I’m on study leave this week, which means that I don’t have to be in the office. Carol was going to drive down to Santa Cruz, where she occasionally works in the office of an engineering firm. We decided that I would ride along and work in the public library, and after work we would go to the Santa Cruz singing.
About a dozen people gathered to sing in Shelley’s living room to sing. There were just three men — one other bass, and a tenor. Several of the singers were new, including one woman who was singing for the very first time; but there were also some long-term experienced Sacred Harp singers, including Janet and Shelley.
I’m always interested in the slight differences you can hear when you go to different monthly and weekly singings. The Santa Cruz singers tend towards a more moderate tempo and somewhat lower pitches than the Berkeley singers; the Santa Cruz singers are more like the Palo Alto singers in this respect. The Santa Cruz singers sometimes slow down a little at the end of a tune; and they are not quite as loud and relentless as other classes I’ve sung with. Shelley said that when they started singing, they had a singer who grew up singing seven-shapte music in Tennessee, and he had strong ideas on how they should sing. I think of seven-shape singers as being a little mellower than us four-shape singers, and I wonder if that accounts for part of the sound of the Santa Cruz singers.
We sang for an hour and a half; this being my fourth straight day of singing Sacred Harp, I was just about out of voice at the end of that hour and a half. Then we went out into Shelley’s back yard and sat around a fire talking and eating snacks for about an hour. As we were leaving, Carol said, “That was a sweet little singing!” I thought that was a good way of characterizing the singing: sweet singing with friendly low-key people. I wish we lived closer to Santa Cruz so we could sing there more often.