- So You Want to Sing Music by Women: A Guide for Performers by Matthew Hoch and Linda Lister
So You Want to Sing Music by Women is the sixteenth entry in an ongoing series of 'So you want to sing…' volumes published by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), which is based in North America, but includes members from more than thirty-five countries. Seventeen volumes in the series (out of twenty to date) focus on particular genres. This one takes a different direction, as it seeks to educate about, and advocate for, the work of women in all major fields of composition for the voice. Matthew Hoch and Linda Lister served as primary authors for this entry in the series, with contributions by Matthew Edward, Erin Guinup, Wendy LeBorgne, Scott McCoy, and Amanda Wansa Morgan.
Following an Executive Editor's foreword by Allen Henderson and a foreword by Sharon Mabry, two chapters provide a brief history of women's role in music and an overview of challenges that women composers have faced and continue to encounter. The next chapters are titled 'Art songs by Women', 'Operas by Women', 'Choral Music by Women', 'Experimental Music and Extended Techniques', 'Music Theater by Women', 'CCM by Women', 'Singing and Voice Science', 'Vocal Health for Singers', 'Using Audio Enhancement Technology', 'Advocacy for Women Composers', and 'Music by Women: The Future'. These are followed by an appendix with additional resources, a glossary, an index, and notes on the authors and contributors. The front matter includes a list of figures and an 'Online Supplement Note'. The print editions are on acid-free paper.
The authors/editors of this volume have done an outstanding job of covering women composers, songwriters, and performers across centuries and in various genres. (These varying professions are distinctly outlined in the appropriate chapters.) For most of these women, a sentence or two provides a biographical sketch highlighting the background, education, career, social setting, style, or other circumstances pertinent to her life and work. Some are represented by a paragraph or more, and six women were interviewed for the appropriate genre chapters: Lori Laitman, Leonna Kirchoff, Rosephanye Powell, Meredith Monk, Georgia Sitt, and Martha Bassett. Occasionally, when a composer appears in more than one chapter, that biographical information could have been condensed the second (or third) time, but that is a minor quibble, and the repetition does save going back to find the original entry. The biographical notes are, for the most part, primarily thumbnail sketches, since more copious information is generally available elsewhere. Seventy-two photographs, art reproductions, music excerpts, and diagrams are found throughout the text, although, in the review copy, many seemed slightly less than crisply printed. All are a welcome addition to the many pages of text. Extensive footnotes also add to the comprehensive coverage.
Copious audio and video clips are indicated by an eighth-note symbol within the relevant text, although, to see what is contained in the 'Online Supplement', one must have a digital device on hand. The quality of the clips varies considerably, but, to their credit, many individuals and recording companies generously allowed the use of their music. Vocal exercises and examples are also included. A spot-check of excerpts shows that many recordings are available in other formats, especially as CDs, should one wish to pursue more repertoire and, in some cases, better fidelity. When sampled in late August and early October, a few of the examples were unavailable, [End Page 37] due to legal issues or deletion of the material. This was a minor inconvenience, and one which may not be within the publisher's power to resolve. Overall, the clips provide a tremendously useful adjunct to the book. While a listing of audio samples within the text might have been useful, there are so many that their inclusion...