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Hearing and Singing A guide for choirs

by Frank Pesci


Table of Contents PREFACE ........................................................................................................................................................................... 3 INTRODUCTION: WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SING IN TUNE? ...................................................................... 5 PART ONE: HEARING ................................................................................................................................................. 7 MUSIC AND MATH ......................................................................................................................................................... 7 A Little History .......................................................................................................................................................... 7 Enter Guido ............................................................................................................................................................... 7 Moveable ‘Do’............................................................................................................................................................ 8 PREPARING TO SING ..................................................................................................................................................... 8 Vowels......................................................................................................................................................................... 8 I found my keys ......................................................................................................................................................... 8 A few drops of ‘Ah’ .................................................................................................................................................. 9 AGREEING ON PITCH.................................................................................................................................................... 9 Unison ......................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Octave ....................................................................................................................................................................... 10 THE OVERTONE SERIES............................................................................................................................................. 11 The Perfect Fifth ..................................................................................................................................................... 11 INITIAL IMPROVISATIONS – UTILIZING SOLFEGE ................................................................................................. 12 Re ............................................................................................................................................................................... 13 NOW IT STARTS TO GET FUN!.................................................................................................................................... 13 MAJOR THIRDS ............................................................................................................................................................. 14 Major seven and Raised four - Variations on Major Thirds ............................................................................. 15 Modes and the pitches therein .............................................................................................................................. 17 Fa ............................................................................................................................................................................... 18 La ............................................................................................................................................................................... 19 SOLFEGE MADNESS! ................................................................................................................................................... 20 THREE BLIND MICE AND THE MINOR TONALITY ................................................................................................. 22 Le ............................................................................................................................................................................... 22 Me .............................................................................................................................................................................. 22 Te ............................................................................................................................................................................... 23 Your minor scale ..................................................................................................................................................... 23 Di ............................................................................................................................................................................... 23 PART TWO: SINGING ................................................................................................................................................ 25 SO NOW WHAT?............................................................................................................................................................ 25 CREATING YOUR OWN MODES ................................................................................................................................. 25 SIGHT SINGING WITH A TONAL CENTER ................................................................................................................ 26 Anchors..................................................................................................................................................................... 27 SIGHT SINGING WITHOUT A TONAL CENTER......................................................................................................... 28 Inter-part references................................................................................................................................................ 28 Linked Phrases ......................................................................................................................................................... 28 Singing the gesture .................................................................................................................................................. 29 Utilizing a Drone in non-tonal music................................................................................................................... 30 EPILOGUE ...................................................................................................................................................................... 30 WORKBOOK.................................................................................................................................................................. 31

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Preface I am an auditory learner. Rather than reading instructions, doing something manually, or watching someone do something, I need to incorporate information through my ears and process it with my listening in order for it to be fully engrained. You can imagine, then, what frustration I felt as a young player, relying on my eyes to determine what pitches were to be played and when. As an instrumentalist, sight reading became a major source of apprehension and the root of my perpetual desire to quit. Not until college did I come across my in-born understanding of music, and my most natural way of learning it – hearing and improvisation. My finest and most productive practice came when I closed my eyes, or worked in a darkened room, relying only on my ears to guide my tuning as well as my muscle memory. After gaining the understanding of what worked for me, translating music off the page became an exercise of tying my increasing knowledge of on-paper “theory” with what my ears already told me was true. Concerning “Theory,” it’s important not to get wrapped up in the details. I recall one choral sectional where a director tried to get the tenors – who were all adults and mostly volunteers – to use a combination of numbers and hand signs to reinforce a particular passage. When this director asked one of the older volunteer singers to utilize this method and repeat it back to him, the singer replied, “Oh no, I don’t know anything about music theory.” I realized that this singer (and probably many like him) thought about “Theory” as a secret decoder ring without which no one can decipher the magical inner workings of the music of the spheres. As such, it can have the power to turn people off tremendously. For the work in this book, I prefer the term musicianship: the knowledge and applicability of the substance of music. What is commonly referred to as ‘Music Theory’ is, in my experience, a number of stale rules set in place to describe processes and techniques that were developed through improvisation by their creators. Although it is necessary to acknowledge these rules, I think it is more important to dig beneath the surface toward an understanding of the fluidity of musical expression as a living, breathing creative experience. This is where improvisation comes in. For most of the musicians I know – highly trained, sensitive, and capable professional performers – improvisation is likened to walking a tightrope while naked before a huge audience. It is a truly terrifying endeavor, wherein they have not the first clue of how to begin, they’re completely exposed, and they assume that one misstep is life threatening. For jazz and pop players, Baroque instrumentalists and singers, organists, all manner of composers, and musicians, actors, choreographers, and artists of many other stripes, improvisation is simply a matter of course. With improvisational skill comes complete freedom to utilize artistic talents, along with the freedom from the fear of mistakes. Simply put, as my Jazz teacher stated at the beginning of our first lesson, “Improvisation is problem-solving.” Many of us are already natural improvisers. I come from a very loud family with six kids and razor-sharp wit. Getting – and retaining – attention in this mob was dependent primarily on how fast, loud and interestingly we could communicate verbally. (After all, no one else can talk over or interrupt you if you’ve got them laughing.) This manner of speech improvisation still drives my interactions today, and it’s expected that the

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results will not always be perfect. There is a constant dance of language and thought, emotion, non-verbal cues, tricks and gimmicks, puzzles, wordplay, and actual meaning. Sound familiar? As a professional choral singer and liturgical musician for over a decade - in addition to my experience directing choirs and writing for them - I have come face to face with problems that seem endemic amongst volunteer, semi-pro, collegiate, and professional choirs alike: Why is it so hard to sing in tune? Why are there predictable intonation problems across choirs of all types? Why does music that is new to an ensemble face an uphill battle? Why is new music written for choirs often racked with pitfalls? Why don’t choirs read better? In my own study and practice, I have found a link between these questions and a gap of both technical and conceptual study in choral situations. Not only is there a lack of understanding of the mechanisms of the voice, but also a deficiency in the technique of discussing these mechanisms, so as to solve such problems. There is a severe lack of understanding about how harmony operates in practice, both vertically and as a function of its horizontal components. Additionally, there is a lack of understanding of how harmony works in a choral context, which differs significantly from harmony on the keyboard, or in any other consort, or family of instruments. For me, these all boil down to training the ears as an instrument, through which pitch and harmony become a physical experience. Not only can you hear what it’s like to produce a perfect unison – or a rock-solid fifth, and elusive major third, a major seventh loaded with expectation – but experience the feeling of it as well. This book is for anyone who leads in a choral setting – organists, conductors, music ministers, accompanists, educators at all levels, and professional section leaders. What this book aims to do is give new tools and language to help singers understand, through their ears, the basic and natural tendencies of harmony, to become fluent in manipulating those harmonies with the voice as educated by their hearing, and to use that knowledge to interpret what’s written on the page. This book relies heavily of the writing of W.A Mathieu, especially his textbook Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from its Natural Origins to its Modern Expressions. I’d also like to thank the choirs I’ve worked with over the years who have been open to my experimentation upon them, particularly Dr. Linda Clark and Grace Episcopal Church in Newton Corner, Massachusetts, and Richard Webster and Trinity Church in the City of Boston. Finally, I owe a great deal to my first composition teacher, Luigi Zaninelli. After graduating from the Curtis, he began the arduous task of developing a sight singing method for students there, the fruits of which bore the same name as this book. ~ fp

