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Alethea & Athena
Choir problems 
22nd-Jan-2017 05:16 pm
It's raining, it's pouring, the...actually, as far as I know, no one is currently snoring. But it is raining really hard. We've been in a drought, so we didn't realize until a couple days ago, but apparently our apartment complex could stand to have a much better drainage system. There are massive puddles all around our unit, and we're just a little bit worried about the water seeping into our home. That's right; we are so unacquainted with the ways of rain that we're afraid it will soak through our walls. A slightly more realistic concern is the idea that it might creep as far as the front door and start to flood our living room from under it, but we've still got a ways before we need to worry about that.

And I just think of that song from Winnie the Pooh: And the rain rain rain came down down down...♪ Seems like a good day to watch that movie, but for some reason it puts us to sleep.

In other news, the choir is performing in church next week, and we got a little ambitious. We thought it would be neat to do a medley of songs for which no prearranged medley currently exists. Or at least no prearranged medley that we could find on the internet. So we got fancy arrangements of all three hymns, and yesterday I spent the afternoon with one of my first ever musical composition projects, writing transitions between each of the songs. Today we practiced it with the choir all together for the first time.

Technically, it shouldn't be anything difficult for the choir--they just need to sing the melody of the verses, straight out of the hymn book, no tricks. All the fanciness is in the piano part, which is also where the transitions were. But! there was trickiness for the choir, in that one of the songs is one that we rarely sing in church anymore, possibly because the melody goes up so high. But it's such a pretty song, and it goes so well with the theme of ward conference...

Anyway. A certain member of the choir was having a hard time hitting the notes, so he asked if I could just transpose that one song into a lower key. He's an organist himself, and he knows how to improvise and stuff, so in his mind, it's probably a simple matter of looking at the notes on the score and playing the corresponding ones in the lower key. This is not a skill that I have mastered, so for me to pull it off, we'd have to rewrite the whole song. (Technically, we'd copy the song onto a different score, but with lower notes, and we'd either have to do it by hand or with musical notation software, and past experience with that tells me it's at least as annoying as doing it by hand. Does anybody know of software that will take a PDF of sheet music and transpose it automatically?)

And of course, that would completely destroy the modulation I wrote leading into the next song. Someone suggested he sing the alto part, which is seeming more and more like a brilliant idea, but for some reason he didn't seem to pick up on it. Maybe for the same reason it never seemed to register that the song in question is in B flat and not E flat...which I think is why he kept suggesting transposing it to D (half a step down), but I'm not sure, so I'm like, "If I give him what he's asking for, there's a strong possibility that he won't actually be getting what he wants, but since I'm not in his head, how can I know for sure?" I guess the obvious answer is he wants a lower key, so just pick one.

And you may be asking yourselves, "Why does his opinion even matter?" And I'm sort of asking myself the same thing, but he's also one of our strongest singers, and he's a musical guy, so I feel like he's going to be more judgmental...or something. But he's not the only one who wasn't hitting those notes, so it seems like, if we want the choir to sound good, I really should transpose it lower. I don't know, but the whole thing is stressing me out immensely.

And the worst part of it is this arrangement isn't exactly the easiest thing to play on the piano, so it would be nice to have as much time to practice as possible, but now I have to think about transposing, which feels like it's going to be a massive time sink, and is so daunting that I just want to run away from everything and not worry about it at all...but we only have a week before the performance! Arrrrgh!

And those are only the accompanist's concerns. Athena's got a whole other set of worries as the choir director.

Today I'm thankful for having an extra Bread Day today, having a lovely chocolate cake to look forward to, not having a stampede of cats enter our apartment when Page insisted on us opening the door to prove to her that she really didn't want to go outside in this rain, having some lemon poppyseed mini muffins for breakfast in case we run out of milk before we can get to the store, and getting to watch some fun TV last night.
23rd-Jan-2017 05:42 pm (UTC)
I think having those who struggle to hit the high notes sing a different part, like you mention with the alto line, would be the easiest solution here. Accommodating different vocal ranges is why parts exist, right? (and to sound pretty in combination?) Often when our choir sings hymns, our director designates some verses to be sung in unison melody, and some in parts (and even solos, if there are a lot of verses...), and I always like how it sounds with the variation throughout the song. So if the other two songs you're doing are all melody, it might be nice to change that up on one song or part of a song anyway. And if he's a strong singer and musically inclined, it doesn't seem like it'd be a problem for him to pick up a harmony line...
23rd-Jan-2017 09:06 pm (UTC)
It does seem like the best solution. Now if only people in this choir weren't so averse to actually learning parts... We definitely agree that it's nice to have a mix of unison and harmony, but we don't have nearly as much time as we need for people to learn parts. So I don't know why this guy can't pick up on the lower part himself, especially since he already said he was going to sing parts. I suspect he got it into his head that I could just transpose it, and you know how sometimes people latch onto an idea and can't let it go? I think that's what happened.
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