Saturday, 4 December 2010

Show us your tonsils

I've always HATED musicals, either on stage or on film, but - in a strange way - I have always admired people who can bellow in tune. Ethel Merman was, perhaps, the finest exponent of shouting in perfect pitch. This requires a particular sort of skill, and was developed long before the days of electronic amplification, when the audience in the back row had to hear every word to get the story.

I think the first people to develop this sort of public address as an art form were the French, medieval Troubadours. Standing on windy heaths, they would shout out the latest melody, accompanied by the sort of instruments that would carry over long distances, like sackbutts and crumhorns. Here's Stubby Kaye, following a long tradition of ignoring the microphone:


  1. And another reason to admire them is that all of this was done long before the days when a computor could adjust a bum note during editing.

  2. I bet you are one of the people who love Sondheim too, John. Hope you had a good time in Sheffield - looks like it!