Choir Notes: Fall Term, 2017

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April 10, 2018 ~ We had a wonderful evening of singing. It is great to be back on the risers. On to our evening of singing:

“I Have Had Singing” - After sight reading the piece, we did a bit of closer work on it.
End of measure 9: watch James as he will slow down here. Measure 11, basses and tenors should elongate the “o” sound in “boys” to keep it from sounding like “boize.” At measure 23, hold the “uur” sound on “plea-sure.” At measure 24, pronounce “nough” (second part of “enough”) as “aahf.” Also in 24, note that we are unison on “I” (although in our own octaves).

“Wade in the Water” - Much like “Sixteen Tons,” this piece makes heavy use of swung notes and syncopation.
Throughout, we should pronounce “water” as “wahd-er.” At measure 13, tenors and basses have the melody while sopranos & altos have the descant.
Note the eighth rest at the start of measure 23. No one should sing on the downbeat. This occurs at measure 27 as well – please circle both.
Measure 33: tenors and basses, circle the quarter rest so as to enter correctly on beat two. In the same measure, sopranos and altos don’t hold “wade,” but cut off on beat 2.
Bryson led us on a piano tour of the rest of the piece, with us mostly humming and following along (fun!).
One last thing before we left the piece: At the beginning of measure 69, circle the quarter rest!

“Hard Times Come Again No More” - We mostly sight-read and worked on a few passages. At measure 9, tenors should be very soft and tender with “Tis the song...”

“Anthem III” (the updated version of James’ piece, formerly named “Words of Wisdom.” Please remove “Words” from your binders and use “Anthem III”)
Reminder to use very tall vowels -- “High English” pronunciations – throughout. So, “her” should be sung as “huh;” “grasp” as “graahsp;” “honor” as “on na.”
At the beginning, tenors may sing – very softly – with the altos.
At measure 39, sopranos and altos: “caahn” for “can.” Also, no “r” in “com-pare.”
At measure 55, note the crescendos and decrescendos.
At measure 62, we need to say the “ee” sound in “peace” but shape as an “oo” – to yield a darker-sounding “peace.”
Measure 65: basses, you are basically singing “laaaaa” for “life.” Don’t be surprised when the tenors come in lower than you at measure 67.

“Shenandoah” - Lots of sight reading. One item to note:
On page 11, measure 71: tenors and basses must enter quietly on beat 3 with “Shen-an-do.”

“Memory” - We worked on the passage “When the dawn comes to-night will be a mem-o-ry too” (page 6, end of measure 30). We practiced speaking (and then singing) it more gently, with no emphases on any words, and without slowing down or hesitation.
Measure 33: we will be slowing down and getting softer for “new day will begin.”
Measure 47, a reminder that we’re going after the “Fondue Effect.” It’s dramatic, but not over-the-top dramatic (that would be the “Cheeseball Effect” – always something to avoid!)

“I Sing Because I’m Happy” - Measure 21/22 (and whenever it happens): sopranos and altos should take a breath on the quarter rest in between “be-cause” and “I’m hap-py.”
For singers who are new this term (welcome!!) and as a reminder for all, here’s how we are handling the "I'm so happy, yes!" passages (measures 39 through 47):
• ALL voices will sing from measures 39-42, but instead of singing our notes as written, we will sing the soprano part (in our own octaves).
• We will sing the section from measures 43 to 47 a total of FOUR times (voices singing their parts as written): 1st time: sopranos only; 2nd: tenors join them; 3rd: altos join; 4th: basses join (with LOTS of power!). Then, at measure 47, all voices sing as written and continue to end.

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April 17, 2018 -Mark your calendars with these notable dates:

We have a gig! Tuesday, June 12 at Timberhill Place Assisted Living. More specifics to come.
Spring Concert: Sunday, June 17, 4:00 pm at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Dress Rehearsal will be the day before: Saturday, June 16 @ 4:00 pm.

MANY THANKS to Phillip Hommes who was our guest conductor for this evening’s rehearsal!

“Hard Times Come Again No More” - We did a read-through and then worked on some specific spots:
Measure 9, tenors: In this phrase, add some emphasis to the words “sigh,” “wea-” (of 1st “weary”) and “wea-” (of 2nd “weary”).
Measures 11-13: more basses. Beautiful harmony.
Pickup to Measure 18: for this phrase, sopranos and altos can “lay it on thick” – lots of rich, warm tone. At Measure 21, note that there’s a bluesy harmony that starts with an F natural on the 2nd beat – “at the door.” Consult the mp3 if unsure of your note.

“I Have Had Singing” - Measures 5-6: “There was so much singing then” – this should sound nostalgic and intensely personal.
Measure 11, basses and tenors: hold the “o” sound in “boys” and only add a quick “ys” sound at the very end (to keep it from sounding like “boize”).
Measure 22, “I have had pleasure enough” – start the decrescendo on beat 2 as written. It’s more powerful if it begins early (choirs tend to decrescendo later but it has less impact).
Last 2 measures: make the last chord (final measure) half the volume of the note before it.

