Hi, VTG and Bravi:
This week, for the last time this semester, the blog will address Bravi and VTG singers separately, since we’re working on different goals until next week’s gala. Most of the blog is devoted to Bravi since VTG spent most of last Monday with Elena and Vocalise. 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!
This week, in addition to the notes below on “What I Have Done” (please see the Bravi blog, just below) VTG singers should refer to the Vocalise blog for notes from rehearsal with Elena and Justin, as well as any other necessary reminders and suggestions for practice.
Bravi, please be advised: your repertoire for the Gala should be completely learned and memorized this week. No exceptions. Last week’s rehearsal should have led us toward memory, but we had to re-learn a lot of pitches that we had covered the previous week. Please be sure this doesn’t happen again. Be diligent and demanding in your own practice, and assume that YOU will be the leader within your section. Who will do it, if not you?
- Mark all scores with clear markings to follow your part. Some singers have to navigate a “roadmap” between a couple different vocal lines. It will likely be necessary to circle each pitch you are to sing. This MUST be done before our next rehearsal.
- Thoroughly learn all pitches and commit them to your aural and visual memory.
- Work toward memorization as quickly as possible. This repertoire must be memorized by Monday. Many of these pieces are “verse” songs, so drill one verse at a time. Record yourself and compare the recording to your score afterward. This will help you identify problem areas and practice them.
- Spend some time with your word sheet and the audio files for “Go to the Mardi Gras.” This should be an easy one to memorize.
What I Have Done
Practice with this recording. Please remember that we will take it slightly faster. Here are some specific notes–
- Practice with a metronome!!! Set the pulse for 72 beats per minute. This is the dotted quarter note in 6/8 time and the the half note in 4/4 time.
- Simon will sing the solo.
- Tenor 1, please jump to the tenor 2 line in the following places:
–mm. 7 – 8
–mm. 22 – 27 (important — we did not cover this in rehearsal)
–mm. 92 – 93
- Please review the meter change from mm. 36 – 37. The dotted quarter note in 6/8 becomes the half note in m. 37, and please think of this section in cut time as we discussed.
- The section in cut time (pp. 4 – 6) should be sung molto legato with a warm, supple tone. This will contrast with the opening and closing sections in 6/8, which have more of a gospel feel.
- Please review the chord changes in mm. 41 – 46, moving from E minor, to G minor, B major, A major, and back to E minor. The chromatically altered pitches are crucial in making these shifts. Bring out those pitches (B-flat, D-sharp, C-sharp, etc.)
- Tenor 2 and Baritone should add a quarter rest in m. 60, to cut off with the outer voices.
- Tenor 1 and Baritone should add a quarter rest in m. 64, to cut off with the tenor 2 and bass sections.
- Everyone, please review the rhythms in mm. 32 – 33, mm. 70 – 72, m. 79, and m. 86. The interplay of two against three for these sections is rather complex and must help the groove of the song.
- All figures notated as a hum (“mm”) should be sung on “oo” instead.
- Always strive for warm, tall sounds. It should sound rich and full; never heavy or shouted.
Go to the Mardi Gras
Practice with a metronome set for 120 bpm — this piece has to absolutely burst with energy. Review your words, notes, and rhythms with these audio files.
Please be sure to rehearse with the rests between lines of text, as I’ve demonstrated in the audio recordings, to get the pacing of this 12-bar blues style.
Practice snapping on the off-beats while you sing. If you find yourself wanting to hoot and holler during the piano breaks, embrace it! Let it out!
If you aren’t familiar with Mardi Gras history and traditions, read about here: http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/mardigras/mardigrashistory/
Do You Know What it Means (To Miss New Orleans)
Practice with this recording, with an ear toward how your harmonies with with the soprano and alto lines. Aria will be with us on Monday, and the harmony in this arrangement is rather sophisticated.
- Remember to sing lightly with a head-voice tone. This will support the overall affect of nostalgia and fond remembrance.
- Tenors should jump down to the Bass line for mm. 35 – 36, as well as mm. 53 – 57.
- Coda should be sung with strength and conviction.
- At m. 55, where the note says “Suddenly slower, deliberate,” please sing these eight notes straight — NOT swung.
- Please add a slight decrescendo from mm. 56 – 57, ending m. 57 around mezzo forte to set up the subtler “woah woah” tag.
- The final two measures should be sung “Woah, Woah” instead of “Oh yeah.” Please decrescendo slightly, as well, ending at mezzo-piano, with a shimmer of vibrato.
Basin Street Blues
Practice with this recording, with careful attention to the balance — when singing “oo” under the soloist, please sing softly with good support and a warm, airy tone, as to accompany the soloist. Never rush, and always lean into chromatically altered notes. Blue notes (flat thirds and flat sevenths) are the most quintessential sounds in jazz, so always bring these out. They should be quite “blue”… settle into this sound and enjoy the heavy sonority.
Creole Love Call
Practice with this recording, and strive for the accuracy of the instruments you’re imitating. The more you commit, the funnier it will be!
- You MUST pencil in your roadmap. For this score only, you are welcome to use highlighters and colored pencils. Please make sure you have everything thoroughly and accurately marked. It will save precious time in rehearsal.
- Isaac, please sing the solo marked “Trombone (Posaune)” in mm. 9 – 12
- Nathan, please sing the solo marked “Trombone (Posaune)” in mm. 25 – 33
- Aaron, please learn the solo in mm. 41 – 45, marked “Trombone w/ mute (Pos. mit dampfer)” in the bass line.
- Each solo should have a character! If you’re a sad trombone, make it look VERY sad. If you’re going for flirtatious, be as earnest as possible.
When the Saints Go Marching In
Crucial that you review this, as we did not make it to this piece at all last week. Practice with a metronome set for 120 bpm. Please do not take the marked tempo of 138, which will sound frantic. More reminders from last week:
- Tenors, please review the octave drops on p. 6 (last bar) and make sure you’re clear as to when you drop the octave and when you return to the written octave. You will be doubled by alto 2 singers from Aria, so sing lightly, using falsetto if needed.
- Tenors, please hold off on memorizing pages 8 and 9, which I am re-writing for you. It is too high and I don’t want you to strain your voices.
- Observe staccato markings when they are in the score, but please don’t sing staccato all the time. When notes are not marked staccato, you should sing with full-bodied, legato sound.
- Remember, this is a celebratory hymn that has been removed from the church and taken to streets. It should sound like a celebration. Sing with energy, with a smile, and with enthusiasm. Imagine a street parade in New Orleans, perhaps during Mardi Gras. Put yourselves there and bring the party to this piece!
Additional reminders / announcements:
- Please attend rehearsal on Sunday afternoon at Simon’s grandparents’ house. It’s located at 227 Verano Drive. Rehearsal will last from 2:30 – 5:30. The first hour will be sectional rehearsal, for any last-minute concerns for pitches / rhythms. Please sign up here.
- You’re invited and encouraged to join Aria at rehearsal on Tuesday 2/7, from 6:30 – 7:45pm. The rehearsal is at the church, in the choir room. Here’s a sign-up sheet. While I’m happy that a few of you have signed up, we’d all like to see everyone there, if possible!
Always our best,
Jace, Justin, and Elena