Yesterday, AceofSpades linked to this wonderful article, wherein a classical voice teacher critiques several metal singers. I loved this article because it so delightfully breaks the artificial boxes people place around their favorite music genres. It’s refreshing. It’s somethign that has irked me for years.
I majored in Vocal Music Education, and the thing about the vocal music world, especially in universities, was the attitude that the only music worth studying was classical “Art Music”. I spent every moment I could challenging this view. When other girls were studying Scarlatti and Donizetti, I was tossing Gershwin and Carmichael into the mix. When in Theory people were analyzing Handel, I tossed some U2 into the ring (and very publically threw the curve, much to my classmates’ ire). When in Orchestration people were orchestrating folk songs, I threw in some Linkin Park. When my classmates had recitals along the lines of “A Night of Italian Songs and Arias” (All ruffles and lace), 3/4 of my recital was written post 1900, angsty and dark and, yes, ending with some U2.
Every semester I insisted that my voice teachers allow me one sing from my Billie Holiday Sings the Blues songbook. They indulged me, as I generally allowed them to choose everything else. So long as I had the one jazz piece.
I realized the flaw early, I think, when listening to the Pavarotti and Friends benefits for charities like WarChild. Meatloaf, Sting, Bono, Simon leBon, they all sounded fairly decent when singing opera. Pavorotti singing outside his genre sounded ridiculous. Him singing Duran Duran just. . . Mm, not quite. It’s why, I think, Bono and Edge wrote a part in Miss Serajevo specifically for him, for an operatic voice– because while a rock star can do a passable job at Nessun Dorma, and Opera singer shouln’t even try Stairway to Heaven.
This vexed me– that the so-called “pros” were less versatile than the “untrained, ignorant ‘pop-stars'”. . . The Bel Canto method was, while good, clearly incomplete. If all your years of vocal training means you only sound good in Italian, what good is it? If Ella Fitzgerald’s virtuosity taught no one anything, we’re useless. Yes, Bel Canto is important, it teaches projection, focus, support, beautiful legato. But . . . if it ain’t got that swing, what’s it mean?
Not a thing.
So happy to see someone breaking out of these false barriers. Metal and Opera should be lovers, not rivals.