A singer's guide to performing works for voice and electronics

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Date

2004-05

Authors

Montanaro, Larisa

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Abstract

Contemporary vocal music with electronics is often overlooked due to its “special needs”, such as electronic tape and compact disc accompaniments; amplification systems and microphones; processing units and samplers; and interactive computer systems. This neglect is unfortunate because music for voice and electronics provides a unique opportunity for the performer. With electronics, it is possible for a singer to perform a duet with herself in real time or alter her voice to sound like something else. She can sing with a pre-made electronic accompaniment that provides an otherworldly environment to sing in, or perhaps an alter ego to sing with. Computer systems can “listen” to the singer and respond as a real time accompanist. The incorporation of technology into a live vocal performance can be very intimidating for someone who is not well-versed in computers or hi-fidelity. But working with electronics does not require extensive knowledge about the technology – just as performing with piano does not require the ability to play the accompaniment. This document reviews the literature, performance practice, and technology required for vocal performance with electronic media. Performers will gain a better understanding of the breadth and demands of the literature and will learn to foster an appreciation for the wealth of the genre. In Part I, the historical and aesthetic significance of electronic music and the influence of the voice on its development is discussed. Part II defines and demystifies specific technical terminology and equipment specifications. Part III lists pieces for voice and electronics and provides basic information about what is needed for performance and where/how to locate the necessary materials.

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