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macro shot of my music, titled 'FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY - Lobgesang - Hymn of Praise, op. 52, Symphony Cantata' and orchestration written in German - Soli SST, Chorale SSAATB, 2 flutes 2 oboes etc

Had a concert Saturday, performing Mendelssohn's Lobgesang. We were paired with another choir (larger than us), and an excellent symphony orchestra. Altogether I would guess there were at least two hundred people on stage - rather cozy and quite warm on stage, but the sound was absolutely tremendous and tremendously exciting to sing in. And Mendelssohn is a very rewarding sort of composer to sing in large choruses with, especially in a piece like this: a "hymn of praise", written to commemorate the western invention of printing - I think on one of the major anniversaries of it?

We were conducted by the conductor of the symphony orchestra (the choirs share a conductor, so there were just two conductors running around). The conductor was sort of funny and acerbic with it, the kind that really tries to get a lot out of you. I'm not sure what he's like when it's all being put together, but he kept exhorting us to get out of the music and watch the conductor. (One of the most common refrains of conductors I've known).

The parts got a bit jogged around by our choral conductor. He asked the alto 2s to help the tenors when they had to sing by themselves to open a movement, and in some parts asked the entire soprano section to sing alto to lend more power to the middle section - this, at least, is very rare. The last movement in rehearsal we basically didn't have a soprano line; those were being worked on by the other choir, who would cover for us there.

I like this rendition on youtube. There are more if you search "Mendelssohn Lobgesang" though I only have timestamps for this particular one.

Lots and lots of talk about the piece, including time-stamps for specific parts )
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My phone has an FM radio app! I did not know that phones had built-in radio capabilities. I even have a native radio app. It is slightly irritating to be loaded with so many apps that are unremovable (some stuff I would seriously like to remove, cough five hundred iterations of google this or that, lifelog) but sometimes it is useful. Haven't had a radio since my old alarm clock radio broke years ago. Apparently you just plug in earphones and the cord acts as the receiver.

It means you don't get to choose your music (obviously) but it's good because then you don't get stuck in a rut of playing the same track over and over again. Or rather, I do. If I like a song, I will play it on repeat for as long as I don't get sick of it.

Like! Necessary Evil by Nikki Yanofsky was on! I liked Yanofsky--she sang for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games (it's on youtube "I believe" by Nikki Yanofsky | equally amazing French version, "J'imagine" by Anne Villeneuve)--but I haven't followed her since. So that was nice! And I can tune into the classical station, instead of discovering music as I currently do, which is go to the symphony at random when I see a work I'm already fairly sure I will like (no Rachmanioff) which doesn't mean much broadening of musical horizons.


On a second musical note, the choir is doing Fauré's Requiem and a selection of Tudor anthems. Fauré's requiem is beautiful and lovely. The altos almost never get to sing! I want to defect to either the soprano or the tenors. The section solos are beautiful, but we practically get a role like "we need one more voice for the seventh in this chord, I wonder which voice we haven't used yet, oh yes let's use the altos!" Fauré, please include us in more than simply the last three measures of any given movement.

I exaggerate. There is one movement where we get a soloish part with the tenors, if I'm remembering correctly. But a lot of it does consist of standing and listening to others sing.

The Tudor anthems I love-hate. Uh. They're really tricky! But they will be really cool if we get them together, and they really take a lot of work (AND we get to sing, hooray). We're doing a few by Weelkes (O Lord, arise), Byrd (Justorum animae, Sing Joyfully), Tallis (If ye love me) and I think the Parson Ave Maria. Anyway, they're difficult because they're firstly heavily split; there's divisi in almost all the parts, all the time, so everyone's working under half the usual support. Especially when the weather is really bad and about 40% of the choir doesn't show up. They're all very very polyphonic too (style of music with voices singing different, independent melody lines instead of supporting one single melody). And oh my god, the word placement. Some of the anthems are in English, like Sing Joyfully. But the word placement is so weird. Normally, words that are more important--nouns, verbs, names, significant ideas--are given more emphasis: through pitch, volume, writing them with different harmony, etc. But often it can be done through simply giving them longer time. "The", "a", "of" often are quick notes because they're usually not very important. But in the anthems some of the words are set extremely oddly. We'll sing "of" for three beats and then "strength", an actually important word, for one only, which then ends the phrase. Not only is the rhythm odd for the ending of a phrase, but the length of time spent on each word is oddly disproportionate. Why would you spend so much time on "of"?

