Sunday, April 02, 2006

Foray into Faure

Flags in choir
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Well. That was interesting. Let's come clean and say I now know for certain that I have missed nothing by singing more or less exclusively in small choral groups for all these years.

Yesterday I had the novel experience of singing in an alto section which sang flat. All the time. And here am I - always being told I've gone sharp. Well - I couldn't drag anyone up with me yesterday, and that's for sure. Mind you - compared with the demented shrieking I heard from the sopranos at a particularly testing moment ... I'm sure it's worse being a soprano.

I suppose it didn't help that everyone seemed to be so old. I didn't feel elderly at all - and this is bad.
Is it only people of my generation who do this kind of thing? Was it because it cost £16 to join in - and then pay to rent your music? Do people in their 20s run a mile at the thought - and do I blame them? (I don't mean the thought of Faure or Kodaly - I'm thinking of these ad hoc choirs of pensioners and fifty-somethings.)

Anyway. People who customarily sing in large choirs seem to (a) not look at the conductor (b) chat to their neighbour every time they stop singing (c) never know where we're starting from (d) sing like half-shut knives (women) or coalheavers (men) and (e) obviously feel no sense of responsibility for the final product. The maestro, by the time the "performance" came around, seemed to have withdrawn into his own thoughts.

I'm glad I don't read minds.


  1. I'm sorry it wasn't all you hoped to for. I hope this will not put you off in future.

    You should have pinched the person next to you in hope that she would shriek (is that how you spell it) until she becme in tune.

  2. there should be no *to* in the first sentence and the word at the end should be *became*.

    I should really check my comments box before clicking "publish"...

  3. Walter7:25 AM

    I am again astounded by the ability of someone really good with words to successfully describe a flavor which another has never tasted. I am quite literally incapable of knowing when an alto (or anyone else) is flat or sharp. Something got left out when the pudding in my head was mixed. Or, perhaps, I have never tasted of the fruit of the tree of good and evil music, and my auditory receptors are as innocent as the souls of the prelapsarians. And yet, I somehow feel I know what it means when you say that people “sing like half-shut knives (women) or coalheavers (men).” How dangerous and edgy a half-shut knife sounds! Thanks, Christine

  4. Walter - when tonic sol-fa ( Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Te Do) is drummed into you, it becomes second nature when identifying someone who sharp or flat. It's all about training the ear. You'll probably find that if you were to learn how to sing properly (if you can't already) you'll meet with the secret ingredient in your mixture...

    You're right though - it's the way she tells it!

  5. Chris - have you thought about putting a link at the right hand side to Progress report? While you're there - put one up for me!

  6. Duffy, I had problems the last time I edited my links - and gave up, pathetically. I shall have another look.
    Walter - you're no slouch with the witty comment yersel', man!

  7. I know the feeling well, although I've never been able to express it so well. Normally I just make a gurny face...

  8. Jimmy1:01 AM

    But it's so easy for you Claire,whereas poor Chris has to use the whole armoury of english language and literature to express a gurn.
    Sorry Claire I couldn't resist obviously I don't know you and I'm sure you look lovely.
    Choirs are ok but they're not-T Rex.

  9. Jimmy - have you actually ever been in a choir? I have been in a few that are exactly as Chris describes and, believe it or not, some can pass as a "T-Rex" roaring on...

  10. Chris - have you dissappeared? It's been a while...

  11. Chris your shock of red hair reminds me of David Bowie.
    Do you like him?
    And what about Marc Bolan and Talking Heads-Do you like them I'd be interested to know.

  12. Jimmy - yes, I like Bowie. But as for the other two - I'm almost completely ignorant of their work. I became divorced from popular contemporary music when my sons left home. Too much Faure, perhaps? And the hair? I didn't feel ready for grey bits yet. Badger is not a good look ;-)

  13. And a belated Happy Birthday to you, Jimmy - I can't do Di's sparkly writing, but the sentiment's sparkly instead!

  14. Jimmy2:37 PM

    Thank you Chris,that's kind of you.