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Castratos (Castrati)

3refs 20 Apr 09 - 04:52 PM
Genie 20 Apr 09 - 05:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Apr 09 - 05:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Apr 09 - 05:27 PM
MartinRyan 20 Apr 09 - 05:34 PM
Peace 20 Apr 09 - 05:36 PM
Jeri 20 Apr 09 - 05:39 PM
Peace 20 Apr 09 - 05:41 PM
Jack Campin 20 Apr 09 - 05:47 PM
Acorn4 20 Apr 09 - 05:57 PM
Jack Campin 20 Apr 09 - 06:35 PM
EBarnacle 20 Apr 09 - 07:31 PM
Don Firth 20 Apr 09 - 07:32 PM
Acorn4 20 Apr 09 - 08:03 PM
Jack Campin 20 Apr 09 - 08:04 PM
3refs 20 Apr 09 - 09:15 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 20 Apr 09 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,lox 21 Apr 09 - 05:29 AM
Peace 21 Apr 09 - 05:49 AM
polaitaly 21 Apr 09 - 06:08 AM
Genie 21 Apr 09 - 10:07 AM
Peace 21 Apr 09 - 01:15 PM
Alice 21 Apr 09 - 01:19 PM
Peace 21 Apr 09 - 01:23 PM
Peace 21 Apr 09 - 02:35 PM
Donuel 21 Apr 09 - 03:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Apr 09 - 08:11 PM
Genie 21 Apr 09 - 08:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Apr 09 - 09:31 PM
Genie 21 Apr 09 - 09:45 PM
HuwG 21 Apr 09 - 11:40 PM
GUEST,Annamill 22 Apr 09 - 02:02 AM
polaitaly 22 Apr 09 - 03:01 AM
Jack Campin 22 Apr 09 - 04:59 AM
Acorn4 22 Apr 09 - 10:50 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Apr 09 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Wordrow 22 Apr 09 - 04:41 PM
Genie 22 Apr 09 - 05:19 PM
Wolfgang 23 Apr 09 - 12:37 PM
Joe Offer 23 Apr 09 - 02:54 PM
oggie 23 Apr 09 - 05:28 PM
Darowyn 24 Apr 09 - 12:54 PM
Jack Campin 24 Apr 09 - 02:43 PM
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Subject: BS: Castrato's
From: 3refs
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 04:52 PM

Someone mentioned a conference on the radio, that was held somewhere about Racism and it kind of caught my ear for a bit. Then I happened upon something else that made me think of Castrato(go figure). I have a question! Would it be considered, bigoted, sexist or whatever to use that word to describe, in relation to, the way someone sings?
    I waited for a while to see whether this was going to be a music discussion or just goofing around. The thread has lots of music information in it, so I've moved it to the music section.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrati
From: Genie
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:11 PM

Pretty sure the plural is "castrati."

And since the term did refer to males who attained (retained) a certain vocal sound via that procedure, I don't think using the term to refer to that sound is bigoted or sexist.   
Then again, I'm no expert in choral or vocal theory, so I'm not sure where the line is drawn between the "castrato" sound and other male "falsetto."


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:19 PM

Hmmm. Just don't use it in the face of a very fit countertenor.

What does one sound like? There is a very poor recording of a castrato listed, but otherwise they belong to the time before recorded sound.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:27 PM

In many current recordings of baroque music, parts originally sung by castrati are taken by sopranos.
Falsetto refers to an 'artificially' high voice, thus it should not be applied to castrati or countertenors.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:34 PM

Castrato's sounds like a rather unappetising restaurant...

Regards


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Peace
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:36 PM

Is this thread about Cuba?


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:39 PM

No, Cubists.

Castrato's Cubisto

Sing like a choirboy says it without accusing a guy of having no balls... at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Peace
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:41 PM

The most unkindliest cut of all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:47 PM

There are still thousands of them performing professionally, with absolutely no sign that they will ever become extinct.

Hijras of India and Pakistan

Lots of related videos about them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:57 PM

They were regarded as celebrities at the time and I seem to remember the most famous one was called Farinelli. Handel regularly employed them to perform his works. They were. apparently, extremely popular with women, so it was probably seem as a good career move!


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 06:35 PM

Seems they need a special kind of petrol...

Picture from Albania


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: EBarnacle
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 07:31 PM

I can imagine a restaurant serving a variety of Prairie Oysters as the primary meat.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 07:32 PM

After a concert, some woman came up to Alfred Deller, most amazed and perhaps a bit upset by his countertenor voice. "Sir," she gasped, "you are a . . . a . . . a eunuch!"

To which, Deller looked down his ample nose at her and said, "Madam, I believe the word you are looking for is 'unique!'"

