The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #99782   Message #1997153
Posted By: Stephen L. Rich
14-Mar-07 - 11:51 PM
Thread Name: virtuosity and traditional music
Subject: RE: virtuosity and traditional music
"Virtuosity" is such a subjective term. Virtuosity as comared to what? A voice trained for opera? Jazz? Showtunes?

    I always like to point to Jimmy Durante as an example of how good a singer can be without being particularly skillful technically. Durante couldn't carry a tune in a locked strongbox. But, he was so expressive -- he sang with so much "heart" that you didn't care. His phrasing was flawless and his timing was amazing. One of the most treasured recordings in my collection is of Durante singing "As Time Goes By" because his heart and phrasing more than overcame his that flat, gravelpit he had for a voice.

    In folk music, much the same could be said about "Pop" Stoneman, Alemida Riddle, or Frank Proffit. Even more recently, Fred Holstien, May he rest in peace, was hardly what one could call a virtuoso singer in the aspect of technique. He carried a tune well. He hit all of the notes, and knew what not notes he shouldn't try to hit. His work stood out because he knew how to respect the lyric -- how to tell the story. He would always have been the firsst to tell you that the song has to be the star, not the singer. The singer job is to do everything he or she can to portray the basic elements of the story or emotion of the song being performed. For folk music that may be the best definition of virtuosity that you're likely to find.

Stephen Lee Rich