Being in the Artisan Clubhouse is quite a challenge. We are very fortunate to have everything set up for us with refreshments as usual, but the space available makes it very cosy with rows stretching to the back wall. After a bit of chaotic furniture moving, we were able to sit everyone in some way or another and start on time.
As we have now gone through all of the Act One songs, we revisited the trickier ones to refine them, starting with Mr Blue Sky.
We tightened up the rhythm on the verses ensuring that ‘sight’ is at the end of the bar.
Silences are golden and also important, especially in pop songs, so make sure that there
is a slight gap between ‘today’ and ‘Hey, hey’.
‘City’ is slightly longer when singing ‘…in the city’, whereas ‘pity’ is short as in ‘ … once was pity’
The Ba bas are sung straight the first time, and although the written notes are exactly the same, they are sung in a swing tempo the second time.
Straight time is very even; swing time is bouncier when the ‘ba bas’ are sung as a couplet.
Autumn Leaves followed. This is all about story telling.
Tenors tend to sing the same note for a period of time, so give it shape and make it melodic and not sounding boring like it does in Dropbox!
‘..yet’ is a moving note for Altos and Tenors, but Sops just hold their note, so watch Elliot for the note change and then the cut off so we all finish together.
Gradually get softer and quieter after ‘missed you most of all…’ and don’t slow down on ‘… start to fall’ at first time round. Second time round, at the very end of the song, it is only Sops that sing that phrase.
Eleanor Rigby was next. A very chaotic sounding song with a chain reaction. Keep calm and watch Elliot and once you come in at the right time, all will be well.
The Ahs should be given shape. Sops work on your first note as it is a little flat! It is the same note as the last one you sang on ‘care’.
It was at a church fete in 1957 that John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. Just yards away lay the grave of scullery maid Eleanor Rigby, who had died, aged 44, in 1939. Nine years later, McCartney would pen the lyrics for what became one of the band's most celebrated songs.
Often described as a lament for the lonely, or a commentary on life in post-war Britain. But the reality is few knew of the grave's existence until the early 1980s, and McCartney himself has denied it was the inspiration behind the song.
Paul Williams has said that his favorite lyrics in the song are "Who said that every wish/ Would be heard and answered/ When wished on the morning star?/ Somebody thought of that/ And someone believed it/ Look what it's done so far", because they imply that "there's power in your thoughts"
Elliot said all the notes are correct, it just needs the dynamics.
Crescendo into the’ Oh, so we’ve been told….’ and also on ‘… see’ making it get louder as the note finishes. It is not easy. Getting your breathing right is critical for this.
Crescendo on the ‘Ah’ into ‘What’s so amazing’ Get quieter leading into ‘… the lovers, the dreamers…’
The crescendos and decrescendos will make this song sound amazing.
Next week we start Act Two with three Christmas songs. They will be in Dropbox, so print them out and be ready.
We have done amazingly well in such a short space of time.
Keep up the good work.
What a great rehearsal last night with Eleanor Rigby, Lean on Me and What’ll I Do completing all the songs for Act One of our concert.
Not easy for the majority of the choir who haven’t sung these songs before as they were last performed over five years ago!
Don’t sit back and get complacent, though. We have been taken through all the songs and our respective vocal parts, so we know the right notes to sing, but there is more to it than that, as you all know.
Use Dropbox to perfect your notes; go over the parts where you know you are unsure and you will gain confidence in your ability. However, Dropbox is just a tool to use to learn to sing the right notes in the right order. It is very robotic and the performance direction will come from Elliot.
Remember to take a pencil with you to rehearsals and mark your music score with the directions given. There are too many songs to remember without making notes!
Also familiarise yourself with the words as you practise at home and you will be able to look up at Elliot for his conducting skills with the cut offs; some will be short some will be long. Keep watching!
Eleanor Rigby was the first challenge.
This is a song by The Beatles from their 1966 album Revolver. It was also issued on a double A-side single, paired with Yellow Submarine. The song was written primarily by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney.
Eleanor Rigby continued the transformation of the Beatles from a mainly rock and roll- and pop-oriented act to a more experimental, studio-based band, with a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin and lyrics providing a narrative on loneliness. It broke sharply with popular music conventions, both musically and lyrically.
The verses are very staccato, so it is important to lengthen the vowels as much as possible, so the words can be clearly heard telling the story.
The entry lines are staggered throughout the song, so it is critical you know when your voice line starts.
If you come it at the right time, it will all be ok!
The Altos are challenged with an octave and a half range!
Next up was Lean on Me an arrangement by Elliot Clay.
Bill Withers' childhood in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, was the inspiration for Lean on Me, which he wrote after he had moved to Los Angeles and found himself missing the strong community ethic of his hometown. He had lived in a decrepit house in the poor section of his town.
