New scientific study confirms the obvious: Freddie Mercury had an unparalleled singing voice

New scientific study confirms the obvious: Freddie Mercury had an unparalleled singing voice

Regardless of what they might think personally about Queen, most rock critics and music fans alike recognize the immense vocal talent that was the great Freddie Mercury. Still, in case there was ever any doubt, new analysis of both Mercury’s singing and speaking voices has shed fresh light on just how special his pipes really were.A group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers conducted the research, the results of which were published on Friday in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology (via AlphaGalileo). While they couldn’t confirm the long-held belief that Mercury’s range spanned four full octaves, they did discover some interesting tidbits about the expanse of his voice. For one, despite being known largely as a tenor, he was more likely a baritone. They based this assumption off six interviews they analyzed to find a median speaking fundamental frequency of 117.3 Hz. That, coupled with anecdotal evidence that Mercury once turned down an opera duet because he was afraid fans wouldn’t recognize his baritone voice, led the conclusion that the singer was talented enough to jump out of his base range. Continue reading

How Music Helps Us Grieve

How Music Helps Us Grieve

“The springs of our reaction to music lie deeper than thought.”

How Music Helps Us Grieve

Scientists now believe that language and music co-evolved to simulate the most abiding truths of nature. Indeed, for as long as we’ve been able to articulate the human experience, we’ve made music about the most inarticulable parts of it and then used language to extol music’s power — nowhere more beautifully than in Aldous Huxley’s 1931 meditation on how music stirs the soul, in which he asserted that music’s greatest potency lies in expressing the inexpressible.

This, perhaps, is why music is so sublime a solace when it comes to the most inexpressible of human emotions: grief. Continue reading

Johnny Cash’s “Million Dollar Songwriter Circle”

Johnny Cash’s “Million Dollar Songwriter Circle”

 

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You’ve all heard about the “Million Dollar Quartet”—the recording session at Memphis’s legendary Sun Studios on December 4th, 1956 that compiled the talent of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Well if there was an equivalent to the Million Dollar Quartet in the songwriting world, it would be the one night in January of 1969 when Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, and Shel Silverstein all spent an evening at Johnny Cash’s home in Hendersonville, TN on the banks of Old Hickory Lake, swapping songs and stories from their respective spheres of the music world. The music that was showcased for the first time ever at the intimate songwriter circle became the soundtrack for a generation, and the gathering would go down in history as one of the most potent assemblages of songs showcased for the first time in one place. Continue reading

Technology and the violin

Technology and the violin

Modern violins, violas, cellos and bass instruments owe much of their design heritage to their early forebear, the viol.  The viol was, in itself, a tremendous technological leap forward in bowed stringed instrument design over it’s 13th century contemporaries like rebecs, Byzantine lira (or lūrā) and Arabic rebabs which were the popular bowed instruments of the day.  By utilizing a carved top, back, and planed side ribs, as well as the introduction of the soundpost, the construction of the viol in the 15th century allowed for a sweeter, brighter sound than was previously possible with earlier instruments, and by that time Europe had grown tired of the harsh tone produced by the rebec. Chaucer’s Friar in The Canterbury Tales comments that a woman’s voice was “shrill lyke a rebekke,” Continue reading

Clara Rockmore and the Theremin

Clara Rockmore: Story of the theremin virtuoso who inspired Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones

Clara Rockmore was a pioneer of electronic music and, had she still been alive, would have turned 105 today.

Rockmore was a master of the theremin – the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched. The theremin inspired the likes of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys. And was the instrument that led to the creation of the first synthesizer.

On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody. Continue reading

Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock Pen an Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists

Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock Pen an Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists

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Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock have been friends for over forty years. In the pursuit of their art, they’ve shattered boundaries previously believed unbreakable, they’ve revolutionized the concept of innovation, and have chosen to make the endeavor of living compassionately and courageously the center of their lives.

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Stop Trying to Sound Like Broadway Cast Recordings

Have you ever listened to a song on a Broadway cast recording and thought, “This singing sounds almost TOO perfect”? That’s because, in many cases, it is. Just as nearly all pop singles today are heavily edited, mixed, compressed, equalized, etc. before release, so too are the songs on the vast majority of Broadway recordings. That may seem like a common sense statement, but the implications are wide-reaching for us as performers and teachers. Dr. Matthew Edwards, a Professor of Voice and Musical Theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory, explains further: Continue reading

The last Stradivarius guitar

The Only Playable Stradivarius Guitar Left in the World “The Sabionari” Made in 1679

Rolf Lislevand plays A.Stradivari’s 1679 “Sabionari” guitar

Legendery Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in his field, constructing the world’s finest violins that today are sold for millions of dollars.

In his lifetime he (and the Stradivari family) produced over 1000 instruments, of which 960 were violins, however a small number of guitars were also crafted, and as of today only one remains playable. Continue reading

Dozens Of Covers Later, ‘Hallelujah’ Endures

Dozens Of Covers Later, ‘Hallelujah’ Endures

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Rufus Wainwright performs in London earlier this year. His cover of "Hallelujah" is among the best-known versions of the oft-interpreted Leonard Cohen song.

Rufus Wainwright performs in London earlier this year. His cover of “Hallelujah” is among the best-known versions of the oft-interpreted Leonard Cohen song.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

There are songs, and then there are anthems.

One of those anthems is the subject of music journalist Alan Light’s new book, The Holy Or The Broken. Continue reading