Monday Afternoons was a unique project that grew out of Contemporary Choral Work With Boys. Much of the research reported in that book is informed by the Thousand Voices database which includes a number of longitudinal studies of boys approaching and going through voice change. Four of these studies were selected for further and more detailed treatment as “interludes” in the book. The aim was to provide a detailed picture of the kind of singer that might be found in some of the choirs described in the book. Max Matthew (pp 41 – 44), a member of the National Boys Choir of Scotland, was selected initially to represent a young treble, which is how he is presented in the book. However, work has continued with Max, following his career as mature treble and into voice change. Monday Afternoons is the title now given to this unusually detailed case study. Conceived initially as a purely scientific investigation, many measurements of vocal and physical growth were made. Included in the voice sampling were demonstration pieces of actual singing. We decided to make these available as a glass mastered CD, which we hope those who appreciate boys’ voices will enjoy listening to – perhaps also increasing their knowledge of how the voice changes in timbre between ages ten and twelve.
What makes the science perhaps uniquely valuable is the monthly sampling frequency. Important longitudinal studies such as that of Harry Hollien have sampled somewhat less often. These have revealed much of significance, but monthly sampling promises more. Serious analysis of numerous recordings and measurements is an ongoing task of mammoth proportions, given the amount of data. It will be some time before the work is complete. But the CD album is available now for you to enjoy!
The CD Album. The CD is an album of nineteen tracks of varying style, beautifully sung by a boy treble. Its similarity to other treble albums ends there, however. Given that the album is actually the by-product of a scientific study each track has been recorded at a different age. The aim is to show different stages in the artist’s development. A boy’s voice is not static. It is constantly changing and developing. To record an album all at one time, therefore, is to miss 90% of the story – to fail to capture the real, human essence of that transitory, magical 4% of the singing life. There are delights to be discovered at each stage of development and the listener is able to appreciate how the boy voice transforms from that of a child with a certain degree of naïve charm to that of a fully mature treble with perspicacity and style. The album retails at £8 plus postage and packing.
Age 10:05. The Ash Grove
Age 11:02. Always There
Age 11:09. Agnus Dei
Age 12:00. Aus alten Marchen
Age 12:06. Come Again
Age 12:09. He Shall Feed His Flock
This CD is the outcome of a unique scientific project that followed the career of a boy “treble” from age 10:02 to the time of the ending of the “treble” voice (age 12:08 in this case). The CD contains solo tracks recorded at different stages in the singer’s development and uniquely demonstrates the subtle changes in the “treble” sound brought about by growth and maturation. It is both a source of scientific interest and a product to be enjoyed by any who appreciate the sweet singing of a young boy. There are more details of the project here.
The Story. Do read about the background to the recording of Monday Afternoons. You can download and read the story here. It’s not an academic paper and is written in everyday narrative form, with illustrations. Strange as though it may seem, and bold a claim as it is to make, just about everything reported in the academic papers and books listed on this site is somewhere in the narrative! It is hoped that readers will find the story enjoyable and accessible, but above all, informative. The album and narrative together are a must for all those who enjoy or want to know more about the boy treble voice.
Life after Monday Afternoons – the continuing story
The work with Max has continued. Given the wealth of detail and enormous amount of data gathered during the treble years, it would have been a dereliction not to continue the study during the child to adult transformation. The continuing story shows progression from the NYCOS “blue shirts” to the NYCOS “black shirts”. The “blue shirts” are the actual National Boys Choir of Scotland, whilst the “black shirts” are the continuing section for changing voices that bridges the gap between boys’ choir and the National Youth Training Choir. Max is singing in the NYCOS recordings of the OUP Emerging Voices series. Here, you can listen to how his voice changed from treble, through alto/cambiata to new baritone. The recordings below are to feature in a podcast that explains the subtleties of what is happening. However, you will probably spot the less than subtle change between ages 13:06 and 13:09 when the voice transforms from a mezzo soprano singing nearer to alto pitch to a cambiata.
Age 12:11 In the Bleak Midwinter (Holst)
Age 13:02 Heidenrosen
Age 13:02 Ich Halte Treulich Still
Age 13;06 Love Will Find Out the Way
Age 13:06 Fields of Gold
Age 13:09 Come Again