Mudcat Café message #1058919 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #64600   Message #1058919
Posted By: Burke
21-Nov-03 - 09:58 PM
Thread Name: Falsetto
Subject: RE: Falsetto
Good old Grove Music here for a definition:

The treble range produced by most adult male singers through a technique whereby the vocal cords vibrate in a length shorter than usual, known as the second mode of phonation. Usually associated exclusively with the male voice, though available and employed in the female, the phonatory mode known as 'falsetto' has been equated with 'unnatural' as opposed to 'natural', partly through misleading philological usage. The correct term, second-mode phonation, is preferred here both to 'falsetto' and to 'pure head-register'.

[Physiology omitted]

The use of what has become known as falsetto is ancient and practised in many cultures. There are major elements of this second mode of phonation in the instinctive natural sounds of various animals, for example the gibbon. Similarly, its use by early man seems to have been instinctive, commonplace, and adopted for a variety of reasons not necessarily connected with what is now called singing. Second-mode phonation is much used in Asian drama and music. Its natural use is seen among Indian communities in Great Britain, where the condition known as 'pubephonia' persists at an age at which white youths are all using adult first-mode phonation; some Indian youths have to be coached in first-mode phonation to free them from what, to Western ears, may sound oddly juvenile.

[more history omitted]

Eventually, however, musical fashion (and erroneous association with castration) ensured the near-disappearance, from mainland Europe, of second-mode singing for several decades. Domenico Mancini (b 1891), a falsettist pupil of the last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi (d 1921), was refused entry to Lorenzo Perosi's music school, because Perosi, director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, regarded him as a castrato. It is only in England that second-mode singing enjoyed an uninterrupted, widespread tradition, particularly in all-male cathedral and collegiate choirs, academia and the glee club tradition. In the late 20th century falsetto singing came to be used in some types of popular music (notably by Michael Jackson).