THE SUBSTANCE OF STYLE: HOW SINGING CREATES SOUND IN LIEDER RECORDINGS, 1902-1939
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Plack, Rebecca Mara
In this dissertation, I examine the relationship between vocal technique and performance style through 165 audio clips of early Lieder recordings. I proceed from the starting point that many stylistic gestures are in fact grounded in a singer's habitual vocalism. Vibrato, tempo and rubato are directly affected by a singer's voice type and his physical condition, and portamento has long been a technical term as well as a stylistic one. If we consider these technical underpinnings of style, we are inevitably moved to ask: how do a singer's vocal habits affect what we perceive to be his style? Does a singer's habitual vocalism result in his being more likely to make certain style gestures, or even unable to make others? To address these questions, I begin by defining a vocabulary that draws on three sources: the language of vocal pedagogy, data derived from voice science, and evidence drawn from recordings themselves. In the process, I also consider how some Lieder singers distorted the word "technique," using it to signify emotional detachment. Next, I examine the ways in which a recording represents the performer, addressing how singers are affected by both changing aesthetics and the aging process; both of these lead to a discussion of how consistently some performers make certain stylistic gestures throughout their recordings. Finally, I offer a case study based on Schubert's song "Die Forelle" which suggests a clear link between voice type, gender and style.Whereas many academic studies of recordings are organized around contemporaneous writings on performance practices or musical meaning, this one is not. Instead, my work proceeds from the assumption that performance style is a reflection of what performers do. As such, what we typically call style may in fact be rooted in the substance of singing.
vocal technique; performance style; Lieder singers; "Die Forelle"; singing terminology; early recordings
dissertation or thesis