New York

Diamanda Galas

41 Cooper Gallery at Cooper Union

Music is both a way to form the soul (Plato) and a force to get the mojo working (Muddy Waters), and the history of wordless vocal music is the record of a persistent, pure form of these impulses to rock the spirit. From the songs of Homer’s Sirens to Ella Fitzgerald’s scat, the idea of the naked voice uttering abstract sounds in viscerally rhythmic patterns has seemed to offer a visionary distillation of music’s ultimate power. The ritualistic keenings of Meredith Monk, the spontaneous utterances of Jana Haimsohn, and the complex sounds of Joan LaBarbara are specifically female expressions of this sacred/profane musical state of mind; to this list can be added the highly amplified, melodramatic, hypnotic, lurid vocal performances of Diamanda Galas.

Dressed in a long black gown, her strikingly made-up face (slashes of rouge, sequin highlights) framed by loose black hair, Galas stands

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