Some of the weird stuff I think is actually an effect of English having changed in the intervening half millenium. Like in the Weelkes, there's a part where it goes "and bless thine inheritance" but written like this:

musical excerpt with alto melody line and words

(I'm getting better at typesetting in musescore! It occurs to me now that I'm done, though, that I could have take a picture of my score with my phone, downloaded a pdf online of the music and took a screenshot...which would have been faster, but OH WELL.)

Basically, it sounds like "and bless thine inhe-riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-tance". Which is a) a long time for one syllable in the middle of a word and b) a very strange place to put the stress. Inheritance is accented on the second syllable, "he". I wonder if in Weelkes' English the stress was on "ri" instead.

I don't have this problem in Latin texts because I have no idea what syllables have stress, whether Latin even has stress-related minimal pairs (I'm sure that is the wrong word, but like the verb/noun difference between "to reject" vs "a reject") and I can just happily go along singing syllable by syllable. (I know that's bad. But it was the only way to get through Bach's motet, which was actually in German, but completely opaque re: syallabification as Latin to me, and which involved singing one syllable on the most endless melisma. Horrible. You forgot what word you were singing by the time you got to the next syllable.)

Also in the Tallis, the line goes "if ye love me [...] I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter" which I know he means something else but I mentally translate that to a blanket every time and want to laugh.

I was going to do a post about Agent Carter but I spent too long on this part, and have already accidentally clicked "POST" because the updated beta Create Entries on DW is really messing with my muscle memory, so I'll leave it at that this time.
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SO to start with The Creation (Die Schöpfung): it is currently my favourite.

I really like Haydn in the first place. I played some of his sonatas (I also really like sonatas, though it took me awhile to warm up to them--I liked the drama of Romantic composers when I was younger) and I'd studied parts of The Creation as part of music history. And of course there are some really famous pieces by him it's hard to miss--the Surprise symphony!

Hadyn makes me smile because he's totally playing tricks on the audience and the performers, laughing a little bit behind the scenes. In many ways, the music is quite symmetrical and classical. There are a lot of choral entries which feature each voice part singing the same melody, just one measure offset; he repeats measures in the classical structure; his sonatas follow the usual introduction-development-recapitulation; his melodies and harmonies are very tonal. But he loves springing little surprises onto you. Just as you think you have learned the part and that it will repeat for a second phrase, it suddenly isn't the same; it's been subtly tweaked just enough to produce a different sound. That part you thought would repeat four times is actually two repeats and three variations, joke's on you, sight-reader! (If you're not sure which one is the Surprise symphony, it's the one that starts out very quiet and then has the orchestra blast a shock chord to wake you up. It's so great. A+ would recommend.)

about The Creation and word painting )

My favourite parts are of course the choral ones, because I'm most familiar with them. I think if I tried to write about all 34 movements (of which we omitted a few), this would be way too long, and in fact it's already very long. I have included the music in youtube videos--there are three vids, and I didn't want to embed each all over the place so I've just provided start times for the pieces.

First Movement )

Second Movement )

We broke for intermission at this point, mostly for the benefit of the conductor and the orchestra; the choir got to sit (thank you) and really only did commentary. We weren't entirely holding up the show, this time!

