e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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Friday: F-sharps and ARCs

Less than two years ago, my choir section buddy C- and I took advantage of our choir director's offer of a free half-hour voice lesson for choir members, and he merged our two lessons into one, so we could benefit from the longer instruction period.   C- and I both considered ourselves low altos, and went into this expecting to come out as low altos.   Except that in the course of the lesson,  when it was my turn to sing little exercises while he played the pitches (and the singer could not see the keyboard)  at one point my voice changed.  Not a break-type change, but a tonal quality change.  I could hear it.  C- could hear it.  And our choir director announced with some satisfaction that i wasn't actually a low alto, but a mezzo-soprano who'd only been using the bottom part of her range.

Scared me.   I was quite comfortable in the cozy rich-dark of low-alto-dom.   Had been there for years, since being told by a choir person many years back "Oh, you're an alto."    Had forgotten, almost, that as an untrained but happy singer I had once sung both high and low.   So after a panicky period (changes of self-identification in over age 60 can be scary...) I talked to my choir director about voice lessons, last fall.   And though they haven't been as regular as I'd like...months-long gaps several times--every lesson has nudged my voice toward better things.

Three or four years ago, I think it was, we did the Durufle Requiem, and all the women were to sing the "Pie Jesu," part of which is (for anyone singing low alto) far too high.   I had actually managed to touch the high F-sharp in the last rehearsal and the performance, but it was touching-by-panicky-leap and I had no love for the E-flat to F-sharp progression.   Coming in on an E-flat was a scary proposition.   When our choir director announced we were doing it again (under his direction, and in a different venue this time) I thought of my progress so far in opening up the top range, and hoped the F-sharps would be attainable, not by panicky leap but by sound singing technique.  He had eased me higher than that, in lessons.  Surely...

Working on the music at home, I could get there only with a wheezy sort of squeak.  But last night, at rehearsal, we came to the "Pie Jesu" at the end, after nearly two hours of singing--so we were well warmed up.  The entrance E-flat was amazingly easy.   And the F-sharps, when I got there, were  actual sung notes, that I knew were going to be on pitch.   No panic.   They weren't as good as the E-flat and E-natural (I've now sung a lot more of those) but they contributed to the choral sound, which is what's needed.    What a thrill that was! 

And then...ARCs of Kings of the North arrived.    ARCs are another sign that book publication is really happening....and they look like books, and they read like books.   (They don't have maps in them, though.  They have pages with [map] at the top instead to show where maps will be.)   I take a childish delight in the arrival of ARCs.  Whether writers get any, and how many, varies with the demand elsewhere--they're not cheap to produce, and publishers naturally want them to go where they'll do some good.  A reviewer who needs a copy in order to write a review trumps an author who wants to coo over one--and rightly so.   Last year I didn't get any, so this year's were especially welcome.   One of them will be the prize of a contest over at the Paksworld blog,  when I get it organized.  (There'll be an announcement in the Twitter feed when that happens.)

High F-sharps and ARCs.   As good as apple pandowdy.   Drove home from rehearsal and the classical station had Juan Diego Flores singing all those incredible high Cs from Daughter of the Regiment.  Definitely the heavy cream poured over the apple pandowdy of the evening.
Tags: books, choir, singing, the writing life
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