We had another good turnout at the Berkeley weekly singing, including a big alto section — I think I counted seven altos at one point — half a dozen trebles, nearly a dozen tenors, and only five basses.
I’ve been noticing over the past month that the singing has been getting louder and louder. Louder is not necessarily a bad thing; as a former punk rocker, I like loud. But I’ve been noticing that as the class as a whole gets louder, I drive myself to get louder, and several times I’ve driven my voice beyond the volume at which I can stay in tune and sound musical. When I lowered my own volume, so that I was singing in tune again and sounding more musical, I began to hear that other singers were driving their voices too hard as well. As a class, our intonation was wavering, and we weren’t really sounding our best.
The thing is, once you get into this pattern of singing louder and louder, it’s really hard to pull back. If you’re singing in a choir and you start singing too loud, the choir director will correct you — often an unpleasant and embarrassing process, even if your choir director is nice about it. If you’re singing in a small ensemble and you start singing too loud, you criticize each other, and remind each other to keep it down — also an unpleasant process, the kind of thing that can lead to ensembles breaking up.