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Subject: Re: Tuning question
From: John Rahbeck <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:37:06 -0500

text/plain (28 lines)

This a very astute observation. Opera houses have gotten bigger, instruments have been tweaked to put out more sound, and singers must put out more sound than before. But there is another aspect to tuning that is based on physics. There is a constant tug of war between perception of natural tuning found in the overtones over a fundamental pitch, and the perception of a perfect octave. The Pythagorean comma and perfect octave  jar. Equal temperment was an attempt to even all that out, but the two things constantly strain against each other, and orchestras that play with that nuance as expressive devices, to brighten the sound , play with subtle increments of pitch and overtones, may find the diapason rise during the course of a performance.
 Instruments may change their sound, but the human voice has remained the same, and there is a growing disconnect between the two . If opera singing is to remain an acoustic art form this will need to be addressed.
 .The only thing that really defines opera as a separate art form is the acoustical performance practice of singing. What will probably happen at some point is that many opera barns will be replaced by smaller theaters. Houston in my opinion has the perfect sized house. Most of the great opera works were written for houses which were much smaller and tended to be U shaped. and there wasn't as much space above and behind the stage. The battle between the requirements for acoustical singing and machinery for visual effects will dominate until technology finds a way to enhance the visuals without compromising the acoustical qualities, and that may not be that far away. Stage technology is advancing rapidly. Pretty soon, a smaller state of the art theater will be the place to hear and see opera.
John Rahbeck  
In a message dated 2/18/2018 11:58:51 AM Pacific Standard Time, [log in to unmask] writes:

 In short, the theory is that the problem with today’s singers is not
> necessarily today’s singers, but the environment in which they now work
> with both tuning and orchestral size—the singer’s art has been pressed to
> make a brighter, more appealing sound from the orchestra.
> Thoughts? Is this hogwash or is there something to this theory?

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