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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Following an initiative of the early 1990s, the majority of United Kingdom cathedrals now have girl as well as boy cathedral choristers, often alternating in the singing of the daily services. One of the original political challenges in this musico-cultural initiative was whether or not it was possible for girl choristers to attain the same vocal quality as their male counterparts. Empirical studies, however, suggest that there is considerable overlap between the psycho-acoustic vocal features of girls’ and boys’ singing, such that it is often difficult perceptually to distinguish between the two, particularly for the relatively naïve listener. Moreover, the music repertoire usually reaches across gender. The chapter provides an overview of these recent developments and explores how the musical director can best shape the vocal products of their choristers, while being sensitive to particular vocal production issues that relate to the development of girls’ voices.

Keywords: girls’ voices, choristers, United Kingdom, cathedral choristers, psycho-acoustic vocal features, gender

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