Christian Long

Eric Whitacre: A Choir As Big as the Internet

In TED Talks on April 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Extra credit reflection by ABBIE P.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Eric Whitacre:  A Choir As Big as the Internet

As a musician, of course this video strikes me. Music in general always catches my attention, whether or not it’s a good thing, but this video struck me in a way that I’m almost unsure of.

I’ve been singing in professional choirs since I was seven years old, and the work going into harmonizing is definitely underappreciated. Merely standing on the wrong side of a person can throw everything off, and yet this choir has harmonized almost perfectly just through videos. They cannot hear one another, and not every single one of them is going to have the highest quality audio system on their computers, so this collaboration of voices through videos not only impresses me, but it perplexes me.

Of course, because it’s through the computer, the opportunity to go through and edit the recordings is present, but would have been very time consuming to do so. Whether or not they did this depends on how impressed I am by it. Although over-producing music is very popular in this day and age, I don’t believe in it. The thing I don’t trust about recordings is that with today’s technology, you can make almost anyone sound like they have a decent voice. Part of the challenge of a choir is listening to the people around you, and harmonizing with everyone so that it sounds like one large voice, which I think is what bothers me so much about this, no matter how remarkable it is. There were very few moments where the choir didn’t sound absolutely mind-blowing, but I feel like technology is making it easier for people to appear to have talent.

The reason I say this is because earlier this year I listened to one of my favourite artists live, and to my dismay, it was nothing like what I had expected. The vocalist sounded nothing like the voice I had listened to repeatedly on the radio, the drummer couldn’t keep the rhythm passed the chorus, and I realized just how much work must have been put into producing their CD’s.

I’m not saying that Eric Whitacre did anything like this, but it does bring up some concerns, because you never know with technology what has been modified and what has not. Either way, this performance was simply spectacular. Whether or not it was so remarkable because these voices worked so well together, or because the amount of work put into making them sound remarkable, is still at question.

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