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Is the voice an instrument?

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The Shambles 21 Nov 01 - 11:50 AM
GUEST 21 Nov 01 - 11:55 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 21 Nov 01 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,An Croenen 21 Nov 01 - 11:57 AM
Burke 21 Nov 01 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Noreen 21 Nov 01 - 12:09 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 01 - 12:26 PM
Wincing Devil 21 Nov 01 - 12:30 PM
53 21 Nov 01 - 12:40 PM
Melani 21 Nov 01 - 01:43 PM
Clinton Hammond 21 Nov 01 - 02:01 PM
Don Firth 21 Nov 01 - 02:10 PM
Chip2447 21 Nov 01 - 02:27 PM
RoyH (Burl) 21 Nov 01 - 02:40 PM
Sir Roger de Beverley 21 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM
Brían 21 Nov 01 - 03:01 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Nov 01 - 03:29 PM
The Shambles 21 Nov 01 - 04:14 PM
Celtic Soul 21 Nov 01 - 05:08 PM
Deckman 21 Nov 01 - 05:12 PM
Matthew Edwards 21 Nov 01 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Paul 21 Nov 01 - 06:10 PM
Jon Freeman 21 Nov 01 - 07:01 PM
Kaleea 22 Nov 01 - 12:53 AM
The Shambles 22 Nov 01 - 02:02 AM
GUEST,Síle 22 Nov 01 - 02:28 AM
X 22 Nov 01 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,Roger the Skiffler 22 Nov 01 - 06:22 AM
The Shambles 22 Nov 01 - 07:20 PM
Scabby Douglas 23 Nov 01 - 05:11 AM
Brían 23 Nov 01 - 03:25 PM
Alice 23 Nov 01 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Arjay 07 Dec 01 - 12:47 AM
Mr Red 07 Dec 01 - 08:53 PM
The Shambles 08 Dec 01 - 04:08 AM
Don Firth 08 Dec 01 - 03:40 PM
GUEST,Frank 08 Dec 01 - 04:29 PM
Rich(bodhránai gan ciall) 08 Dec 01 - 07:11 PM
heric 08 Dec 01 - 07:41 PM
heric 08 Dec 01 - 08:03 PM
Gloredhel 08 Dec 01 - 08:08 PM
The Shambles 09 Dec 01 - 03:02 AM
The Shambles 09 Dec 01 - 03:11 AM
Wilfried Schaum 09 Dec 01 - 07:04 AM
GUEST,Alice 09 Dec 01 - 11:23 AM
lady penelope 09 Dec 01 - 11:50 AM
WyoWoman 09 Dec 01 - 01:29 PM
Alice 09 Dec 01 - 01:43 PM
heric 09 Dec 01 - 04:07 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 09 Dec 01 - 05:01 PM
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Subject: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 11:50 AM

Is it difficult to argue that the voice is a musical instrument?

For all the (UK legal) definitions, refer to a musical instrument being 'a contrivance or a mechanism that can be played to produce musical tones or sounds'.

Is the voice a contrivance or mechanism i.e. is it an instrument?


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 11:55 AM

Ask Bobby McFarrin?


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 11:55 AM

yes.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,An Croenen
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 11:57 AM

Why do you want to use that definition?


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Burke
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 12:08 PM

OED's 1st definition, meaning oldest meaning of the the word:

instrument, That which is used by an agent in or for the performance of an action; a thing with or through which something is done or effected; anything that serves or contributes to the accomplishment of a purpose or end; a means.

I use my voice (agent) to sing (performance of action), therefore, it's an instrument.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Noreen
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 12:09 PM

To state the obvious, I think you'll need to find the legal definition of 'contrivance' and 'mechanism', Shambles.

Good question.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 12:26 PM

A long time ago I heard a music critic desribe Paul Robeson as the Worlds greatest musical instrument, but of course there was only one Paul.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Wincing Devil
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 12:30 PM

I often refer to the human voice as "A double reed wind instument, the easiest instrument to learn to play, the most difficult to truly master"

Wincing Devil   >;-(
A hat is a LOT cheaper than a toupee, and nobody wonders if it's a hat!


