Bathroom singing

Bathroom singing, also known as singing in the bathroom, singing in the bath, or singing in the shower, is a widespread phenomenon.

Many people sing in the bathroom because the hard wall surfaces, often tiles or wooden panels, and lack of soft furnishings, create an aurally pleasing acoustic environment.

Scientific explanation

The multiple reflections from walls enrich the sound of one's voice. Small dimensions and hard surfaces of a typical bathroom produce various kinds of standing waves, reverberation and echoes, giving the voice "fullness and depth."[1]

This habit was reported (with an attempt of explanations) centuries ago. For example, Ibn Khaldun in Chapter 1 of his Muqaddimah writes:[2]

Likewise, when those who enjoy a hot bath inhale the air of the bath, so that the heat of the air enters their spirits and makes them hot, they are found to experience joy. It often happens that they start singing, as singing has its origin in gladness.

In popular culture

The bathroom singer is an ironic reference to mediocre or amateur singers. Music professionals, however, have also connected with the particular acoustices of the bathroom. Jon Anderson of Yes, for instance, had tiles installed in the studio, to simulate the echo effect of one's vocals in a bathroom.[citation needed] And Paul Simon wrote:[3]

The main thing about playing the guitar, though, was that I was able to sit by myself and play and dream. And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I'd turn on the faucet so that water would run – I like that sound, it's very soothing to me – and I'd play. In the dark. 'Hello darkness, my old friend / I've come to talk with you again.'

"Weird Al" Yankovic in 1979 recorded his first single, "My Bologna," in the bathroom across from the California Polytechnic State University student radio station where he was DJing at the time.[4] "There's More to Life Than This", the fourth track on Björk's 1993 album Debut, was recorded live in the toilets of the Milk Bar clubnight, London.

The retro string band R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders recorded a song called "Singing in the Bathtub" for their third album, released in 1978.

See also

  • Room modes
  • Acoustic resonance
  • Voice frequency

References

Notes

  1. ^ "musiciansfriend.com" "Studio Tech Tip – Taming the wild bedroom"". Musiciansfriend.com. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  2. ^ "Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, section "The influence of the air (climate) upon human character" from Ch. 1". Muslimphilosophy.com. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  3. ^ Kent, Richard. "Simon and Garfunkel Home Page - Song Quotes". Virgin.net. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Hansen, Barret (1994). Permanent Record: Al in the Box – Notes By Dr. Demento (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. California, United States: Scotti Brothers Records.

Sources consulted