Karen Cummings

Research area: The classical singing voice and the microphone

The microphone has the capacity to change how a classical singer sings, where she sings and what she sings.

My thesis examines the expressive choices and techniques available to a classical singer working with a microphone that are not present when the singer performs acoustically, using examples from this emerging discipline and my own work.

It will pay particular attention to the impact of the microphone on communication of text, the timbre of the voice and the use of vocal texture.

The incorporation of the microphone into a classical singing practice has the potential to challenge broadly held conceptions of what it is to be a classical singer: elements of both vocal technique and aesthetic are open to transformation as a result of the microphones’ use.

The use of breath, resonance, articulation, vibrato, tone-colour, timbre, texture and the place of human utterance can all be re-examined as the microphone comes in to play.

The microphone challenges us to identify the unique properties and aesthetics classical singers can lay claim to, and invites us to explore the range of expressive techniques the microphone opens up.