Simon Frith, a music critic for the Sunday Times of London, asks that when you listen to music whose voice do you hear. The obvious answer to this question is the singers. Frith states that is the voice that we hear, but we each hear it in different ways. In "The Voice-, a chapter from the book Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music, Frith discusses the voice as: a musical instrument, a body, a person, and a character. Frith discusses these ideas through the words "Gestures- and "Utterances-. He believes there are two ways of conveying meaning in music, through the sounds (gestures) and the words (utterances) of a song. As every individual listens to the gestures and utterances of a song they are in a way taking flight from reality. Music is safe haven and retreat, for everyone to get away from it all.
Initially it is difficult to understand the meaning Frith places on the terms "gestures- and "utterances-. Though, he states both are ways of making meaning in music:.
what is the relationship between the voice as a carrier of sounds, the singing voice, making "gestures,"" and the voice as a carrier of words, the speaking voice, making "utterances-? The issue is not meaning (words) versus absence of meaning (music), but the relationship between two different sorts of meaning-making, the tensions and conflicts between them. (280).
From this, the reader begins to understand that Frith defines "gestures- as the sounds a song makes; the music, the notes, the melody, and so on. "Utterances- are defined as words or lyrics of the song; they tell what a song is about. These words bring up the conflict of words versus music in the way we listen to and interpret music, what means more to us on a personal level the music or the words for the music?.
Every voice has a distinct sound that belongs to each individual. Different combinations of those distinct sounds at the right time and right sort can result in a sort of metronome, most often referred to as "backup- singers, for the lead voice.