Technologized and autonomized vocals in contemporary popular musics

Diane Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The application of technologies to the popular singing voice has enabled it to be conveyed in a myriad of contexts. In many ways, it is the use of technology (e.g. reinforced sound, broadcasting) that has allowed the development of contemporary singing to be more aligned to modes of speech than to the vociferous tone of vaudeville performers or to the resonant classical singing voice. The contemporary singing voice became more intimate. Technology has also enabled extended audibility of the singing voice. It allows for the singing voice to be placed within a spatial context and resultant aesthetic. This article discusses further advances in technologies (specifically looping) that allow contemporary singers to record, playback and layer in real time. Whereas a range of technologies extend the contemporary singing voice (e.g. amplification), looping technologies transform vocal capabilities so that a multiplicity of creativities and colours are simultaneously evident. The discussion distinguishes between technologized and autonomized singing. It does so on the basis that the use of looping technologies for contemporary singers facilitates a high level of autonomy (vocal and musical) in performance. The discussion outlines implemented strategies for the inclusion of looping in vocal studies at tertiary level and concludes with teacher perceptions that provide insight into the ways in which reflection, vocal development and looping foster understanding and development of the singing voice and musicality more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-182
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Music, Technology and Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Autonomy
  • Looping
  • Popular
  • Reinforced sound
  • Singing
  • Technology


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