Dear Bravi and Con Brio:
Thank you for your hard work on Monday night! Additionally, I hope you enjoyed “meeting” Elias Berezin, a Cantabile alum who shared wonderful examples of how he is making a living as professional musician. Important lessons in what he shared are applicable in any field, and especially in professional music: Flexibility, Versatility, Curiosity, and Willingness to work hard! These are themes you have heard time and time again from Elena and me, and while I know you take those lessons to heart, sometimes it’s good to hear them from a different speaker. 🙂
This week, your focus can be directed to a couple key action items, most of which are vocal jazz. Our goals at this point are full mastery of the notes, the harmonic concepts, and the style. And of course, to keep you singing!
A quick word to those you participating in the “All of Us” Virtual Choir with Conspirare — you will receive a separate email with action items and specific instructions. For now, I have included the basic outline of what you need to do, below, as a reminder. If you are NOT participating in this exciting collaboration, you can disregard the first action item.
ACTION ITEMS FOR MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020:
- “All of Us” Virtual Choir: Poll response due Thursday 4/23.
Recordings and press releases due to me by Monday, 4/27 (Upload both here)
- Vocal Technique Video – “Messa di voce.” Watch and incorporate into practice/warmups
- Choral Listening / Response: Listen to this recording, address points in the notes below, respond by email to me Due Sunday night, 4/26
- Practice the following pieces:
*Like Someone in Love
*All of Us (if you are participating in Virtual Choir)
WEEKLY CHORAL LISTENING
Please listen to this piece, “Babys,” originally written by the Indie folk artist Bon Iver, and arranged/performed by the fantastic Lorelei Ensemble. Lorelei is a professional female vocal ensemble founded in 2007, and increasingly a major force in modern choral music (especially for their adventurous programming and frequent commissioning of new music). Since this is a choral arrangement of a piece of popular music, it has much more in common with “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” or perhaps “You Will Be Found” than it does with the piece by Bach, which we listened to last week. Nonetheless I hope you will find it enjoyable… It has that “X-Factor” that draws me in, and I wonder if you’ll feel the same way. Please analyze the following and write me a response by Sunday night (4/26) at latest:
- Sound: Describe the character of the sound, overall — what do you hear (instruments!), and what is the mood? How does the music make you feel? Do you enjoy it — and why, or why not? Be specific.
- Harmony: Very different than last week, for sure. There is no polyphony; it is entirely homophonic. There are two main types of homophony: 1) Block chords (“My Romance” is a good example of this), and 2) Melody + Accompaniment (any solo pop song or musical theatre ballad, for example). Which is it? Or is it both? Further, describe the harmony you hear… is it mostly consonant or dissonant? Is it possible for these two things to co-exist?
- Melody: This melody is very typical of Bon Iver’s song-writing style. Describe it. Is it simple, busy, ornamented, sparse? Is the melody even the focus of the piece?
- Rhythm: Talk about the relationship of the gentle but hyper-rhythmic instrumentals with the comparatively “free” feeling of the singing. How does this constant, subtle rhythm fit the text?
- Growth: This piece has a very subtle aesthetic, but perhaps you hear growth. Talk about the contour of the piece.
- Language: Here are the lyrics. How do you think the text and music relate? Did you get a feeling for what the song might be about during the lengthy introduction?
Words – Anders Edenroth / The Real Group
- Continue learning with special attention to notes and rhythms in the “scat” section (measures 59-83)
- Practice carefully the various articulations in the scat (accents, tenutos, falls, shakes)
- To practice the shake (measure 78), oscillate the voice on a whole step and then back down, starting slowly (quarter notes), then speeding up (eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc.). Then try to shake the voice between these notes as fast as possible. I find it helpful to focus on the upper note of the two, but you might find the opposite.
- M. 82 – 83: use a breath accent (tiny “h” before each new pitch) to help define the rhythm/chord changes
- M. 83 – 90: Spend a bit of time reviewing these pitches — they are different than any other chorus, and we didn’t have enough time in rehearsal to tear them apart.
Like Someone in Love – Jimmy Van Heusen, arr. April Arabian-Tini
- Learn all notes from m. 1 – 33.
- Continue through the end of the piece if you have time.
- Practice strategy for difficult passages: start quite slowly, and if you find the swung 8th notes to be difficult while you are learning pitches, you can learn the pitches “straight” (even 8th notes). Then gradually increase the tempo and add the swing back into it when the pitches are solid.
- As you add the swing back in, note the composer’s advice on the first page: The melody should swing! Any 8th notes on the offbeats [the “ands”] should be accented.
My Romance – Rodgers/Hart, arr. Gene Puerling
- I’d like to record this piece in the first half of May. It will be perhaps our most ambitious virtual choir project. Work hard on it!
- Pay very close attention to places when other parts move but your part does not (examples: m. 9, m. 10, m. 15, m. 17, etc.). Read vertically and be sure you aren’t moving to the next syllable before other parts have had a chance to sing their lines.
- Note the lighter, very smooth sound. Even in the loudest sections of this piece, the dynamic is still only maybe mezzo-forte, and the tone should never have an edge.
- After the first key change, the pitches and jumps become very tricky. Practice singing out of tempo, pitch-to-pitch for difficult passages; and check each pitch against the piano.
- Basses: if the lowest notes are too low, please leave them out (simply join in when the line returns to a higher range).
- Bring out the diction through the use of well-formed diphthongs (Listen to the recording for examples). Spend some time thinking about the words, too. They must be sung with total sweetness and sincerity.
- This piece will benefit from lots of practice with the piano or with a piano app on your phone; the chromatics and jumps are quite difficult in the tenor and bass lines
All of Us – Craig Hella Johnson
The following notes apply to the Virtual Choir collaboration with Conspirare. If you decide you aren’t able to participate that is okay… but I hope you will consider. Note that this project is audio-only, and the music is totally within the grasp of everyone in Bravi and Con Brio. Please consider and either way, respond to the poll I sent yesterday so we know what to expect. 🙂 Thanks to those who have already responded.
Here are learning tracks: https://soundcloud.com/user-103157448/sets/all-of-us-virtual-choir/s-eK2k8qCBpVS
Three very important notes:
- Please note that there are LOTS of parts here. We will go through these parts tomorrow together at the required rehearsal from 7:15 – 7:30 for all participating singers, so you know which one to sing and which track to use. If you cannot make it to this rehearsal/meeting, please write to me let me know and I’ll arrange a separate time to meet with you.
- Note as well that these parts include ALL of the singing. You are welcome to learn it all, but the only portion you will be recording is the “Chorale” singing, which starts at roughly 1:05, depending on the individual track.
- Follow this plan, as you learn from the score:
- Note that you do not enter until m. 33 (Sing the Chorale Section), which happens at about 2:13 in the base track, or around 1:05 in the part tracks linked above. Then follow the red markings:
- You cut out halfway through m. 49
- You re-enter at pickup to m. 54
- You cut out at the end of m. 69
- You re-enter at the end of m. 79 and sing through the end of the piece.
Any questions? Ask me directly. 🙂
- This coming week I have two separate timeframes available for 15-minute one-on-one coaching (from 3:00 – 3:30, and then again from 4:00 – 4:30). Use this sign-up sheet if you are interested!
Have a great weekend,