Third Movement )

tl;dr: I was really excited to sing the Creation when I found out in September, and now that I have, I love the whole piece like burning. LOVE.
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I got the 2048 tile!

screenshot )

It's because for the first time ever, the bottom row where I keep all the higher numbers did not get clogged up. It's really nicely organized. another screenshot )

Whew. Fortunately this is not the sort of game where I start playing and look up 2 hours later--I play one, lose, and am able to go back to doing what I was doing before. But hopefully this means I can stop playing it.

I am currently at the point with The Creation where I love it to pieces. The concert went well, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head for awhile now. It is such a great oratorio, I love it. I found a really good recording on youtube, and I'll write up a big entry about it. But for the moment it's basically what I've got on nearly all the time. There are some parts which are not as exciting (the part in the third movement when Adam and Eve are singing about something, zzz) but the part where they sing in duet with the choir make up for it--the orchestra is so sprightly and the baritone, in particular, gets such a fun part.

I think I have finally listened to "I was a fool" enough times that I have been able to stop listening. Instead I have fallen in love with Simon Keenlyside as Papageno, embarrassingly enough, but he is amazing in the role:
youtube embed under cut ) It's the 2003 BBC version with Diane Damrau as the Queen of the Night and Will Hartmann as Tamino. And speaking of Damrau she is amazing as the Queen of the Night asdjkflj.
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I've talked about choir a couple times already, but I haven't really talked about the music yet, which is because it usually takes me about 2,000 words every time. Here goes!

This season was the French composers concert: Duruflé, Fauré, Poulenc, and Gounod.

Includes youtube clips under the cut )

1 Around 1:44 in the third clip.
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It's been so busy. Here are the interesting highlights:

*Choir had concert. It went good. Tour is this weekend. I really want to talk about the Poulenc and the Gounod and the Duruflé motets but time. I had three rehearsals in a row, Saturday-Sunday-Monday.
*Archery is having its Christmas shoot, which I think I may have to miss :( I have graduated from 10 meters (yay) to the indoor range's longest, which is 18m. Still working on form.
*I'm tired today and I felt grumpy all day and snapped at a team member. I feel bad, because ugh, not deserved (though really, you're older than me and you're still confused about [redacted]?)
*Seriously, why do people do laundry on Monday evenings? I avoid Sundays,'s negative something outdoors (you have to go in and out of the building to get to the basement), it's a Monday, but this is the second time I've gone downstairs and found it occupied.

For the first time ever I think I'm not going to make this Nanowrimo :( I have almost 12K, I've got a boatload of things I need to do which take precedence (by a huge margin), and my general strategy--"write like the wind on the 30th"--is not viable this year because I'm going to be on tour and well, I'm going to spend my time singing, socializing and running around the city being a tourist. I've never lost before. I really don't want to, but the prospect of trying to put in 38K in the remaining four or five days, on top of everything else, is unfeasible.

So in short, I'm kind of midway between "too tired to really hope" and "D:"

ETA: I forgot. I found a tattoo on tumblr which is what I envisioned the marques would look like, if they were off to the side (I really hate the huge blooming ones on the covers, sorry). It's a picture of a bare back, so sort of NSFW? It looks like apple blossoms to me.
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I have links about Star Wars! Here is an article on why The Phantom Menace is needed:

I never understood the theory that midichlorians=the Force. The movie implies they are an indicator, not an agent that causes the possessor to have the Force.

But what better reason for TPM than we get to see Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan go on an adventure? On a gorgeous planet like Naboo, no less? The older I get, the more I cringe (I always fastforward through any Padmé and Anakin scene) but I liked the adventuring very much.

And a ridiculously cute comic about Leia and Darth Vader:


Choir! CHOIR omg omg omg. I found out our program. Do you know what we're singing this season??

Haydn's The Creation.


The Creation (actually, technically, Die Schöpfung) is an oratorio about...the creation of everything, with a libretto set to mostly Biblical text. This is one of the works I learned about in music history. A snippet of the chorus' singing was included on the anthology's CD track ("The heavens are telling", plus a chunk of the recitatives before it), and I loved it. It seriously boggles my mind that I'm singing what was on our curriculum; it is a big work, and famous, and I always thought of it as too difficult to really do--not just me personally, but the choir has to be skilled enough too.