Except for period music, when they had genuine castrati, I have never heard the word in relation to modern choral singing, even of period music. These days, parts written for castrati are usually sung by a countertenor (if one can be found) or by a woman.

The barbaric practice of neutering pre-pubescent choir boys to preserve their treble voices is no longer done,

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 08:03 PM

Sometimes wondered about the Bee Gees though.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 08:04 PM

According to this documentary A Eunuch's Life there are 700,000 eunuchs in Bombay alone.

Longer documentary: Harsh Beauty (description of the operation starts about three minutes in).


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: 3refs
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 09:15 PM

"Is this thread about Cuba?"

I spit my beer across the comp screen!
TY....TYVM!


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 09:24 PM

According to the Wikipedia article on Hijra:

Although they are usually referred to in English as "eunuchs", relatively few have any genital modifications... although some certainly do, and some consider nirwaan ("castrated") hijras to be the "true" hijras.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 05:29 AM

Castratos were the pop stars of their day.

And they enjoyed all the benefits ... the drugs ... the rock'n'roll ... erm ...


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Peace
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 05:49 AM

So, this thread has nothing to do with Cuba, right?


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: polaitaly
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 06:08 AM

I've heard that "castrati" singers had a greater range of voice then male and female singers, and having the size of men, and big men - the operation made them highter and bigger then "whole" men - the size of the torso gave them a far greater volume. In 1600 e 1700 many musicians wrote for them pieces that were almost impossible to sing for "normal" female voices.
paola


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Subject: RE: BS: Castratos (castrati)
From: Genie
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 10:07 AM

Interesting, pola.    I never heard that before, about castrati having more range than "intact" men.

Re: falsetto vs. countertenor, I do understand the difference, but how can one apply the term "artificial" to a naturally produced vocal sound.   Falsetto singing uses different vocal technique than the 'normal' male voice, but if the vocals aren't technologically "tweaked" the sound isn't "artificial."

Oh, and on the pedantic castratos/castrati question, I guess it depends on whether you "anglicize" the plural or not. If you're going to say "castrati," you should also say "soprani," "alti," "bassi," etc.   ---- But when you throw in that apostrophe (not needed for a plural), it does indeed sound like an Italian restaurant.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Peace
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 01:15 PM

"There are many things I would give up for music, but they ain't one of 'em."


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Alice
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 01:19 PM

Castrato's is possessive 's.

but what would the castrato still possess


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Peace
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 01:23 PM

Luang Prabang

When I got back from Luang Prabang
I didn't have a thing where my balls used to hang
But I got a wooden medal and a fine "hoorang"
And now I'm a fuckin' hero

Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me
Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me

And now the boys all envy me
I fought for Christian democracy
With nothin' but air where my balls used to be
Now I'm a fuckin' hero

Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me
Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me

And one and twenty cannon thunder
Into the bloody wild blue yonder
For a patriotic ball-less wonder
Now I'm a fuckin' hero

Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me
Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me

In Luang Prabang there is a spot
Where the corpses of your brothers rot
And every corpse is a patriot
And every corpse is a hero

Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me
Mourn your dead, land of the free
If you want to be a hero, follow me
--© Dave Van Ronk


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Peace
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 02:35 PM

A picture is worth a thousand words.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's
From: Donuel
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 03:17 PM

Castrato : As pertaiing to Castro


I have a movie about a Castrato. 'Finnerelli' Its as enjoyable to watch as Valmont.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 08:11 PM

Pedantically, Castrati is the plural in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
English is not known for consistency.
Bass, basses (ME bas), basso, bassi (MItalian)(or bassos)
Soprano, sopranos (Webster's gives no alternate plural).
Alto and soprano are borrowed from the Italian, but in English, the 'os' ending is used.

What, me worry?


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Subject: RE: BS: Castratos (Castrati)
From: Genie
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 08:28 PM

You're so right, Q. We who speak "English" (including us "Americans") aren't even consistent when we're being pedantic. ;D

Genie

PS,
Webster may not give "soprani" as a plural form of soprano, but lots of choir people do use that.   

PPS,
What's the Italian for "tenor?" "Tenoro?" (plural "tenori?") Don't think I've ever heard it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 09:31 PM

tenor in Italian is tenore. I think the pl. is tenori, but don't quote me.
If you want to use the original Italian, I suppose soprani can't be faulted; it is just not common usage in English.

(Now why wasn't that mob crime drama called Soprani??)


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Genie
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 09:45 PM

One particular choir director/concert pianist I've worked with commonly used the term "soprani" (although she did not say "alti," "bassi," or "tenori").   It would not have seemed strange, since so much musical terminology is in Italian, except that the way she pronounced "soprani" it rhymed with "granny."   Because of that, for some time I thought she was clowning around when she'd say "soprani."   Had she pronounced it to rhyme with "Giovanni," I don't think it would have sounded any more odd than "andante" or "pianissimo."

