Singing at home

In harmony

All our out-of-town singers had to catch early flights this year, so it was just us Palo Alto folks at the fourth Sunday singing: Jeannette singing treble, Ann and Phil on the tenor bench, Peter and I singing bass, and Terry singing alto. As much as I like the volume and excitement and bustle of an all-day singing, it was really nice to settle down and sing for nearly three hours with five other voices that I know well.

We started out by working through no. 240 Christian Song. We all felt that we could have done better singing this tune at yesterday’s all-day singing, so we took the time to sing through each part separately. I love singing through each part, one by one, and then putting all the parts together; I particularly enjoyed seeing what Jeremiah Ingalls did with each part, and with the interplay between the parts, in this tune. (My only disappointment was with the alto part; mm. 5-6 were boring, and overall it didn’t live up to the other parts.)

After that, we just sang as usual. I particularly enjoyed singing no. 113 The Prodigal Son; I think it’s one of those tunes that does better in small groups than in large groups. But all the tunes we sang today were enjoyable. Yesterday’s all-day singing had been a little disappointing for me; the intonation problems that have sometimes plagued us in the Bay Area crept into the all-day singing (this was quite noticeable in the three hours of video I shot at yesterday’s singing). But at today’s singing, we listened closely to each other, and stayed in tune. I particularly like it when a class of Sacred Harp singers is so in tune with each other that you can hear harmonic overtones, which vibrate through your whole body even at low volumes, and more than once today we got some overtones going.

I came out of today’s singing feeling fabulous — and thinking about how maybe it would be fun sometime to sing Sacred Harp in a smaller ensemble. I mean, wouldn’t it have been great to have been a part of the Denson Quartet?

One reply on “In harmony”

I love both the robust singing of the larger groups and the more intimate nature of the smaller group. There is also something very special about singing one on a part, where the single voice mingles with the whole. And last but not least, there are some tunes I wish we could sing softly and sweetly, so that we could listen to each other and appreciate the nuances of the tune and words. Does that make me a Sacred Harp heretic?

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