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Introduction: Why is it so hard to sing in tune? I brought this question up before as one of the fundamental problems of working with, and being a part of, a choral ensemble. After all, no one really wants to hear an out-of-tune choir. It’s a complicated issue that involves both technical and conceptual components. Everyone’s heard a bit about the technical components, particularly in terms of breathing, vowel formation, and the tendency of ‘speaking’ vowels to drag down the pitch down when sung unmodified. Everyone who has been in a choir has also heard words like ‘resonance’ and ‘facemask,’ have been told to ‘open their throat,’ or to visualize some kind of imagery (a bullseye, a balloon, etc.) that is supposed to usher in a greater probability of singing in tune. The success of these techniques is debatable. More likely witnessed, is the tendency of choral directors to panic in the presence of sagging pitch, at which they commence violently pointing upward while raising their eyebrows, which in turn creates a wave of panic and tension amongst the ranks, translated into muscular tension, particularly in the shoulders and neck, prompting singers to tire out quickly, take shallow breaths, and make the pitch sag even further. A self-defeating cycle, indeed. Regular voice lessons with a trained professional taken by everyone from the director down to the second basses will do wonders for correcting these problems, not only in identifying technical issues, but in finding appropriate solutions and – most importantly – in providing the language so that director and singers can communicate with each other. This is the technical problem. The conceptual problem challenging a choir’s ability to sing in tune has to do with the understanding of the interval of the major third. We live in a tertian world. A very high proportion of choral music executed by the average choir in the average choral context employs harmony in which the third is the defining interval. As a society of musicians, we have been given an inaccurate understanding of this interval, because we have been trained to use the piano as our reference. Nothing against pianos, or pianists (or organists, for that matter). The tuning system of the piano has been deliberately altered (the technical term is tempered), so that the instrument can move freely between tonal centers. This compromise has developed through centuries of work, and much blood and ink has been spilled over the benefits and deficiencies of various ways to divide the octave. For a tour through this amazing history, I highly recommend Stuart Isacoff’s book, Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization Boiling it down, the piano is tuned so that the relationship between the frequencies of any given half step is exactly the same as any other half step, anywhere on the keyboard. This so-called equal temperament adjusts intervals in order to achieve an even relationship between all intervals. The trade off is that this system pulls intervals away from more “natural” tuning systems (also known as just intonation) that rely on the order of the overtone series and the simple mathematical relationships that occur naturally between frequencies.

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The unaccompanied choir is not a tempered instrument. It operates to its full potential when just intonation is its compass. The obvious conflict of participating in a just intonation ensemble while being accompanied by an equal temperament instrument is not lost on me. More so, this duality illustrates the illusive nature of musical performance. Music is not an exact science, and it never will be, the devil is in the details and the nooks and crannies in which the devilish details hide are miniscule and everywhere. As an example, imagine a freshly tuned, equally tempered, modern piano. The ‘A’ below ‘middle C’ on this piano will have a frequency of exactly 220.000 Hz. In Just Intonation, the frequency of a pitch an octave higher then a reference will be twice that of the reference (later, we will refer to the reference pitch as a fundamental). Therefore the frequency of the ‘A’ above our reference – the ‘A’ above ‘middle C’ on a piano (designated in the Theory world as A4) – is 2 x 220.000 Hz = 440.000 Hz. Luckily, the frequency of A4 on our imaginary piano is also 440.000 Hz, as all ‘A’s are standardized across the keyboard. Let’s try another one. The frequency of the ‘D’ below A4 is 293.665 Hz on our imaginary piano. The interval between this D and A4 is a Fifth. Using Just Intonation, A4 should vibrate three times for every two cycles of the D below it, or (293.665 Hz x 3)/2 = 440.498 Hz, slightly higher that the 440.000 on the piano. Here’s a more drastic example: the ‘F’ below A4 vibrates at 349.228 Hz on our imaginary piano. The interval between this F and A4 is a Major Third. Just Intonation tells us that the ratio between the frequencies of these two pitches should be 5/4, or (349.228 Hz x 5)/4 = 436.536 Hz, which is significantly different from 440.000 Hz. To summarize: Fundamental A3 D4 F4

Frequency of Fundamental on imaginary piano 110.000 Hz 293.665 Hz 349.228 Hz

A4 using Just Intonation 440.000 Hz 440.498 Hz 436.536 Hz

Interval Octave Fifth Major Third

These, obviously, are not the same A4s. Singing in tune with the piano will simply not sound the same as singing in tune with the person standing next to you in the choir stalls. This is not to say that just intonation is a perfect system, but we have to remember that the secret to singing in tune is to understand what singing in tune sounds and feels like.

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Part one: Hearing Music and Math I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that “music is math.” Whether in relation to something simple (like counting), or something more esoteric (like highly-developed, academic analyses of harmony and structure), or whether it is a misplaced argument to try to convince school boards that studying music will help kids excel at other core subjects; the phrase keeps coming up. The music/math relationship is most evident for me in terms of the simple relationships between frequencies, particularly frequencies of pitches whose intervals are generally referred to as “perfect.” Music is sound and sound is movement (specifically, vibration). Frank Zappa said, “Music is the result of shoving around unsuspecting air molecules, usually requiring the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.” The frequency (cycles per second) of this shoving around is detected by the ear as pitch. Pitch, therefore, can be described by a frequency of vibration, which can be represented numerically. As a result, two instruments, or two voices, whose sound making properties are vibrating at the same frequency are producing the same pitch, even if the qualities, or timbre, of the sound that is produced, differ greatly. A Little History Transitioning from a traditionally aural/oral practice, the earliest remaining evidence of written notation in Western music appear around the beginning of the 9th century, and may have been mnemonics used to imitate singing styles that had developed in different regions. These shapes and squiggles – generally referred to as numes, a word that traces back to the Greek word for “breath” – gave, literally, the shape of a sung passage, but did not indicate a particular starting pitch, did not specify any relationships between pitches, and gives no indication of rhythm (no scholarship has provided evidence as to what the rhythm of these practices sounded like). Enter Guido With the expansion of what the voice was asked to do, in terms of range and flexibility, came the need to standardize its written presentation. In the 11th century, Guido di Arezzo developed a music education system now referred to as solfege. His system not only gave verbal tools for understanding pitch relationships, but also a written component (the staff) to visualize these pitch relationships as they progressed through time.

Guido – he’s a friend of ours

It is likely that Guido’s method was preceded by similar systems in the Islamic and Jewish liturgical traditions, not to mention modes of the classical music of India that also utilize singing syllables. However, for Western music, Guido standardized the teaching of melody through recognizing common intervals - while solving his immediate problem of how to teach the entire canon of liturgical chant to unruly, possibly illiterate chorister boys - in a most expedient manner.

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Sarah Ann Glover

Moveable ‘Do’ In Guido’s system, the syllable assigned to the tonal center was originally ‘Ut’, and was changed to ‘Do’ at the suggestion of 17th century Italian musicologist Giovanni Battista Doni. Much blood and ink has been spilled over whether this syllable should be forever ‘fixed’ on one pitch class or allowed to be ‘moveable’. Without delving too deeply into the argument, the present method will use the moveable ‘Do.’ In doing so, this method follows Guido and later developments to standardize the system and adapt it for immediate usage, particularly those of Sarah Ann Glover (1785-1867) and John Curwen (1816-1880) in England, as well as those by Hungarian composer and educator Zoltán Kodály, who ! adapted Curwen’s hand symbols and utilized a wealth of folk music to revolutionize music education for the very young.