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: 53
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 12:40 PM

i think so. BOB


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Melani
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 01:43 PM

I sure hope so. It's the only one I can play with any degree of confidence.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 02:01 PM

An instrument to some... a weapon to others...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 02:10 PM

I've always assumed that the voice is a musical instrument. Well . . . with some folks, whether it's a musical instrument or not might be a matter for debate.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Chip2447
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 02:27 PM

Must be, I can't play the damn thing.
Chip2447


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 02:40 PM

the human voice is the geatest of all musical instruments


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM

It's certainly easier to carry around than a jumbo guitar.

R


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Brían
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 03:01 PM

I would argue that my voice is not an intrument, although I would argue all musical instruments(even accordians & bodhrans : ) )have voices. My vocal chords, lips, tongue, pallette, diaphragm are the instrument.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 03:29 PM

Whether it is or it isn't, I've always found it odd that, at least in the United States, the one workshop they rarely have at a festival is a workshop on singing. They'll have banjo workshops, guitar workshops, accordian workshops... you name it. I hosted an interesting one ONE TIME, with Gordon Bok and Sandy and Caroline Paton. We talked about influences, and how we sing is a reflection of what we listen to (as obvious as that is.) Gordon, God Bless him, ackowledged that one of the singers he really liked was Perry Como. Not to be outdone, I ripped into a version of Blues Suede Shoes. Whatever the definition (and whatever the reason for needing one... a government grant, perhaps) the voice is an instrument we never fully realize the potential of. (Sorry to leave that "of" dangling out there all by itself. It seems like singing is a more honored tradition in the British Isles than it is over here. Unaccompanied singing is a rarity here, with some notable exceptions.

Let's hear one for the British Isles!

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 04:14 PM

Well I take your point but let us not praise the UK legal system too much.

S 182.1 of the Licensing Act 1964 makes an apparent distinction, allowing 'public entertainment by way of music and singing only which is provided solely by the reproduction of recorded sound, or by not more than two performers, or sometimes in one of those ways and sometimes in the other.' Presumably those who drafted this nonsense provision believed that, under the law, the word music did not necessarily mean singing (and presumably vice-versa?).


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 05:08 PM

By my definition, absolutely. Websters may argue it with me, but hey...I am a creative vocabularist anyway, making half of it up as I go along! :D


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Deckman
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 05:12 PM

As one who studied voice formally over the years, one of the first things you learn is that YES, the voice is a musical instrument. You also quickly learn that it is one of the most difficult musical instruments to master. Well ... duh! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 05:55 PM

It seems simplest to ignore both legal and dictionary definitions here and simply declare that the human voice is the greatest musical instrument there is. Whether you listen to Paul Robeson, or to Hebridean singers, or to tenores from Sardinia, or singers from many other traditions, you become aware of the amazing power that the human voice has to express a range of sound, which no man-made instrument can approach. The naked voice can express an intensity of emotion which is extremely difficult to render satisfactorily through artificial (ie constructed) instruments alone. I hope that I will never be faced with such a choice but I would, if it came to it, sacrifice all of Beethoven, Bach, and Haydn for one song from the lips of Flora MacNeill of Barra.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Paul
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 06:10 PM

One could argue forever over the sematics of what is or isn't a musical instrument, in much the same way as people argue about what is or isn't 'art'

My simple rule as to the meaning of a word, is in terms of way it is commonly used and understood. (man on the clapham omnibus etc..)

As such, I'd say no, the voice isn't an instrument:

"Can you play an instrument?" "No, but I can sing"

Paul


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 07:01 PM

Shambles, what are the implications in terms of UK licensing for this? Could someone playing guitar and singing at the same time class as 2 musicians (heaven forbid)?

Jon


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Kaleea
Date: 22 Nov 01 - 12:53 AM

Vibrating one's vocal folds (singing or vocalising) is known by anthropologists as the first instrument, followed by clapping hands & slapping of thighs & other body parts, and then manipulating sticks & stones, and later drums with skins & flutelike man made instruments. All are instruments of music which one may use to convey a musical thought to another. The Mills Brothers were quite well known for using their instruments (voices) to convey the musical thoughts they conceived (the sounds of trombones, trumpets, and other instruments) to their aduiences. Ella Fitzgerald used her voice to perform a style of singing known as "scat" singing, and her voice was considered one of the instruments of the jazz ensemble in which she performed.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Nov 01 - 02:02 AM

Jon the answer to your question is it would be up to each indvidual council as Licensing Authority to decide.

