as much as I appreciate the effort…

…of the regulars at forums like The Range Place, there is something that I am strongly against.

It’s trying to classify non-classical music singers according to operatic Fach. It just wasn’t meant to be done, period.

These attempts just lead to holy wars an’stuff.

Of course, maybe holy wars are exactly what they all are after… but – you’re only a “tenor” or a “mezzo”, let alone a “countertenor” or a “lyrical contralto”, if you sing classical music. Because a Fach is not a random combination of range/tessitura/timbre, it also means very specific technique that is gained from very specific training and leads to very specific sound. Everything’s codified in the world of opera.

There is a related “SATB” classification of choir parts. Soprano/alto/tenor/bass. It’s closer to what “pop culture” means when bandying these terms around (this time, it’s more about ranges than anything else), but still. It’s a different thing, again.

Natural languages are bad enough as they are, ambiguity an’stuff. Terms, well… let them be a safe haven.


6 thoughts on “as much as I appreciate the effort…

  1. Everything’s codified in the world of opera.

    Which, is why I don’t like ‘opera’…

    To me it seems that opera is more about the ‘rules’ than anything else. It’s become it’s own special brand of crazy.

    1. It’s long been like that; for over a century, at least. I believe that art, unlike social life, is where keeping traditions alive, however quirky they are, is a great thing. It’s like more well-honed tools to choose from.

      Some people have voices that work great for the Fach system; it means they can excel at performing in this style and find respect for their skills and even financial success. Others – who may be artistically more eclectic, or whose voices just don’t fit – can still borrow the technical elements they require, knowing that these elements are built upon solid foundations that have a several centuries’ history, and hence a lot of information is available.

      It’s not the same with, say, metal vocals – the basis of which you can build off either classical or folk training because breathing and resonance are what they are, but the technical background for correctly executing the ‘raspy’ parts is underresearched to this day. Those metal singers that last for decades have intuitively lucked upon correct techniques; others blow their voices out damn fast. And not every successful singer can become a teacher. Some literally have no idea how they are doing it.

      1. I used to be in the ‘industry’…live audio/recording studio. I’ve seen it all.

        Maybe it’s the personalities…but the ‘opera’ crowd has always annoyed the hell out of me. Too many ‘prissy’, ‘I’m better than you.’ types. One of my favorite days was rubbing that ‘prissiness’ back in a ‘prima donna’s’ face (and no, she wasn’t really…except in her own mind). Not too proud about nearly reducing a grown woman to tears…but it sure felt damn good to burst her bubble.

        Probably too many don’t even really know why things are the way they are…they just blindly follow the ‘rules’ without even understanding them. It’s like stamp them all out of the same mold and everything will be perfect (hmmm…sounds a lot like the ‘make art button/DSCreative/Reality’ crowd).

        As to metal singers…yes, because the technique has not only not been underresearched, in many areas, it has been completely frowned upon and thought of as ‘wrong’/’bad’, it is seen as ‘inferior’. Really???

        1. Yeah, I know about the ‘dark side’, too. I wanted to be a musician for a long time, though I never was considered good enough to be admitted into any school. But I persevered on my own. As a consequence, had my own share of fights with the type you describe. Some of the ‘classical’ students would dismiss even their ‘folk’ colleagues studying across the hall as ‘inferior’. And then some more fights with the same sort of people, but in the “rock” crowd. Who’d go that any schooling is fer sissies.

          When I thought about going ‘pro’ as a writer and tried hanging around with writers real and wannabe, and later ‘branched out’ into visual arts… you get it. The same holier-than-thou mentality. Actually science isn’t free from it, either.

          It’s not the ‘what’, it’s the ‘who’. And way too many people, regardless of their racket, have minds about as broad as a damn good razor. If only they were half as sharp.

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