Lean on Me, is a song that acknowledges the struggles we all face in life but emphasizes the importance of relying on each other for strength and support. It's about reciprocation, and the idea that help can only be granted if someone is willing to accept it. “Please swallow your pride,” Withers implores. “If I have things that you can borrow.”
A simple song with a tricky arrangement. The Sops don’t get the tune very often, which is most unusual!
Altos start us off and must remember not to take a breath after ‘…we all have sorrow, But…’ with a strong ‘B’ at the beginning at a crisp ‘T’ at the end.
Everyone please put a ‘Z’ in your ‘Pleaze! Swallow your pride ….’
These are all the htings you should be marking on your music score!
Then we have the syncopation section; the Tenors sing, ‘I just might have a problem ….’ And Altos and Sops sing just one word ‘Might’ which comes a fraction after the Tenors ‘Might’.
Get ‘might’ right!
After a short break we went through the last song What’ll I Do a song by Irvine Berlin which was published in early 1924 and sold more than a million copies of the sheet music.
A very simple, repetitive song which needs a strong ‘D’ on Dm..’ and needs to be a little faster than the tempo in Dropbox, so it doesn’t drag and helps to keep it bright.
The Parting Glass is in good shape as Elliot is now giving us performance guidance.
Next week we are rehearsing in the Artisan Clubhouse (the wooden building to the right as you drive in the car park). The entrance is at the back of the building.Bring all Act One music with you.
Bring all you music with you next week.
Another great turn out with more new people which is wonderful.
As our designated Charity this year is SPEAR, Lean on Me seemed the right choice for our Winter concert.
Does anyone know some Altos to swell their ranks? We want you!
The Tenors and Basses have now been officially designated their parts and the seating arrangement altered into blocks which will help with the balance of sound and help each section to hear each other and stay on their part.
The warm ups are not just to get our vocal chords warm, as most of us have been talking all day, but to practise techniques like keeping notes crisp and clean and not sliding. With 40 voices sliding it makes Elliot feel seasick! However, there are times some of us are permitted to slide as in Mr Blue Sky.
Happy Together is a song written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon and recorded by American rock band The Turtles. Bonner and Gordon composed the song while still members of The Magicians. The lyrics, despite the joyous sound of the music, express an unrequited, imagined love.
They recorded a demo consisting of a simple arrangement of acoustic guitar and hand claps. The demo was offered to and rejected by a dozen artists, due to its primitive sound. The Turtles, who had come from commercial and personal problems, found the demo and, thinking the song a potential hit, initially rehearsed it in live performances. They recorded their version in the Sunset Sound studio, with the newly-arrived bassist Chip Douglas arranging the horns and backing vocals.
The In Flagrante version needs to sound clipped with a military style sound in the verses, while the counterparts over the top sound angelic.
Over exaggerate the short clipped notes and it will sound absolutely perfect to the listener.
In the chorus, the 2nd sops and altos sing the same note ‘can see’ and ‘no bod’ and remembering this will help to anchor the harmonies.
The Ba ba ba section is like a brass instrumental. Take a listen to your parts in Dropbox and practise at home for when we revisit this song in the future.
The Parting Glass is a Scottish traditional song, often sung at the end of a gathering of friends. It has also long been sung in Ireland, where it remains popular and has strongly influenced how it is often sung today.
The Parting Glass was re-introduced to mid-20th century audiences by the recordings and performances of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. The rendition by the Clancys and Makem has been described as "by all accounts... the most influential" of the many recorded versions.
In Flagrante is going to perform this song acapella. Quite a daunting prospect as there is nowhere to hide.
Each voice part weaves in and out of each other, so it is important to listen to the other parts as you sing and not shut your ears to your part only and just go for it!
As there is no underlying accompaniment, it will actually help you to find your notes by listening to everyone else.
2nd sopranos have a challenging part, but they will do their homework, along with the rest of us, and once the simple repetitive notes have been learnt, we will then work on the performance and timing. It is going to sound absolutely glorious!
After raising a glass in the break, we returned to Mr Blue Sky.
Mr Blue Sky is a song by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Written and produced by frontman Jeff Lynne. Promotional copies were released on blue vinyl, like the album from which the single was issued. Due to its popularity and frequent use in multiple television shows and movies, it has sometimes been described as the band's signature song.
This is a song that needs a lot of stamina.
It is quite repetitive and needs high energy for eleven pages of music!!
1st and 2nd Sops get to slide their notes in this song. Sorry Altos, Tenors and Basses, you are not allowed to join them!
The Ba bas at the end needs a little homework.
Doing your homework is so important, not just to give you the satisfaction of knowing you are singing the right notes, but you are doing it for In Flagrante. We are a team and if we all work hard and pull together,we all gain confidence and what a wonderful sound we’ll make.
Next week we will go through Lean on Me,
Eleanor Rigby and
What’ll I Do
However, bring ALL your music with you each week and be there for 19:15 if possible.
Keep up the good work. We are going in the right direction.