In practice this means the many and varied ways in which the many individual unelected Licensing Managers define it.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Síle
Date: 22 Nov 01 - 02:28 AM

Nah. Singin's singin', playin's playin'. Vive la différence!


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: X
Date: 22 Nov 01 - 03:43 AM

Only for those who can't play the banjo!


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Nov 01 - 06:22 AM

Artistically, I'd say yes; legally, I haven't a clue (no change there then); personally, mine is a blunt instrument registered with the constabularly as a lethal weapon!
RtS (old jokes bin will soon be empty, honest!)


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Nov 01 - 07:20 PM

I remember being told off here recently when I was accused of making a distinction between musicians and singers. Or implying that singers were not musicians.

I was not of course. I am quite happy to view the voice as an instrument and singers as musicians. Unfortunatly the paid officers who are making these interpretations are not musicians and do not wish to ask musicians, who are the experts after all.

Some of their interpretations are quite surreal.....


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 23 Nov 01 - 05:11 AM

In educational terms, Voice is definitely an instrument..

My daughter's in 4th year Secondary (High) School, and her Music course required her to take 2 instruments - one of which could have been Voice..

So, yeah...

it's an instrument..

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Brían
Date: 23 Nov 01 - 03:25 PM

O.K, O.K.. Whatever the voice is, I enjoy to hear it raw and unadulerated whenever possible which is the part I left out in my last post. I am seeing excellent arguments for both, so I'm not going to argue with people I agree with.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Alice
Date: 23 Nov 01 - 06:12 PM

I've seen/heard people call the voice the first instrument and also reference to "vocal or instrumental" and "voice or instrument" assuming that an instrument is a man made artifact and the voice is not(click here. I wondered, Shambles, if your question is directly related to how the law regarding pub music is being implemented in Britain, not the general question of Mudcatter opinions.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Arjay
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 12:47 AM

As an instrument, the human voice is a little like the guitar or the piano -- very easy to play in a rudimentary fashion, very difficult to play really well.  (Most of us can sing, even as toddlers, and nearly all can be taught to sing, but few can really 'master' the instrument.)

This is obviously the first instruments ever made music with.  (Hard to prove that, but I have little doubt of it.)

Anyone who's heard Bobby McFerrin or Yma Sumac or even less unusual vocalists such as Pavarotti, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Baez, Tony Bennett, Paul Robeson, Bill Medley, Mahalia Jackson, Roy Orbison, K D Lang, Joan Sutherland, Patsy Cline, Miriam Makeba,* etc., can recognize that this instrument is capable of a lot more than most of us can do without a lot of training.

Yeah, Shambles, I, too, am annoyed by the common practice of saying,  "... the singers and the musicians...," as though singers are not included in the category "musicians,"   and "singing" is not "music.!"

Arjay

*These may not be the world's greatest singers, but they are among those who came to mind when I tried to think of unusually good singers who are very well known. There are several other folk singers who also come to my mind, but their names may not be as recognizable.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Mr Red
Date: 07 Dec 01 - 08:53 PM

for years I was a poet (make that frustrated songwriter) because I reasoned only musicians can write songs.
OK call me stupid but I am cured now
it was only after a few months of singing in public that that little old light went on and I realised I carried a musical instrument with me at all times and could be invoked as soon as the muse knocked on my cranium.
of course the other truth is I had learned to exercise my instrument also
So the answer to the question is a resounding YES from this corner.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 04:08 AM

I wondered, Shambles, if your question is directly related to how the law regarding pub music is being implemented in Britain, not the general question of Mudcatter opinions.

Well it was both but wider than 'pub' music. It is more how the law here defines all things musical, in terms not really 'in tune' with how informed people would define it. As the opinions here demonstrate very well.

I think i would like to see the law move to be in line with this thinking, rather than than the other way round.

