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Owen Jander, Ellen T. Harris, David Fallows, and John Potter

Singing is a fundamental mode of musical expression. It is especially suited to the expression of specific ideas, since it is almost always linked to a text; even without words, the voice is capable of personal and identifiale utterances. It is arguably the most subtle and flexible of musical instruments, and therein lies much of the fascination of the art of singing.

Because it imparts to words a heightened expression that they do not have when merely spoken, or even declaimed in a dramatic manner without musical pitch, singing (or incantation) played a vital role in many early forms of religious ritual, and in the early theatre. Even outside religion, singing has long been held to have moral and cultural value. Aristotle quoted the bard Musaeus, ‘Song is man's sweetest joy’, and went on to warn against using musical instruments, such as the aulos, which interfere with or prevent the act of singing. Athenaeus (...