Hi, VTG and Bravi:
This week’s blog will address Bravi and VTG singers separately, since we’re working on different goals for the next few weeks. The next few weeks will be intense for the singers in Bravi, while VTG will be focused more on longer-term goals for the Spring. We’ll be back on the same page soon enough, but in the meanwhile please stay focused and flexible… and on top of your individual practice! First up, VTG:
Thanks for your hard work with Justin–he enjoyed his time with you and I’m told you got a good bit accomplished. Here are some action items and repertoire-specific notes.
- Mark your scores clearly for each piece you started. This is crucial as we learn pieces with lots of divisi, especially within Bravi repertoire where there are multiple tenor and bass lines.
- Review the portions of each piece that you covered, with special attention to the following artistic/musical notes from Justin —
- Famine Song
– Basses: On your “hmms” and “ba-das” at the beginning, listen to each other and match tone quality – keep those “ba-das” legato just like in the recording.– Everyone: In general, pay attention to how you produce your sound in relation to everyone else. Use audio and visual cues to match tone – How does your voice complement the other voices in the ensemble? Are your vowel shapes similar to those that people in your section and in other sections are singing? Do you know your part well enough to connect visually with other section members and listen to them intently?– Everyone: If you’re a tenor, take a look at the bass line – If you’re a bass, take a look at the tenor line. Notice where you line up in unison. Make a note of it and remember that you should be meeting and matching pitches there.– Basses: At m. 29 and m. 33, don’t feel obligated to sing at full force when you go up to those D’s – You’re singing a unison with the tenors there, so it’s necessary to ease off on the tone; also be careful to not push the pitch flat when you descend to the A-natural in a more comfortable part of your range.
- What I Have Done
– Since you’re singing in a homorhythmic texture (block chords with mostly the same rhythm), it is super important to listen to each other and match your vowels and tone for the optimum blend. If you’re able to, practice singing parts with someone in your section and experiment with looking at each other to match vowels.– Subdivide, subdivide, subdivide! Compound meters like 6-8 can be tricky at first, but are very effective when done correctly. Notice how the last eighth note in measures 2 and 3 give the rhythm a “swinging ” feeling. Practice count-singing a few of these lines.– It is always helpful to look at what others are singing while you are singing. You will notice in this song that there are moments when you sing only a whole-step or half-step away from an adjacent part. Don’t let it surprise you when it sounds kind of dissonant.– Watch for the different rhythms you have at m. 6 – the word “a” comes in later for Tenor 2s and Baritones-Tenor 1 (Ivan!): at m. 8, Trust yourself on that half-step down to F# – Don’t be tempted to go down to Paul’s Tenor 2 note!~~~~~
Here are a few thoughts from Elena on the importance of our upcoming recording session, as well as the best ways to mentally and musically prepare for it:
Just a month after releasing Cantabile’s first professional CD Music Down in My Soul, we begin recording the second one next Monday! We don’t know how many recording sessions it will take — it very much depends on the success of each recording session. The good news is that our Monday recording time is luxuriously long (and hopefully unhurried) and you will be fresh, focused and energetic when singing in the morning and afternoon.
As always, it takes everyone’s participation to achieve best results. Please, read carefully through these reminders:
— Arrive a bit earlier than the call time
— Bring folder, water bottle (and/or thermos with tea), yoga mat (to rest on during the break)
— Wear casual but appropriate clothes (we will be making video clips of the recording process)
— Wear quiet shoes and warm clothes (a scarf is a good idea to keep throat warm). You will be standing on hard stone floor for several hours — whatever your wear on your feet, it must keep them warm.
- Spend ample time reviewing the piece: go through each line with a fine vocal and musical comb. Be pedantic about intonation, dynamics, rhythms etc. This one time, you need to take the emotions out of it and sing exactly what’s on the page in preparation for recording.
Record yourself on each piece or on a section: listen carefully to your vowels and overall tone and intonation.
The Most Wonderful Time:
We are used to singing this piece with lots of gusto and abandon as a sing-along. For the recording purposes, all aspects of singing must become lighter, more precise and smooth.
Practice in slow tempo and record your singing — listen for any roughness and imprecision that might have become habitual.
