Saturday, October 6, 2012

Is it better not to watch? – Singers in the Recording Studio

Philippe Jaroussky &
Max Emmanuel Cencic
This post started as a complaint about singers who wave and gesture and direct as they sing. It seems only to happen in recording situations. But nearly everyone does it. Anne Sofie von Otter, Elena Garanca, Patricia Pettibon (scary!!), Rolando Villazon, Jonas Kaufmann, etc. (check out any of the promo videos for new recordings.) And these two dudes: Max and Philippe. How do they manage to stand still in concerts?

But, as singers, we can’t see our instruments. So in rehearsals or lessons, we often do weird things to help us imagine shaping or following through a phrase, or supporting for a high note, or feeling the rhythm. (Singing really is a head game, isn’t it?) This often involves a lot of waving, gesturing, rocking, pacing, and even dancing. (I once spent an entire voice lesson trying to push a grand piano across the studio.)  

The recording studio really is closer to a rehearsal than a performance situation. One has no audience to play off, no scenery or costumes to play with, and is dependent on the other musicians in the room for inspiration. And if there’s no audience, it really doesn’t matter what you look like when you sing.

While all this activity helps us sing, it must be distracting as heck for everyone else. I personally would have to wear blinders if I were singing next to these guys in a recording studio (I should be so lucky!) 

On the other hand, you can’t argue with the results. Here are Philippe and Max recording Chi D'amor Tra Le Catene  by Giovanni Battista Bononcini for their Duetti Da Camera CD:
Bononcini: Chi D'amor Tra Le Catene
Philippe Jaroussky & Max Emmanuel Cencic

By the way, I do love to watch (and listen to) musicians at work: recording, rehearsing, and performing!

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