Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Norman Carey

Committee Members

Eliot Bates

Thomas Bogdan

Johanna Devaney

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Music | Music Pedagogy | Music Performance


singing, vocality, performance, selfhood, Cathy Berberian, vocal pedagogy


Every vocal training technique relies on understandings of how a singer’s “voice,” both literal and metaphorical, participates in the act of interpreting the works of composers. Western classical singing, as codified by the early twentieth century, typically puts the singer in the role of the “medium” or “channel” for the composer. Later twentieth-century reactions promised liberation from the composer’s “voice” with a validation of the singer’s “authentic” or “natural” voice. This dissertation questions both sides of this binary and asks: what alternative models are possible? This work is in three parts. The first section provides an overview of pedagogical constructions of the singer’s “self” and “voice.” Next, an in-depth examination of singer and composer Cathy Berberian, whose collaborations with avant garde composers and use of expanded vocal techniques brought about new models for the relationships between composer and singer, singer and self. The final section of this work envisions new practices that draw upon the work of Berberian and others, seeking to offer contemporary singers tools for expanding artistic capacity and agency by exploring different understandings of the relationship between voice and self.