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DumbstruckA Cultural History of Ventriloquism$
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Steven Connor

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184331

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184331.001.0001

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Vocal Reinforcement

Vocal Reinforcement

(p.327) 15 Vocal Reinforcement

Steven Connor

Oxford University Press

The conception of power articulated, as discussed in this chapter, is interesting. The idea of the reach of the voice seems to emphasize its power to remain itself over distances that would ordinarily weaken or diffuse it. However, the reach of the voice is also associated with its ability to multiply itself into different forms. The ventriloquial voice is powerful both because it is able to retain its individuality and because it is able to lose it. Perhaps co-operating with this conception of the self-transformative voice is the idea of the voice of the castrato or falsetto voice, the idea, in other words, of a male voice whose power comes from its capacity to incorporate a female register; the castrato voice was never heard as ‘feminine’ or emasculated. The guides to ventriloquism which multiplied in the latter half of the 19th century similarly emphasize the qualities of strength and vigour required of the voice, along with the necessity of continuous care for the vocal organs.

Keywords:   conception, power, voice, castrato, falsetto, feminine, ventriloquism, vocal organs

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