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Choralities

  • STEVEN CONNOR
Abstract

The voice has often been identified with the assertion of idiosyncrasy or exception (The Chanting Crowd: ‘We are all individuals!’ An Individual: ‘I'm not.’ Monty Python, The Life of Brian). This article explores why humans (though not uniquely them) feel urged to merge and magnify the individual voice through assimilating it to the voices of others. What are the powers, menaces, and satisfactions of these singular–plural megavoices, in choirs, collective chants, and other forms of what may be called chorality, that have become more familiar than ever in the mass spectacles (‘audicles’?) of sport, entertainment, and politics? I suggest that the chorus represents the challenge of the inchoate, in that it is the making manifest of what menaces music, the matter that must be made into form, a reservoir of unschooled energy that must be converted to information. I suggest that there may be an implicit relation between the individual voice and the collective voice it may seem to convoke, such that every individual vocality has a connection to a phantasmal chorality. Finally, I consider the political force of chorality, and the fantasy focused on and through the collective voice, and what this means in a world that seems to have moved from the dominion of the mass to that of the multitude.

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Corresponding author
Email: skc45@cam.ac.uk
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Twentieth-Century Music
  • ISSN: 1478-5722
  • EISSN: 1478-5730
  • URL: /core/journals/twentieth-century-music
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