Responding to vocal music

December 22, 2010

As I was composing yesterday, listening back to the music I had written, emulated by software synthesizers inside a notation program, I noticed the difference between listening to the music as instrumental music as opposed to adding a voice to it. The voice brings it to life for humans, attuned to such timbral joy.

In a song, one can “own” the tune without a portable audio player; one can simply sing it, and, if you’re lucky, you can hear it in your mind. Music that is about “experiencing it” is difficult to reproduce in the voice or a whistle, so perhaps only educated musicians can “own” a-melodious music by hearing it in their mind, although no one could ever prove whether we actually hear the music or not.

It wouldn’t take too much research to prove that people prefer vocal music, that is, music that has a human voice in it: either solo, accompanied by other voices, or accompanied by instruments. Yes, we all also love instrumental music, but something really happens with vocal music. Our brain relates the the human voice because we have been listening to each other from the beginning of time––acoustic instruments for far less time.

Science aside, I, personally, relate strongly to vocal music, and, if left to my own devices, will write predominately vocal music for the rest of my life. I love to sing. It is a great life tonic.

Sing!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

thalkowski December 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I agree very much with your point – so much so that I often think the most lovely music is voice-only: Anonymous 4, or Kitka, or Bulgarian Women’s choir, or David Crosby’s own multi-tracked voice on his solo 1971 record, etc.

As to music being a tonic, read (if you haven’t already, Oliver Sacks’ book ‘Musicophilia’ — he presents good evidence for that argument.

Cheers!

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