Linguistics Seminar: Emotional vocal tones and emotional texts: a new approach to analysing the sung voice
Guest lecturer: Kristal Spreadborough, University of New England
In everyday communication, humans draw on a rich pallet of vocal cues in the expression and perception of emotional meaning. This occurs on a variety of levels, from literal linguistic meanings to tone of voice conveying emotion in a non-linguistic way. Similar vocal cues also play a role in musical communication, specifically in the sung voice. The voice, then, may act as an ecological link between spoken and musical communication. If this is the case, a listener’s lived experience of everyday vocalisations may play an important role in their perception of emotional meaning in song, both in terms of linguistic (namely, lyrics) and in non-linguistic (namely, voice quality) content. The potential synergies and conflicts that arise from these two, simultaneously presented, channels of emotional information present a fruitful yet under explored avenue for analysis.
This paper will present a novel analytical approach to the sung voice by proposing a new, systematic, analytical technique for exploring the emotional relationship between voice quality and lyrics. The approach will be demonstrated through an analysis of the vocal line in Kris Kristofferson’s “Casey’s Last Ride”. This approach, which has a clear application in musicological contexts, has been informed by psychological (specifically music and linguistic) literature and methodologies and presents numerous avenues for collaboration between musicology and music psychology. Thus, this paper will present an innovative approach to the analysis of the sung voice, while also highlighting potential areas of collaboration between the disciplines of musicology and music psychology.