewer’s expectations, assessment, and understanding of the displayed subject. Rihanna’s erotic imagery forms a critical point for contemplating the pop artist’s physical responses to music. One central ingredient of most video performances is disclosed by the suggestive positioning of the gendered body, which extends far beyond everyday experience. Such notions are theorized through aspects of hyperembodiment and hypersexuality, wherein the technological constructedness of the body constitutes a prime part of video production. The aesthetics of performance are predicated on the reassemblance of the body audiovisually. Editing, production, and technology shape the images, which are stimulated by musical sound, and ultimately the audiovisual flow in pop videos mediates a range of conventions that say much about our ever-evolving cultural domains.
Stephanie L. Batiste
This chapter argues that the African American dance practice of krumping editorialized in the 2005 David LaChapelle film RIZE defines a space of home as a system of feeling in early twenty-first-century Los Angeles. It offers the notion of kinetic affect as a means of understanding dancers’ charismatic formation of community within dance practice and its spaces. Krump dancing reveals a rich world of love and pain that characterizes life in black Los Angeles. The dancers’ commando-style ownership of venue, content, embodiment, and performance presentation challenge the confining spaces of ethnographic film, urban disenfranchisement, and stereotype.