We had two new tunes at tonight’s Other Book singing. Gabriel’s tune, the first Sacred Harp tune he’s written (though he’s written other music) was great fun to sing; each part was a good melody on its own, but there were some very interesting harmonies between the parts. And Will brought a new tune by Warren, a tune which is going to appear in the next issue of The Trumpet; it sounded like a camp-meeting tune, familiar enough to be easy to sing, but challenging enough to be lots of fun. (Alas, although I have three tunes written, my job has been crazy and I had no time to print out my tunes.)
The Other Book Singing went well, but when we got back to the Denson book, the singing quality went down. Usually we got the other way: lots of us are sight-singing during the Other Book Singing, and we sing better when we’re singing from familiar Denson book material. But tonight’s class kind of struggled with the Denson book tunes: we kept slowing down the tempo, and our intonation was sometimes way off (I heard minor seconds and even major seconds that were not written in the music). I began to think maybe we need to pay just as much attention to the familiar tunes as we do to the ones we are sight-singing! And this conclusion was confirmed when Joanne stood up to lead: she made a point that we should all take care to listen to each other, and for that one tune we sang very well; but then on the next tune we got sloppy again, and our intonation drifted way off.
The most transcendent moment came early in the singing, during the Other Book Singing. Will led “Nearer My God to Thee” from the Cooper book, at a very slow tempo: I’ve rarely heard the Berkeley group sound better.