Choir Notes: Fall Term, 2018

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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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Notes from choir practice – May 15, 2018

“Shenandoah” - We began with a run-through but James kept stopping us!
Overall, he is looking for more highs and lows, more texture throughout. We need to accentuate consonants and enunciate more clearly, to build texture – even though we may be singing quietly.
Sopranos & altos, bottom of 1st page: Be a little “flirtatious” through “you roll-in’ river...” Give it some passion, but not so much it becomes “cheeseball.”
Basses, bottom of Page 4: Breathe before your solo “I long to hear you...” – and give it more! Go ahead and be dramatic. James and the audience long to hear you!
Altos, tenors, basses, bottom of Page 6: Pronounce “bound” more like “baahnd.”
Top of Page 7: Altos and tenors, give a solid “th” sound on “the.” Missouri is “Miz-ooo-ri,” with no flip on the “r” sound.
All voices, bottom of Page 10 (Measure 64): While holding the word “way,” give it a more closed, rounded sound, instead of “waaaay.”
2nd Sopranos, bottom of Page 11: Soft, gentle and legato on “O Shen-an-do...” Note that “Shen-an” are eighth notes that get equal beats.
All voices, 3rd measure at top of Page 12: We shouldn’t hold the word “wide” longer than written. It’s quicker than we tend to think. Watch James for the timing.

“16 Tons” - We tend to sing this song too “nicely,” when it really needs to sound “dirtier.” We’ve gotta get down, get edgy and show some attitude. Since this is not a classical choral piece, being perfect on pitch isn’t imperative. Put yourself in the mindset of the person who’s singing – he’s complaining! Let’s have fun and sound a little gruff.
The two modulations are not always successful because of hesitation in the inner voices. Altos and tenors must know (and confidently sing!) their first note of each modulation. Sliding up to the second note isn’t our problem – it’s hitting the first note that’s critical. Refer to your mp3 to practice. (This occurs on Page 7, last note of measure 27, and again on Page 11, last note of Measure 49.)

“Memory” - Breathing on the first page (sopranos & altos): Yes, breathe after “pavement” (Measure 4); but not after “midnight” (Measure 3) and not after “mem-’ry” (Measure 5).
Also on first page (sopranos & altos): In the phrase “has the moon lost her mem-’ry,” the word “lost” is held longer. Push the “st” sound to the very end of the note.
Top of Page 3, first measure: More sound from basses on “Oo----” (especially since it’s a low note that some tenors can’t reach).
Middle of Page 5, Measure 27: The “light” of “Day-light...” should be more like “laaaght.”
Page 7, last measure: MORE from tenors and basses! (just watch out for going “cheeseball!”)
Page 8, first measure, sopranos & altos: the “lone” of “all a-lone” is held longer here – it’s different from earlier passages.
Sopranos and altos: In general, be careful to avoid scooping up to notes (for instance on Page 4, third measure, don’t scoop on “hap-” of “happiness”). This piece does require musical precision.

“Anthem III” - Measure 21: James wants a “wall of sound” with “Her profit...” This is one of the emotional climaxes of the piece.
Page 4, Measure 39: Because of their fermatas, “can” and “com-” may (and probably will!) be different lengths. Their timing is at James’ discretion, so we have to watch him here.
James’ overall thoughts:
– Notes & rhythms: He gives us a 4 out of 5! We still have some hesitation but have come a long way.
– Timing: Also 4 out of 5. Go us!
– Vowels: Here’s where we fall to a 2 or 3. All vowels must be taller, more classical. While this is a modern piece, we need to muster our High English vowels to pull it off. “Her” should be “huh;” “grasp” is “graahsp;” “honor” is “on na,” “can” is “caahn.”
– He’s looking for “flowing waves of sound,” big chords and harmonies. Strong voices soaring, not hesitation.

“Prayer of the Children” - We only worked on this for a few minutes.
Measure 13, sopranos & altos: Be careful not to prolong the eighth notes on “cry.” They’re quick and even. We’ll go emotional later in the piece.


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Notes from choir practice – May 22, 2018

“Wade in the Water” - Throughout, “water” should be pronounced “waahd-er.” Whenever a phrase is marked “solo,” it will be sung in unison either by sopranos/altos or tenors/basses (we are not using soloists on this piece). Overall, James is looking for a darker, edgier, almost angry sound. This piece is not light and pleasant – it’s about slaves fleeing to freedom and people staying resolute in their faith.
We worked from front to back:
Page 3, Measure 9: More basses on “Wade in the wa-ter.” The other voices can come down a bit.
Page 4, Measure 16: Sopranos & altos: louder, more edgy.
Page 5, beginning at Measure 21: Tenors and basses sing in unison on the two phrases “See that host all dressed in white” and “the leader looks like the Israelite.” Use taller, more classical vowels on these, and try to be crisper, more precise on the rhythms.
Page 6, Measure 29: Sopranos and altos, more mysterious, more flexible on the descant. Tenors and basses stay resolute with the melody.
Page 7, Measure 33: Tenors and basses, breathe after the word “wade,” on beat 3.
Page 8, Measure 37: No one sings on the downbeat! We have a key modulation here but it’s basically Bryson that handles it.
Page 9, Measure 45: Another key change, but no help from Bryson this time. Sopranos & altos, the note you need for “Look” is higher than you tend to think. Refer to your mp3. Also, be sure to pronounce “yonder” as “yon-da” – don’t let the “r” creep in!
Page 10, Measure 50: Altos should sing the lower note of the triplet on the word “down.” Pronunciation of the word “down” is more like “daahn” than “dowwn.” Measure 52: Everyone breathes before “O wade...” Bryson will hesitate a bit here to allow for our breath.
Page 15, final phrase: Our last note of “God’s gonna trouble the water” is quite short! It’s Bryson who has the final say in this piece with a half-beat chord hit, so we have to get out of his way.

