Singing at home

Trumpet singing

Hal and Erika hosted a singing of vol. 2, no. 1 of The Trumpet at Hal’s house this afternoon. We started off with just five of us: Hal and Erika on tenor, Betty on treble, Marsha on alto, and me on bass. We began by singing “Jumalan Rauhaan” by Steve Luttinen and Kim Bahmer. I’m not the best sight-singer and found it challenging to be that exposed when sight-singing unfamiliar music, but at the same time I often find it easiest to hear a tune when there’s only one or two voices in each section: it can be easier to hear the harmonies and the interplay between the voices. In any case, “Jumalan Rauhaan” sounded quite nice with only five voices, and the simple AABA’ structure made it easy to sing. We moved on to “Ivey” and “Jane’s Encouragement,” neither of which came through so well for us, so we put them aside to revisit later.

By this time, more people had showed up, and pretty soon there were nine of us: two on each part, except three on tenor. We worked through “Goss,” a tune with what I’d call an AA’BA’ structure (though arguably what I’m calling the A’ part should be called the C part). Marsha pointed out that the melody line bore some resemblance to a fiddle tune, especially in the A part. I liked the tune, but wished the last note of the fourth measure of the bass part had been an A (la), not a D (la).

Then we took on “Melanie” by Anne Heider. This is a challenging tune. It’s in 3/2 and begins on the weak middle beat, which is unusual. The harmonic progressions are unusual for a Sacred Harp tune. And the rhythmic pattern in mm. 3 and 7, where bass and treble lines are out of synch with the tenor and alto lines on the weak middle beat is unusual. After we struggled through the notes, we got into a discussion of this tune, and then of other things, and then we took a break so we could eat the yummy snacks Hal and Erika had provided.

And I’ll take this opportunity to leave the Trumpet singing for a moment and discuss whether this and other tunes have too many unusual features to make them Sacred-Harp-friendly….