The Disguised Musical Voice

by Thomas Brett

Recently I blogged about Auto Tune and its magical pitch-correcting abilities.  While the post was ostensibly about a musical technology, its subtext was of course all about the human voice, specifically the delight we take in altering how our voices can sound.  Auto Tune is one way to do it, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we can electronically process our voices.  Of course, musicians can also take fragments of recorded voices and render them into amorphous wisps of sound–effectively turning them into just another instrumental source (albeit one heavy with signification and all manner of associations that only the voice seems to conjure).  Mutating the voice in this way is the topic of a recent article by David Bevan at pitchfork.com that describes how

“…there seems to be a new musical vocabulary emerging, one centered around the way vocals are being manipulated to create moods and atmospheres defined by their amorphous, often spectral nature. Ghost voices. It’s something like what happened in the film Inception, the way music could be heard through layers of dreams. That effect– as though sound were floating through several walls of consciousness, its outlines blurred to be almost unidentifiable– has something to do with the fact that we’ve heard a lot of these vocals before in their original form; they’re often samples that have been resurrected and re-articulated to express a sort of new slang. You can hear it in dance music and hypnagogic pop, in which house, drone, and art rock, the various presentations just as disparate as they are interconnected.”

The article presents a stimulating array of artists–including Burial, James Blake, Balam Acab, Four Tet, and others–to make its points.

You read the article here.

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