A History of Singing

A History of Singing

By: Neil Sorrell (author), John Potter (author)Hardback

Special OrderSpecial Order item not currently available. We'll try and order for you.


Why do we sing and what first drove early humans to sing? How might they have sung and how might those styles have survived to the present day? This history addresses these questions and many more, examining singing as a historical and cross-cultural phenomenon. It explores the evolution of singing in a global context - from Neanderthal Man to Auto-tune via the infinite varieties of world music from Orient to Occident, classical music from medieval music to the avant-garde and popular music from vaudeville to rock and beyond. Considering singing as a universal human activity, the book provides an in-depth perspective on singing from many cultures and periods: Western and non-Western, prehistoric to present. Written in a lively and entertaining style, the history contains a comprehensive reference section for those who wish to explore the topic further and will appeal to an international readership of singers, students and scholars.

About Author

John Potter's first book, Vocal Authority, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1998, and he is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Singing (2000). His book Tenor: History of a Voice was published in 2009. He has contributed articles to many academic journals and chapters to other books, including The Cambridge History of Medieval Music (forthcoming) and The Cambridge History of Musical Performance, published in 2012. He is Reader Emeritus in Music at the University of York (having stepped down from his lectureship in 2010 to focus on his portfolio of freelance projects). As a singer John has partnerships with instrumentalists in various parts of the world, notably the Argentinian lutenist and vihuelist Ariel Abramovich, the American medieval harpist Jan Walters and the British electro-acoustic composer Ambrose Field. He also sings with Red Byrd, The Dowland Project (which will release a fourth album in 2012), the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and the German group The Sound and the Fury. His most recent venture is Cantum Pulcriorum Invenire, a research project at the University of Southampton, which will see the release of three CDs of twelfth-century music on Hyperion and a multimedia live version with tenor Christopher O'Gorman and video artist Michael Lynch. John spent 18 years with the Hilliard Ensemble (whose CDs include the million-selling Officium); his complete discography runs to some 150 titles. He also coaches vocal ensembles all over the world, and chairs the ensemble contest jury at the Tampere Vocal Festival (Finland). Neil Sorrell is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of York. He specialises in Asian music and has written, broadcast and lectured extensively on Indian and Javanese music. He is the author (with the sarangi player, Pandit Ram Narayan) of Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction (1980) and is a recipient of the 1999 Hafiz Ali Khan Award, an international award in recognition of contributions to Indian classical music. He co-founded and directed the English Gamelan Orchestra, the first group of British musicians dedicated to the study, composition and performance of music for the Javanese gamelan. He has composed several pieces for the gamelan and is the author of A Guide to the Gamelan, 2nd edition (2000).


Introduction; Part I. Imagined Voices: Mythology and Muses; Part II. Historical Voices: 1. The genesis of the Western tradition; 2. The emerging soloist and the primacy of text; 3. The age of the virtuoso; 4. The nineteenth-century revolution; Part III. Recorded Voices: 5. A great tradition: singing through history - history through singing; 6. Classical singing in the twentieth century: recording and retrenchment; 7. Post-classical: beyond the mainstream; 8. The emancipation of the popular voice; 9. Sung and unsung: singers and songs of the non English-speaking world; Part IV. Sources and Reference: 10. Sources; Bibliography.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780521817059
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 358
  • ID: 9780521817059
  • weight: 700
  • ISBN10: 0521817056

Delivery Information

  • Saver Delivery: Yes
  • 1st Class Delivery: Yes
  • Courier Delivery: Yes
  • Store Delivery: Yes

Prices are for internet purchases only. Prices and availability in WHSmith Stores may vary significantly