A Different Voice, A Different Song: Reclaiming Community through the Natural Voice and World Song

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book traces the history of a grassroots scene that has until now operated largely beneath the radar, but that has been gently gathering force since the 1970s. At the core of this scene today are the natural voice movement, founded on the premise that 'everyone can sing', and a growing transnational community of amateur singers participating in multicultural music activity. The book reveals the intriguing web of circumstances and motivations that link these two trends, highlighting their potential with respect to current social, political and educational agendas. It investigates how and why songs from the world's oral traditions have provided the linchpin for the natural voice movement, revealing how the musical traditions of other cultures not only provide a colourful repertory but also inform the ideological, methodological and ethical principles on which the movement itself is founded. It shows how amateur singers who are not musically literate can become competent participants in a vibrant musical community and, in the process, find their voice metaphorically as well as literally. These trends are theorised in terms of the politics of participation, the transformative potential of performance, building social capital, the global village, and reclaiming the arts of celebration and conviviality. The stories that emerge reveal a nuanced web of intersections between the local and global, one which demands a revision of the dominant discourses of authenticity, cultural appropriation and agency in the post-colonial world, and ultimately points towards a more progressive politics of difference.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages334
ISBN (Electronic)B00MN95PJ2
ISBN (Print)9780199354559 , 9780199354542
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • Natural voice
  • Community choirs
  • Singing
  • Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network
  • Frankie Armstrong
  • Oral tradition
  • World song
  • Performance
  • Musical competency
  • Intercultural understanding


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