Preparing to sing Vowels Vowels play a huge role not only in the singing pronunciation of a word, so that an audience can understand what you’re singing, but also in the tuning of the pitch that you are singing. One Sunday, I was subbing in a choir in Mississippi. On that particular Sunday, the church in question was auditioning a candidate to be their next Music Director. He worked us a little bit, then said the following, in the laziest South Mississippi Drawl you can imagine, “Now, when you look at me, you see country, you hear country, you think country, ‘cuz I am country.” Then, switching to the Queen’s English, he said, “But when I sing, I sound like this.” Everyone laughed, and he got the gig.

Sidebar: The importance of private voice study for every member of a choir cannot be underestimated - not only for the development of a healthy technique, but also to establish the language that can be used to communicate ideas of healthy technique. !

Very generally, singing vowels formed in a similar way as spoken vowels (whatever your regional dialect) will result in sagging pitch. In American English, the placement of these vowels tends to be in the back of the throat. It’s difficult to produce enough breath that will sustain pitches with this placement. Muscular tension and fatigue can result. All of which affects pitch production and the ability to keep a pitch from dragging. It also dulls the sound of a choir. I found my keys For me, one very helpful technique has been the “ah” syllable that sounds like the noise you make when you remember where you left your keys. Try it. Now, try it again, but as you inhale, think this vowel. In doing so, you will prepare your mouth, tongue and all the space in your head for the sound you will make when you sing. Try this a few times, each time remembering how it feels – where your tongue is, how open your mouth is (tip #1 – open it vertically, not horizontally; tip #2 - it’s not open enough), and what everything above your cheekbones feels like. Are you listening? Have you still found your keys? Or is the vowel drifting to ‘Uh?’ How does ‘Uh’ feel, compared to finding your keys? !

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A few drops of ‘Ah’ Adding few drops’ of the of any sung vowel will help to Ta ‘aTa ti ti ti I-found-my-keys ti ti ri ti ‘Ah’ ri tiintori theti mixture ri keep that vowel in the same resonant space as the ‘Ah,’ keep it out of the back of your throat, and counter the tendency of ‘spoken vowels’ ruining your chance to sing in tune. Remember – we’re w aboutw so called ˙ “pure” ˙ ˙vowels ˙ (only œ œoneœ vowel œ œ atœ aœtime) œ as opposed to diphthongs (two talking adjacent vowels in the Ta Ta ti same ti syllable). ti ti The ti following ri ti ri tiis aritable ti rithat shows the transformation of the vowel, with the addition of ‘a few drops’ of ‘ah.’

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sound the same as this one rhythmic value can be simplified by adding a dot food

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Agreeing on pitch Since of variation ˙ there are infinite degrees œ ˙ . in frequency, parameters had to be set, so that we could talk about the same pitch. Over the years, frequencies have been arbitrarily singled out and defined, using a varying degree of names and reference points, which does not necessarily mean that everyone agreed.

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In modern times, a generally accepted reference point is A 440, meaning, that a 440 Hz frequency (440 vibration cycles per second) is generally recognized as the “A” above “middle C.” However, depending on what part of the world you are in, this & w is not a universally accepted constant. Even some American orchestras w A440! adjust their “A.” The bottom line, for me, is that there is no such thing as “absolute pitch,” just agreed upon reference points (if we can actually Sidebar: For many years, I have get to the point where we do agree). What is constant is that no matter what frequency an instrumentalist or singer is playing, if another instrumentalist or singer starts producing a tone with exactly the same frequency, the two will be in “perfect unison.” Let’s try it! Unison First, you will need a “drone” reference pitch. You can use a piano, guitar - anything handy. What would be better would be an instrument that can sustain a pitch without any decay, like an organ, or electronic keyboard. If you don’t have an instrument nearby, you can find drones !

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searched for an answer to the question of how ‘C’ became the tonal center of keys with no sharps or flats (and, not incidentally, the ‘Do’ of a fixed Do system). The answer probably lies somewhere in the Latin translations of the Greek musical treatises, particularly those of Hucbald and Beothius, in the 8th and 9th centuries.!


at www.hearingandsinging.com. This is personal practice – save the joyous and wonderful experience of matching pitch with another singer until after you are able to master each exercise with a drone. Next, focus on your breathing. Pick a seated or standing position where your upper body is tall, but without tension – especially in your shoulders, neck, and face. Take a few breaths to warm the mechanism. As you inhale, let your ribcage expand naturally. As you exhale, keep your ribcage expanded and your posture tall – don’t let it all deflate. Now, pick a pitch that fits comfortably in your singing range. As it plays, close your eyes and focus on the sound of the pitch with your ears. Don’t forget to breathe. When the time if right, relax the jaw to open your mouth, and match the pitch using the I-found-my-keys ‘Ah’. Try it a few times without judging your tone, your volume, how long you can make the pitch last, or the accuracy of your pitch. Make a noise until your air nearly runs out, pause, fill the tank again, and repeat, using your ears to correct your pitch accuracy as you go. Keep your eyes closed.

Sidebar: In all the examples throughout this book, I’ll use ‘C’ as a drone or fundamental. Don’t read too much into this - it’s only for convenience.

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You may find it difficult to zero in on the perfect unison – there’s a lot working against you: emotions, physicality, technique, fear and frustration, wandering thoughts, the movement of the Earth. When a perfect unison happens, however, even for an instant, note how it sounds and how it ! &louder and richer feels in your body and your ears. A perfect unison, perfectly sounded, may seem than you expect. Strive for that, then change the pitch of your drone and begin again.

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& Octave Once the unison is under your belt, the next step is the octave. Mathematically, the frequency of the pitch one octave above the reference pitch – also called the fundamental – is exactly Playtwice the Sing frequency of the fundamental (for example, the ‘A’ above ‘A 440’ has a frequency of 880 Hz), the & & w ww ! ratio of this relationship is 2:1. Pick a drone that is at the bottom end of the comfortable range for your voice. Play it and the octave above it simultaneously. Just as before hear the drone in your ears as you breathe – standing or sitting tall – with your eyes closed. Sing in unison with this pitch, staying with the I-found-mykeys “Ah.” Then, to feel the space between the fundamental and the octave above, sing a long slide (known as a portamento) from this pitch to the pitch that is an octave above it and hold that for a moment. Stop singing, inhale again, and sing the upper octave, followed by a portamento down to the fundamental. Don’t let the portamento change your ‘Ah.’ !

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When you are comfortable navigating the space between the fundamental and the octave above, play only the fundamental as a drone. Once your breath and ears are set, sing the octave above the fundamental on that same, ‘ah’ vowel. As before, continue until you can sustain the feeling in your ears and body of the octave. You may feel a greater expansiveness with the octave than with the unison. When satisfied with your results, change the pitch of the drone and begin again. The Overtone Series Before we continue, let’s jump with both feet into the Big Mystery. The vibrations of any pitch have the natural tendency to cause sympathetic vibrations at predictable, mathematical ratios. Remember that Zappa quote? The shoving around of air molecules will beget relational movement in the surrounding air molecules. For a representation: depress the damper pedal on a piano and firmly strike any single low pitch. Let it ring for a moment, then reach into the piano and deaden that pitch’s string with your finger. You will hear a myriad of sympathetically vibrating strings. Digging a little deeper, this legion of sympathetic vibrations – referred to as the overtone series – will act to give an instrument or voice its timbre. Simply put, the particular overtones of the series that are emphasized by the physics of an instrument is what make a saxophone sound like a saxophone and not a guitar, or a tympani drum, or a piano, or a human voice. It sounds a little odd, but every pitch elicits these overtones, even though human hearing capacity may be incapable of detecting all of them. The following is a graphic representation of the overtone series, identifying each overtone by its pitch class and its relationship to the fundamental. Simply put, every pitch that sounds the same is in the same pitch class. This goes for pitches that are an octave, or multiple octaves apart, as well as for enharmonics (because they sound the same on a piano, B#, C and D double-flat are all in the same pitch class).

