The sequel to How High Should Boys Sing? and thoroughly in tune with the living boys of today, this book is a detailed empirical study of how they grow, how their voices work at different stages of growth and how they want to use them. Intrigued by the fact that boys are almost never chosen for historically informed performance, I see the relationship between dead composers and living boys to be in need of development.
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The world of publishing has changed almost beyond recognition since How High Should Boys Sing? was published in 2009. This new book is open source, which means it is free to read. You can read it on-line, where you will have the advantage of hearing sound samples and accessing other interactive features, or you can download it as a .pdf which is yours to keep and read off-line. Highly specialised titles such as this are very expensive to produce in traditional form. Open source material reaches a much wider audience.
Much of the material in this book is derived from my peer reviewed articles. Each chapter has also been newly reviewed by an expert in the material covered by the chapter. This results in a more comprehensive and targeted review process than that provided by orthodox publishing.
Hear what you read about
For literally centuries, traditional text books have asked their readers to imagine the sounds they hear. Much of what we hear when we listen to boys singing is subjective. The sound samples that are possible with digital platforms enable you to make your own judgements.
Once adolescence is reached, boys become not hapless victims of biology but possessors of a considerable degree of choice over their singing range. Furthermore, as the title implies, the relationship between boys alive today and composers who wrote music anything up to 600 years ago is challenged by new levels of understanding gained during recent decades. The twenty-first century boy is less deferential and more inclined to exercise his own agency. He may be less willing to sing in the range specified by a composer of the past, or his teacher may advise him against doing so.
This book addresses matters of significant interest for education, performance, and musicology, the more so since the lifting of the prohibition of young women and girls in public performance of those works. Are boy trebles still needed at all? Could young adolescent boys be doing something different with their voices?
The answer is constructed around two unique and ground-breaking studies – a clinical investigation of the relationship between adolescent voice and endocrinology, and a field study of young singers. Clinical investigations of voice and endocrinology are rare because measurements that would be unacceptably intrusive outside the paediatric clinic are required. Field studies across multiple settings are relatively rare. Field studies conducted longitudinally rarer still if not unique. The study tracked physical growth, vocal development, and functioning, together with cultural attitudes and choices from ages ten to twenty.