Understanding Joseph Joachim's Style and Practice: Recordings as a Research Tool

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Evaluating timbre in the early recordings of singers can be crucial for understanding the evolution of performing practices. Indeed, several researches across ethnomusicology, popular music studies, and voice studies have shown how vocal performers use timbre as a potent signifier for subjectivity, while listeners locate performers' identities through vocal colour. This chapter focuses on timbre to identify the new orthodoxies of “beautiful” singing developed during the first half of the 20th century, as testified by early recordings made both by sopranos and tenors. The authors drawn upon concepts and tools developed within timbre studies, the attentive reading of late nineteenth-century vocal treatises and their own expert understanding of singing. Barbara Gentili explores the creation of the verismo soprano through selected recordings of Eugenia Burzio and Emma Carelli, two prominent prime donne of early twentieth-century Italy, as they developed a novel system for blending the vocal registers that lent a fuller and darker quality to their voice. Daniele Palma focuses on tenors, highlighting the different steps in the process of codification of the tenore di forza in the first half of the 20th century. Furthermore, it shows how timbre became a contested territory between this progressive codification and the search for vocal individuality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly Sound Recordings
Subtitle of host publicationAcademic Research and Practice
EditorsEva Moreda Rodriguez, Inja Stanović
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781003194521
ISBN (Print)9781032047515, 9781032047539
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023


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