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date: 04 August 2020

Crooninglocked

  • Howard Goldstein

Extract

A style of popular, usually male, singing. The word is Scottish in origin: ‘croyne’, meaning a loud, deep roar, became ‘croon’, a low, murmuring sound. In the 19th century the term was associated with lullabies, and in America particularly with those of ‘black mammies’. Hence, the injunction to ‘croon a tune’ appears in Schwartz, Young and Lewis’s 1918 song, Rock-a-bye your baby with a dixie melody, made famous by Al Jolson. By the 1920s, however, the term was associated with a style of singing that arose as a response to the particular requirements of microphone, as opposed to theatre, singing. The sensitive amplification of the microphone allowed or, some might say, required singers to apply less breath to the vocal cords, resulting in an intimate and conversational sound. Singers gradually discovered as well that the microphone favoured lower-pitched voices and that the use of head or mixed chest-head voice in lower registers (where operatic and theatrical singers had used only chest) aided the production of quiet singing and equalized notes across the range....

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