“Shenandoah” - Page 8, beginning at measure 49: we did lots of work to get the rhythms correct. At measure 51, sopranos and altos: your note on “bound” is a bit lower than you might think; consult the mp3.
Measure 59-60: sopranos have a lovely echo here, which should diminish through the phrase.
Page 9, measure 65, tenors and basses should pronounce “river” as “riv-aah” (no ugly “R” sound). Same thing for sopranos and altos in the next measure.

“Wade in the Water” - Two things to note throughout the piece:
1) Whenever we sing the often-repeated phrase “Wade------ in the wa-ter,” we should crescendo through the “wade.”
2) “Water” is pronounced “wahd-er,” with more of a “d” sound than a classic-sounding “t” sound. (We can save the High English for some of our other pieces!)

Other things to note:
Page 3, measures 9-10: Basses have a cool counter-rhythm which needs to be loud, unflappable, “strong as a rock.” You’re “troubling the water” – so go for it!
There is an eighth rest at the start of measure 23. No one should sing on the downbeat. This occurs at measure 27 as well – please circle both.
Measure 33, sopranos and altos: your note (“Wade”) is only one beat long, so be sure to cut off on 2.
Page 11, measures 55-56: sopranos practiced their descant rhythm here. At measure 57-58, basses should again be strong and unflappable.

“Anthem III”
- Measure 30-31, sopranos/altos: “She is more precious….” – emphasize the “pre-” in “precious.” Similarly in the next phrase, tenors/basses emphasize the “trea-” of “treasures” (measure 35).
Measures 41-47 (“Long life is in her right hand”): slowly increase from mezzo piano to mezzo forte through this passage.

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May 1, 2018 ~ Here are the date reminders:

We have a gig! Tuesday, June 12 at Timberhill Place Assisted Living. More specifics to come.
Spring Concert: Sunday, June 17, 4:00 pm at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Dress Rehearsal will be the day before: Saturday, June 16 @ 4:00 pm.

“Shenandoah” ~ We worked on breathing in the right places to create longer phrases.
Sopranos/altos: No breath in Measure 6 (before “I long to...”); nor Measure 10 (before “you rollin’…); nor Measure 14 (before “I long to...”). Do breathe at beat 2 of Measure 18. Note the ritardando at Measure 19 – we will slow down. Do breathe in Measure 20 (before “cross the wide...”). No breath in Measure 22 (before “Missouri”).
Bottom of Page 4, Measure 28: All voices, extend the phrase (no breath before “I long to...”). The bass part is a little different, so to accent their entrance, basses DO breathe in Measure 29 (before “I long to...”)
Top of Page 5, extend the phrase (no breathing). Altos/tenors should breathe at Measure 33, before “O Shenando.” Bottom of page, Measure 36, crescendo on “long.”
Top of Page 6, strong voices in the first measure with “hear you,” but then immediately very soft for the second measure (we all make a chord change). James would like all voices soft & quiet from there through Measure 45. Alto, tenor, bass: no breath during the next phrase (“away, away”). Sopranos breathe bottom of Page 6 (it’s Measure 40, sadly not marked), right before “we’re bound away.” Last measure of Page 6, all voices breathe before “cross the...”
Some pronunciations:
“Wide” – If this word is held long, pronounce it: “waaaaa-ide.” (for instance, first measure of Page 7)
“Missouri” – should be “Mi-zoo-ri” – with a little flip on the “r” if you can.

“16 Tons” (aka “14,514.956 Kilograms!”) ~ We did a run-through, then worked on:
The final chord: James has us sliding to a minor F sharp chord, with a major seventh and a major ninth. Notes recap: Basses start on F sharp and split – some move down the octave, some stay on the written note; Tenors move up to A natural (the minor third); Altos move down to C sharp (the fifth); Sopranos split – some move down a touch to the E sharp (the seventh), while some move up to G sharp (the ninth). There will be no “fall off” at the end.
The snaps: About 30% of us need to consistently snap, so snap if you can! If you can’t or don’t feel comfortable, don’t. In the first snapping phrase, which starts at Measure 3 and ends in Measure 13, the last snap happens after “bones.” It starts again on beat 2 of the chorus (Measure 16), in time with the “teen” of “six-teen.” Other snapping sections work similarly throughout the piece.
Saint Peeda: this is the official way to pronounce “Saint Peter” – with more of a “d” than a “t” – and definitely no “er” sound at the end!

Altos -- melody on Page 8: James is looking for a more raw, edgy sound with “I was born one mornin...” Big sound, more attitude, take charge, have fun! “Sound the way choirs never sound.” Also, beginning of Measure 32, the eighth rest has been removed.

