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Freya Jarman: "Benjamin Britten, the Beach Boys and Beyond: High Male Voices and Gender Politics in Late Twentieth-Century Music"

  • Wann 07.01.2016 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kupfergraben 5, Raum 501
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Veranstaltet von

Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Medienwissenschaft der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin



The third quarter of the twentieth century saw the ostensibly independent development of the high-pitched male voice in a few different musical arenas. In art music, Alfred Deller spearheaded the revival of the countertenor voice, bringing to the public awareness of a large repertoire of early music previously long archived. At the same time, dedicated new repertoire emerged for the countertenor voice under the pen of Benjamin Britten, who wrote for Deller the part of Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960). Meawhile, a new trend in popular music emerged at the intersections of doo wop, barbershop, and other vocal harmony genres; here, the falsetto lead enjoyed enormous popularity, and figures such as Frankie Valli and Brian Wilson appeared as the musical heroes of the hour. This paper attempts to trace some lines of cultural connection between these developments in vocal fashion, situating the adult male soprano voice in a long and diverse musical history. Moreover, whether or not some zeitgeist can be said to hold the voices together, this paper highlights the connections in cultural meaning that these voices bear, and the backdrop of meaning they further offer to later vocal developments in disco and dance music.

Freya Jarman is a Senior Lecturer in the University of London School of Music, where she was appointed after completing her doctoral thesis with Dr Ian Biddle. Born in the year in which both Elvis Presley and Maria Callas died, Freya’s research and teaching has covered the works of both artists and more, and she is committedly a ‘crossover artist’ in terms of the musical material she finds interesting. Her ‘way in’ to research is not first and foremost through repertoire, but through questions pertaining to music in culture, especially the voice and vocality, and especially through the critical lenses of queer theory and psychoanalytic theory. This leads her to various musical places, and she is as likely to be found talking about overdubbing in the music of the Carpenters as she is to be read in her research on how camp works musically.

Freya came to the job for the possibility of pursuing both research and teaching, and more or less manages both (while also enjoying her administrative role as Director of Undergraduate Studies). Her publications include a chapter on the changing sound of masculinity in opera at the turn of the nineteenth century, her monograph Queer Voices (2011), and forthcoming work on lip-syncing scenes in films. As a teacher, Freya channels her erstwhile ambitions to be a performer of some variety, and is committed to thinking outside of the boxes of pedagogy. Such commitment has been recognised by the Faculty (she won a Faculty Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in 2013), the University (she was the 2009 winner of a University Teaching Award for Excellence in Innovation), the Higher Education Academy (since being awarded Senior Fellowship in 2014), and the Central European University (who shortlisted her for the European Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities in 2014).

When the bell rings at the end of the school day, Freya goes home to her partner, with whom she enjoys make-and-do time, and watching anything starring Sandra Bullock.



Freya Jarman


ZtG-Veranstaltungskategorie: Gender-Veranstaltungen der Institute/Fakultäten der HU