‘Who can I be now?’: David Bowie’s Vocal Personae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Critical and public reception of David Bowie’s use of personae have primarily focused on visual signifiers such as his ever-changing hair style, wardrobe, make-up, and body language in performance. However, Bowie also constructed personae through his remarkably supple voice. In addition to the physiological manipulation of his voice, Bowie also used various kinds of studio processing techniques to create an additional ‘mask’ between performer and listener. In this article, I survey Bowie’s use of electronic voice-modifying technology—ranging from studio techniques that are more ‘transparent’ to those that radically disfigure Bowie’s vocal identity—considering the dramaturgical implications of these diverse voices. I also consider the intertextual implications of Bowie’s various singing styles and modification techniques in the later years of his career.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-234
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary Music Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Bowie, David
  • Intertextuality
  • Persona
  • Popular Music
  • Recording
  • Technology
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


Dive into the research topics of '‘Who can I be now?’: David Bowie’s Vocal Personae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this