Friday, November 06, 2009

Problems With Vibrato

I've been sick all day.
I think I am coming down with the H1N1 swine-thing, actually.
My first hint was that my nostrils all of a sudden are sort of upturned.
Very Kevin Bacon-ish.
But still, between sneezing and puking I have had occasion to do some of my near-useless musing about things that no other human beings think about, ever.
I happened to hear Ella Fitzgerald singing a Christmas song.
'Tis the season!
I forget the song, honestly -- what completely intrigued me though, was the vibrato at the end of every line.
What kind of medical problem is this?

Now, let's face it, Ella can [could] sing, I'm not disputing that. I'll never forget this one interview with Amanda Marshall [and I somewhat worship Amanda] where she cited Ella as her absolute vocal mentor and idol.
I think that part of Ella Fitzgerald's fame has to do with the youthfulness of her voice.
It never ever got old.
But the vibrato!
It makes my eyelids flutter.

And today, for the first time ever, I asked my favorite question -- WHY -- and directed it at the phenomenon of vibrato.
Not only why do singers do it. But why do we WANT them to do it?
Because we must want it, right? Or else they wouldn't do it.
What I mean is, statistically speaking, we must LIKE vibrato.

Well, I just want to go on record here and say that I myself do not like it.
I find it highly superfluous. This is not a natural throatal reaction to the action of singing.
It is contrived.
It is -- I don't know, just one of those human things that have evolved God-knows-why!

She was singing away, and I closed my eyes.
Instantly I envisioned a peacock.
Have you ever watched a male peacock when they are really strutting their stuff?
I have.
It's wild.
They fan out that magnificent tail...... they wait a bit, and then, the sort of -- shake it up!
Rattle the feathers. They rattle that thing.
They SHAKE that peacock booty!

It's the equivalent of the vibrato idea.
The peacock throws that tail out there, and then probably.... just at the right moment contracts a peacock-sphincter muscle and it's like.... "OK, my tail was all fanned out but check this out Oh-my-God now it is wicked sh-aaaaa-aaaaa-kkkkk-ing like crazy!"
[The hyphenated stuff, that's the peacock-sphincter tightening up right there.]

It's like Ella Fitzgerald, honest to God.
OK, it's all coming back to me now...... Let It Snow!
"Let it snow let it snow, let it snoowwwwwwowwwwowwoww!"
A few more verses of that and all my fillings would have popped out.
I guess it all hearkens back to a time when we really had to shake things up to attract a mate?


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