Saturday 6 October 2012

Sweet Harmony

This post is brought to you through the power of Blogtoberfest 2012

I don’t have a TV.  When I moved into this flat 5 years ago, it didn’t have a TV aerial socket, and I’ve never bothered to have one installed.  I like that I can’t just stream hours of rubbish into my house.  I have to choose what I want to watch and set aside time to catch up with BBCiPlayer or by watching online.  I have acquired an equally bad habit though – the entire season watchathon, but more of that another day …

I love Gareth Malone’s new Choir series on the Beeb, Sing While You Work … This time he’s creating choirs in the (frequently anonymous) workplaces of Britain that will compete head to head at the end. It’s my Friday iPlayer treat … Every week I convince myself that I’m not going to get remotely emotionally involved, and every week I end up blubbing like a girl. Oh, I am a girl.  That's okay then.

I can’t resist choral music. I sang in choirs at school for concerts and shows.  I had fantastically creative teachers at school.  I’ve sung at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall and on stage with Deep Purple (!) I love a good harmony – straight or crushed.  Can’t get enough of them.  They are the best things to sing and to be surrounded by when singing.  Especially unaccompanied.

C-Thru Music have these amazing graphic representations of harmony – quilty inspiration methinks!

One day, when I have the time to map them I will use this pattern below with the colours I experience for notes and create a wonderful quilt!  It could be fantastic representation of how I see music.

Singing is right up there in the list of most intimate acts because we have to reveal our true selves – our voices; we have to breathe properly; we have to emote truthfully, and in a choir we have to lose our egos.  You don't have to be a good singer to sing.  You just have to sing.  If you want to be a more tuneful singer just listen harder to find the patterns.

That true blend of voices in a good choir is one beautiful floating bubble of colour for me. I know I don’t sing enough anymore. When I’m stressed out it’s usually compounded by me having not listened to enough music as the stress built up.  I rarely remember that little gem until it’s too late!

A very long time ago, before there were such things as t’internet,  I stumbled across the end of a choir competition on TV and heard the most amazing version of an extraordinarily complex harmonic song.  I was utterly stopped in my tracks.  It was the perfect example of that perfect blend of sound that comes from a choir who have managed to strip away their personas and just sing as one voice. 

Every so often I give Google another whirl to find a good version and yesterday I scored this.  It seemed only right to share it with you, for I think it is a beautiful thing.

This performance by North Allegheny High School Honors Chamber Choir is smooth and rounded in the mouth, like a scoop of Italian ice-cream or a spoonful of perfect cheese souffle.  In a piece like this, voices that don’t blend are going to be like shards of glass. It is incredibly difficult to pull off.  The original version I crave had more of a gospel vibe, but this hits the spot just fine.

Turn off the world for three minutes and listen.  I promise you’ll be breathing a little deeper and slower by the end of it … The conductor’s final pause to allow the sound to melt away to silence is fantastic.

There is a quiet place
Far from the rapid pace
where God can soothe my troubled mind.
Sheltered by tree and flower
There in my quiet hour with him
My cares are left behind.
Whether a garden small,
Or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find,
And then from that quiet place
I go prepared to face a new day
With love for all mankind

How does singing make you feel?  Do you wish you sang more often?


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