The Human Voice
Hi all, I attended a Christmas festival concert at a nearby private college over the weekend and once again I left so envious of their choirs and singers. The concert was populated almost entirely of choir pieces sung by small and large ensembles as this is this college's specialty.
I never felt so inadequate as a violinist, wanting to sing instead of play.
There really is nothing like the human voice is there? It is transcendental. Instrumentalists pale in comparison. After all what do our teachers tell us to do - play it as if you were to sing it?
But I have confidence there are similar culminating moments in the violin/ string repertoire: ranging from simple solos to symphonic concertos to chamber music. What moments in violin playing are seminal to you?
For me, the only one that comes to mind to match and possibly surpass what I heard over the weekend is in a Beethoven string quartet: the famous "Thanksgiving" movement, opus 132. There are concertos, sonatas, quartets, and solos that I know of that are great, but in my opinion, they don't surpass.
Anything lyrical is sort of like the human voice, but both instruments and human voices together are what make music a pleasure to listen to.
I think that they both shine in their own ways. There are many things a violin can do that a voice cannot and vice versa.
I do love to sing but I'm not sure I agree. There are *so* many marvelous climactic moments in classical literature that give me goosebumps, still, even after years of familiarity with them. (Maybe I'm just a sap, but on a semi-regular basis some piece of music will bring me literally to tears––and not just because I'm attempting and failing to play it!)
Janacek knew a thing or two about the human voice and put plenty of it into his string quartets which have always sent me into raptures (unfortunately not playing but listening). Also his violin sonata slow movement. I swear when I did perform it a few years ago I heard a sob from a lady in the front row. Practically buckled my knees.
As a viola maker, I find interesting studying the human voice and comparing it to the sound of the instruments. After all, the violin family was created to emulate the human voice.
I distinctly remember the reason I took up the violin: I loved singing but my voice was terrible, so I wanted the violin to be my voice :)
Many of the pieces that I've found have this vocal quality have the title "serenade for strings". Elgar, Dvorak, and Suk come to mind.
@ that's why I only sing in the car when no one is around. My voice is about as comforting as fingernails down a chalkboard. And probably one of the reasons I've leaned to the violin, I need a good voice that can express everything.
I sing, therefor I always hear human voices when play violin, especially pieces by composers who also wrote great vocal music. For instance, when I play Bach, I hear this choral music; Handel and Mozart, their operas; Brahms and Schubert, their lieders.
In my opinion, the violin is more of a substitute than a complement to the human voice: it’s a rarity to see someone both playing violin and singing at the same time, unlike pianists and guitarists who can do both (posture when playing is of course one reason).
I started the viola when my fairly decent choral scholar's treble voice broke...
This is like comparing apples to oranges... yet, I have to admit that no instrument beats the human voice. Singers are in natural advantage, since they can easily use non-verbal elements, such as gasps, to enhance emotional context and message. Moreover, they can act while singing and use body language, which also helps to convey the message. Text / singed speech is close to cognitive / emotional processing and can strike us on the spot.
I like the range of the violin & the various things it can do that the voice cannot, but have to agree it's more of an imitation of the voice. Singing is probably where this whole 'music' thing started anyway...
I just find it hard to believe that there could be a superior instrument. At least when we are talking about ones that have made it into the canon and have continued to be mass-produced. For each thing Rocky stated that makes a voice "superior", I could find just as many favorable things that a violin, or some other instrument could do. Violinists can also use their body language to act out the music. Maybe we are just somewhat biased toward the voice, because, after all, it is part of our own body. Also, there are so many violinistic things that bear little if any resemblance to a voice ( I would love it if someone could show me a good vocal rendition of bariolage, or of tremolo).
Well, when playing double stops?
It maybe worthwhile to note that an individual human's vocal range can surpass the near 4.5 octaves on the violin, both in lower and upper bounds. But such humans are rare.
Will: "it’s a rarity to see someone both playing violin and singing at the same time, unlike pianists and guitarists who can do both (posture when playing is of course one reason)."
Han, are you saying you can sing and play at the same time, Wow. I think that tops Lindsey Stirling's dancing and playing!
Han, if you ever got married to Lindsey Stirling, your child could be capable of singing, dancing, and playing the violin at the same time :D
Haha, I admit that I tried dancing while playing after watching Lindsey videos, but I quickly decided that that wasn't for me. :) Playing-singing unisono was hard initially, but I got it with a couple of days practice. I practiced much harder on duets, but without much success.
If you want to sing and play at the same time, play guitar, bass, or piano. Violin and voice lessons can complement each other very well, Singing helps connect the dots; the sustained long line. Learning a string instrument helps a singer's intonation and interval-sense. Breath control is analogous to bow control. Air flow = bow speed. Support = weight. Placement = point of contact. I have been fortunate to be employed in a genre where the violinist also sings - Mariachi.
Hi everyone, I find the vibrato of soprano is similar to vibrato on violin, and find people who love violin also enjoy singing, melody flows from heart, truly.
Hi Will Willy, what you said coincided with what I have thought about instruments, piano and guitar are polyphonic instruments with more than one part of melody carried at the same time, while violin is similar to human voice or oboe, with only one part of melody (double stop in violin is not like polyphonic two lines in piano), hence if we put human voice and violin together it seems not harmonious, the better form is polyphonic instrument plus melodic one, for example piano plus soprano, piano plus violin, harp plus violin or other string instruments...
Tutti, That’s interesting. In my layman terms, it’s the continuity of the sound of violin (or oboe, flute) vs the discrete notes on the guitar and piano, if I understood your idea correctly.
I prefer the violin for its uniqueness-it can "emulate" voice while adding so much more. Its "vocal range" is incredible. You can also achieve "vocal effects" that singers simply can't (like singing a duo or playing a fugue with just one instrument-one voice cannot "double-stop.")
Adalberto, you bring up some valid points and interesting points.
Some of us are forgetting half of the reason why singers can have such a strong impact, connection with the audience--the text! As instrumentalists we naturally focus on the pitch, too many classical singers have poor diction, and English is a minority language for singers, after Italian, German, French.
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