A voice sounds like a violin?
We all seem to accept the sound of the violin as a musically artistic form of the human voice. But is it possible that some
human music (and voices) are musically artistic forms of the sound of the violin?
Here's one example: Cecilia Bartoli sings Porpora
Ms Bartoli is amazing!
Certainly no human can have the same speed and precision of fingers upon violin, nor the same kind of vibrato. Perhaps I should have added the word "inspired." Are some pieces of music and/or singers "inspired" by the sound of the violin?
Frank Sinatra listened to Heifetz to get ideas about his phrasing.
Folks have said that the tenor Jonas Kaufmann reminds them of the 'cello
This whole conceit about "sounding like the human voice", and all its variants is not only not true but I think it's potentially a distraction.
Sometimes what inspires us surpasses reality...
The sound of the violin and the sound of the human voice are certainly not the same exact thing. Violin is not the same thing as voice. Any great art form incorporates many, many things, and certainly one of the two we are talking about is very likely to incorporate aspects of the other. And, yes, of course, when all is said and done, each is a unique art form. It just seems to me that voice may incorporate some aspects of violin, and vice-versa. It doesn't mean they're identical. Is that so terrible?
Maybe Caruso and Elman have the answer:
Whether singing or playing, our style, tone, accentuation etc can come from a common source, rather than one inspiring the other.
Excellent articulation about what I think we would all agree is a genuine and significant aesthetic subtlety, no matter what our final conclusions about it.
It's natural that we look to the human voice as "the" instrument to be modeled by various contraptions such as violins. In my opinion the instrument that most closely resembles the human voice is the cello, although I think a case can be made for the erhu.*
Bobby McFerrin Bach A minor (1st movement)
Love that McFerrin video!
Yeah, McFerrin is great. I have a singer friend who does that kind of stuff. Not as well as McFerrin, but he does pretty darned well for an amateur.
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson was a mezzo whose singing was influenced by her previous career as a violist.
There’s a scene in “From Mao to Mozart” where a young girl plays for Isaac Stern. Her playing is technically proficient but very mechanical and lifeless. Stern stops her and asks her to sing the melody she’s playing. Understandably, she feels awkward suddenly being asked to sing in front of an audience, yet once she starts to sing, the melody immediately begins to have the character that was missing from her playing. Stern points this out to her and gets her to play again with that idea in mind, and the playing improves right away.
McFerrin's dad was an opera singer.
And of course in India there's a movement to oust Western instruments - the harmonium has disappeared from many places as a result - but the violin is so good at imitating the human vice that it is unlikely ever to go.
Fortunately, unlike the human voice, the violin is incapable of giving political speeches. This should insure its popularity for years to come.
One important distinction between the human voice and the violin (or the cello/viola) that has not been mentioned is breath. The violin is independent of breathing*; the melody can go on ad infinitum without the fiddler dying from lack of oxygen.
Circular breathing is possible on the oboe (it is standard technique on the didgeridoo), but it is only ever used in ultramodern pieces by people such as Berio.
I think that an equal or better case can be made that the singer's voice is like a double-reed instrument: oboe, bassoon. It takes a minimum amount of force to start the two closed reeds, two vocal chords, vibrating. After that, it takes very little air flow to hold a note, unlike the clarinet, or violin, just constant "support". If they try to play/sing too soft, the sound can cut out.