Why don't singers get a rumble while singing

Finally explainedWhy are high men's voices cult?

The first time comes as a shock to most. There is a man standing on the stage and uttering the highest notes! Why is he doing this? And how? There used to be the castrati whose testicles had to be removed when they were young so that their voices remained forever or, to be more precise, shortly before. But today? It is as simple as it is complicated. In fact, there was a downright aggressive cult for high male voices, especially during the Baroque period.

Farinelli was a mega star

Similar to the priestly career, some young singers felt called to a career as a castrato, whereby of course the parental home and the vocal pedagogical environment had a lot of influence. It was always a game of vagueness, because after the cut there was no step back - even if the voice did not meet expectations and hopes. However, those who continued to tirilate and trill angelic-like in old age became a megastar, often swarmed by both sexes. Farinelli is the most prominent example. He died in 1782, long before the first acoustic recording possibilities. But he survived to the present day through films and even operas about and for him.

The gentlemen without testicles sang many main roles, especially in Italian opera of the 17th and 18th centuries, which were often written especially for them. They are said to have been superior to their colleagues through greater strength and emphasis in their voices. The castrati gradually became less popular, primarily for ethical reasons: One of the last was Alessandro Moreschi, of whom there are even recordings made on wax cylinder from 1904.

Falsetto technique for top notes

Anyone who sang higher as a man in the regular way and sings today mostly uses falsetto. What is meant by this "wrong" technique is, in the end, only the breaking of the normal tonal range. It goes up to an octave. How this is done is highly individual; Mixing or delimiting head and chest voices plays an important role.

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In the past century many parade roles for castrati were cast with singers. It was not until the 1970s that it became fashionable again to cast high-singing tenors (in technical jargon: countertenors). Also because you could create supposedly historically correct reconstructions, which of course was a fallacy. Sopranos such as the Venezuelan Samuel Mariño, whose voice got stuck during puberty, come close to the "natural-artificial" castrati.

Gender boundaries are blurring

The fascination for high-pitched male voices these days can certainly be traced back to the fact that gender boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred: Cross-singing goes well with cross-dressing. In addition, countertenors are very popular in new music. Here, too, it is often about playing with identities, gender roles, and transitions. The composer Peter Eötvös, for example, wrote all the title roles for countertenors in his Chekhov opera "Drei Schwestern".

Whether you prefer to hear an artificially tuned gentleman or a vocal organic lady with a Handel classic is and remains a matter of taste. For some opera directors, however, it seems to be a question of prestige how many countertenors they can fill. Whereby four high men's voices over four long hours can definitely bring you to the limit of an auditory nervous breakdown!