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Fundamental 13 The Perfect Fifth ! ! to the fifth scale degree of! particular The and generally refers &name !of this interval is traditional, scales (which is true in most, but not all, cases). However, we’ll begin experimenting with this interval by singing the 12th – the fifth above the octave above the fundamental, which occurs naturally ? in!the overtone series.! ! !

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Starting with the octave, walk four more steps up (if ‘C’ is your fundamental, go up an octave, and then to the ‘G’ above that). Mathematically, this interval is defined as the frequency of the upper pitch being exactly three times that of the fundamental (3:1). Singing on that I-found-my-keys ‘Ah,’ feel the increase of complexity in this interval over that of the octave. You may begin to feel some conflict between tones, which may be described as ‘beats’ or a ‘clash’ between fundamental and 12th that, while not unpleasant, is still present. This is the result of the intermingling of frequencies, also known as harmony, and the reason why we are here. Once the 12th locks in, change the fundamental and start over again. Investigate and remember how this interval feels.

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Let’s make this a little more practical. Especially for the lower voices, there are &few!situations in ! th th choral singing where the 12 will be applicable. The 5 , however, is commonplace and can be achieved through octave reduction. Play and hear the fundamental, then ? ! sing the octave above it (2:1). Once that’s locked in (you should be a pro ! Sing th by now), play and hear the fundamental and sing the 12 (3:1). Now, play 44 w & th and hear the fundamental and the octave above, then sing the 12 above the fundamental (3:2:1). Now eliminate the fundamental, singing a rock w solid 5th (3:2) – this is the octave reduction of the fundamental. The & ?Play 4 familiar clash of these frequencies will announce your arrival at the basis 4 ! of experiencing harmony in a communal context. Now find someone to ? practice with!

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Initial improvisations – utilizing Solfege ! &improvisation. With the unison, 5th, octave, and 12th mastered, you can begin your experiments in Playing the fundamental, weave your way between these four pitches. Using that same ‘Ah,’ practice singing each pitch with space and time in between, with no space in between, & and by moving ?range! of your between pitches with portamento. Vary your timing, the length of pitches, and the leaps (the greatest being unison to 12th). The goal is to lock into the tuning of each pitch as soon as ? you arrive.

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Once you become comfortable navigating these pitches, let’s define these pitch classes a little clearer. As opposed to singing the ‘Ah’ for everything, we’ll move to using solfege syllables. From this point on, all pitches in the pitch class of the fundamental will be represented with the syllable ‘Do,’ pitches in the pitch class of the 5th (or 12th, and octave variations thereof), will be sung on ‘Sol.’ Now that we’ve established our Do and Sol, improvise your unison, 5th, octave, and 12th with these syllables. This is where Movable Do comes in when you change the fundamental, that pitch class becomes your new Do. ! Talk to the hand

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Re Now we’ll begin to add more pitches to our arsenal using the intervals we have come to understand. Choosing a fundamental, find the 5th. Now, consider the pitch class of the 5th to be a new fundamental and find the corresponding 5th. Maintaining this pitch in your memory, play the original fundamental and 5th, and then sing the pitch that’s Sing you’ve kept in your head. It will be the 5th of the 5th of the 4 &4 Ó ˙ Ó ˙ Ó ˙ fundamental, or a 9th above the fundamental. Now play the fundamental and sing the 9th, which is in the same pitch Sol Re Play class as the 2nd, as the 2nd and 9th are an octave apart. Now w ?4 w w name it ‘Re’ (Hi, Re!) and begin improvising between the 4 nd th ! pitch classes of the fundamental (Do), 2 (Re), and 5 (Sol). Here’s an example: Sing 4 &4 !

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Sing Now it starts to get fun! 4 w w w ! & 4 w w with others. In the workbook, you’ll find the first of a series of exercises to sing Singing w w !inw w &own techniques, combination to Do people with thought Sol processes, Do !voices Re – connected Dol Re theirSol Do Re & ! with other fears and apprehensions, etc. – can be the most challenging and exhilarating exercise in all of musical Play ? 4 expression, begin w w withw four melodic w lines w that utilize w thewtones 4 wso enjoy wyourself.wThese exercises ? we’ve ? found ! ! so far. The!parts can be sung in any combination and any voice type. Begin!with your reference Do-Sol drone, but later, when feeling more confident, try without!

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Ensemble Practice - Do, Sol and Re Consider these an extension of your improvisation practice. The parts can be practiced individually, or in a group with other singers! Remember: 1) use a drone 2) change your fundamental often.

1

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Œ

2

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3

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œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ

9

1

2

3

& & &

˙ œœ

˙

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Œ

œ ˙ œ œ

œ œ œ ˙ œ œ w

Œœœœ ˙

Œœ˙

˙

Œ

w

œ œ

œ œ œ ˙

w

œ œœ w œ œ œ

˙

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˙

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w

Major Thirds To experience the major third in its natural habitat,˙ let’s build the harmonic series from the ground œœ œ singing œ œ onœ‘Do,’ œ œPick œ œa Fundamental that œ w range, then œ sing, Œ Œ up. is below ˙your comfortable œ œtheœoctave œ ˙ œ œ œ œ w above. Playing the fundamental and the octave, sing the 12th on ‘Sol.’ Play the fundamental, octave and 12th, œ ˙ œ œ œ œ octaves ˙above the fundamental. Ó the˙ next ‘Do’ two Œœœœ sing œ œ œ œœ w

˙

œœœ

˙

œ œœ

From there, walk up two more steps: Do – Re – Mi. Hold the Mi (it’s higher than you think) until the full experience of the˙major is felt. Stop, pause, resound the octaves and 12th, and join the fray œbe sung œas more ˙ of a ‘Mih’, lessœ ‘Mee’, ˙ byœ Œadding œ wof ‘Ah’ into that w ! (which should on ‘Mi’ a fewœdrops œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ ˙ vowel). Nowœchange the Fundamental and begin again.

œ! œ œ wœ œ œ Sing w Do ˙ ?w ˙ ˙ œ œ Œ œ œ œ œ Play œ œ ˙

1

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2

3

&

18

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Re

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Play

œw œ œ œ ˙

Sing

Do

œ œ œ ww˙ ˙ ! ˙ w œ w œ œ œ œ œ Sol œ Play ˙ ˙ w w ! ˙ ˙œ œ wœ ˙ w œ Œ œ œ œ œ !œ w œ œ œ Sing

w

œ œ ˙

w Sing

Sol

w

14!

