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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Despite its cursory description by Leonard Ratner and its outright dismissal by Raymond Monelle, the “singing style” is frequently evoked by analysts referring loosely (and often contradictorily) to song-like qualities. This chapter presents the singing style within the wider discourse, culture, and practice surrounding eighteenth-century songs and singing. Contemporary discussions of vocal composition (Johann Mattheson, Heinrich Christoph Koch) and vocal performance (Pier Francesco Tosi, in translations with commentaries by John Ernest Galliard and Johann Friedrich Agricola) involve a range of musical qualities but share a focus on intelligibility and accessibility. Contemporary poetry, literature, and criticism may connect singing to femininity, amateurism, domesticity, nature, beauty, or sociability, but retain similar connotations of simplicity, purity, and directness. The singing style can thus be understood as centered on comprehensibility, an extra-musical quality that is available to migrate to instrumental music under many guises.

Keywords: singing style, comprehensibility, Heinrich Christoph Koch, Johann Mattheson, Pier Francesco Tosi, John Ernest Galliard, Johann Friedrich Agricola

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