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March 30, 2004

New York Times Magazine

We live in a moment when music has become an increasingly digital phenomenon, pitch-corrected and overdubbed deep inside a producer's computer, and then in the blink of an eye fired across the globe. The people in these photographs are holding fast to a slower, more local way of making music: singing songs that are full of not only harmony but also history. Choral music was one of the first musics humans made together, and there are, appropriately, as many different types of choirs as there are languages and dialects. The choirs photographed here are part of a single global tradition, and they share a common instrument -- the human voice -- but the sounds they produce couldn't be more diverse. Tyler Hicks, who has worked as a news photographer for The New York Times in recent years covering the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, took a break from combat zones earlier this year to photograph choirs from the mountains of Bulgaria to the hills of northern Alabama, with stops along the way in both Georgia the state and Georgia the country. He photographed choirs with international followings and others little known outside their towns; choirs that sing folk songs of identity and belonging and others whose only motivation in raising their voices is religious devotion. See photos and hear audio samples here. Cool stuff!

Posted by acapnews at March 30, 2004 8:51 AM


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