Do

Re

Mi

œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙

œ œ w


3

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Œ

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Ensemble practice – Do, Re, Mi, and Sol

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œœ œ ˙

œœ˙ œ œœœ

Œœœœ

˙

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Œ œœ œ œœ œœ w œ w

2

3

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1

Don’t be ˙Sidebar: œ œ ˙ œ œ œ w œ œ œ œ & Majorœ seven œ w on Major Thirds œ afraid of dissonance; œ ˙and Raised fourœ - Variations œ œ œ œ

2

3

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˙ œ

œ ˙ ˙

œœ

˙

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œ

˙

œ œ œœ

w œ œ

œ ˙

We’re filling out our hearing slowly but surely! Be sure to add improvisation between Do, Re, Mi, and Sol to your practice, and using the part-singing œ œ œ Óexercisesœin the œ workbook. Œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Œ œ

œ ˙

œ

œ œ œ œ

From here, we will continue to fill in our hearing using the concept of the fifth and the major third to identify new pitches in this framework, until all œ ˙ theœfundamental œ œit areœ œ œ ! pitchesœ between œ œ twelve and the octave above ˙ œ ˙ œ œ accounted for.

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w

the dissonance makes the consonance œ œ Thewconstant œsweeter. dance ofœ tension and release should be familiar – it’s what life ˙is all œabout. œ w !

The major third above the natural fifth will give us the major seventh. Find the 12th above the fundamental, then find the major third above this Sol, and name it ‘Ti’ (Tih). Sing Ti while playing Sol until you feel and hear this major third in tune. Now play the fundamental and Sol, sing Ti hearing the complexity of the fifth, third and seventh. Once this is set, remove the Sol, playing only the fundamental and its octave. Sing Ti and hold the major seventh, with all its promise and possibility.

&

? ww

!

Sing

w

Sol

w w

Play

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Sol

!

?w

Sing

˙

Play

Think: (Do Re

w

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w Do

w

15! Sing

˙˙

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Mi)

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Play

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w

!

Ti

w w

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!


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1

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2

3

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w

Ensemble Practice – Do, Re, Mi, Sol, Ti

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˙

Œ œ œ œ œ œ w

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w

œ œ w

The raised four (Fi) might seem like a strange addition to our vocabulary. It is included now in Sing Do Re Mi conjunction with Ti, as we can find it using similar means.

œ œ ww ! ! & w ˙ w Find Re (the fifth above the fifth), w then a major third above this Re. Tune the major third before Sing

Do SolSol above you continue. Now play the fundamental, the Play it, and the Re above that, and sing Fi above w w ˙ ˙ w (#11). Now eliminate w Re. Relish this complexity – fifths, ninth, major third, raised four Sol and Re. ? w w thing in the ˙world, but ˙ stick with w it. In context, this w interval occurs! Fi may seem like the least stable more than youPlay may realize.

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Sing

Play

Sol

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w

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Re

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Mi)

Sing

#w w Play Fi

[Title]

Ensemble ! Practice – Do, Re, Mi, Fi, Sol, Ti & ! œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ &Œ œ ˙ œ œ #˙ œ # œ œ œ œ œ ˙ ? ! ! œ œ #œ œ œ œ Œ œ & Ó Œ œPlay ˙ ˙ œ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙

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Studying the major seventh and raised fourth brings up a technique that has helped me considerably in my own sight reading studies. Up to this point, Sing Do and Re SolMi we’ve been using consistent reference pitches – the fundamental in w œ œ particular. These will be our anchors as we move forward, and also reinforce ! & w ˙ w w w the necessity of using Sing anchor pitches not only to reference interval Sol Play relationships, but also Do to induce the resolution of dissonance to consonance.

Sidebar: hearing and singing from a fundamental can be tricky, ! as the range can quickly become too high for comfort. It’s perfectly acceptable to adjust ! your initial fundamentals so that you can stay within your range.

w w ˙ ˙ w w ? w case, Ti and w Fi both resolve ˙ up˙to Do and w Sol, respectively.w Do In the current

and Sol Play will become our go-to reference pitches in all situations and from this point on, we will use a Do-Sol drone for our improvisation. Speaking of Sing Think: (Do Re Mi) Re which… Sing Sol

w

#w ˙ œw œ # ˙ & ˙ w Pick a fundamental, and sound a Do-Sol drone. Improvise on the pitches we have found thus far: w w Do, Re, Mi, Fi, Sol, and Ti. Here’s an example to get you started: Play

? ww

œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ ˙

Do Re Mi

Fi Sol Mi Fi

Re

œ œ œ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ

Do Mi

Sol Ti Do Sol

Mi Fi Sol

Play

œ œ œ œ œ #œ ˙

Ti Re Do Sol

Mi Fi Re

!

Modes and the pitches therein Whether you know!it or not, you’ve been singing modes all along. Simply put, & a mode is a scale that in some way is closely related to another mode or scale, or a family thereof. The ‘major scale’ is, itself, a mode in relation to six other modes same pitches, but with different tonal centers (also ? that utilize the ! known as tonic). In our Western way of thinking, most modes have between five and eight pitches between the octave, and the smallest distance between any two pitches is a half step.

!

Fi

&

!

?

!

!

17! Play

!

Sidebar: Find a Hymnal!

Practice resources are all around you, but some of the best compendiums of sight reading practice material are hymnals of various denominations. In the workbook is a listing of hymns to get you started. !


The modes most commonly used in our choral repertoire have their histories rooted in what we think that ancient Greek practice was, which the Christian church standardized by the year 1000 AD. Each mode was given an emotional characterization, a mood, and various personal qualities, all of which, supposedly, could be elicited in the listener when being exposed to them. The most common remaining aspect of this characterization is the general, Sing major Rehappy, Do = Miminor = sad dichotomy – a simplification that is perpetuated at all levels of music education.

!

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w

ww

b ww

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To fill out our modal Sing vocabulary, we’ll need more pitches than the six we have already found. We’ve Do reached the practical application of theSol overtone Play series – the octave, fifth, major third and raised Pitch class: 8ve 5th 8ve M3 5th m7 8ve M2(9) M3 #4 (11) 5th fourth above the fundamental. From here, we will find pitches through a little backtracking: the fundamental and pitches in the overtone series will be considered major thirds and fifths above a new fundamental. To begin: Play

w ? ? w w w

w ww

˙ ˙

˙ ˙

w w

w w

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w # w w w w bw Sing Fi & Think: (Do Re Mi) known as the ‘perfect fourth’ above the Sol Typically known w as w‘Fa,’Re butwalso # ˙fifth below the# wreference fundamental, this pitch˙ class will alsoœexist aœperfect Pitch class: 8ve ˙ 5th ! w 8ve M3 5th ! m7 8ve M2(9) M3 ! #4 (11) 5th & w & w ww pitch, making our fundamental the ‘Sol of Fa.’ w w Play ?Play w To find it, sing an octave above a fundamental, then play this pitch in unison Do w w Fa with your voice. Without singing, play this pitch again, and imagine that it is ? w ! above a new fundamental, ! then sing the new fundamental. !You know Fundamental the fifth

Fundamental Fa Sing

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œroleœ asœthe basis œ but œ whatœ a fifth should sound andœfeelœ like, now, play˙ the other œ # œ œ # œ œ pitch˙ relationship. œ ‘Fa’ and begin to play with œit,# œ ˙ œ œ œ of this new œ œ Name this pitch

ww ? ww & w ? w

!

!

!

Do itRe Mithe octave Fi Sol above, Mi Fi while Re sounding Do Mi Sol Do Sol Mithat Fi started Sol Ti Re Do SolsoMi by singing and the Ti fundamental this exercise, thatFi Re you are alternately singing the perfect fifth below, then perfect fourth above, the sustained tone. Do sung pitches Fa are Fa, but play very different roles based on their relationships to the reference Both pitch.

