The neat thing about the voice is that, while we don’t usually change the material, the shape is very flexible, and we can manipulate it to change our timbre. Overtone singing like Hefele’s takes an element of vocal sound and turns it into a new sort of instrument, inverting the typical relationship between instrument and timbre.
In a Reddit AMA session a few months ago, Bryan Cranston was asked when he thought his character on Breaking Bad broke bad. His response: “My feeling is that Walt broke bad in the very first episode. It was very subtle but he did because that’s when he decided to become someone that he’s not in order to gain financially. He made the Faustian deal at that point and everything else was a slippery slope.”
I was a sophomore in college, sitting in my morning music history course on the Romantic period, and my professor was discussing the concept of program music, which Grove Music Online defines as “Music of a narrative or descriptive kind; the term is often extended to all music that attempts to represent extra-musical concepts without resort to sung words.”
What is it about the sounds of baseball that make them musical, and so easily romanticized? In Ken Burns’ documentary Baseball, George Plimpton says that “Baseball has these absolutely unique sounds. The sounds of spring and summer….The sound of the ball against the bat is absolutely extraordinary. I don’t know any American male that doesn’t hear that in the springtime and get called back to some moment in the past.” These sounds are especially vivid in a game that’s often so quiet.
Marilyn Horne, world-renowned opera singer and recitalist, celebrated her 84th birthday on Wednesday. To acknowledge her work, not only as one of the finest singers in the world but as a mentor for young artists, I give you one of my favorite performances of hers:
One of Benjamin Britten’s strengths as a composer was writing music for children. Not just music for children to enjoy — many of his works, particularly his operas, are not really kid-friendly affairs — but for them to perform. I’m thinking particularly of choral music, where he excelled at writing songs that I found both beautiful and really fun to sing when I was very young.
The summer wedding season is in full swing and many of us will have attended a ceremony or two by the time it’s over. My little sister was married on July 15, and the months leading up to the event were very busy ones for my family members, who planned and prepared the entire event themselves.
May 12th, which falls exactly one week after last Saturday’s Supermoon, marks the 167th birthday of Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924), a composer whose best-known song was inspired by the moon. Fauré is known today as the paramount composer of the French mélodie, and his setting of the poem Clair de lune (“Moonlight”) by Paul Verlaine (1844–1896) demonstrates why his works are beloved by pianists and singers alike.