How does the the law define things musical where you live?


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 03:40 PM

In 1962 during the Seattle World's Fair, a lot of musicians of various kinds found work. A bagpiper in the Keith Pipe Band got a regular job playing the pipes at a pub. After playing there a couple of evenings, somebody told him that he had to belong to the A. F. of M., the musicians' union. He went to the union office to sign up, and the fellow there practically threw him out. Nothing in the books about bagpipes. Piano-players, guitar-players, drummers, Swiss bell-players, all kinds of stuff -- but no bagpipers listed. So the piper went back to the pub and told them that apparently he didn't have to join. In fact, they wouldn't let him join.

He started drawing crowds. There was a newspaper article about him. One of the local TV stations did a story about him. Then, a guy came down from the union and chewed him out for not joining the union. The union guy was so rude to the piper that the piper told him to go stuff it.

The union brought pressure on the pub. The piper wrote some letters and made some phone calls and got an official ruling on bagpipes. It seems that according to somebody important's definition, the bagpipes are not a musical instrument, they are an implement of war.

The piper didn't have to join the union.

(This is a true story. It happened here in Seattle in 1962)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 04:29 PM

Can a singer be a musician without playing an instrument? I think so. When a singer is a musician, they usually play an instrument such as a piano. Is the voice an instrument? Only when it makes music (which is in the ear of the beholder). An instrument might be a tool to be used for a purpose. One could broaden the definition to include a singer as an instrumentalist quite easilly I think although traditionally there were times in music history such as in the early Ars Nova period of vocal music and the Southern Apalachian play party where only the voice was employed. There was a religious prejudice against the use of musical contraptions that were considered to be the devil's property. Pagannini and blues singers have reputed to have made a pact with old scratch.

In the world of jazz, there is a condescension given to the "chick singer" by chauvinistic male musicians because there is a suspicion that they are not musically trained as are the non-vocalist musicians. Unfortunately, many would-be jazz or chanteuse vocalists at entry level positions have been responsible for this sterotype. The entry song is usually "Summertime" by Gershwin. Thus, there are jazz musicians who will make the distinction between vocalist and instrumentalist.

As to folk music, the distinction is not clear if you recognize the musical elements that go into "dowdling" or mouth music from Ireland, African chants or East Indian singing...one would be hard put not to call this instrumental music of sorts.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Rich(bodhránai gan ciall)
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 07:11 PM

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald; Lambert, Hendricks and Ross; Keller Williams or the previously mentioned Bobby McFerrin.

Take into account that it can sound really, really good or reeeeaaalllly bad, depending on who's doing the singing much the same as a banjo, accordian, bodhrán, set of pipes and so on.

Take into account that you have to learn to use the voice properly.

I'd vote yes.

Rich


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: heric
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 07:41 PM

Shambles: I don't see how each "indvidual council" could come up with any real differences in interpretation there, except for one silly one: The restriction says two "performers," and that trumps arguments over instruments. You could have two people all geared up with Bass drums on their backs and cymbals on their toes, etc; singing in unison, and they could alternate each song with recorded music, but no karaoke machines could ever be used with anyone singing along.

The only way I can see that you reached your conclusion ("word music did not necessarily mean singing"), is if there was a typo: You meant to write: "only one of which" when you actually wrote "only which."

Anyway, have you resolved this with those authorites since this thread started?

Dan K.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: heric
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 08:03 PM

Actually, if there's no typo in your excerpt, then it appears to me they have rather cleverly banned both karaoke and that hip hop / rap practice of old where they make music by scratching LPs back and forth, whatever that's called.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Gloredhel
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 08:08 PM

I'd say yes, of course I also call myself both vocalist and instrumentlist, not because I don't consider the voice an instrument, but because it is unique, being the only instrument naturally attached to the human body.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 03:02 AM

S 182.1 of the Licensing Act 1964 makes an apparent distinction, allowing 'public entertainment by way of music and singing only which is provided solely by the reproduction of recorded sound, or by not more than two performers, or sometimes in one of those ways and sometimes in the other.' Presumably those who drafted this nonsense provision believed that, under the law, the word music did not necessarily mean singing (and presumably vice-versa?).

