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Purer but not better

Voices versus instruments in the classical setting

Tongan vocalists
Tongan vocalists
Video:

Tongan Seasonal Workers Choir - Mafasia

The importance of human voices coming together has become less and less valued. There was a time when voices coming together was much more important to society.

There is a coming together in a choir that doesn’t happen even in a band or orchestra. A choir is several human voices becoming one for no other reason than creating something together. A choir is using biological instruments instead of technological instruments, such as a trumpet or violin. I think it’s just a little purer.

Every voice is different but every violin sounds the same within a small range. The resonating chamber of every violin is the same. The resonating chamber of every soprano is different.

If two trumpeters play the same part one after the othe,r there will be a slight variation in quality — provided they are both proficient players. If two tenors sing the same part one after the other, the quality of the sound will be much different even though the pitches are the same.

Every orchestra, if they have the ability to play the correct pitches — in tune — has a basic sound that doesn’t deviate very far. It takes a special ear to be able to hear the difference between the Berlin Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Each has a distinct sound if you know what to listen for.

With choirs the range of sound can be immense and obvious, even at the highest levels, based on the quality of the voices in the choir and how they are produced.

There are even different traditions which produce different sounds. A choir from England will sound different than a choir from Russia, which will sound different than a Tongan choir.

Orchestras from those three traditions would sound similar.

With instruments, there is the instrument’s sound, and then the musician’s ability to bring music out of the instrument. With voices there is a biological difference between each voice and then the ability of the singer to bring music out of themselves.

I’m not suggesting that vocal music is superior to instrumental music; I’m just suggesting it is purer. Kind of like cycling versus running. Running is a slightly purer form of activity because of the lack of technology.

That is not to say running is better. A cyclist can go further and faster than a runner in the same way a violinist can play faster and longer than a singer.

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Tongan vocalists
Tongan vocalists
Video:

Tongan Seasonal Workers Choir - Mafasia

The importance of human voices coming together has become less and less valued. There was a time when voices coming together was much more important to society.

There is a coming together in a choir that doesn’t happen even in a band or orchestra. A choir is several human voices becoming one for no other reason than creating something together. A choir is using biological instruments instead of technological instruments, such as a trumpet or violin. I think it’s just a little purer.

Every voice is different but every violin sounds the same within a small range. The resonating chamber of every violin is the same. The resonating chamber of every soprano is different.

If two trumpeters play the same part one after the othe,r there will be a slight variation in quality — provided they are both proficient players. If two tenors sing the same part one after the other, the quality of the sound will be much different even though the pitches are the same.

Every orchestra, if they have the ability to play the correct pitches — in tune — has a basic sound that doesn’t deviate very far. It takes a special ear to be able to hear the difference between the Berlin Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Each has a distinct sound if you know what to listen for.

With choirs the range of sound can be immense and obvious, even at the highest levels, based on the quality of the voices in the choir and how they are produced.

There are even different traditions which produce different sounds. A choir from England will sound different than a choir from Russia, which will sound different than a Tongan choir.

Orchestras from those three traditions would sound similar.

With instruments, there is the instrument’s sound, and then the musician’s ability to bring music out of the instrument. With voices there is a biological difference between each voice and then the ability of the singer to bring music out of themselves.

I’m not suggesting that vocal music is superior to instrumental music; I’m just suggesting it is purer. Kind of like cycling versus running. Running is a slightly purer form of activity because of the lack of technology.

That is not to say running is better. A cyclist can go further and faster than a runner in the same way a violinist can play faster and longer than a singer.

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Comments
1

Thanks for sharing this! Stunning and stirring sounds...magnificent.

July 20, 2015

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