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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Theatrical impersonators have long been understood to demonstrate and celebrate the transgressive powers of transvestism. But there is always more at work than dressing up; wigs and sequins are not the only technologies of transformation. Voice, too, becomes a significant technology not simply of the Self, but also of multiple intersubjectivities. Though there is a small body of literature that addresses spoken impersonation among actors, there have been no published studies of singing impersonation. In this research, the authors have sought to arrive at some preliminary methods and approaches that might be of use in such studies. In the interest of working toward a more holistic understanding of voice, they have combined ethnographic and empirical methods to illuminate how disjunctures between bodies and voices are negotiated by a Las Vegas impersonator, and how they paradoxically contribute to the construction of these performers’ own identities.

Keywords: ethnomusicology, identity, impersonation, pitch contour, spectral features, vibrato, vocal gesture, voice science, timbre, popular music

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