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Australian Voice
2022, Volume 23
From Participatory to Online: Exploring Contexts of Group Singing and the Role of the Singer

AUTHOR: Diane Hughes

ABSTRACT: This article discusses the contexts of pre- and COVID-19 impacted group singing. It begins by outlining a purposely composed work, Wordsong, that sought to create organisational identity and foster community through in-person participatory and presentational singing. The subsequent online group singing strategies that are analysed and discussed, also sought to construct new musical identities and, for many, to create or sustain communities. Described as providing a ‘lifeline’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, the context of group singing online, particularly in relation to the multitracking of a group performance, ultimately changes the role of the singer within the group aesthetic. Indeed, like most recordings, the overall aesthetic is often engineered by someone other than the singer or singers. This creates several considerations when analysing the participatory ethos of group singing online. Until latency issues are resolved and appropriate technologies are developed to enable the real-time participatory or presentational singing afforded by works such as Wordsong, then group singing online is restricted in its traditional group singing capability. Instead, it is the singer’s perception of their individual sound that becomes a focus. This is particularly evident in relation to vocal ensemble strategies that were utilised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The article concludes with a model of the transformation from participatory singer to online audience member, that delineates the place or role of the singer within this transformation.

To cite this article:
Hughes, D. (2022). From Participatory to Online: Exploring Contexts of Group Singing and the Role of the Singer. Australian Voice, 23, 60-71.

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