Singing at home

2 vs. 4

Sue hosted the fourth Sunday singing at her house in Mountain View today. There were twelve to fourteen people in Sue’s music room — which just about filled the room — and it was a very good singing indeed. It was especially fun to have an out=of-town singer, JT from Austin, join us.

Of course we sang a lot of Christmas tunes from The Sacred Harp. In addition to those tunes, Paul and I each brought a different version of “Star in the East,” a Christmas tune from William Walker’s Southern Harmony; my version was Walker’s version with an alto part that I wrote, and Paul’s was a complete re-harmonoization of the melody, with a quite challenging and very interesting bass part. I also brought the three-part version of Lowell Mason’s “Antioch” (a.k.a. “Joy to the World”) from the Southern Harmony.

At one point, JT led a 4/4 tune in 4, and someone asked what was the difference in elading a tune in 4 versus leading the same tune in 2. We tried to explain how when you lead a 4/4 tune in 2, the class is going to tend to accent the first and third beats more heavily than if you lead it in 2. Finally JT said, “Let’s just try it.” So we did: JT led the same tune in 2, at the same tempo, and you could hear the much stronger accents on the first and third beats. When we finished, the person who had asked the question said they really understood the difference now. And I was glad we had done the experiment, too — you really notice the difference when you lead a tune in 4, then immediately lead it again in 2.