Breaths as Music: Prof. Beaudoin Publishes New Article in JAMS

Assistant Professor Richard Beaudoin's latest article, "Dashon Burton's Song Sermon: Corporeal Liveness and the Solemnizing Breath," was published in the Winter 2022 issue of the prestigious Journal of the Society for American Music. Through a case study of the interaction between melodic syllables and audible breaths in American bass-baritone Dashon Burton's 2015 recording of the song sermon "He Never Said a Mumberlin' Word," Beaudoin reveals the expressive power of micro-sounds and asserts the value of "recognizing sounds as they are."

"I see no reason to consciously and actively hear past the aural evidence of Burton's breath and body, in the same way that it makes little sense to ignore the facial micro-expressions of an interlocutor as they speak. Such information is expressive, and should be recognized and documented alongside all sounding events. Such attentiveness generates a mode of listening that reckons with a complete, equalizing census of all the sounds present on a given recording," writes Beaudoin. For him, these subtle sounds are more than mere reminders that the performer is a living, breathing, human beingin fact, they're an integral, hyper-expressive part of the musical artwork. If we listen closely, Beaudoin contends, we find in breath sounds "a vivid window into the humanity of music-making."

The full article is available here.