Grace: this piece is in a pretty good shape. But!
Long notes must always have a direction: When practicing, walk on beat on every sustained note to add a sense of physical direction and anticipation to each phrase.
De-emphasize syllables that are not under stress but singing them softer and toning down vowel color (going toward a schwa.)
Voiced final consonants: Sound-uh // Found-uh // Believed-uh // Relieved-uh
Home- uh// Begun-uh// Lead-uh
Fricatives: LiKKe // KKome // FFirst// FFear // FFar BrighTT// FFear
Sibilants: ToilZ// SnareZ/
- Make sure you keep the pitch buoyant and floating upwards with the direction of the line. Similarly descend gently to avoid pushing down on the pitch
- Bravi: when you enter at m. 23, please join the tempo that the sopranos and altos have so nicely set for you. Sing your consonants slightly before the beat so that your vowels start on the beat.
- Tenors: at m. 40, sing higher through the long note on “dangers,” – use your head voice tone to comfortably energize the pitch so it doesn’t fall flat.
- On page 9, remember to sing 4-bar phrases – DO NOT breathe within these phrases. Think about how your musical phrases fit the poetry.
- Tenors: please review your pitches at mm. 72-73.
- Practice everything with a metronome at 58 bpm.
- Be careful to not rush dotted rhythms (dotted eighths, dotted quarters, etc.). Similarly, do not rush “hmm” any time you sing it.
- Tenors: at m. 45, bring out the B natural with an accent and sing it at mezzo-forte.
- Altos: at m. 53, pay attention to balance and sectional blend – be sure not to overpower the basses and sopranos.
- All sopranos: please review the divisi from m. 88-end. Each added part should enter confidently with an accent.
- Generally, every consonant needs to be strong and precise.
- Text stress is so important. Words like “LIST-nin” and “GLIST-nin” should be sung as you would speak them — with stress on the first syllable and a somewhat dull, de-emphasized vowel on the second syllable.
- Diphthongs abound in this piece. Take care with words like “how,” “now,” “town,” etc. The first vowel must be a pure warm “ah.” It should rhythm with “faaaather” and not “cat.”
- Review the divisi and be sure to switch to three-parts on m. 17 – 18
- The sequence of ascending sixths in mm. 21-24 needs to be in tune and sung with a lighter tone, as to insure good intonation and beautiful tone.
- m. 30: “Conspire” should form a psuedo-rhyme with “playa” later… so please make sure not to sing too much American “rrr” on the end of “conspire.”
- m. 60: Tenors, please add a D-natural on “wonder-” so we form a full augmented triad, as we did in rehearsal.
- While this piece is not metronomic, I would like you to practice with a metronome to become comfortable with a slower tempo that will suit the piece better. Please set the metronome for 62 beats per minute and practice relaxing into this more relaxed feel.
- m. 5 – the “oo” singing should be nice and soft, gently accompanying the solo.
- Legato legato legato legato legato. Legato. Please make sure every line is smooth, connected, and linear. Never note-to-note.
- Rolled rr’s can be longer and have a pitch (examples: m. 16 “fron” m. 20 “ddor” m. 24 “mor” m. 27 “roddi” m. 28 “fraw”)
- Tenor 2: please review pitches at m. 10 vs. pitches at m. 26, as these two patterns are different.
- Practice looking up as you work on this piece. The rubato that I give you can only be achieved through eye contact.
Other announcements and reminders:
- Recording Session information:
- Be prepared to feed yourself lunch – there will be a significant break to eat something you brought or to walk a short distance to one of a few eateries in Palo Alto
- Location: All Saints’ Episcopal Church: 555 Waverley St, Palo Alto, CA
- Call times:
- Aria: 9:15am
- Vocalise SSA: 10:00am
- Bravi: 10:00am
- Lunch Break (all times approximate):
- Vocalise SSA: 12:15pm-1:40pm
- Bravi: 12:15pm-12:50pm
- Release Times:
- Aria: 3:00pm
- Vocalise SSA: 3:00pm
- Bravi: 2:00pm
Please review Jazmine’s email for other information on wardrobe, repertoire, and expectations.
Always our best,
Jace, Justin, and Elena