The following is a presentation I gave at the 2014 meeting of the U.S. Branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. I am currently preparing this presentation for publication as an article. However, I am publishing this presentation here as a kind of “working paper” in advance of the article. For copyright reasons, images and sound clips have been omitted.
Air Flows: Breath, Voice, and Authenticity in Three Recordings
Gregory Weinstein IASPM, 14 March 2014
In his 2007 outline of a “musicology of record production,” Simon Zagorski- Thomas framed a discussion of recording’s editing possibilities as a problem of embodied perception. He suggests, “If, at a subconscious level, the perception of music involves hypothesizing what it would feel like to produce that sound, it would be useful for both music and musicology to study the grey area between edited performances that are perceived as possible and those that are perceived as impossible or unnatural.” He goes on to ask, “How much room for breath needs to be left in a spliced performance before we perceive it as an activity that is impossible to generate, and therefore artificial” (2007, 1974)? Zagorski- Thomas argues that we, as listeners, breathe along with recordings and that our (often subconscious) awareness of a recording’s breath space contributes strongly to our overall awareness of the recording as artificial (or not). This suggests a striking move away from the notion of authenticity in recording as a dialectic interplay of mediated performances and their immediate counterparts, and towards an understanding of recordings as not just representations of a performance, but as constructions of musical bodies. Continue reading “Air Flows: The Sound of Breath on Recordings”