chapter  V
2 Pages


A number of authors have discussed how the voice is used in popular music, particularly with regard to rock. Three main aspects are evident. First, attempts to distinguish between ‘black’ and ‘white’ voices, which tend to see the ‘black’ voice as demonstrative and communicating through a variety of vocal techniques, and the ‘white’ voice as more restrained and restricted. A second distinction is between ‘trained’ and ‘untrained’ voices, with the former found in a range of older popular musics rather than more contemporary forms (e.g. minstrel shows). The ‘untrained’ voice is important in signifying authenticity in rock, such as the ‘straining’ quality of high voices as indicating great effort,

naturalness, and a lack of artifice. A third approach has been to associate specific genres with vocal styles, which are linked in turn to gender. The main example of this is the discussion of cock rock (as male) and ‘teenybop’ (as female) by Frith and McRobbie (1990), which has been built upon by others (e.g. Shepherd, 1991). Shepherd notes that the hard, rasping vocal sound typical of ‘cock’ or hard rock is ‘produced overwhelmingly in the throat and mouth, with a minimum of recourse to the resonating chambers of the chest and head’; he contrasts this with the ‘typical vocal sound of woman-as-nurturer: soft and warm, based on much more relaxed use of the vocal chords and using the resonating chambers of the chest’, present in much pop music (1991:167).