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!

w ! w

Sing Do !

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w

Play

ww

Sing Fa

! !

!

! w Play

Sing Fa

ww

! ! & The role of Fa above the fundamental also serves as another example &using a pitch’s resolution of ! to assist in hearing it. Just !!as Fi resolved & up to Sol and Ti resolved up to Do, Fa now can be thought of in its ? of resolving down! to Mi. This Fa-Mi resolution over!a sustained role ? fundamental is a widely used technique known as!a suspension tonic ? and will sound very familiar to you. ! ! Play

But now that you have an opportunity to live with it for a while, and now that you know what a major third should sound and feel like, you will notice how closely Fa and Mi actually live next to one another. PlayFa and Mi are Rather than in separate houses on the same street,

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18!

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Sidebar: ‘Fa’ illuminates a particular symmetry of our Western harmonic system: the numerical designation of an interval and that of its inverse add simply to form the number nine. In the case of Fa, we find that it is a fourth above or a fifth below (4+5=9) our reference pitch. ! Likewise, thirds above become sixths below, seconds below become sevenths above. Further, the quality of these intervals (major or minor) alternate on opposite sides of a reference pitch (e.g. a major third above becomes a minor sixth below). !

! !

! ! ! !


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Sing

Sol

˙

˙

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Re

w

œ

#w w Play

roommates inPlay the same apartment; the half step between them may not seem as large as those resolving up from Fi to Sol or from Ti to Do.

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Over a Do-Sol drone, improvise your found pitches, replacing Fi with Fa, and concentrate on the resolving suspension, approaching from above and below. To mix it up a bit, move back and forth from a mode utilizing Fa-Mi, and our original using Fi-Sol. How would you describe the difference in how it feels? How would you characterize these modes in comparison to each other? Now Do Re Mi Fi Sol Mi Fi Re Do Mi Sol Ti Do Sol Mi Fi Sol Ti Re Do Sol change the fundamental, sound your Do-Sol drone and start again. For additional practice, try these hymn tunes, in order of increasing difficulty: Fortunatus, St. Kevin, Ermuntre, and Straf mich nicht Pitch class: 8ve 5th 8ve M3 5th m7 8ve M2(9) M3 #4 (11) 5th La Similar to the discovery of Fa, ‘La’ is found when we backtrack a fifth of another naturally found pitch, Mi (so that Mi is the ‘Sol of La’).

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w

w

w

w

w

w

bw

w Do Fa w Fundamental w w w w Chose a fundamental, find the corresponding Mi, then sound a pitch in unison. Usingwthe same b w & w ww method from when w you foundw Fa, becomewthe fifthwbelowFaw the found Mi,w tuning appropriately. Name this Pitch pitch La. & wwclass: 8ve 5th !8ve M3 5th m7 ! 8ve M2(9) M3 ? SingwMi w Play Sing La w w w Do Fa w w w & ?Fundamental ww w w w ! ! Sing La Play

Play

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w w w

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Lydian

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Do Re

!

Mi Fi

œ œ œ œ

Sol La

Ti

Do

19!

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Ti

La Sol Fi

œ œ ˙

Mi Re Do

!

!

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& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Do Re Mi Fa ! Sol La Ti Do Ti La !Sol Fa Mi Re Do & Major, or Ionian

w

#4 (11)

Now, sound the original fundamental and its major third, and sing La in relation to both of them. There is a complexity of this chord that will sound new in Mi your study (a minor triad in first inversion – where the Do Sing Fa Play third of the chord is sounded lowest). Rather than La thinking that minor is ‘sad,’ try embracing its character as Do ‘complex.’ (I have to cite Richard Webster at Trinity ! Church in the City of Boston for this observation – but what a great one!) Who is only ‘happy’ or ‘sad’? What about the myriad shades of emotion that color both benchmarks, or even exceed them? Here is a perfect example, the dual complexity of Mi major and minor intervals tilted even more by its inversion. Sing Play La With the addition of La, we have two full, eight tone scales, and fourteen modes with which to improvise. HereDo are the scales, followed by a series of exercises to get your solfege flowing:

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w

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w

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5th

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Solfege Madness Solfege Madness! The Solfege Major Scale:

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Do

Re

œ

œ

œ

œ

Mi

Fa

Sol

œ

œ

œ

œ

œ

œ

La

Ti

Do

Do

Ti

La

œ

œ

Sol

Fa

œ

œ

Mi

œ

Re

Do

Practice the syllables while learning to use "Do" as an anchor: Example

& œ

œ œ œ

Do Re Do

œ œ œ œ œ

Do Re

Do Re Mi Fa

& œ

œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Do

Mi Re Do

...then, in the opposite direction: Do

Do Ti Do

Do Ti

La Ti Do

œ œ œ œ

Mi Re Do

Do Ti La Sol

œ œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ

Do re Mi Fa

Sol Fa Mi Re Do

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

La Ti Do

Do Ti La Sol

Fa Sol La Ti Do

etc.

etc.

Practice the solfege major scale backwards and forward so that the order of the syllables becomes fluid, and is not dependent on where you begin

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Example:

Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do

Re Do Ti La Sol Fa Mi Re

Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do Re Mi

Fa Mi Re Do Ti La Sol Fa...

etc.

...then, in the opposite direction:

œ œ œ œ & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œwith œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œFun Skips œ œ œ œ Do Ti La Sol Fa Mi Re Do

Ti Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti

La Sol Fa Mi Re Do Ti La

etc

Sol La Ti Do Re Mi Fa Sol...

Fun with Skips

Use the staves below to make up your own scalar excercises!

Here's a quick warm-up Work to get your flexibility working with skips, toward doing these excercises, as wella.k.a. as your"Thirds". own, without looking at the page.

œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ "Thirds". œ œ & Here's œ œ œ œ œ œ a quick warm-up to get your flexibility working with skips, a.k.a. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ The goal is to have the solfege syllables become as natural to you as the alphabet.

!

& Do Mi Do Re Fa Re Mi Sol Mi Fa La Fa Sol Ti Sol La Do La Ti œRe œ Ti œDo . & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ & Doœ Miœ Doœ Reœ Faœ Reœ Miœ Solœ Mi œ Fa œ La œ Fa œ Sol œ Ti œSol œ La œ Do La œ Ti œ Re Ti œ Do . œ œ œ Do La Do Ti Sol Ti La Fa La Sol Mi Sol Fa Re Fa Mi Do Mi Re Ti Re Do œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ && œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. Do

La

Do

Ti

Sol

Mix them up! Start on different scale degrees! Create your own! There are endless possibilitites!

Ti

La

Fa

La

Sol

Mi

Sol

Fa

Re

Fa

Mi

Do

Mi

Re

Ti

Re

Do

Mix them up! Start on different scale degrees! Create your own! There are endless possibilitites!

Extending our skips gives us triads, a.k.a. "arpeggios" or "broken chords." These figures add perfect fifths to our vocabulary.

Extending our skips gives us triads, a.k.a. "arpeggios" or "broken chords." These figures add perfect œ œ fifths to our vocabulary.

