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Flos  

Mary Berry

(pl. flores) (Lat.: ‘flower’; Fr. fleuretis)

A species of vocal embellishment. Jerome of Moravia (late 13th century) gave this definition: ‘est autem flos armonicus decora vocis sive soni celerrima procellarisque vibratio’ – an ‘ornamental vibration of the voice, or a very rapid rippling of the sound’ – that is, a shake. He described three types of ‘flowers’: long, open and sudden. ‘Long flowers’ resemble a slow vibrato, taking the note a semitone above the note to be graced. ‘Open flowers’ are slow, taking the tone below. ‘Sudden flowers’ begin slowly and gradually gather speed, using the interval of a semitone. Describing these ornaments in connection with plainchant, the author warned against applying them indiscriminately. Five notes are singled out for embellishment: the first, last and penultimate notes to be graced with long flowers, the second note of the first syllable with open flowers, and the long plica with sudden flowers. Singers may insert several short notes between this ornamental plica and the next note ‘to make the melody more elegant’....

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Greer Garden

(Fr.: ‘carrying of the voice’)

In Baroque vocal and instrumental music, an appoggiatura, particularly one that resolves upwards by a tone or semitone. Deriving from late 16th-century Italian improvisatory practice – Bovicelli's Regole, passaggi di musica, madrigali et motetti passeggiati (1594/R) contains written-out examples – it became one of the most important graces of French Baroque music. In France it was rarely printed before the late 17th century, but was left to the performer to add extempore. Bacilly explained in his Remarques curieuses sur l'art de bien chanter (1668/R, 4/1681; Eng. trans., 1968) that the accessory note anticipated the beat and took value from the preceding note. Perfection, he continued, lay in its also taking ‘some of the value’ of the note of resolution, as this enabled one to linger on the accessory note.

In his Méthode claire, certaine et facile pour apprendre à chanter la musique (...

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John Rosselli

(It.: ‘first musician’)

In the 17th century, Musico meant a professional singer or musician of either sex; it later came to mean a castrato. With the decline and then the disappearance of the operatic castrato after 1800, the practice of assigning a leading male part (primo uomo) to a high voice continued from about 1800 to 1850 with a woman singing in breeches, described as primo musico (or simply musico). As with the older primo uomo part for castrato, the primo musico role was usually that of a lover or aristocratic friend (such as Tancredi in Rossini’s opera or Maffio Orsini in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia). A musico was often but not invariably a contralto or mezzo-soprano; Giulia Grisi had a contract as both prima donna and primo musico and demanded that it be rewritten to specify primo musico soprano (to Alessandro Lanari, 9 July 1830, I-Ms Coll. Casati 659)....

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John Caldwell

(Middle Eng.: ‘quadruple’; from Lat. quadruplus or quadruplex, modified by analogy with ‘treble’ from Fr. triple)

A voice or part pitched somewhat higher than the treble, occasionally designated quatriplex in polyphonic sources such as the Eton Choirbook ( GB-WRec 178). Here the usage is clearly related to the Latin quadruplum in its sense of a fourth voice, above the triplum, in a motet (Franco of Cologne: ‘Qui autem quadruplum vel quintuplum facere voluit’). In the ‘quatrebil syghte’ of improvised discant, as taught in Leonel Power’s ...

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John Caldwell

(Middle Eng.: ‘fivefold’; from Lat. quin[que] and ‘ible’)

A voice or part apparently pitched even higher than Quatreble. But the 15th-century English treatises which refer to the quatreble do not mention the quinible; and although quintuplum can mean the fifth voice of a motet, or the five-part motet itself (Franco of Cologne: ‘Qui autem quadruplum vel quintuplum facere voluit’), the English word seems to be used only in the general sense of a high-pitched song or voice (Chaucer, ...

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Sextus  

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Singing  

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 (...

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Sonovox  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Sound-effects device developed by the fiction writer and radio operator Gilbert M. Wright in Los Angeles in 1939 and manufactured by Wright-Sonovox, which was affiliated with the radio station representatives Free & Peters in Chicago. A sound is transmitted to the larynx of a trained ‘articulator’ through two earphone-sized loudspeakers that are placed against the throat; the sound is modified by movements of the tongue and lips to produce speech-like articulations. The Sonovox was much used for radio drama and films, including Walt Disney’s The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Leith Stevens’s score for the film Destination Moon (1950). The voice of Casey the Train in Walt Disney’s Dumbo (1941) was created using the Sonovox. It was very popular for radio station identifications and advertising jingles. The rock band The Who used the Sonovox on their song ‘Radio London’ (1967), in which guitar chords seem to speak the days of the week. Later it was replaced by the more versatile vocoder....

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Owen Jander

(Fr.)

A textless vocal exercise or concert piece to be sung to one or more vowels. The vocalise derives from two traditions. One dates from the early 19th century, when it became customary to perform and publish solfeggi and essercizi with piano accompaniment (e.g. Domenico Corri, The Singer's Preceptor, 1810; Manuel García, Traité complet de l’art du chant, 1840–47/R); by the middle of the century there were numerous publications of this kind. The singing instructor Heinrich Panofka, for example, published during his years in Paris five volumes of vocalises. The idea was that with a piano accompaniment even the most mechanical exercises would be performed in a more artistic manner. The other tradition was that of using existing compositions as vocal exercises without words. In 1755 Jean-Antoine Bérard provided, as a supplement to his L’art du chant, 20 compositions by Lully, Rameau and others, selected for the technical problems they offered (‘pour les sons tendres, légers, maniérés, majestueux’ etc.), and he added specific instructions as to how these problems were to be solved. In the 19th century most instruction manuals for the voice included original compositions specially composed for the same purpose: ‘melodies without words, offering the pupil a union of all the difficulties of song’ (García). Unlike the accompanied ...

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(It.: ‘chest voice’; Fr. voix de poitrine)

One of the two primary registers of the singing voice. The voice resonating from the chest is lower in pitch and bigger and darker in sound than that resonating from the head (see Voce di testa). Beginning in the 18th century, singing tutors discussed these registers at length, taking various positions on how to unite the break (...

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Sally Sanford

Unvoiced vocalization technique involving a slight adduction of the vocal folds but not enough to create pitch, while still using the articulation of normal speech. Activity in the abductor muscles (the posterior cricoarytenoid) is increased in order to prevent vocal fold vibration. There is a smaller supralaryngeal aperture than in speech, creating constriction in the larynx.

Stage whispering is a louder form of whispering that has been a part of theatrical technique at least since the mid-19th century. Quiet whispering uses about twice the airflow rate of normal speech and loud whispering uses about three times the airflow. The activity in the thryopharyngeous muscles is two times greater in stage whispering than in quiet whispering, with even greater constriction in the supralaryngeal aperture. For many actors and singers, stage whispering, which is intended to be heard by the audience, can also involve some soft phonation.

Other types of unvoiced vocalization without pitch include gasping, panting, and sighing. Gasping involves a strong, sudden intake of breath through the mouth with sufficient adduction of the vocal folds so that the inhalation is audible. In panting, both inhalation and exhalation are audible during rapid, shallow, short breaths. Sighing is an audible exhalation with a slow, gentle release of the breath....