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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Vocal Music - Overview

We’ve covered instrumental music in quite some depth. Over the next few blogs we’ll look at vocal music. In this blog I’ll give a quick overview of some the things we’ll cover.

What Is Vocal Music?

Vocal music is a form of musical expression that focuses on the use of the human voice as the primary instrument. It is one of the oldest and most universal forms of music, found in diverse cultures and traditions around the world.


Classical Vocal Music: This encompasses various styles such as opera, art songs (lieder), oratorios, and masses. Operas are large-scale theatrical productions with elaborate sets, costumes, and arias, while art songs are typically solo vocal compositions accompanied by piano or other instruments. Oratorios are similar to operas but are usually performed in concert settings without staging. We’ll cover each of these in more detail in future blogs.

Choral Music: Choral music involves groups of singers performing together. Choirs can be of various sizes and perform works ranging from religious music (e.g., hymns and motets) to secular pieces. Choral music is often performed a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) or with orchestral accompaniment.

Folk and Traditional Vocal Music: These are songs and chants passed down through generations within a specific cultural or regional context. Folk vocal music often reflects the values, history, and daily life of the people from a particular area.

Pop and Contemporary Vocal Music: This includes popular songs from various genres like pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, and country, where the focus is on the vocal performance of the artist. Pop and contemporary vocal music often feature the use of modern technology, such as autotune and electronic effects.

Jazz Vocal Music: Jazz vocalists use their voice as an instrument, improvising melodies and phrasing over jazz standards or original compositions. Scat singing, a vocal technique of using non-lexical syllables to improvise, is a notable feature in jazz vocal performances.

World Vocal Music: Different cultures around the world have their own unique vocal traditions, such as Indian classical music with its intricate ragas and talas or African music with its rich rhythmic patterns and vocal polyphony.

Vocal music can be performed solo, in duets, or with larger ensembles. Throughout history, vocal music has been used for various purposes, including religious ceremonies, storytelling, entertainment, and social gatherings. It continues to be an essential part of human expression, connecting people across cultures and generations.

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