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The Swingle Singers Anthology
A Capella Amadeus [52:23]
Bach Hits Back [53:25]
1812 [50:24]
Around the World - A Folk Song Collection [61:51]

The Swingle Singers may be said to combine a certain type of American music from the first part of the twentieth century with the culture of “old” Europe. Contrary to what one might imagine, this was originally a French group, founded in 1962, but directed by an American called Ward Swingle, who lived in Paris. The configuration of the group has never changed: eight singers (two each of sopranos, altos, tenors and bass-baritones) covering between them the whole of the vocal and “instrumental” range demanded by the adaptations or transpositions which, together with works created specially for them, go to make up their repertoire. The group drew on various sources of inspiration, Ward Swingle having been successively a member of the Blue Stars and Double Six in Paris. The latter group came into being in 1959 at the instigation of Mimi Perrin, herself a singer with the Blue Stars, as was Christiane Legrand, who became one of the soloists of the Swingles. Thanks to the technique of overdubbing, Double Six, comprising six voices, were able to reproduce in the studio the twelve voices usual with the great jazz bands – which explains their title. Texts, by Mimi Perrin, were in French. This is one of the basic differences between Double Six and the Swingle Singers, and one of the paradoxes about the latter, since Ward Swingle’s group adopts the configuration of a (double) quartet in the pure western (in fact, European) classical tradition, vocal as well as instrumental, while the lack of any articulated or “comprehensible” form of text aligns them more with the jazz of the beginning of the century, via the technique of scat singing. Ward Swingle’s intention, though, was not to compete with any American group, but rather to create an autonomous, original music genre, a free synthesis bridging the gap between one side of the Atlantic and the other.

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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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