Reflections on singing


I love “I’m on My Journey Home,” written in 1859 by Sarah Lancaster. Originally written as a three-part tune, the versions in the Denson book (345b) and the Cooper book (207t) each added different alto parts. The Denson book’s alto line is adequate, but it’s not a standout.

The Cooper book’s alto part, written by Belle Spivey in 1902, is much more exciting. Spivey daringly adds several crunchy dissonant intervals between the altos and some of the other parts (major seconds if singing in the same octave, ninths if in different octaves). If you ignore Lancaster’s treble part and just sing the tenor, bass, and Spivey’s alto line all in the same range, it’s a haunting sound. Like this:

“I’m on My Journey Home,” Cooper book 207t, minus treble part

Not a polished recording — pretty much everything was done in one take — but good enough to give the idea of the sound.