Reviewer 1’s Comments
I want to think this is worth including as it is provocative and interesting. It is also certainly tremendously flawed, but it seems to me the symposium could be a good place to present this – an opportunity for peer-review and some of the discussion that the presenter says she is after. A difficult phrase for me, though, was the notion of a “true golden age of singing”; this tends rather to discredit global traditions over millennia and certainly privileges one particular ethnic and terribly classed musical tradition over all others. My discomfort at this phrase was intensified when the presenter mentioned a “great race of singers”. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but for such a carefully constructed and rather slow-moving video, this seems at best to be a very careless use of words. Is she saying that Western European singers are ‘racially’ superior to singers in all other musical traditions anywhere in the world over time? I hope not, but everything else about this video seems so intentional that it is very hard for me to see past or to “un-hear” these two adjacent comments in the video. I think I would want to get back to the presenter and ask her to reconsider these words and these ideas, as they smack strongly of racist Eurocentrism and colonialism. I am also not sure about the claim of there being “the [i.e. one] true bel canto sound”. Surely each singer was different in their approach. It’s like trying to pin a “rock sound” on the drums – Moon and Bonham and Appice and Grohl and Wilk are similar, yes, but also so distinct that to group them as has having one sound would feel disingenuous; this is a crude and perhaps unhelpful comparison, but I think the analogy works to help make my point. The methods are also terribly unclear (whence did these comments come, over what period, and in response to what questions or provocations from the researcher?).
Reviewer 2’s Comments
This works as critical viewpoint and performance art. This piece very explicitly juxtaposes deductive and inductive and the winding paths these reasonings can yield. Also, it addresses the concepts of historically informed performance vs. modern aesthetics by shifting focus to the idea of throwing out convention and trying new (old) things with experimental abandon and fresh intellect. I like the critical confrontation component and I think this addresses the themes very well. This is sure to spark discussion and I want to know more after watching so I think it is a very valuable contribution.