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Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Wonder of Living Instruments

Another semester of graduate school is over, and with it another semester of university choir. I am registered for choir again next term, perhaps my last for a long while, but for the next few months I'll be back to singing solely as a private entertainment, mostly singing along with songs on my computer. [Actually, I will be working on arrangements of at least one old Irish folk song for next year's choir program, so I will no doubt be singing a bit while working out the parts for those songs. I have the range necessary to sing through all 4 parts of a women's choir arrangement of anything, even if my soprano notes get rather sad and thin at the top; so, if I can at least sing all the parts I have arranged, at all, a 4 part choir can also sing those parts comfortably.] I was pondering the idea of singing in music tonight, while trying to write about culture theory. On my spotify playlist right now I have a mix of tracks from Josh Groban, Rhydian Roberts, Paul Byrom, Michael Ball, Lesley Garrett, Katherine Jenkins, and Peter Corry, plus various musical tunes. The music I was listening to earlier today was all Spanish language flamenco music, somewhat channeling Cinco de Mayo, sort of. Anyway, I gave up on the flamenco after a while not because the songs all sounded the same, but because I could not sing along. Irish rock (jigs and modified dance tunes) similarly were not satisfying. So, until I get hoarse enough that I can't sing along even to the easier songs, I am back to my core favorite music style- people whose voices are instruments that need no accompaniment. I always have liked the story about the old violin at an auction which no one wanted to bid on. A man quietly walked up to the stage, picked up the battered instrument and started to play some beautiful music, and when he finished playing, set the violin back on the auction stand and left, the audience suddenly wanted to bid on the violin. One of the morals I've heard attached to this story is that the music is in us, and needs simply to be played. What I like about singing is that the music is in fact in us, and we don't need some contraption of wood and strings to make the music come out. [gee, this post seems not to have had a point at all...] Maybe once I get my chapter written, I'll come back to this idea with a more coherent post. In the meantime, I highly recommend any of the folks I've mentioned above. Or for more luscious vocal music, try some a cappella. My absolute favorites so far tonight: Amazing Grace (Celtic Thunder)- still one of the best versions of this song I have heard. I LOVE the way Ryan and Keith sound in the first few bars. Alejate (Josh Groban)- one of the first songs I heard by Josh, so this is one of his songs that seduced me into being his fan. Amazing Grace/Nearer My God to Thee (Lesley Garrett)- With Ladysmith Black Mambazo(LBM), singing the gospel medley I have known for years from LBM, but with Lesley Garrett this medley becomes something absolutely stunning. :)

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