Christmas and New Year Releases
A merry Xmas to all our readers and some goodies from BKS! Back in 2013 when I was putting Contemporary Choral work with Boys together I searched through my database for four boys at different stages of development to be detailed case studies, presented as “interludes” in the book. It was always intended that video support materials would accompany these and I am delighted to announce that the first of these to become available, Interlude No. 2: William is now complete and can be viewed on this website. Eventually, when all four interludes are complete, together with a planned series on choral leadership, they will be available for purchase on a high definition DVD.
William retired as head chorister at Blackburn Cathedral in 2014 and the film includes recordings made that illustrate his progress between the ages of 11 years and ten months and 14 years and nine months. This period of course broadly covers the second half of William’s time as a chorister, from the “golden year” to the “final falsetto flourish” (and a bit beyond!) The fifteen-year-old William is seen reminiscing on his treble career – with some quite surprising results. Though barely a year had elapsed since leaving the choir he is seen already to have forgotten what his voice sounded like as a treble.
The recordings include samples of speech and reading recorded with an electroglottogram. In the film it is shown how these are linked to measurements of William’s growth in height. The falling pitch of the speaking voice is clearly shown to track the increase in height. William is seen using the Speech Test app (available through this website!) and the film uses the app terminology – “light blue shirt” for the pre-pubertal treble up to “black shirt” for the fully changed voice. Singing demonstrations are linked to these, the really important point being how the “treble” singing range is maintained even though the speaking voice is no longer in the same range.
There is mild controversy about boy altos and boy sopranos! William was the voice used in the Radio 4 Programme About the Boys. William readily recalls the “Barthel Experiment” and stands by the comments he made when interviewed for Contemporary Choral Work. No “old woman” sounds from a boy’s voice! Persuading William that his experimental recording of Gibbon’s This is the Record of John is something special proves difficult and the boy alto mission continues!
Interlude No. 1: Max is still in production. Max’s is the only one amongst the thousand odd voices of the database to have been sampled, not every three months, but every month. This possibly makes him unique in the world! His consequent accomplishments include being able to recite the phonetic speech passage Arthur the Rat entirely from memory. As with William, the original intention was to supplement a series of scientific measurements of physical and vocal growth with illustrative recordings of singing performance at each stage of development. In Max’s case, the artistic endeavour of producing performance recordings has, over the last year, eclipsed the scientific work as we decided to make the recordings publicly available as a professional CD. The result, Monday Afternoons, is available in January and retails for £8. Monday Afternoons is a unique project and a unique arts and science crossover. In order fully to appreciate what’s on offer, you will need both to buy the CD and to read the Monday Afternoons story. You can find out more here. Meanwhile, the CD is a must have for all lovers of the boy “treble” voice. You know you’ve become fascinated and can’t live without it. Pre-order it now! Max and I hope you won’t be disappointed!
And if you’re in the CD buying mood, this very morning a copy of Voices for the Future popped through my letterbox. This is the inspirational work of Gary Jones with the Warwickshire County Male Voices. “Accomplished” it calls them in the CD booklet and accomplished they certainly are. Very hot off the press, but try here: http://www.choristers.org/page/contact-us
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