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Archive for December, 2011

I often spend my Sunday evenings soaked in wine and good conversation, some beautiful opera or song playing as the fire crackles and the chatter fades away to a more melancholic reflection. Such moments reveal the beauty and versatility of the human voice. It’s an instrument you can take anywhere to entertain and enthrall. Whether it is using their vocal chords to imitate a musical instrument, an electronic drum kit or merely another voice, the Internet reveals plenty of examples out there of incredible vocal talent, not all as obvious as you might first imagine.

Here are some of my favourites that celebrate our most portable and personal of instruments.

Queens of the Night

Mozart’s Aria, Der Hölle Rache, is one of the most notoriously demanding for a female soprano, hitting the high F two octaves above middle C – very rare for opera. Here are four of my favourite performances – from one regarded as near perfect (Diana Damrau) to arguably the worst recording ever – Florence Foster Jenkins, all via two extraordinary impromptu performances from youngsters.

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The human beat-boxes

These four take having a sense of rhythm to a whole new level. The range of sounds and noises they produce is quite extraordinary.

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The impressionists

Every since I was a kid I have been fascinated with impersonating other voices. I have had a stab at it myself and can manage a fairly credible Iain Paisley and, after a whisky or three, a fairly menacing Clint. These four, though, are something else, impersonating everything from cartoon characters and singers to zebras and car engines.

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The instrument impersonators

After a few beers I do quite a good guitar solo impression from Stairway to Heaven. I also do a pretty mean trumpet impression, especially if it’s a brass band take on Abide With Me. My guitar and trumpet impressions are nothing compared to these two, though.

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The singers

And so, full circle, to singing and the simple joy of making a beautiful sound. From two Asian unknowns to Callas and Pavarotti, the world has been privileged to enjoy some truly beautiful voices, from all walks of life.

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