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The CastratoReflections on Natures and Kinds$
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Martha Feldman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279490

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279490.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 19 January 2022

Red Hot Voice

Red Hot Voice

(p.78) (p.79) 3 Red Hot Voice
The Castrato

Martha Feldman

University of California Press

Chapter 3 takes a radically material turn away from the historical questions of chapters 1 and 2 and to the musically embodied castrato voice, now vexingly lost. While acknowledging the acoustic problem, it shows that castrato voices can be better understood than heretofore. The chapter uses vocal production and emission to rethink the historical voice as sound, line, envelope, spectrum, frequency, and register. By amassing evidence from castrato scores, embellishments, pedagogical teachings, vocal exercises, anecdotes by fellow musicians, and heirs to castrato performance, and combining it with modern-day strobes, dissections, and MRIs, as well as acoustic analysis of the early recordings of the castrato Alessandro Moreschi and contemporaries, it shows that extraordinary castrato vocality accessed a high chest-dominant register with far-reaching musical consequences. The inferential evidence thus produced builds new methodological ramparts for musicology.

Keywords:   castrato voice, chest register, portamento, messa di voce, Corri, Alessandro Moreschi, Garcia, Velluti, Charles Burney, Quantz

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