Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

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By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 07, 2006

It was a long time in coming. But today, thanks to digital sound-mixing technology, the vocal register for which "On Eagle's Wings" was composed has been artificially replicated:

THE VOICES of a tenor and his 13-year-old chorister son have been combined to produce the 18th-century sound of a castrato singing Handel's "Largo" from Xerxes.

Professor David Howard, head of the audio laboratory at the University of York, combined his own voice with that of his 13-year-old son, Joey, a treble in the choir at York Minister, to replicate the sound of a castrato, which was celebrated for reaching very high and very long notes.

Castrati were popular in European opera houses in the 18th century, and up to 4000 boys a year between the ages of eight and 13 were castrated to keep their child-like voices. But castration for choral purposes was made illegal in the late 19th century.

Curious. Castration for choral purposes was made illegal. That makes it sound as if the pain inflicted on the listener was of greater moment than that inflicted on the singer. Serial "Eagle's Wings" victims among us may be inclined to agree.

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