Kenny G in concert

One of the highest selling artists of all time, Kenny G has single-handedly made the saxophone a hit amongst music lovers. Perhaps it is the raspy mid-tones of the saxophone that lend it an air of intimacy, or maybe it’s Read more

Splashy Fen is the ultimate Easter concert

It’s been going since 1990, and Easter 2015 will be the 26th year for the Splashy Fen music festival. I have yet to learn why the music event is called Splashy Fen, though I do believe that the farm it Read more

Oppikoppi, a whole series of concerts rolled into one

The small town of Northam in Limpopo Province comes to life every August. Technically it’s spring if you calculate that you are halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and you don’t factor in seasonal lag, but Read more

Richard Clayderman in concert

No doubt the mysterious Frenchman’s greatest gift to the world musically has been “Ballad for Adeline.” Composed by Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint in 1976, the co-writers could never have imagined how big the song would become, because disco Read more

Albert Hammond in concert

This is not a name that rolls off the tongue like Madonna or Michael Jackson or Elvis, but Albert Hammond has had an amazing music career anyway. A native of the UK, he has done a considerable body of work Read more

Mamma Mia! heads back to Jozi in 2015

The smash hit musical based on the music of those 4 Swedes (well, actually 3 Swedes and a half-Norwegian) returns to the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg, for a limited season run from Tuesday 24 March 2015 to Sunday Read more

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse is NOT too cool for school!

On 1 October the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City hosted Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse in concert. It’s been 30 years since his hit “Burnout” tore up the charts, and, according to the write-up for his show, 50 years since Read more


The science of singing, part 2: the voice

After goals, the next important thing is the voice.

The human voice is both a wind and a string instrument. For wind instruments (flutes, oboes, trumpets, saxophones), the amount of breath blown in the correct way is what makes the instrument work. In orchestras, wind (flute, sax) is separated from brass (trumpet) for the purpose of classification, but both are operated and activated using breath (which is the wind). For string instruments (piano, guitar, violin), the instrument is activated using the vibration of the strings. For piano, the key strikes the string and makes it vibrate. For violin, it is the bow made of horse’s hair. For guitar, it is the fingers that strike the strings. The thickness, tightness and length of the strings then affects the pitch that it rings out at. It was Pythagoras who determined, for example, that a string that is half the length of another string of the same thickness will vibrate at twice the speed and frequency, which then creates the octave.

But now the voice is both wind and string. The length and thickness of the vocal cords determines the pitch at which the voice sings. Up to a point, this is determined by the effects of testosterone – men have thicker and longer cords than women, which is why they speak lower. But the voice is the one amazing instrument where the length of the cords can be changed by muscles that control it. So the wind (breath) comes up from the lungs and vibrates the cords at a certain number of cycles per second. In the case of the note A, which is classified as the vibration of 440 megahertz, the cords are vibrating 440 times per second to create the sound. When the vibration is spend up to 462 MHz, the sound created is a C. We do this instinctively even when we talk, and talking uses exactly the same principles to create sound.

Read on in part 3 for more.

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