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On the Art of Singing$
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Richard Miller

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195098259.001.0001

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Pop Music, Non-Western European Vocal Styles, and Efficient Vocal Function

Pop Music, Non-Western European Vocal Styles, and Efficient Vocal Function

37 Pop Music, Non-Western European Vocal Styles, and Efficient Vocal Function
On the Art of Singing

Richard Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers popular music in relation to non-Western European vocal style and vocal function. Much of Western art owes its characteristics to a commitment to beauty, strength, and health stemming from classic Greece. In recent decades, the pop music culture has largely forsaken the historic precepts of vocal timbre and musical structure in favor of other values. That aesthetic commitment becomes apparent when one looks at the history of the solo voice as it has developed in the Western world over the past four centuries. The technical skills mandated by serious vocal literature (and even of much traditional popular music) require excellent physical coordination of the vocal instrument. Demands of range, tessitura, sostenuto, agility, dynamic control, and vocal coloration can be met in this literature only by healthy vocalism in response to an ideal of beautiful timbre undergirded by physical strength. This chapter suggests that the most efficient vocalism is the healthiest vocalism, and that what we call “beautiful timbre” is its logical result.

Keywords:   popular music, vocal style, vocal function, vocal timbre, solo voice, vocal instrument, vocalism, beautiful timbre

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