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ œ & Do œMi Sol œ œMi Do œRe œFa œLa œFa œRe œMi œSolœTi œSol œMiœFaœLa œDoœLaœFa œSolœTiœReœTiœSolœLaœDo MiœDoœLa œ Tiœ Re Faœ Reœ Ti˙Do œ œ &

Do Mi Sol Mi Do Re Fa La Fa Re

Mi Sol Ti Sol Mi Fa La Do La Fa

Sol Ti Re Ti Sol La Do Mi Do La

Ti Re Fa Re Ti Do

& œœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œœ œ˙ ˙ Do La Fa La Do Ti Sol Mi Sol Ti La Fa Re Fa La Sol Mi Do Mi Sol Fa ReœTi Re Fa Mi DoœLa Do Mi Reœ TiœSolœ Ti Re Do Do La Fa La Do Ti Sol Mi Sol Ti La Fa Re Fa La Sol Mi Do Mi Sol Fa Re Ti Re Fa Mi Do La Do Mi Re Ti Sol Ti Re Do

!

20!

Extending skips one more time add sevenths to our vocabulary.

Extending skips one more time add sevenths to our vocabulary.

!


Also, you should begin – if you have not done so already – to become bolder in your melodic leaps, (which are anything larger than a third) both ascending and descending. However – don’t just leap for the leap’s sake. Utilize you hearing to identify the pitch on which you will land, hearing it in relation to the pitch from which you are leaping. Modally, you can change the drone to any of the pitches in the scale, and use that as your tonal center. It may seem like you are just singing the same scale and using the same solfege syllables, but starting on a different pitch – which is basically true. It’s a bit of a nuance to separate your Do, or tonic, from your ‘tonal center,’ (the pitch around which all others relate), especially for a system that wants to use moveable ‘Do,’ but my reasoning is manifold: -

we haven’t learned all the notes, yet, so let’s go with what we have. it will get you to use your solfege syllables in differing ways than simply Do up to Do and then back again. this will be an extremely useful technique when you encounter sight reading examples for which there is no tonal center. Most importantly – and this is in the realm of the general benefits of solfege – you will learn that that relationship between pitches, (and the relationship between a Fa and a La, or a Mi, or a Ti, or a Do for that matter), never changes. This is the ‘hearing’ principal in this system: not only should you learn to hear vertical harmonies in tune, but you should also learn to hear a whole melodic and harmonic framework as it unfolds from within itself.

Practice! In the workbook, you will find practice hymn suggestions, plus major, and modal examples to work your reading – both in single line, and four-part contexts.

!

21!


!

&

Sing

w

w

˙

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w

w the minor tonality w ˙ ˙ w Three Blind Mice ? and w w ˙ ˙ w The next three pitches – Me, Le, and Te – have three things in common. Do

Sol

Play

w w

œ œ ww ˙ w Fi w #w œ #˙ ˙ œ & ww ˙w w ˙ ˙ w w w w ? Play 2) They will allowwus to introducewminor modes in˙ fixed Do system and open up many possibilities ˙ w w Play Sing Do Re Play Mi 1) They are all a half step lower than the corresponding pitches with the same first letter – Mi, La and Ti, respectively. This is a bit of a solfege trick. By changing Think: the vowel Sing (Do to and Re ‘e’ (eh) Mi) this can Re Sing Sol imply lowering a pitch bySing a half step. Conversely, changing the last letter to an ‘i’ (ih) implies raising Do Sol Play ‘Di.’ the pitch by a half step, as we will eventually see with the pitch

!

&

w

for new modes and chromaticism. Play

œ œ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ ˙˙ œ œ #˙ œ œ œ ˙ w w

!

w

!

!

!

œ œ œ œ œ #œ #w w

3) They can all be found as the major third below pitches we already know. Sing Fi Think: (Do Re Mi) Re Sing Sol We know how to find a major third above a fundamental. What we are tasked with doing now is backtracking so as to find the ‘implied’ fundamental of which a reference pitch is the major third. Do Re Mi Fi Sol Mi Fi Re Do Mi Sol Ti Do Sol Mi Fi Sol Ti Re Do Sol Mi Fi Without getting to deeply involved – or confused – the trick to find the major third below is Play Three Blind Mice. Play

& w ? ww

We’ll sing the first three pitches of ‘Three Blind Mice’ with our reference pitch on the word ‘Three.” Sing ‘Three Blind Mice,” then sing ‘Three Mice.’ Pause. Sound the ‘Three’ pitch, then sing the ‘Mice’ pitch. Do Fa

& Œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ œ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ w w œ ww & ww Sol Ti Re Do Sol Mi Fi Re Do Re Mi Fi Sol Mi Fi Re Do Mi Sol Ti Do Sol Mi Fi Le w w w Fasing the octave above. Make this pitch – To put this into action, let’s start with a fundamental and w ? the octave above which sounding your ‘Three’ pitch, sing ‘Three Blind w – your ‘Three’ pitch. Now, Play Sing Mi Mice,’ then ‘Three Mice.’ Nowwplay the original fundamental and sing thisSing ‘Mice’Lapitch. The ‘Mice’ w w you are singing w It’s a very complex and w combustible &is ‘Le’ (Leh) also known as the minor sixth. w w w w interval that will try very hard half step Keep it high! Lato Sol. Play Do to resolve down aSing Fa How does it feel? Play ww & w Sing wwDo Think:w Singw Le w w w œ ˙ b œ Fa b œ b ˙ bw & w w w w Play Play Sing Sing La Mi Three Blind Mice Three Mice Play ! w w ww w & Sing Sol w Blind w trick canThink: wSingviaMeRe. Similarly, the ‘Three Mice’ beSing utilizedLato find Me w via Sol, and Te Play & w œ œ b œ ˙ Play b ˙ Sing w Do w Think: w Le b ww Me Sing Play Three Blind Mice w Sol. Sol œbecomes ˙ Three b œ your From the & fundamental, find which b‘Me’ b œ ‘Three’ b pitch, ˙ MiceafterPlay w (Meh) – also w w w w known as the minor third – is “Mice.’ Like before, play the fundamental, or, even better, a Do-Sol Play Three Blind Mice Three Mice Play

&

w

Play

!

Sing Sol

w w

Think:

œ

œ bœ ˙ b˙

Three Blind Mice Three Mice

22!

w

Play

Sing Me

b ww

!


Fundamental

&

ww w ? w

!

!

!

!

!

!

drone and sing ‘Me.’ Savor the complexity. ‘Me’ will not feel the need to resolve to anything, but be careful when pitch, as it plays duel roles as both a minor third from Do, and a Major Dotuning thisFa third from Sol. Te Next, from the fundamental, find Sol, and Re (the Sol of Sol). Re becomes your ‘Three’ pitch, and your ‘Mice’ pitch is ‘Te’ (Teh). Above the fundamental, Te is the minor seventh. Unlike Ti, the Major seventh,Mi Te does not have the urgency to resolve up to Do. Play

w & wSing

& w Play

Do

w w Sol w ww

w

Sing LaSing

Play

w w

œ

Think:

Re

œ bœ ˙ b˙

w

bw w

Sing Te

Play

œ Dominant œof the œ œ chord, œ œ œ œ a four-note The Do-Te& relationship œ forms the bookends that has œ œ œ beast œ œ ˙ populated everything from Monteverdi to the Delta Blues with the unnerving possibility of multiple Three Blind Mice Three Mice

Major, or Ionian

resolutions. Its most commonplace use, however, !is in a progression as predictable as the sun rising. & Either way, hear the minor seventh as the harbinger of movement and your tuning of it should be Lydian rock solid. Do Re Mi Fa

& œ œ œ #œ Your minor scale

Sol La

Ti

Do

œ œ œ œ

Ti

La Sol Fa

œ œ œ #œ

Mi Re Do

œ œ ˙

With the addition and Te, eight-tone constructed such:Do Do of ReMe,MiLe Fi SolanLa Ti Do scale Ti can LabeSol Fi Mias Re

& œ œ bœ œ œ bœ bœ œ bœ bœ œ œ bœ œ ˙ Do Re Me Fa

Sol Le

Te

Do

Te

Le

Sol Fa

Me

Re Do

!

