Monday, October 9, 2017

What's With the Falsettos?

As I have sometimes alluded to, I'm a sometime fan of classical rock; though sometimes making cracks about some examples that I thought were excessive.

However, there's a phenomenon that seems confusing to me: periodically, male groups came out with songs suns wholly or partly in falsetto. What's with this odd practice? Frank Valli and the Four Seasons were particularly notorious; with songs like "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Sherry." But even the Beach Boys have gone the falsetto route, with "Sloop John B." Others include Lou Christie, Beck, and The Bee Gees.

I have two possible theories for this:

(1) The occasional male group singing in falsetto is a kind of psychic rejection of puberty; with for boys no less than with girls puberty has a mixed bag to go with it.*

(2) The persistence of falsetto singing guys might be a cultural longing for castrati. As barbarous as it sounds, for several hundred years prepubescent boys were castrated to maintain their voices in an alto or soprano range.**

Anyway, I'm really puzzled. Does anyone have an idea for why male falsettos occur so often in popular music?



*Things suddenly got more serious; and there's no way out. I admit to having been ambivalent about it all at the time.

**A fictional example of this is found in Anne Rice's book Cry to Heaven. Warning: it is explicit; and not among her best. In my opinion, you might enjoy Feast of All Saints more. It's a novel about the Free People of Color in old New Orleans.

10 comments:

John Holton said...

If I'm not mistaken, one of Lou Christie's backup singers (both women) sang his "falsetto" parts.

Mike said...

It seems falsetto has a long history in singing and speaking for men and women. Thanks for invitation to investigate this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsetto

Cloudia said...

HUGE part of traditional Hawaiian music too! Dennis Pavao

Cloudia said...

What you turn your attn to, you make interesting, Angel!

Jono said...

I always thought a bit of falsetto now and then was a novel way to sing. Can't say I thought much about the psycho-sexual ramifications, but it also occurred to me that the Four Seasons "Walk Like a Man" sung in a falsetto voice was kind of ironic (Walk like a man, but sing like a girl).

allenwoodhaven said...

I believe it started as a way to give religious all male choirs the full range of voices. As for pop culture, I guessed some just like the sound!

Duckbutt said...

Falsetto singing produced a novelty effect. Probably not a psychic cause behind it.

The Anne Rice book was depressing.

Bilbo said...

In one of the Marx Brothers movies, a character was described as having a falsetto voice. Chico replied that he had an uncle who had a falsetto teeth. Oy.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

The Marx Brothers always came up with a clever line.

roth phallyka said...

Thanks for invitation to investigate this.


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