To put the icing on the cake--the trills in the aria? the cadenza on the ending?--we're singing with an orchestra! Our conductor also conducts an orchestra, so we're teaming up, and it's going to be such a cool sound.

The only drawback is the German. I can...kind of deal with Latin now, but I'm pretty sure one of the reasons Lobet den Herrn was so horribly difficult was trying to deal with German on top of Bach's madness. (I have such conflicting feelings about that man. For now, I don't want to do any of his stuff, piano or vocal.)


I tried to type about piano, but...I don't think it's actually very interesting. In the heat of the moment I think about all sorts of things (usually thoughts that go "third finger there! move under now! THREE TRILLS INCOMING! be quieter! be louder!) Except I don't really think about fingering in terms of words, just feeling--you know how the thumb goes under? Words are longhand. If I try to think about something else, or about my playing on a meta level, my playing deteriorates. This is especially obvious any time I'm sightreading.

Instead, please try Marina and the Diamonds! Her voice is so distinctive and powerful.

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It's been raining all day, I just finished Guns of Avalon which ended on a cliffhanger (also WAT), and this is the most obtuse, un-illuminating article I've ever had the dubious pleasure of reading: More is More and The Art of Perfection – Master Piano Technician Peter Salisbury Turns a Steinway Into Two, an article from Piano News, which I'm still inexplicably subscribed to. I believe the pertinent points--indeed, all the points--can be summarized as follows: "I'm not going to tell you anything substantive or explain the article's title because I am a professional (way better than youuuuu!) and know better." Honestly, what on earth is "an action"?

I mean, is it me? It can't just be me. Flist, validate me!


I think I've gotten over my temporary insanity of the last few weeks when I only craved really loud heavy music (this is a technical term) which led to mainlining Top 40 hits like Taio Cruz's songs and Macklemore and Lady Gaga's back catalogue and ANYWAY the exciting news is twofold:

a) I've come round to Choir #2's pieces and

Number a) is not exactly all that flattering. I was tired and grumpy when a lot of them were introduced (sleep is most definitely correlated to mood, and it's alarming) but I do actually like the stuff we're doing now! There's a lot of folk songs (e.g. "To Cecila", [drink to me only with thine eyes, and I will pledge with mine--the Ben Jonson poem], "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening", which is a TTBB piece so the altos get to do the tenor bits! Low but wonderfully expressive). And also Queen's "Somebody to Love". I'm not sure how I feel about it. I like some of Queen's stuff, but this one isn't really clicking for me. On the other hand, we got to hear the conductor sing it, and it was fantastic. You know, my conductor is a classically-trained tenor soloist, who I would seriously pay money to hear in concert (asdfjkl;). But he always is ready to belt the weirdest things (including the sopranos' lines in their octave), so the choir got to hear his rendition of Mercury's solo lines. And scat singing, too, when we were doing "In the Mood", which you should listen to because it is swingy and everything fun about big band music. Here is the original instrumental version by Glenn Miller:

According to the list of music we're doing, we're doing Loch Lomond, which is also one of my favourite songs (out of a very long list, I suck at making favourites) and I. can't. wait.

The second bullet point is more personal but I FOUND A PIANO TO PRACTICE ON. Five actually. More specifically I found a 'music club' that will allow me to practice. I am over the moon about this. I also have a big spreadsheet thing to track technique. What I've learned: E-flat minor arpeggios are STILL OF THE DEVIL. It is the worst ever.

snip of spreadsheet under cut )

Possibly the spreadsheet is a wee optimistic. I think my wrists would kill me if I tried to do all the major and minor scales in octaves, but I can always hope!
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It knocked my socks off. YESSSSSS.

Despite its fame (I mean, it's Mozart's Requiem!) I've never heard it before. I knew the apocryphal stories and about Süssmeyer, but I've never listened to it on tape or concert.