But in my experience, "castrati" is quite common. (I mean to say the WORD is, not that THEY are.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: HuwG
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 11:40 PM

There is a story of one of the early computer software pioneers, who was flying to Los Angeles. The woman seated next to him asked him why he was travelling. He replied, "I'm going to a UNIX convention."

She looked him up and down and finally said, "Well, I suppose that only California could allow eunuchs to do anything in public."


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: GUEST,Annamill
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 02:02 AM

I have this theory about Michael Jackson. I don't think he's a pedophile at all. I think that when he was very young his Dad took him and had him castrated to keep that wonderful, money making voice.
He would never admit such a thing to anyone and only a select few would know about it.

It would explain a lot. Why he never developed a true relationship with any woman. Why his voice never changed. Why he still has a need to be like a child. It would have been very traumatic to him later in life. He might even be mentally unbalanced.

Just a thought.
Love, Annamill


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: polaitaly
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 03:01 AM

Italian:
One soprano, two soprani
one mezzo soprano, two mezzo soprani
one contralto, two contralti
one tenore, two tenori
one baritono, two baritoni
one basso, two bassi

paola (the pedantic contralto)


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 04:59 AM

Two paole, I guess?

It's odd how it's only certain languages whose loanwords get to keep their plurals in English. Nobody talks about csardasok, kioskler or taboo taboo. (Hungarian, Turkish and Polynesian).


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Acorn4
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 10:50 AM

...and stranger still that brassiere is single while knickers are plural!


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 10:55 AM

Haven't knickers gone the way of the castrati?


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: GUEST,Wordrow
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 04:41 PM

O! Tart's a castrato.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Genie
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 05:19 PM

If you cut off your knickers, that does not make you a castrato.


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Subject: RE: BS: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Wolfgang
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 12:37 PM

I only can add to this theme a German Spoonerism-type two liner:

Er traegt voll Stolz die Lodenhose,
Schorsch, der Eunuch, der hodenlose.

And that reminds me of "Kentucky schreit ficken" (K. screams fuck) a spoonerism KFC did not find very amusing when it was aired in German TV.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 02:54 PM

The Wikipedia article on Castrati covers the subject very well. Here's the introduction:
    A castrato is a man with a singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity. Castrati should not be confused with eunuchs, who are castrated after puberty and do not share the physical characteristics of someone castrated before puberty.

    Castration before puberty (or in its early stages) prevents a boy's larynx from being transformed by the normal physiological events of puberty. As a result, the vocal range of prepubescence (shared by both sexes) is largely retained, and the voice develops into adulthood in a unique way. As the castrato's body grew, his lack of testosterone meant that his epiphyses (bone-joints) did not harden in the normal manner. Thus the limbs of the castrati often grew unusually long, as did the bones of their ribs. This, combined with intensive training, gave them unrivalled lung-power and breath capacity. Operating through small, child-sized vocal cords, their voices were also extraordinarily flexible, and quite different from the equivalent adult female voice, as well as higher vocal ranges of the uncastrated adult male (see soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, sopranist, countertenor and contralto). Listening to the only surviving recordings of a castrato (see below), one can hear that the lower part of the voice sounds like a "super-high" tenor, with a more falsetto-like upper register above that.

    Castrati were rarely referred to as such: in the eighteenth century, the euphemism musico (pl musici) was much more generally used, though it usually carried derogatory implications; another synonym was evirato (literally meaning "emasculated").


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Subject: RE: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: oggie
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 05:28 PM

The recording of the last european castrato is definately different. The top G leaves something to be desired but it's quite impressive otherwise.

It belongs to the pre microphone days where a true boy's voice wouldn't be powerful enough to fill a large space. It's an interesting aside that as modern bodies have grown bigger the voices of choirboys have grown more powerful, the flipside being that their voices break earlier so they don't get the experience to sing really well before the voice breaks.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Darowyn
Date: 24 Apr 09 - 12:54 PM

I'd recommend Anne Rice's book, "Cry to Heaven" for a very readable fictional account of the life of a castrato.
Cheers
Dave.
(I would not recommend it to anyone under eighteen though!)


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Subject: RE: Castrato's (Castrati)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Apr 09 - 02:43 PM

Elsa Scammell on rec.music.early was fabulously knowledgeable about castrati. (And was one of the most eccentric posters in the history of Usenet). Have a look at the web resources she left behind, like this:
http://www.compulink.co.uk/~velluti/cast-link.htm


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