“Anthem III” - Taller vowels needed throughout.
Measure 21: All voices come in strongly on “Her profit...”
Page 3, Measure 35: Tenors & basses, these notes are much quicker than we think; they are equal length and neither is held. Move right into the page turn and the next notes.
Page 7, Measure 60: Emphasize the world “all.” James will slow a bit here so be watching!

“Hard Times Come Again No More” - While this song is nostalgic, it’s not sad; it’s not a dirge. We can and should lighten up with it.
However, it does require – you guessed it – taller vowels!
Page 4, Measure 15: the word “round” can’t be round. Use taller “o” sound – more like “raahnd” than “rownd.”
Page 6: no breath from pickup to Measure 26 through Measure 28 – it’s all one long phrase. All voices breathe in the middle of Measure 28, after the first “hard times” phrase.

“I Have Had Singing” - Measure 2, go lighter on “sing-”
Measure 5, accent the word “so” and then come down more quietly on the word “much.”
Measure 9, we will pronounce “pleasure” as “plea-jour” (as in, soup du jour)
Measure 10, tenors & basses, sing “The boys in the fields” with a little chest hair (to use James’ term).
Measure 14, crescendo at the end of the measure (it’s written as “cresc.” but you may want to mark it more clearly)
Measure 24, all voices in unison. We have to work to tune quickly on that.

“Sing Unto God” - We ran through the piece.
Whenever we have the phrase “To crown… this conquest” -- with the word “crown” written as a dotted quarter note – we can take a quick breath after “crown,” as long as we don’t clip it too short. This first appears on Page 155, 3rd system, pickup to 2nd measure (altos); the tenors have it on the same page, middle of the second-to-last system, etc. It keeps on occurring and can be Handeled the same way each time.

“Shenandoah” - Sopranos & altos, top of page 8: With 2 sixteenth notes, this is the “fast” version of “Shen-an-do...”
Second sopranos, Page 11, starting at pickup to Measure 71: be direct, resolute for the first “O Shen-an-do...” Then for the second one, aim for a weaker, more brokenhearted sound – and, close your eyes! We’re after the fondue effect, and a little bit of choir showmanship.
Page 12, third to last measure: small crescendo on the syllable “ri,” then decrescendo into the next measure. The crescendo and decrescendo both occur within the third-to-last measure.

“I Sing Because I’m Happy” - We have to watch our cut-offs, which tend to run long. Example would be top of Page 5, Measure 22/23: “I’m happy” – it needs to cut off at the end of beat 4.
This piece features piano more than many of our others, so voices need to be loud to rise above.
Don’t forget to show some emotion, sway to the beat, and generally – look happy! :)
For Bryson’s piano solo (“Bryson Time”): After we finish the 2nd ending (bottom of Page 6), we’ll all turn our heads to look at Bryson, as a way of “handing over” the piece to him. The audience will naturally follow us. Be ready to turn back to James & your music when it’s time to sing again at Measure 39!

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June 5, 2018 - Great run through our music on Tuesday. James did a little experimenting and we sounded wonderful. Keep your eye on him!


Saturday, June 9: Funk in the Forest: Avery Park, 3:00-10:00, Bryson's band: 7:30, for tickets.

Saturday, June 9: President's Concert: 7:30, First Methodist Church, $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Sunday, June 10: Concert at Church of the Good Samaritan, 3:00, Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, free

Gig - We are performing at Timberhill Assisted Care this coming Tuesday, June 12. Gathering time is 6:25, at the top of the stairs. We perform at 7:00 for about 45 minutes. Dress for singing.... pastel on top, black or navy on the bottom. Bring your smiles, your enthusiasm, and remember to WATCH JAMES. He did some wonderful conducting on Tuesday

Our Gig list:

I sing Because I'm Happy - Sing this one because you really are happy!
Shenandoah -
Watch James for dynamics!!!
Long Time Ago -
tall vowels; kind of spiritually
The Sleigh -
Hang on tight, we're going for a ride
Hard Times -
reflectively; rich & warm; "around" = "arond"
Wade In the Wadah -
m13, big attitude; m29, mysterious; m53, BIG; m61, EMOTE!
Loch Lomond -
Sing with a hint of a brogue, "highland" = "hei-laund"; tall vowels
Set Me As A Seal -
legato; "drown" = drawn; "as" = ahz; tall vowels
Sixteen Tons -
WITH ATTITUDE!; watch James!
Seal Lullaby
- Tall Vowels; "find" = faund; "thy" = thah; watch James
Memory -
tall vowels; "beautiful" = "beaudiful"; "Ev-ry streetlamp"; "touch me" = dramatic, cheesy
Bright Morning Stars -
m5, no scoop; tall vowels; "shouting" = "shawting"
I Have Had Singing -
Tell the story from your heart
Be the Change

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