The Vocalized Tone

Perchard, Tom. 2018. The Vocalized Tone. In: Nicholas Gebhardt; Nichole Rustin-Paschal and Tony Whyton, eds. The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies. Routledge, pp. 197-207. ISBN 9781138231160 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

One of the oldest features of jazz performance, and one of the most enduring tropes in jazz criticism, is that of the “vocalized tone.” At least since the turn of the twentieth century, a great many musicians, especially wind players, have developed techniques that make their instrumental sound more “vocal,” more “human.” Why? For some commentators, the vocalized tone harks back to the workings of African languages, musics, and performance practices; for others the collapsed distinction between voice/instrument, or person/object, articulates a critique of the Western liberal subjecthood that African Americans, whose ancestors were taken across the Atlantic as commodities, could never fully attain. This chapter evaluates these and other theoretical approaches, testing them against historical jazz practices and aesthetic discourses.

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Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Popular Music Research Unit


18 December 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

23 Jul 2020 10:05

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 19:50


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