Presenter William Carey and Donald Miller
Presentation Title Rosa Ponselle’s Use of Registers
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1 John Nix: I would just say that I think it’s fascinating to look at old recordings, and I love to listen to them, and I think there’s some value to be gained by looking at the spectra. But I think that given what Sten has said and Johan has said, that we have to have some great reservations given the variability of recording techniques to draw any specific, definitive conclusions-because we’re talking about very different conditions. So I find it useful, instructive, thought provoking, all of those things but I’m cautious myself to say anything definitive based upon the drawbacks. Audio link.
1 Audio link.
2 Filipa La: I think this is really interesting, but I was wondering why you don’t pick up recordings of two singers in our days and compare both singing the same song and then see whether there is a pattern in the harmonics and the formants and what do they do because they have more or less the same repertoire. I don’t know if that will bring different things in the recordings, I think for me would be a very interesting thing to look at. Audio link for detail.
2 Audio link.
Comment: Jim Doing: Yes, I’ve also looked at lots of recordings and I think that is a major kind of discussion that needs to be had over ‘can you use old recordings’ and I believe you can. I think you can walk over next to that noisy thing, and you can sing a note and you can see harmonics it doesn’t really matter what acoustic you are in, my opinion. Interesting enough you picked Ponselle, who has kind of that very interesting sound, kind of not your average sound. It’s kind of tricky because she has that, I mean look at Callas. Callas looks totally different from your average soprano, totally different from Freni and Scotto and all those other ones; she has a high third harmonic a lot and it gives it that ‘narly’ sound. Interestingly enough, Mariah Carey does that same thing on a couple recordings when she gets into her chest; she has a perfect tenor going through a passaggio look. Audio link.
4 Unidentified audience member: I have two questions: Do you have here or have you looked at the recording of Ponselle where she sings entirely in a very heavy-duty chest register? Audio link.
4 Audio link.
5 The other question is there’s an enormous difference in the vibrato between the contemporary singers and the old singers. I know that that’s a whole topic of exploration, and the current accepted idea is that we are making wider and slower vibrato. Do you think that has an effect on how we perceive the sound regardless of how it looks-in terms of our perception, the fact that the vibrato in Ponselle is so rapid and small? Audio link.
5 Audio link.