A history of singing that incorporates the body and media has yet to be written, both for the first decades of the twentieth century, on which this project focuses, as well as for other epochs. This project departs from previous research on the history of singing by concentrating on the mediality of sound recording. Instead of using recordings as documents of vocal practice, we interpret them as sources of an aesthetic that has been shaped by its medial conditions and that is inextricably linked with vocal practice and the history of the body.

The term technologies of singing refers to the two thematic pillars of this project: the technique of singing and the technique of the media. It implies an expansion of the analysis of discourse and dispositif: medial and embodied knowledge not only pervades what is negotiated through language, but also by practices of singing and media techniques. The new medium of recording provoked a rethinking of the body, that is related to changes in singing practice against the backdrop of a mechanised concept of the body.

That singing has been increasingly understood as an embodied technique is not only clear from theories of singing, but also from changes in singing, for instance with respect to stance, breathing, vibrato, and the use of different registers. This approach is reflected in the four intertwined project sections.

The first, The careers of singers as media careers, investigates the impact of recording and reproducing media in singing activity, under the assumption, that already in the early years of recording this new medium moulded the careers of singers.

In order to assess the impact of historical recording devices on the singing voice, in the second section, Technique and aesthetics of vocal recordings, methods of Music Acoustics are employed to investigate the complete sound transmission path of voice recordings and to model the characteristic influence of recording equipment on vocal signals. In doing so this section creates the basis for the analysis of vocal recordings as sources for vocal practice of this epoch.

The medial and aesthetical assumptions are located in section 3, Sources and documents concerning the aesthetics of vocal recording.

Using pedagogical literature on singing, section 4 establishes vocal technique in body and media discourse.

The focus of the project on the entire dispositif by concentrating both on discourses as well as practices promises new insights for musicological and acoustical research areas, and offers connections to histories of the body and the media.

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