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Vocal Timbre and Technique in Caroline Shaw's Partita for 8 Voices

  • Author(s): Saulle, Joshua H
  • Advisor(s): Lefkowitz, David S
  • Krouse, Ian
  • et al.

The vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth has attracted a great deal of attention since its founding in 2009 for its exploration of vocal timbre, extended technique and singing style, and its attempt to forge an expanded vocal palette that transcends both the Western classical tradition as well as any one popular or world singing style. In doing so, it has encouraged the composers with whom it collaborates to elevate timbre to a place of primary compositional importance. One such composer, Caroline Shaw, has become the standard bearer for this new style of vocal ensemble writing with her Pulitzer-prize winning Partita for 8 Voices

This paper explores the stylistic and experimental lineages that led to the evolution of Roomful of Teeth, reviews the history and acoustics of vocal timbre itself, and uses spectrographic analysis as the basis for an examination and analysis of Caroline Shaw’s compositional use of vocal timbre and special techniques in Partita for 8 Voices.

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