.Apart from Track 1 and the English translations the material on this CD would have been recorded in about 1953.
Marita Gunther introduces the singing process as she experienced it, 45 years ago, through her teacher, Alfred Wolfsohn. This introduction replaces the one given by Alfred Wolfsohn, himself, in the German version of this disc. His introduction is now translated into written English. (See below track 2)
In the English version of the CD Marita Gunther (aged 25 years) gives a demonstration of the range of the voice with the words "Lend me your ears " (Julius Caesar, Shakespeare).
The sound barrier has now been broken by jet aircraft. The highest mountain peak on earth, Mount Everest, has now been climbed. This once impossible achievement has now been done. The speed limit for running the mile has now been broken by Roger Bannister, who has run the distance in under 4 minutes. The ability of the eye to see has been greatly increased through the work of Dr. Bates and his students. Although, in the opinion of the orthodox eye specialists, the eye was unable to be strengthened in its function. Dr. Renshaw, the famous Gestalt psychologist from the University of Ohio, has, through his training, not only achieved results in the field of sight but also in the fields of taste and memory, which were previously considered to be absolutely impossible. The psychologist, Herrigel, described in his book "Zen and the art of archery", a Japanese technique, in which barriers have been overcome that were previously considered to be impossible. Only in the field of the human voice has no development occurred in the last few centuries. On the contrary, music experts have recently discovered that the composers of the past, wrote for a far wider range of voice than is the case today. How is it possible that only today the voice of the Peruvian singer, Yma Sumac, was able to arouse such an interest in a modern public? From these immemorial legends about the voice........the chanting of Aum, a word that can produce power through being sung in the forty different ways of pronouncing it. The famous English writer, Aldous Huxley, wrote in his novel "Brave New World": "….against the instrumental background, a more than human voice started to sing. Once out of the throat, then out of the head, now through high peeps like a flute, now loaded with yearning overtones. It sang easily from the deep accord just at the edge of musical sound to the trill of a batsound high above the high C, that in 1770 at the ducal opera of Parma to the astonishment of Mozart, Lukretia Ajugari as the only singer in history to give out such an utterance."
The lack of creative fantasy in the contemporary artist has put the existence of such a voice into a nebulous future. But the vision of it is here. Here, in the following demonstrations given in this recording, we will show that the visions are at last moving towards embodied realisation.
The starting point of my work is the widening of the range of the voice, this is first shown here by four male voices who use the word 'Viola' through five octaves with the high tenor C as starting note.
The previous example is repeated by five female voices.
To eliminate the argument that these voices are 'artificial' or 'abnormal', a boy of eleven years produces the same example in six octaves, starting with the C above the high C. This proves that the expansion of the voical range uses possibilities that are available in men from childhood on.
In the chapter "The human clarinet" of the book "Music for my Ears" the American writer, Deans Taylor, writes: "Three chapters earlier, I talked about the tendency of the classical masters to compose themes whose character was mainly vocalised in their compositions. If you come to modern music, one will find composers who invent themes which are much more suitable for instruments than for voices. Above all, a lot of these melodies go beyond the range of the human voice. For instance, if one takes the opening theme of "Ein Heldenleben" (a Heroes Life) by Strauss, a human being, in the past or present, who could sing the first eight lines, it doesn't matter in which key, would not be a vocalist but a museum exhibit. I believe, it is not by accident that the field in which ultramodern music has been the least successful, is the one of writing for voices. The long jumps, the disharmonic intervals that characterize this music, make physical and intellectual demands on the soloist that go beyond the power of the average singer." This concept inspired work on the extension of the vocal range, a phenomenon that will enable composers, present and future, to use the human voice in an absolutely new way. As a proof that the voice is able to do these big jumps in modern music, first the boy then a female voice and finally a male voice perform jumps of four octaves. To show the possibilities for the future, a male voice (Roy Hart) repeats the jumps in five octaves. At the same time, it must be said that it is already possible to make words on these never before sung notes.
The extension of the vocal range is not an end in itself. It leads to much larger possibilities for the voice concerning dynamics, colours and means of expression, as the following examples will show. First male voices, then female voices, will sing the words Violin, Viola, Cello from the middle F to the deep D. This is in an octave that has never used for the human voice. The voices will then go down two octaves to the deep C on the word double bass.
To emphasise the instrumental possibilities of the voice which were already shown in the former examples, comparisons of voice and instrument will be made. With the viola, a female voice sings to the deepest tone of the viola. In the repetition of the example, the female voice is a third deeper. Then voice and viola unite in the cannon "Oh, wie wohl ist mir am Abend".
Another female voice will show how this human viola sound can be used in music literature. She sings part of the aria of Orpheus from Gluck, one octave deeper than the original. A repeat of the example will show how the voice is able to change its character of expression on the same notes, something impossible for the instrument.
The comparison between voice and instrument will be continued by a male voice performing scales in unison with a cello. In a further example, the voice sings an octave deeper than the cello. Afterwards the instrument and the voice unite in the same cannon.
The same voice now sings Schubert's "Meeresstille" (The Silence of the Sea), one octave below its normal range. This song was chosen to show how the range of the voice enhances the special atmosphere of this song.
The next comparison is between a female voice and a violin, in three scales from G, F sharp, F, one octave above the coloratura - F downwards, first played by the violin, then repeated from the voice. Voice and violin then move in thirds.
A violin now plays inthe highest register, an extract of one of the Hungarian dances by Brahms, repeated by the voice. The same will be performed in the deepest register of the violin. The voice will show in the second repetition how it possesses many more possibilities than the violin in this "competition".
If one subscribes to the opinion that the instrument is a projection of the human voice, then one won't be surprised by the next example, in which the same voice will adopt the character of the flute, even in its deepest tones.
In a free interpretation of the Russian folk song, "The Nightingale", the same voice shows how a range of four octaves can be used in singing a song.
Index page of "The Human Voice"