Friday, November 12, 2004

Various things about singing

I'm getting up in the middle of the night tonight to do my recording session before the traffic around the church gets too noisy. I'm having trouble concentrating on work this afternoon.


A friend asked me the other day if I'd sing at his wedding. I was thrilled. I asked when the wedding was going to be. He said it'd probably be sometime after he proposes next summer.

Well, you can't say he doesn't think ahead.


I've been working on coloratura a lot recently--pieces by Handel, Bach, and Mozart. It's funny how pieces that use pretty much the same technical vocabulary can still have such different characters. Handel is so much fun to sing, because he was clearly writing for people who love the sound of their own voice. His melodies lend themselves well to ornamentation. (It's possible that I tend to get carried away with this: Rob-the-organist teases me about putting enthusiasm before taste. ... well, guilty as charged, I guess.) Mozart, on the other hand, tends to write such luscious phrases that even I can't justify disfiguring them by adding anything to them. (In the piece I did last Sunday, I compensate for that restraint by adding a truly shockingly tasteless cadenza: runs up to a high C, then a two-octave descending scale and an octave-and-a-half leap up to the final trill....what can I say. It feels good.) And then again Bach never really seems to be writing for the voice at all. It's as if he always hears his tunes played on a violin; that, at any rate, would explain some of the patterns he expects his singers to handle.


The hardest part about singing is what happens in the silences.

In the spaces between the notes, the voices start: "Well that wasn't very good, was it? You call that an even tone? Who do you think you are, anyway, standing up here on your hind legs and expecting people to sit still and listen to you? Don't make me laugh. You should just sit down and be quiet and stop embarrassing yourself."

In that sense it’s pretty much like any other endeavour.

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