Tenor Rush

My friend Akelda the Gleeful over at Saints and Spinners uses the term Tenor Rush to describe that emotional reaction one has to music. That reaction where, despite whatever mood you are in, you become mush--your eyes well up with tears, your nose runs, your hair rises on your neck. It is the music that gives you goosepimples. I had never heard this term before and, being a good librarian and an English major, I've been trying to track down the term and get a authoritative definition or an example of the phrase being used in a publication. So far I've not been able to which leads me to believe it is not a common term.

No matter.

Today I ran across a link that a friend posted to her Facebook profile. I may not be able to define the tenor rush in words, but I experienced a powerful example when I followed the link.

Susan Boyle, a 47 year old contestant on Britain's Got Talent has quite recently made many people rethink their preconceived notions of people by their looks. Her common looks and accent belied an incredible singing voice. And, she chose to sing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables--a song guaranteed to jerk a tear or two even when sung badly. Put that song, with her voice, and then realize that she is making a dream come true while she sings of a dream dying...well, it is more powerful than words can share. All I can say is that, hearing that song expressed in the way she performed and the surprise she dropped on the audience and the judges just made my day in a way that has carried me through the evening.

Here is the link to the youtube video (the embedding link has been disabled). Enjoy. I did.


  1. ALittleGuitar said...
    I also happened upon that Susan Boyle link yesterday and was similarly blown away.
    Saints and Spinners said...
    I was surprised, not by Boyle's singing voice (because I KNOW the story about the peacock and the nightingale!) but by the audience's initial jeers. I know it's a reality show and they're probably encouraged to give in to their baser instincts, but despite being 37 years old, I'm still gobsmacked by the cruelty in the world. I suspect that the jeers for Boyle were autobiographical-- people who are secure and happy with themselves have no need to make others feel badly. I hope Boyle's performance was a wake-up for many of the people in the audience. Maybe they'll become better people for it.

    Feel free to throw tomatoes at Pollyanna now. As much as I think I'm a pessimist, I still have great hopes for humanity despite myself.
    K. Jay said...
    I must admit that I was not expecting what came. I knew that the singing would be good because the person who sent me the link alluded to it. But, I did take in Susan's apperance and demeanor which led me to knock my expectations down a little. I expected an amateur, albeit acceptable singing voice. I thought perhaps my friend was moved more by the song than by the singing. Would I have jeered had I been in the audience? No, I don't think so. At least I hope so.

    I was left speechless with tears running down both cheeks before she even finished the first stanza. She had the voice of not just a professional, but of a performer (a subtle shade of difference there).

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