SoundNotion 79: Loud Noises!

This week on SoundNotion, the panel is joined by singer, educator and self professed Luddite Paul Sperry. We discuss the foible of atonal vocal works, amplification, indeterminacy with Bruno Maderna, tattoo regret, and the week’s news.

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  • Another great show guys – Paul Sperry was super interesting, and what a great recording! I found it especially interesting to hear his thoughts on amplification. I admit, as a composer (and former rock musician), I found myself a bit frustrated with his amp-hate – lol. I can understand why he doesn’t enjoy it, but I can also see where Sam was trying to go with the point. We live in the 21st century. In new music, we often use instruments that might be amplified – why not utilize the technology we have?

    I’ve had this discussion with my wife multiple times. She’s a trained singer, and earlier this year, I wrote a big piece for her and an ensemble of ten instruments, one of which was electric guitar. Dave mentioned that he hates it when amplification is used to cover weak orchestration. I agree. However, can’t amplification be a part of orchestration today? I have a part in my song where the entire ensemble is cranking away, as well as the electric guitar. I suggested that my wife amplify her voice. Even though you could still kind of hear her, she wasn’t coming through clearly. But, she was still resistant. She told me the same thing that Paul said – that’s she’s worked very hard to be able to project. If the ensemble were all acoustic – i.e. I was playing my classical guitar – it wouldn’t be an issue. But an electric guitar has the potential to blow away any orchestra depending on how much it’s amplified. Shouldn’t modern day singers be open to both approaches?

    It’s such a touchy issue in the classical world. But anyway – great discussion :)

  • sam

    Thanks for the comments Anthony. It is a touchy issue in the classical world, but it should only take another 100 years or so for that the change right? I think you’re totally correct. The difference between orchestration that is amplified vs amplification as part of the orchestration is the crux of the deal for me. Thanks for watching/listening.

  • Great show and a great guest. Good insights on writing for singers and a good discussion on performance and amplification. Thanks!