1. The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available for preorder! Use this link to preorder, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

Karen's Magic

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by no1kandrfan, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. no1kandrfan

    no1kandrfan Active Member Thread Starter

    Came across this today - love the quote on Karen:
    UCLA musicologist Mitchell Morris:

    You extensively analyze Karen Carpenter, but if you had to describe the essence of her appeal, what would it be?

    She had a beautiful voice, and she was an incredibly talented singer. That, we can just stipulate. But what was really interesting is how her voice was positioned within the envelope of the sound. She was miked very close. You don’t hear just pitches. You hear all of the noise produced when the mechanics of your face work to make sound. You hear breaths. You hear those weird little noises that the mouth makes when it’s just trying to form words. There are only two contexts in which you hear those sounds -- during nurturing when you’re a child and during physical intimacy. That’s the only time that people’s mouths are that close to your ear. So, in effect, every Karen Carpenter performance is a profoundly intimate kind of thing.

    Full Article:
    UCLA musicologist defends singers from the sappy '70s
  2. actcrna

    actcrna Member

    A very well put perspective. As someone (RC) once said... She had a phonogenic voice that was meant to be recorded.
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  3. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I’ve never thought about it that way before but it’s absolutely true.
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  4. Tony

    Tony Active Member

    This book has been on my radar for a while now, and reading the quote in the opening post (and the interview it came from), prompted me to go ahead and buy the book. Thanks!
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Part of Karen's appeal (for me) was her honesty on how she sang. There's was no grand posturing like so many others.
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  6. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Even by 1981, when Karen was quizzed in interviews about her vocal style and how it came about, she almost shrugged it off as if she didn’t know or it wasn’t a major thing. Not many artists nowadays would be so self effacing.
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  7. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    I think it was 'Little Girl Blue' where Karen is quoted as saying that she was asked by other performers how she prepared her voice for singing, and she replied "I open my mouth, and the voice comes out". Her gift was so natural, and I think that contributes to the intimate sound she has. No extensive training or "technique".
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  8. This thread title would make a good album title...
    no1kandrfan and Sabar like this.
  9. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    no1kandrfan likes this.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Along the lines of Karen's Magic,
    March 9, 2018,
    Steve Martin:
    " I’ll tell you something, Marty is a fantastic singer. toured with the Carpenters in the ’70s
    and I watched Karen Carpenter night after night. Whether you like her music or not, she was a genius.
    She never missed a note, she was never flat, she was never sharp, she was always perfect. "

    Steve Martin and Martin Short: 'Like going fishing'
    no1kandrfan, David A and newvillefan like this.
  11. Karen's magic? She had all the qualities typical of great singers: pitch, diction, phrasing, and feeling. But what sets her apart among the great singers is her tone. I've never been able to describe it in words. Warm, sensual, angelic are all accurate descriptions, but inadequate. I think the best way to say it is that I experience great singers in my ears, and occasionally in the heart. But Karen massages my heart just about every time she sings.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  12. aFan_1990

    aFan_1990 New Member

    Hi I'm new here. I've been visiting this site since January this year and I just decided to create my own account.

    Anyway.. with Karen's Magic? I think it's her VOICE.
    Jamesj75 and Geographer like this.
  13. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    Welcome, @aFan_1990 ! There's lots to read and discuss here, about all things Carpenters.
  14. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    What's really interesting is that her mother's singing voice has some striking similarities to Karen's.

    I have a rare acetate master of a tune they cut at A&M with Agnes and Harold, with Agnes singing the lead back around 1978. Even my wife upon hearing the first note (a low "F") out of Agnes' mouth, said "Well there's where Karen got her voice!". My wife doesn't even listen to Carpenters, but knows that sound all too well (for obvious reasons LOL).

    It was literally birthed into Karen and like most things in life, just can't be explained. :rolleyes:
  15. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    That's fascinating, thanks for sharing that. That may be a classic case of someone (Agnes) who may have had a wonderful singing voice but her life path simply never exposed it. Just as Karen's likely wouldn't have been, had her brother not been such a big influence on her interests.
  16. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    And you aren't letting us hear this lost gem?!
    Sabar likes this.
  17. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Concerning Karen and the whole "IT" factor that she possessed; one of my favorite video moments is the grainy footage available on YouTube that shows the Carpenters performing with the Boston Pops in 1974. She leaves the stage so her brother can perform the incredibly long Warsaw Concerto. As she takes her seat in the audience, people are turning around in their seats looking at her. Even resigning herself temporarily as a spectator, she is still the focal point of attention.

    Hoping someday a high-quality video of this concert will be made available. Maybe we can bombard PBS (as Harry has suggested) with requests to release/televise this show and other Carpenters material as originally broadcast.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Carpe diem, I went back and watched that 1974 PBS Program:
    Richard begins his solo Warsaw Concerto at 15:34 and ends it at 24:08 (total: 9 min 14 sec).
    The audience applause, after that, goes from 24:08 to 24:50 (total: 42 sec).....for Richard's solo alone....
    The entire show is 41:37, so that utilizes (RC plus applause)
    23% of the entire show....
    Carpe diem likes this.
  19. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    ^^Thanks for "crunching the numbers" GaryAlan. That is a significant amount of time consumed for one number. Just as well I guess as Karen looks very tired during this performance and her vocals just don't have the same "zip" as they usually do. No doubt their grueling 1974 road schedule was really taking its toll at that point.
  20. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    To this day, I’m still shocked that she did that, especially for a televised performance. I did a fair amount of stage work (acting and singing) in my younger years and was schooled that you never, ever mingle with the audience in the interval whilst in full stage costume or outfit, because in the eyes of the audience, it destroys the aura and air of magic that surrounds being on stage. I never forgot that. Karen should have stayed backstage if only to avoid deflecting the attention from the artist still up there performing.

    It’s a stark reminder why Terry Ellis was brought in to help school her about such things.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
    Carpe diem likes this.
  21. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    ^^Great Point! I never looked at it that way before. Concerning that clip, I thought it odd Karen descending/ascending that particular stage because it was so high and those stairs looked like an accident waiting to happen. What if she would've fallen! Thank God she had the two attendants assist her.
  22. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    It's as if she was so modest that it didn't even phase her or make her think twice about doing it. She just wanted to be part of the crowd watching her brother do his thing. That it was her first instinct says much about her - can you imagine any of the stuck up divas today ever even think of doing that? I get what you mean that it does ruin the effect, but just in terms of Karen's personality it's charming in a way.
  23. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    It's "imperfections" such as this that I believe made her an All American Sweetheart that we still love instead of a diva.
    Carpe diem and Jarred like this.
  24. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Re: Boston Pops appearance. Not to analyze this like the Zapruder Film, but you'll notice the duo had to negotiate a virtual obstacle course just to reach the front of the stage to take their opening bows. Maybe the stage manager thought it less awkward for Karen to descend the steps and sit in the audience than to bump into a lot of personnel and equipment to zigzag her way backstage. That stage was very densely packed.
    Jarred likes this.

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