It was fantastic. As usual, I only enjoyed the soloists sort of (the tenor was great, the mezzo-soprano was excellent, soprano was meh, the bass sounded like rocks being shook; I am not a fan of vibrato generally) but it was the choir - the whole reason why I have the subscription - that made the whole concert.

Having never heard it, I didn't expect just how energetic the requiem was. The Introit (first section) was an explosion of sound. We'd started the concert off with a few motets and fugues - the former by the choir, the latter by the strings-only orchestra - which were mostly incredibly dreary. Fugues tend to be complex by nature, whether by JS Bach or not. As for the motets: one of motets was Carl Emmanuel Bach's, which had a text that enumerated the three stages of life and described them all as weeping and terrible. In fact, it literally started off with 'it begins with tears'. Then it went on to describe middle age and old age as vales of tears too!

The Introit of the Requiem, on the other hand, was just power - and I've always loved epic pieces. Even the kyrie - kyrie eleison, Christe eleison (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy) - even the kyrie movement was blasts of power instead of pleading, almost a demand for mercy. I really hadn't expected that at all; look at the source text! But it was pretty awesome, not going to lie; the choir had a full-bodied and rich sound, really everything a choir should be, and with the layered setting of the kyrie it was a great kick of energy. Wikipedia tells me it's a double fugue with each statement a motif - that explains the depth of sound! All that polyphony... I got a bit lost during the Sequentia, especially since the soloists sang and I couldn't tell what they were saying. I got back on track when the choir sang REX three times, in ff dynamics, though (the line was rex tremendae majestatis.)

THIS concert more than justifies my subscription. (My three-concert subscription, that is. These concerts are expensive, even with the cheapest seats and student rates: I think the full subscription to all 10 concerts runs from $150-$750 before taxes *winces*) The first concert I went to was a bit disappointing - not bad, just nothing special - it was a French Baroque composer whose name absolutely escapes me right now (I think it had a Baptiste in there somewhere - maybe it was Lully?? I have to say that I'm not really a fan of the Baroque period. Give me Renaissance, Classical, Romantic music any day!) Also I did not almost fall asleep during the concert like I did last time so that was a big plus.

Undecided on subscribing to 2013/14 season. I might go for the symphony orchestra instead (these guys are a Baroque choir & orchestra.)
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I forgot to talk about choir!

We have two (2) pieces this season!

They're two full masses, that's why there's only two: one by Haydn, one by Beethoven. (At this point, why not just go for a mass by Mozart, sez I, to round out the collection? But I don't make these choices and I suppose that'd make our one-hour concert too long.)

At any rate, the alto section has become the Fake Soprano section. Palestrina was quite low last term - we sang G below middle C frequently - but here the altos are frequently singing around the C above middle C, up to E, and so on. Personally, this is my "sounds escape with little (volume) control" range, which is uncomfortable and also why I'm an alto in the first place. The sopranos, meanwhile, are practically stuck on the high F and G these days. (We were singing and the music made a dip to B-flat below middle C and I thought: "oh man that's low grk" since we'd been stuck in the higher registers for so long - normally B-flat is dead easy.) Also, whomever arranged this score did not do a very good job, because occasionally I'll turn the page and there is this massive jump that was totally unexpected next.

But it's great! There's so much variety contained in the masses, and I am deeply amused that there are parts in 6/8 - part of the Benedictus, even, I think. (The often-repetitive nature - by design - of Classical pieces means that the same motifs show up in multiple movements, so I can never...quite keep track.) I mean, you don't expect swingy 6/8 in masses! But there it is, in full "hosanna in excelsis deo".


