Column by Marcelo Contreras: Technique and feeling
“I respect everyone’s taste, but the girl has a nasty timbre of voice. She doesn’t vocalize. She is not understood and her lyrics are destitute, ”the Spanish producer and journalist Julián Ruiz stated about Rosalía, in your Twitter account.
“A reflection of the current crap”, concluded the professional who has worked with Orquesta Mondragón and Alaska y los Pegamoides, among others.
Musicians and producers have different evaluation capacities and filters. The technical mastery permeates the judgments to limits that are difficult to understand by the average public, identifying errors that most overlook. The Chilean New Age artist Joakin Bello, for example, declared years ago that it was impossible for him to consider a musician without decades of conservatory training as a peer. On the other hand, a musical and aesthetic revolution such as punk was born precisely from the ennui of a youthful group eager to express themselves with bass guitar and drums, without having to read a score.
Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi has stated the stark difference between working with Ronnie James Dio as a singer thanks to his melodic talents, in contrast to Ozzy Osbourne, who was mostly content to vocalize his riff pattern. However, far from detracting from Dio’s unquestionable talent and his respectable stint in Sabbath, the golden age of the fathers of metal corresponds to the discography with the Prince of Darkness and his incomparable voice, capable of portraying fear and madness.
One of the definitive stars of jazz, Billie Holiday, was not exactly gifted, but she stirred consciences in the face of racism by interpreting Strange Fruit, without climbing several octaves to convey the horror of that “strange fruit” hanging from the trees, a sad allegory about the African Americans lynched and hanged.
Randomly Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Perry Farrell and Anthony Kiedis – the latter a notorious influence on the gifted Mike Patton when he first joined Faith No More – are technically understated singers, beyond question off key. In the Chilean case, the same thing happens with Jorge González. But they barely vocalize, we know who sings and they enchant, despite the opinion of experts.
In the last 20 years, television talent shows globally imposed the idea that in interpretation, it was an essential requirement to be a gymnast of the vocal cords, while Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera established acrobatics as a common denominator in pop. .
They are undoubtedly magnificent voices, but the caper does not overcome the feeling by itself. A thousand times Debbie Harry from Blondie, who sings as if she were walking through Manhattan chewing gum, a triple somersault from Ariana Grande’s privileged throat. The vulnerable whispers of Billie Eilish or the innate melody of Javiera Parra, before Cami’s impressive academic histrionics.
All of the above is debatable and finally, as Julián Ruiz said in the contemptuous claim against the charismatic Rosalía, a matter of taste. The technique guarantees mastery of a language, without necessarily representing a clause on expression and the talent to move.
It’s like what happened with the electric guitar in the 80s, when hordes of Eddie Van Halen clones appeared, surpassing his speed and unfolding chords to cramp the fingers, typical of instructional videos. But his guitar needs no further explanation. It just excites.