Is the human voice music?

My grandad used to have somewhat of a purist when it came to music, denouncing the use of the human voice. (In the context of music, as opposed to altogether.)

His favourite piece of music as I remember was Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube (An der schönen blauen Donau), indeed a masterful piece.

But I can’t help but feel that he missed out. All instruments create sound artificially, using a piece of apparatus that has been crafted from raw materials, often using the human hand. And those instruments rely on the skill and movement of humans to make them figuratively sing. They rely on the human breath, dexterous fingers or rhythmic feet.

The main difference between such instruments and the human voice is that in the latter, the instrument and the musician are combined. The instrument has been crafted directly by nature and nurture rather than indirectly as is the case with an instrument. And so the oboe’s reed is combined with the oboist to provide a single unit.

And just as with instruments, voices need to be repaired – just ask Adele.

To remove Whitney Houston from one’s listening repertoire on the basis that the voice is in some respect impure is sacrilege. And here’s such a wonderful example of why.

By Dan on 16 February, 2012 · Posted in Life, Music

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