We are doing both masses in Germanic Latin. The Germanic bit is because of our conductor, and I don't know why. In the second week of this, he said: "I've had attempted mutinies from choirs before [over the pronounciation]" which is kind of amusing, but I get why. So far, we are just replacing things like "coeli" with /tsø.li/, /ts/ with everything I thought was supposed to be /tʃ/ (dona nobis pacem became /pɑ.tsem/ which was confusing because everyone tried to sing it the conventional, Italian-style way), and also vowel replacements. Like "kyrie" with /ø/ instead of /i/ which makes me grumpy because it's harder to sing (farther back in the mouth plus lip rounding!) and also kyrie is not Latin anyway. And "qui" became /kv/ instead of /kw/ or just /k/. Also, all the esses are being turned into z (/s/ -> /z/) which makes us all sound like we're putting on awful German accents.

*appeals to [ profile] schwa* Does German voice /s/ word intially? Or intervocalically, at least? Also, do you actually use /kv/? That's always pinged me as "terribad accent", but IDEK anymore. Technically there is a German bass, but he is tall and physics-y instead of linguistic-y and I can't ask.

Mostly I'm pleased, though. I had to learn about masses-set-to-music in music history when I was studying piano, and had to memorize things like the order of movements (Kyrie-Gloria-Credo-Sanctus-Benedictus-Agnus Dei) and it's fun to actually get to sing through them all. Plus one is a missa brevis, so we are often singing different texts over top of each other, and it's fun to puzzle out the Latin. When the conductor is working with another section I try to figure out what the words mean and whether I've seen any of the daughter words that have budded off from them.
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I've listened to it about three times over the last week, and my opinion keeps changing. At first it was "we sound terrible!" but I generally get more fond of music. The more I hear it the more I like it (this is subject to a certain limit, I mean, and now I want to draw a graph.)

First, something is definitely up with "Zadok the Priest"; I'm not sure why there is so much alto? Perhaps it's where the microphone thingy was placed. It's strange, because the other pieces don't seem to have the same problem. We went a bit slow, I thought, and weren't as crisp on the 'rejoices' as we could have been. The first part was still epic as in memory.

Definitely had some confusion there on "Sicut cervus". Everyone's moving appropriately, and adding expression! Just not together.

I am very, very pleased at one piece though. "Exsultate Deo" was the one where I was afraid that I could hear my own voice (HORRORS) but the sopranos scale up (literally) to 'blowing out speakers high' so fast that the alto 1s are barely audible. YES. EXCELLENT.

I stand by my assertion that we have an amazing pianist, because AMAZING. I want to be her.
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Today was the choir concert. A mix of old and new, as the title suggested, and nothing particularly heavy for the summer season.

tl;dr: no one fainted or flubbed badly. Success! (I think we're getting a CD, but that's not going to be out for a long time. I've included links to youtube versions that are close) )
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I went to see hear the Messiah yesterday a few weeks ago!
complaints about own sillypantsness )

I am still in love with the choir, because it was fantastic. It is the choir that makes my heart leap - like a sudden rush of sound, all together. They had fantastic control over volume, so it could sink low and - this being in a concert hall - in dead silence, then boom out. And of course Handel gives them the opportunity: Messiah is chock full of glorious outpourings of happiness and - grandeur. (All we like sheep unexpectedly joyous, and he shall purify resonant, and of course Hallelujah magnificent. "Wonderful counsellor" stuck through my head on the half-hour of wet evening, walking home). I liked the bass and the soprano - the tenor was okay - but I am a firm believer that Handel, though he was also awesome, should never burden anyone (virtuoso or no) with passages that Messiah contains. As in fifty-note strings of trills, basically - in the bass (pardon me, baritone), they sounded like nothing more than rocks being shaken about. (This might have been "For behold darkness" or "The people that walked" but I don't quite remember.) Having analyzed the bit in the second part for music history, beginning with "There were shepherds", it was fantastic to hear another rendition - and the soprano didn't overload too much; her voice simply rang.

All in all, amazing. But I'd still rather have gone to the sing-along - alas!
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I am here, I am still alive, and I am still typing.

