Making a Space for Epistemology and Aesthetics in Voice Studies


  • Marit J. MacArthur


(Mis)perceptions of Nina Sun Eidsheim as a vocalist and human being clearly inform The Race of Sound, grounding her empathy for and professional interest in others who have had similar experiences, as well as her resistance to categories of all sorts. She has learned so much from pleasing and perplexing different auditors and audiences, and she draws on insights derived from that experience to raise awareness, to instruct and liberate the rest of us from the categorical limitations and great simplifications of our perceptions of voice. By voice, here, I mean the physical sounds made by a speaking or singing or vocalizing human being that are perceived by the ears and brains of other human beings, not the voice on the page. The page, using words, presents many problems as a place to talk about the voice. Eidsheim’s work has helped embolden me, in my research on performative speech—primarily in poetry recordings, so far—to approach the voice with empirical methods (grounded in the physiology of voice production and perception, including sound visualization), balanced with equal attention to the cultural context in which a particular performance style arises, evolves, and is received by different audiences.





Symposium on The Race of Sound, by Nina Sun Eidsheim