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Sprechstimme is Caucasian Rap

Johannah King-Sluztky, citing Schoenberg and Weill, sort of argues that Sprechstimme is white people rap:

Rap-talk-singing is as white as it gets, but it doesn't have to ironize or foil blackness. White people rap-talk-singing pre-dates hip hop by seventy years, with roots in German opera and melodrama. The proper name for rap-talk-singing is sprechstimme, sometimes used interchangeably with sprechgesang, the latter of which is a little more melodic.


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A pitched Sprechgesang or parlando style may be as old as opera itself and can already be heard in passages of Monteverdi's "Orfeo" and later in the "recitativo secco" parts of operas from the 18th century.

In the linked example there is not much Sprechstimme in the Alabama-Song. The later Lenya in the fifties tends to be too emotional, the more restrained "cool" style can be better witnessed on some recordings made around 1930 shortly after the premieres of the famous Weill/Brecht collaborations(mostly Dreigroschenoper, though).

begins with "Seeräuber-Jenny", there is clearly Sprechgesang, especially at the end of the stanzas.

Pierrot Lunaire is a great and crazy piece, but it seems extremely difficult to get the Sprechstimme right and not fall into more or less normal singing.

Schoenberg also uses un-pitched (as far as I know) recitation in two famous works, the early "Gurrelieder" and the late "A survivor from Warsaw". Probably findable on youtube. The latter remains one of the most haunting pieces I am aware of.

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