There has been more calligraphy done in the last week then I have done for many a month. And I feel at last that my writing is moving back to a more formal style; I think it is the influence of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susannah Clarke), which I am reading at the moment. The way I talk in real life just feels too stark - too bare, too open, too bold, if that makes sense - for it to transfer aright into writing.

I keep thinking I ought to make an entry, except all that is interesting to say is personal, and if you ever ask one of my friends, I think they will say that I am a really private person. When things happen, I vanish into a book and avoid people. I would rather shut down and say nothing - observe - than anything else then, and it isn't uncomfortable, to stop talking. I tend to vanish off the internets as far as me posting goes, not so much commenting/responding to others, when I am overwhelmed with life, when there's something massive going on in real life, or when all of the exciting things are too laden with detail for me to be publishable online. (I am one of those kids who were told to never put information online; it came as a huge shock that people did this on Facebook! oh my goodness.)

But! The choir has released the CD, and I am listening to it - we sound better than I expected we would! And far better than initial impressions. I still think that we are not quite good enough to do studio recordings, though; though they sound quite nice, I can hear all the flaws (I feel like I'm hearing my voice, very very loudly, but I'm sure that's just paranoia - I think?) and we sound better in the live concerts, where the recording equipment is less able to detect every nuance. Alas, Listen to the Lambs's soprano part is no better than I expected :( At least the altos sound good, and that's what's important ;)

The other things is that release 80 is out and there is, ah, fallout.
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I have finally, finally, finally found aida cloth. That is sold just as itself. Without the premade packages with more embroidery floss than I could ever use. *bounces* It's absurd how happy this makes me. This means--oh my God, I've been looking up patterns all day. Some of them look terribly old-fashioned, but there's other beautiful ones...

In other news, choir has started again (yay!) and we're doing some of Palestrina's music. Forget all the other pieces--I can't wait. It's like music history and choir are colliding! (They should, but they don't often enough.)


Apr. 22nd, 2010 11:56 pm
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Today, we got a visit from a choir conductor (well, he was paid to come, but anyways). He had so much energy and passion--his arms did flail and make strange gestures and so on, but he got sixty people to sing with musical inflection, bring out the stressed words and the musicality, and remained very optimistic throughout. And he also got through all of the repertoire our real conductor had given him--we often only do two pieces (and they're very short)--which was nice because our conductor had chosen some distinct styles (madrigals + folk songs + modern music + all sorts of other things) and it was interesting to run through them.

It would have been an amazing rehearsal, except that the first honk of the car (the back of the room was partially opened to allow air in) made everyone jump a mile, and then the rest of the time was punctuated by other car sounds. Ah, well.

I apologize if this isn't rational/stylistically awful. I'm really pressed for time.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
My choral conductor uses, as said by my friend, "really weird metaphors."

And it's not as though the advice he gives us is bad or anything. It's perfectly legitimate advice, and it (to me, anyway) makes sense and captures exactly what we need to do. But they're so strange.

For instance, the female:male ratio in the choir is approximately 50:10 (at least 50 alto/soprano, exactly 10 baritone) and so there is a tendency for the baritone voices to get drowned out. Midway through rehearsals, he'll motion at the alto and soprano sections frantically: "Be QUIET and let the guys sing out!" through hand gestures. Then he will go and talk about how this relates to driving and passing on the street. Or how a choir is like a rugby team and not like a social studies class. Or whatever other idea he comes up with: they're all logical, I suppose, but strange metaphors.

The other really notable metaphor is the "pulling [taffy] horizontally instead of vertically", which he also uses hand gestures for. It makes lots of sense, if you think about it: don't project volume (vertical), but instead focus on filling your chest and stomach with air and rounding out your sound. But it's bizarre, because at first glance these gestures mean absolutely nothing, and I'm sure that our audiences are perplexed by all of this.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
A word to the choirs that were participating in the festival with us: please stop trying to sing as individuals. You're a choir. Sing with the group; this is not the place to add extra flair or flourishes. Save that for solo pieces. That would be you, baritone section.


silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)

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