If only those poor medieval choir boys had known this trick

The Catholic Church loved the sweet, pure sounds of its boy’s choirs. For the singers themselves, however, it was a short gig. As soon as puberty kicked in and your voice changed, your career (with any prestige that came with it) was over.

You did have a choice, however: castration. Get to the testicles before they got to the voice. The boys with the greatest ambition and the best voices had their boys sacrificed to preserve that soprano or alto singing voice. Castros, as they were known, maybe have had the size and shape of a grown man, but they sang like an 11-year-old.

Such surgeries went on for 500 years. This doesn’t happen anymore, right? (Right?)

In 1895, Sir William Ramsay managed to isolate helium. It took about 15 seconds for people to start breathing it in so they could make their voices turn funny. Had the poor medieval dudes known about that, they might have been able to remain whole.

(Via Laughing Squid)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “If only those poor medieval choir boys had known this trick

  • January 23, 2023 at 12:51 pm
    Permalink

    King’s College is hardly a Catholic college!!!

    Reply

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