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RARB/CASA Forums • View topic - Incognita Review

Incognita Review

Discuss our reviews or just talk about any old album.

Postby Binks » Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:08 pm

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Postby Mahka » Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:23 am

Thanks Deke for the great points, and Binks, thanks for your gracious concession.

That being said, from my own perspective and from running three years of auditions at a school that almost has an Asian plurality (yay for no group even having a majority!), the Asian (Mongoloid), non-trained (and even some trained!) voice does in fact produce a darker, more "back-of-throat" tone. Even for myself, I usually can't reproduce the forward, edgier tone that the Caucasian (Caucasoid) members of the group can even though I try and work at clarifying my tone.

In a way, and again, not to be offensive, I've found that those of African (Africoid/Negroid, depending on which Anthro book you've picked up) descent also have more forward, sharp/edgy tone. An easy way to hear these differences is to listen to recordings of tribal African music and compare that to those of say, Tahiti/Polynesia, the natives of who are classified as Mongoloids. Even when comparing similar style pieces (large a cappella choirs in songs of celebration, etc.), there's a fundamental differnce in the tone quality.

Such observations could definitely lend credence to genetic dispositions towards different builds of vocal cords. Maybe we have a biological anthropologist here? I'm racking my brain trying to think of a possible biocultural evolution explanation, but seeing as it's nearly 2am, I'm drawing a blank. Perhaps something to do with needs to communicate vocally over great distances? A darker tone may resonate better in mountains, which are rather prevalent in Asia, while a brighter tone carries farther over plains? Just throwing out ideas.

But as a result, as Deke and Matt mentioned, there are ways to turn these to an advantage. Although my group was composed of Asians and "Whites" while I was there, we usually ended up giving mellower, ballad-like solos to someone of Asian descent while some of the more energetic, pop/rock songs went to the white folk. Granted, this wasn't always the case (like every situation, there are exceptions), but looking back over solo assignments, it did end up this way.[/i]
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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:35 am

Here's a question: how would it be possible for there to be a strong noticable difference in singing voice whereas speaking voice shows no difference at all?

I live in a neighborhood and a city and a region of the country that's 1/3rd Asian. Of course I'll hear an accent in a recent immigrant, and perhaps a slight inflection difference in a child raised here by an immigrant, but I cannot say with an extremely large, ongoing sampling that I've ever noticed a sonic difference in an Asian voice.

Consider Sandy Allen, who is Asian and sang a lead role in "Flower Drum Song:" she sounded 100% caucasion to my ear (and fantastic) . Of course, sampling size of one is completely moot for this discussion, but I have to say, listing to BOCA, I've never once said to myself "that person sounds Asian." I have said "That person sounds Black," but that doesn't always relate to skin color; phrasing, inflection, etc. all seem to be involved there.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't hear it. I'm not denying it's possible, but if it exists I'd look first to cultural "nurture" reasons before physical "nature" ones.

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Postby jthelegend » Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:34 am

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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:12 am

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Postby armstrong » Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:39 am

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Postby jthelegend » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:15 am

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Postby mattootb » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:53 am

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Postby brianhaverkate » Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:41 pm

Good points taken and digested all around. I can't help feeling like I'm in "Teaching Multi-Cultural Students of Today" music ed course! ha.

I was a part of an 80-person choral group at Florida State and all of these different ethnic sounds were talked about on a daily basis. Not only that, but you had members of the choir who regularly played leads in the opera who were told in front of the choir, "this is not an opera, lose the huge vibrato and listen to modify with the rest of the group!" Depending on the literature, the white kids were too bright and nasal, the black kids where too dark and throaty, the hispanic kids were lazy with their consonants, etc. No one had a problem with it (at least not publicly) and the choir was better for it because we modified our unique sounds to create vowels and consonants shaped and attacked the same way. The white kids gravitated towards a darker throatier sound on the spiritual and gospel literature, the black kids leaned toward a white anglo sound on the Bach motets, etc.

If you are doing an Asian Pop song and the white kid in your group can modify their sound to match the recording and sound closer than any Asian member of the group...then I guess they get the solo, right?

The bigger question here (and one that I've quietly questioned along the way) is... SHOULD we be having students of other cultures modify their sound to match ours, or would we end up with a more unique sound without the modification???

Taking ethnicity and race out of it altogether. Are you doing a service or diservice to the song by having a soloist sound exactly the same as the recording? I'm white and Jason Mraz is white too, but I'd have to work pretty damn hard to sound like him.

I think this country's yearning to sound exactly like the original is ultimately contributing to the aweful Jekyl and Hyde sounds Deke was referring to when he was contrasting a person's spoken vs. singing voice. For example I had a little 6th grade student this year who decided she was going to audition for the solo part in Season's of Love from Rent (which we were working on in class at the time). She had been doing great work for me all year and had a very age-appropriate sound singing with the choir, so I wasn't worried. When the time came to audition, she morphed into a singer trying to mimic the recording and was ultimately unsuccessful. It turned into a wonderful teaching point, however.

Furthermore, should our arrangements be exact duplications or should we utilize our unique upbringing and music training. What if I felt it would be really cool to do a Beach Boys version of Bring Me To Life? I was brought up on the oldies. Should I avoid this creative thought because it would be a different sound than what is expected? I don't know.
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Postby Mahka » Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:00 pm

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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:26 pm

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Postby jesset » Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:51 pm

Deke makes me laugh at work and causes my co-workers to look at me funny.

Keep in mind that Celine Dion is French Canadian, the accents of whom are worlds apart from the European French. (To the degree that European French speakers have severe difficult understanding the rural Quebecois accents)

Her, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain...us Canucks have way too many musical strikes against us.

I suppose there's always The Guess Who.
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Postby borski » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:32 pm

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Postby jesset » Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:10 pm

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original review comment

Postby randomval » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:29 pm

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