News & musings

News & musings

Girls and boys, 30 December 2014

Posted on 3 January, 2015 at 9:40

Herald the news to old and young: when it comes to the purity of the treble voice, there are no fundamental differences apparently between the singing quality of boys and girls. Canterbury Cathedral's inaugural girls' choir sparked the debate, which was hotly contested through correspondence in The Times.

In research conducted by David Howells, a sample of trained singers showed that there are no differences between the voices of boys and girls. Rather the ability to produce those magical high harmonics is more likely to depend on the size of the vocal tract and skill in voice production.

It is just a fact of life that adolescence signals an end to a boy's chances of being picked to sing the opening verse of 'Once in Royal David's City'. There is less comfort for the ladies, though, as the spine-tingling effect wasn’t reproduced by an adult operatic soprano. It seems that harmonic production can be correlated with the length of the vocal tract and so shifts down with age.

So, both our ex-trebles and our excellent sopranos are allowed a little nostalgia for the good old days, whilst a certain bass’s application to try out for the descants remains filed in the bin for another year...

Don't worry, David (naming no names), trebles are over-rated. As this fabulous a cappella cover version of Meghan Trainor's anthem celebrates, as we all know It's All About That Bass !


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