Sunday, December 27, 2009

Notes on Caroling

* At Gordon House we started with me on guitar, then some four part carols with me on flute or horn, then finished with guitar, closing with a sing along. That set up a really nice pace to the performance. Rhythm guitar is really my strong suit, with years of experience engaging audiences with it, and it builds momentum and excitement. Then, once we have the audience with us we can count on their attention for the instrumental pieces. In the past at Gordon House I'd tried leaving the guitar until the end, but book-ending the performance with it worked much better.

* On the four part carols from the hymnal, starting with someone on all four voices on the first iteration, then a duet on the second, then all four on the third worked much better than starting with a duet. Starting an iteration with a solo and then other voices coming in on subsequent lines also works. Stringing two or three carols together in one simple arrangement would be a nice improvement as well. If they were in the same key you could just go right from one to the other, letting someone solo on the soprano line on the follow on tune(s) to set the new tempo and feel. If you just did two tunes in an ABA arrangement, there'd be no need for page turns if they were on facing pages.

* I get tired of the sound of my voice on the guitar numbers. It's fine for leading sing alongs and egging on instrumentalists without having to be amplified. The problem is that in working to project, nuance and sustain tend to get lost, and for whatever reason, I tend to slip into the country accent I grew up with around here. Five of the Players are in choirs and/or the community chorus. I've tried to get them to sing before and met with stiff resistance. Need to try to see if rather than singing solos, or duets with me, they can be cajoled into being a mini-chorus with me of six voices. Also need to see how it would work having someone play the lead line along with me when I sing, so I wouldn't have to fill up so much melodic space with my voice alone. I always sort of expect the help, but instrumentalists seem trained to never step on anyone else's solo.

* For the Art Center benefit, need to arrange the Players better for balance, and get the singers in closer. Would also be good to break the sing along up into two or three sessions rather than one long one. Could do one session with just guitar and the Players who can play by ear, which would allow for pitching the tunes especially for particular singers on any particular song. This year I sort of hid the recorder, which made for poor balance on the CD. I'd worried that seeing it might put some people off singing, but with the performing type folks that showed up for the event that wouldn't be a problem.

* The organization of the music books for the Players needs to be completely redone. This year it ended up being like layers in an archaeological dig with front, middle and back sections as I added new material without wanting to reprint things already done. All the versions of each carol need to be grouped together and clearly marked as four part and/or guitar version, and each of those should have the concert key clearly marked with an ossia staff showing the highest (and maybe lowest) note in the song in that particular key. 

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