Vocalise Blog #6: 2/13/2017

Intermediate Chorus Rehearsal # 7 Thursday February 16th
February 18, 2017
Feb. 13 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #5
February 23, 2017

Vocalise Blog #6: 2/13/2017

Dear Vocalise,

I hope you are all having a wonderful and restful ski week! Stay safe with all of the rough weather. Please don’t forget that we will be back in rehearsal on Monday, February 27th, so take the time to refresh your memory on what we’ve worked on and learn the pieces listed below before we meet again.

“Strength often lies in numbers but excellence can only come from personal dedication” (anon.)


Practice every note, every line, every word of every piece as if it was your one and only solo.”


“Always engage in deep practice, giving and sustaining your undivided attention

to the music in front of you. “


Action Items for your practice:


  1. Have the following songs learned completely
    1. Turn the World Around
    2. Earth Songs 
    3. Famine Song
    4. Hymn to the Waters
    5. You are the New Day – this will be sung in trios and sextets next Monday
    6. I Dreamed of Rain
  2. Learn the background and story about each piece in the new program by reading the notes from this blog and the program notes in music scores (when provided)
  3. Listen (several times) to performance examples (follow links below when provided)
  4. Practice the latest yoga flow every day (Forward salute, forward arch, swan dive, forward bend, slow roll up; repeat.)
  5. Meditate at least 5-10 min every day




  • I Dreamed of Rain by Jan Garrett, arranged by Larry Nickel
    • Learn this music. This is one of the least difficult pieces in our repertoire, and it’s unfortunate that we can’t do more with it with its current level of preparation. Don’t take the easier songs for granted.Really focus on those syncopations. Don’t be lazy with your rhythms.Remember to close to “ng” on m. 61
  • Famine Song by Vida, arranged for mixed choir by Matthew Culloton

Most of the work was done on text and the quality of the sound. Here are reminders:

    • ChilDD, WilDD, ReconcileDD –” – final Ds must have pitch (Duh) and not sound like Ts
    • M. 3: lift after “spirit” –  the “t” should land on the last eighth note of the measure
    • Tenors and basses: on the first page, your “ba-das” should be just as warm and grounded as your hum. Also remember that you will automatically produce more sound when you open your mouth from a hum – prepare by singing the ba-da softer than you think you need to to keep the sound level.
    • Must work very hard to pronounce every sound of every single syllable. For example, “Soil” should have every part clearly heard (“S-o-i-l”). Same goes for “Child” Ch-ah-ih-Ll-Duh
    • Enunciate those final consonants! Make sure those pitched final consonants like “d” are true and not aspirated like a “t”
    • Every time you sing the word “reconciled,” that final vowel should be a tall, “ah” (“rih-cawn-sAAAh-ih-ld”) OPEN MOUTH tall.
    • M. 14: That tenuto on “soul” should be weighty!
    • Alto 1s and Sopranos: at m. 22 and all places like it, enjoy the dissonance when you’re signing a half-step away from each other. Alto 1s – notice there’s a tenuto on the F sharp!
    • In the sections like the one starting at m. 26, enunciate all of the sounds clearly at “child” and “wild,” being sure to place that pitched “d” on the cutoff on beat 4.



    • II. In Safety and Bliss
      • Memorize the text and recite it as it was a mantra. Think carefully about the text and its origin. It pairs wonderfully with the idea of non-denominational eco-spirituality that appears in the following movement.
      • This isn’t operatic or schmaltzy – each note is as important as the next. Don’t over-emphasize the leaps in this piece – the lower note is just as important as the upper one
      • Use the eighth rest at m. 77 as a springboard to get you started in this movement. It should be flowing and moving, not dirge-like and languid
      • Bonus Points: What mode is this movement in? Be ready to answer this question in rehearsal. Get familiar with this mode and sing through it. What’s different about it compared to the usual aeolian minor mode?
      • Don’t let your commitment to pitch accuracy get in the way of beautiful legato singing. The 16th note passages could be sung more legato – don’t succumb to the desire to break the line especially when you’re leaping.
      • Please ignore the notes from the past few weeks about cut-offs starting at m. 88 – please sing all note values and cut-offs as written
    • III. We Join With the Earth
      • Please, please work hard to secure correct pitches in this piece. It is a beautiful piece of music, but don’t let some of its simplicity fool you into becoming complacent. This MUST be learned. It is difficult to sing, but you are more than capable of doing it.
      • Sing in longer phrases. On the first page of the movement, mm. 103-107 should fluid and connected – stagger your breathing.




  • You Are the New Day by John David, Arranged by Philip Lawson


    • The legato throughout comes from longer vowels! Don’t cheat the vowel on words you might deem less important like “the.” Sing the full value on as much vowel as possible.
    • Whenever you have “You are the new day,” you can emphasize “are,” but do not disconnect it from “You.” It should be more of a glottal stroke.
    • Phrase he music based off of word stresses – for example, on the 2nd page: “if you can but prove to me you are the new day!”
    • In sections with more quarter notes like the one starting at m. 13, don’t let your singing become less connected and plodding. Paint your music with a much larger brush stroke here.
    • Mm. 22, 23 – sing through to the rest on “night”
    • M. 41 – sing “out” a bit softer than the rest of what came before it. A nice little decrescendo with a soft consonant would be very effective there.
    • M. 47 – More “H” on “Hope”
    • Crescendo in the second system of the last page!!!


Keep working on these notes from the last few weeks (Feel free to answer the extra questions!):



  • Turn the World Around by Harry Belafonte, arranged by Larry Farrow


      • The melody on “We come from the fire, etc.” — Sing with rhythmic buoyancy, like a fat staccato!. Lift between the barlines in these sections and disconnect the quarter notes a bit.
      • Remember — this is sung in dialect. For example, the word “come” should have a rounder “O” and close to the “M” sooner (“cohm”)
      • Starting at m. 41, those “Ohs” and “ahs” should have large crescendos ending with a firm accent at the note change on beat 4 – be sure you know where that note change lands!
      • Mm. 45-52: The arranger here marks this section as “Suspenseful.” Remember that nearly all of these notes are staccato (except “clearly!”) – Sing this as if in an exciting, complete darkness.
      • Those “hahs!” on measures 59 and 87 should be robust! You have to commit to this one…


  • Hymn to the Waters from Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda by Gustav Holst


      • On Page 6, system 3, Carry through. Do not breathe at the dotted barline
      • On Page 7, systems 2 and 3: the second syllables of “courses” and “broken” should be 3x softer than the first.
      • On Page 9, system 2: This should be quite robust: “Whose dread command no man may shun” are words with a lot of conviction!
      • Spell out the vertical harmonies and notice how Holst mainly uses root position chords to make beautiful textures.


  • Bonus Points: Throughout most of the song when you sing in parts, Holst is very strict about having the outer voices move in opposite directions. (For example: Page 7, system 2) What is this kind of motion called? What is it called when parts move while one stays on the same note (Page 7, system 3)?
  • EXTRA Bonus Points: At the bottom of page 9, the key signature changes to A flat major – Why then have we landed on a G# major triad? What is it called when the pitches are written this way?



Always our best,

Elena, Jace, and Justin


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