Sunday, January 11, 2009

Musical Androgyny

The Cliks are one of the most fascinating bands in existence - the lead singer, Lucas Silveira, in particular.

Here's why:

As someone who thinks she knows enough about music to write about it, I haven't actually been listening to popular music for very long. I'd been a classical musician since I was quite young, but I've only been listening to popular music for a few years, and one of the first things I noticed as I started to listen was the overwhelming influence of sexual attraction. And not simply as a subject of the music, but as a part of the music itself.

The vast majority of popular music is sung, and one's attraction, or lack of attraction, to the singer (either in voice or appearance) greatly influences the way we perceive the music. The instrumentalists, too - one could write books on the guitar as a phallic symbol. This isn't a bad thing, certainly! I used to wonder, though - what would androgynous popular music sound like?

Not asexual music - that's what (some) classical music is for. The question is more difficult than it seems. What does an androgynous singing voice sound like? The first thing that comes to my mind is the sound of a boy's choir - but that brings us back to the asexual problem! I really can't imagine what normal, adult, androgynous singing would sound like. (Although, it's quite possible I simply haven't heard it yet!)

There is another solution, though. I first heard the Cliks on NPR. My first thought was, I like the singer. She has a great voice! After I listened to the interview and realized that Lucas was an FTM, however, it became obvious that he had accomplished something amazing.

The combination of a female (but not overly feminine) voice with a male (but not overly masculine) appearance creates androgynous music without sacrificing sexuality. In fact, many of the Cliks' songs are rather overtly sexual. By avoiding the typical feminine or masculine attraction, we are forced to focus on the song and on the music itself - yet without losing sight of the singer.

Is anyone familiar with a comparable MTF singer? I would imagine that the effect would be much the same.

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