“Anthem III” ~ We worked to clean these sections:
Measure 39: sopranos & altos tend to be shy of this entrance, because the other voices have dropped out. Don’t be! It’s important that you enter as written.
Measure 41, “Long life:” Pronounce the word “life” as “laa-ife” (more “aa” than “i”). Tenors, be lighter, smoother, more breathy, more like basses here. Blend, don’t stick out.
Measure 55, “Her ways are pleasant ways:” This should be pleasant, not too loud or forceful.
Measure 62: to pronounce “peace,” say an “ee” but shape an “ooo.” This darkens the sound.
Measure 66, “grasp:” the voices have different timing on this word, which creates a lot of “s’s” if we don’t sing cleanly. We should hear just 3 clean “-sp” sounds at the end of “grasp” – first from sopranos (after beat 1), then altos (after beat 2), then tenors (after beat 3).

“Wade in the Water” ~ The feel of this piece should be a little scary, not happy. Reminder to pronounce “water” as “wahd-er,” with more of a “d” sound.
On Page 14, Measure 80, sopranos split on the second half note. Measure 81, altos split on the first note. Don’t scoop “God’s” on the final phrase (Measure 83).

“Hard Times Come Again No More” ~ James would like tenors and basses to sound manly (“have more chest hair”), and be a little bit gruff in the opening phrase.
End of Measure 6 through Measure 8, altos & tenors: make this phrase very smooth and legato.
Pickup to Measure 9, “Tis the song...” – tenors, this should be delicate, but crescendo in the last few beats of Measure 10 – “weary singing...” No breath between Measures 11 & 12. Decrescendo at beginning of Measure 12.

“Loch Lomond” ~ Tenors & basses: don’t fall prey to “distracted by the soloist syndrome!” You must be ready to come in with “oo” on the 4th beat of your first measure (Measure 8). Nice big “manly” sound, too – it’s the good ol’ boys singing about Scotland! Nostalgic, and a little bit gruff.
Sopranos and altos, your phrase (Measure 19-27) is more pastoral, sweeping – you’re painting a picture of the land. Pronounce “Highland” a bit more aggressively, as “Hiee-land.” No sliding on the “Hiee.” Then back to that sweeping feel to finish the phrase.
At Measure 28, tenors/basses need to add the “ee” sound to their “dai dai’s” – make them “diee diee” instead. Not accented, just quiet, quick, and well-pronounced.
Measure 36 is another spot where it’s easy to get distracted by the soloist – don’t!
In general, whenever we have the word “bonnie,” we should give it some roundness, a good Scottish feel.

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Notes from choir practice – May 8, 2018

“Wade in the Water” ~ Page 8, Measure 37: All sopranos and altos should sing here. Same at Measure 41 and Measure 45 on the next page.
Tenors & basses, be light, not forceful, when you “answer” the sopranos/altos (as noted above). This occurs at Measures 39, 43 and 51.
Pickup to Measure 53: sopranos can split on this note.
Pickup to Measure 61: “If you don’t believe...” – James would like this phrase to sound “nice and dark.” Same with “Just follow me down...” at Measures 64/65. Also, mark an early page turn here, because the next phrase (“God’s gonna trouble the water”) begins on the downbeat at the top of Page 13 – not a half-beat later as occurs previously.
Measure 82 – all voices cut off on beat 4. Similarly, the last note of the piece is short.

“Long Time Ago” ~ Page 7, 2nd measure: Our voices should sound tender as we sing “Tenderly her blue eyes...”

“Sing Unto God” ~ We began with a run-through since it had been a while since we sang this piece. Altos and tenors did well in their opening phrases! Alas, poor Handel, things got muddier in the middle… We worked on notes/tuning, especially in the malismas, which James noted will sound most impressive if well-tuned.
Last page, middle system, pickup to the 2nd measure – “To crown” – sopranos, altos, tenors should go quiet (basses malisma), then crescendo through the 3rd measure.
High English reminders! Pronounce “crown” more like “cron.” “And high affections raise” – “aahnd haa.”

“Memory” ~ Page 3, last four eighth notes of 1st measure: we should “waltz” these, smoothly, instead of chopping them.
Bottom of Page 3, “beautiful” should have a “d” rather than a “t” sound, to be more “beau-d-ful.”
Top of Page 4, eighth notes at end of 2nd measure: we can’t hesitate here! Keep the pace quick.
Top of Page 5, reminder to stop the sound in “mutters” and “sputters:” James wants “mu-ters” and “spu-ters.” No sound in between the syllables.
Page 8, middle system, dotted half note in the 2nd measure: James played with holding and lengthening this, so be sure to watch him!

“Hard Times Come Again No More” ~We worked a lot on tuning chords. James had us draw a thumb at the bottom of Page 6, as a reminder to properly take the repeat from the end of the last page to Measure 26.
Measure 11, we will decrescendo through “Hard times, hard times.”
Pronunciation of “times” – flatter, less “i” sound: “taames”

Another great rehersal.

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