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DescriptionThis entry is concerned with the possible development of Improvised Voice Instrumental Music. Essentially, it involves the use of the human voice to imitate musical instruments realistically but at the same time producing new compositions spontaneously (ie. improvised, impromptu/on the spot pieces). This latter feature distinguishes it from ordinary melodious, and "non-melodious" Voice Instrumental Music, and is an area which can be deemed as being mainly terra incognito as far as "mainstream" music is concerned.
To many ordinary music lovers, musicians, and composers the above will at first appear to be outlandish. Evidence clearly indicates though that the human voice can be trained to imitate the sounds of musical instruments very effectively. Certain performances by a capella groups such as the Swingle Singers,the House Jacks(American) and Vocal Sampling (Cuban)are good examples of this. Indeed, there have been some "experimental" uses of it (of varying quality) via "mainstream" pop (eg. Bobby McFerrin), and classical music (eg. Gorecki who used a form of "chanting"in his famous Symphony No. 3.). Infact, the voice has not only been utilised to produce musical sounds effectively but also a whole variety of other "noises" too. The Hollywood Film Chorale Sounds Effects Choir springs to mind especially their Honda advert which involved the sounds of what a car can make in certain situations, and climes. This ofcourse was undertaken by the human voice."
DiscussionBefore going into more detail about Improvised Voice Instrumental Music it is arguably necessary for us to get some further insight on Voice Instrumental Music itself.
A.Basic Answers to Objections concerning Voice Instrumental Music.
Some people may think that effective vocalisations, or improvisations of musical instruments as being something "mad", or "too avant-garde". Au contraire, it is "natural", and challenging but has yet to attain a high degree of mainstream musical respectability.
Others might think of the whole subject as being something puerile. Again, it is not if the vocalisers concerned can create mature, and interesting sounds.
Along with good whistling (which if performed well can sound just like an instrument being played)ordinary melodious, and "non-melodious" Voice Instrumental Music is seen by some as being something which is common, and cannot be taken too seriously as a genuine art-form. Of course, people do hum (which can give an illusion of hearing many instruments at once in a band, or an orchestra even)their favourite tunes at times. This is quite "common" but it is never really developed into something better, and more artistic when perhaps it aught.This in fact requires skill, and practice, and is not as easy as it might look.
Furthermore, if most, or indeed, perhaps all the sounds of all musical instruments can be imitated then it raises the question of their necessity! Naturally, such a claim is absurd to a certain extent. Voice Instrumental Music should be seen as just another way of performing music which is both entertaining, and interesting.
B. The Emergence of Improvised Voice Instrumental Music. Basic Theory, and Practice.
Now, we shall have a somewhat brief look at melodious Improvised Voice Instrumental Music. This goes beyond Voice Instrumental Music as already indicated, and is more important. It is something which could be seriously developed. It could have important commercial implications if a cappella performers could be trained to do it successfully.
In many respects, it could represent a "revolutionary" step in the world of music because it involves musical intelligence to a very profound degree. It is spontaneous," free-form", impromptu/on the spot performances of new music which can be based on any musical style (eg. pop, baroque, jazz, renaissance, medieval, et al). It is a theory yet to be made provable by expert performers who would appear live on the public stage, on the radio, on the internet, and on television. Each performance would produce new high quality music by means of the human voice. It would be recorded for prosterity (if it is of a high professional quality), and/or even be transcribed into musical score if desired by means of specially programmed computers.
One performer could produce a simple tune be it string-like (eg.lute, guitar) piano-like, woodwind-like (eg. recorder, flute), and so on. The aim of Improvised Voice Instrumental Music is not necessarily to get an exact replication of an instrument (though purists may insist!). Rather it is the desire to create greater, and greater musical diversity by means of the voice. Some of this may not even have any obvious comparison to any known musical instrument.
How could the above be undertaken? As soon as one performer starts the others could with expert listening imitate the spontaneous melodious notes using distinct different instrumental-like vocal sounds in the most harmonious way possible. This for an amateur would be difficult in extremis. It would require some practice.
Another approach could involve the "opening" performer to stop after a few minutes, and one, or more person could carry on . Yet, they would produce a new "free-form" composition spontaneously. Other ideas could be introduced.
Of course, it must be said that Improvised Voice Instrumental Music is not exactly the same as the Jewish Nigunin of the Kabbalah tradition, Tuva Singing, Scat Singing in Jazz, Buddhist/Tibetan Chanting, Puirt a Beul(or Celtic Mouth Music, or "diddling"),Beatboxing, Yodelling, and other throat, or overtone singing. These vocal expressions are fine to a point but are not necessarily "melodious". Yet, Improvised Voice Instrumental Music is in essence more "refined", and artistic par excellence. This is the point to grasp. Naturally enough, it can challenge orthodox musical thinking, and if successfully performed could open up new areas of music.It could even have esoteric, or spiritual implications too. It could be used as a form of creative concentration, and meditation. The scope is infact vast as well as the possible introduction of new spontaneous styles done in a mature manner.....
Yet, how could one learn to do it? The most obvious way for a beginner is to listen to music in general, and to instruments individually. Then, one simply tries to imitate the sound, and record them at home to see how realistic, and three dimensional they may appear. It is necessary to be a firm task master as on all this to ensure that quality sounds are produced. Such sessions should be short to avoid tiring out the vocal cords.
Onomatopeia is one method which could be used as a teaching aid for melodious Improvised Voice Instrumental Music. In music it can involve words that sound like the actual sound so to speak! For example, "boom" of a drum acts as a verbalisation of a musical sound. Another instance, is the "twang" of a guitar. In other words, verbal Voice Instrumental, Music and to a certain extent a non-verbal Improvised Voice Instrumental Music can be created all at once.The Swingle Singers have done notable examples of this but like Scat Singing seem to notably use non-sense words in the process (eg Bah, Bah, La, La, Na, Na, etc). In Improvisation, the concern is the spontaneous creation of non-verbal music. However, verbal Voice Instrumental Music can be used to attain this if necessary as an aid for training purposes.
More InformationInternet Resources:
YouTube notably has many examples of Voice Instrumental Music. Of course, it can be improvised as well as clearly stated here. Many search words in the above article can be used to find visual/audio material (eg. Swingle Singers, House Jacks, Vocal Sampling, Beatboxing, Yodelling et al).
The above was written by Robert Searle who has also contributed p2pfoundation entries on Multi-Dimensional Science, and Transfinancial Economics.
"Vocalised dance music is suprisingly widespread....."