There is one officer who considers that customers who come with instruments, show a prior intention to play and are thus performers. He would not consider customers arriving with just their voice and the intention of singing, to be performers.

Also that two booked and paid performers, did not need a licence if they were joined by any number of customers.

But a collection of more than two unpaid customers playing instruments would form the main public entertainment and would need a licence.

Still trying out find out what he would consider more than two customers just useing their voices.

If you asked 20 such officers detailed questions on this you would get 20 different answers and these answers would form that council's policy.

As for resolving the issue: See the UK Minister insults folk music thread and the UK folkies urgent help one.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 03:11 AM

Uk folkies help etc

Minister insults

Session harassment for more details.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 07:04 AM

Is the voice an instrument?
Let us put aside legal definitions and look at the problem from the philologist's point of view.
For voice we figuratively can use organ (from Greek organon, stem *erg- , German *werk-, English *work-: a device for working)
The same way organ figuratively is used for an instrument, from Latin instrumentum, the corresponding translation of organon.
Since I have no reason to mistrust my excellent dictionaries, let me now proudly present the syllogism:
Voice = organ
Organ = instrument
______________________
Voice = instrument

Sing and enjoy Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: GUEST,Alice
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 11:23 AM

I see I didn't cast my vote in my previous message - Yes, the voice can be an instrument. There are musicians unions just for singers (such as opera, my voice coach belongs to the American Guild of Musical Artists, New York, as well as the American Federation of Musicians - Local 709).

Shambles, I don't think the U.S. or my state of Montana even has a legal definnition for musical instrument - there is no need for one as far as I know, but I've never had an occasion to come up against the legal system regarding music performance. Maybe a search on the 'net regarding US law and music would bring one up. All you may find would relate mostly to copyright.

Alice Flynn


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: lady penelope
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 11:50 AM

Yes a singer is a musician if they are competent in their field. I would take that to imply a knowledge of music theory and the ability to use / play their voice well.

I would not call myself a musician because, although I sing quite well, my knowledge of musical theory ( and how to use it ) is rudimentary at best. If some one was to hand me a piece of music and ask me to join in, I wouldn't be able to.

Is the voice an instrument in the legal sense? What would be more advantageous to me?

In a practical sense, of course it is. If I don't practise, my ability to use my voice diminishes. If I don't use good technique, my ability to use my voice for extended periods of time will be curtailed. I find it no different than when I was learning to play the trumpet.

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 01:29 PM

Well, I've been a singer all my life, but I"m just now beginning to consider myself a musician. And my voice is my instrument. The distinction for me is that being able to sing is sort of a fact of my life -- I was born to a family that values music, to a mother who sings, so I had no choice. But the training (informal) I've been doing since I joined up with Mudcat in 1999 is to learn a repertoire, learn to sing with other musicians, learn some of the mechanics of finding my key, knowing when and where to come in and go out, knowing the appropriate etiquette in the community of musicians and so forth. So ... nature and my mommy made me a singer, but Mudcat is making me a musician, and my instrument in the before and after has been and will be my voice.

Claro? ww


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: Alice
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 01:43 PM

Shambles, your laws on making music in public places may be unique to your country. Frankly, I can't think of any other place in the world (except Afghanistan under the Taliban) where public music could be a crime.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: heric
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 04:07 PM

Shambles: I just read through the links you provided and much of the other leads extending from those. It's hard for me to say something sensible on the specific use of language. I know how frustrating it is to be exactly where you are: Stuck in a purely political quagmire disguised within legalese.

In the U.S., as someone pointed out, the basic problem could be argued in terms of constitutional law, but I haven't a clue how that translates into U.K. theory.

In this thread, you're dealing with that two performer exception to the basic problem, and I would guess the councils in question can act with some confidence when they don't apply exceptions as broadly as they might be interpreted, so you're really just back to the politics of it all.

So I'm no help. But I'll note, for what it's worth, that another way to phrase your question here is "When does audience participation amount to 'performance.'"


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Subject: RE: Is the voice an instrument?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 05:01 PM

Is the voice an instrument? Most emphatically yes.
How can I keep from singing?


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