This particular arrangement of tones is commonly known as the ‘natural minor.’ This name is derived as this scale is the sixth mode of the major scale, or the mode using all the pitches of the major scale, but starting and ending on La (La, Ti, Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La) without any alterations. So why sing it starting on Do, and use the altered third (Me), sixth (Le) and seventh (Te)? Because I have found that the key to understanding relationships between pitches is to simplify the way you look at those relationships. La to Mi may be a perfect fifth, but with a standardized understanding – not to mention a standardized tuning – of Do to Sol, why confuse it with a completely new arrangement of names? Also, the need for a chromatic understanding of pitches – with specific ways to name those chromatic alterations – will come quicker than we think, when, for example, we have shifting tonal centers, and related harmonies that are ‘borrowed’ from other keys – a phenomenon that pops up in even the most pedestrian of hymns. Di The last pitch of the twelve that remains is ‘Di’ (Dih), which could be referred to as the ‘raised one’ (hence the addition of the ‘i’). Enharmonically, we can refer to Di as the lowered (or flatted) second, or the flat nine, if we displace the octave.

!

23!

!


Finding this illusive pitch requires some slight of hand and a definite willingness to overcome one’s fear of prolonged dissonance. We’ll use two previous techniques in combination, both of which require what we’ve termed ‘backtracked’ pitches.

w œ ˙ below First, and œ fifth b ˙ Do – & wpick a fundamental ww w name itwDo. Now, find Faœ – bthe w Sing Re

Sing Sol

Think:

then the Fa an octave above. Next, find the Major third below Fa using the ‘Three PlayMice’ trick. With FaPlay Blind Mice Blind as the ‘Three’ pitch,Three the ‘Mice’ pitchThree is Di.Mice Pause.Play Take a breath. Sound your original fundamental and sing Di.

& w Play &

w w

Sing Do

w

Play

w w

Sing Fa

Think:

œ

Three Blind

!

Mice

˙

Three

Mice

Sidebar: it is possible and, indeed, necessary Sing Te to sing dissonances perfectly in tune. !

bw w

w

Sing Di

Play

Relish the dissonance – it is more common than you think. Once you set the tuning, and its feeling, pick a new fundamental and begin again!

!

24!

b ww

!


Part two: Singing So now what? At your fingertips, you now have all twelve pitches that split the octave (in our Western system, at least), and the means of finding and tuning them using natural properties of just intonation, particularly the fundamental and its octave, the perfect fifth and the major third. These, as we have established, are the building blocks of our tertian universe. From here, your improvisation can begin exploring a wide variety of tracks. As we’ve been going along, examples of ways to navigate the tonal frameworks forged by the presence of these intervals have been given, with the encouragement to take greater and greater risks in your own improvisation with dissonance, the resolution of that dissonance, and the greater propensity toward leaps that may seem daunting. With this method, I’ve taken great care to avoid presenting leaps as new hurdles to overcome, getting higher and higher as we move along. Rather, we’ve incorporated new pitches above the fundamental so that you can learn the tuning mechanisms and harmonic relationships that will help you identify any given pitch, regardless of the approaching tone. That being said, I impress upon you to take a giant leap (no pun intended) into the expansion of your understanding of tonal harmony, and all the quirks and attitudes therein. Creating your own modes The next to last addition to your improvisation practice is the creation of your own modes! Reaching back to the early Greek and (later) early Christian methods of organization, we’ll examine the creation of modes as being constructed of two adjoining tetrachords, which are four-tone, minimode segments. Some parameters: The lowest pitch of the first tetrachord, and the highest pitch of the second tetrachord will be an octave apart and, in our moveable Do ideology, both will be named ‘Do’ and will be in the same pitch class as the fundamental drone we select. The lowest pitch of the second tetrachord will be Sol. With our twelve-pitch set up, your choices for the pitches in your first tetrachord can be made up of the following options: Pitch:

1

2

3

4

Options:

Do

Di or Re

Me or Mi

Fa or Fi

The second tetrachord can be filled out as such:

!

Pitch:

1

2

3

4

Options:

Sol

Le or La

Te or Ti

Do

25!


Some modes that you come up with may sound familiar or close to familiar, some may be completely foreign. Experiment – mix and match; combine familiar with odd, and disjointed with consonant. Then change your fundamental and try to recreate the same mode with a different tonal center. Always choose tuning over complexity, or speed of rhythm. Also important – begin to identify your modes on paper using solfege names, pitch names and music notation. If you need a quick primer, you’ll find it at the beginning of the workbook.

Key Signatures and Major Tonality Key and Major Tonality Sight singing with a tonalSignatures center The Key Signature gives us a tonal center - "Do," the "Tonic," the "First Scale Degree."

At this point, andWe'll afteruseeven a little practice, thetosynthesis of written music and aural memory should the letter name of this pitch name the key. be gelling into one Here, music go a long way, especially in terms of Thetechnique. Key Signature gives auslittle a tonal centerliteracy - "Do," will the "Tonic," the "First Scale Degree." No sharps or flats in the key signature give us the key of C Major all the white keys between C's. We'll use the letter name of this pitch to name the key. identifying key and tonal centers. Remembering from earlier discussions, ‘keys’ and ‘tonalthecenters’ œ from can & be, c butNo aresharps not always, the thing. Aœ key, point discussion, willthe refer œ - all œ œin our or flats in thesame keyœ signature give us the key ofœthis C Major the œwhite keys between C's. œ œ œ œ œ œ The Key Signature gives us a tonal center "Do," the "Tonic," the "First Scale Degree." œ œ primarily to the major and relative minor indicatedœ by the œ key signature.

Key Signatures and Major Tonality

& c Do Cœ

œ

œ

œ

œ

œ

œ

œ

Re Sol ofLa Ti to Do We'llMi use theFaletter name this pitch name theDokey. Ti D E F G A B C C B No flats inFathe keySolsignature C Major Do sharps Re orMi La give Ti us the Dokey ofDo Ti C D E F G A B C C B

-

œ

La A all La the A

œ

Sol G white Sol G

œFaF œMiE œReD œDo C

keys Fa between Mi theReC's.

œ will œ œ that "Do" œ be œthe "Tonic" œ meaning & c We willœuse aœ"Moveable œ system, œ orœ "First Do" œ œ Scaleœ Degree" œ in every key. (Eg. In the Key of D major, "Do" will be the pitch "D"; in F# Major, "Do" will beœ F#.) F

E

Do C

D

Do will Reuse aMi"Moveable Fa Sol system, La Ti Dothat "Do" Do Ti be La Sol Mi Scale Re Degree" Do We Do" meaning will the "Tonic" orFa "First C D E F G A B C C B A G F E D C in every key. (Eg. In the Key of D major, "Do" will be the pitch "D"; in F# Major, "Do" will be F#.) ! Sharp keys can be detrmined by ascending one step from the last sharp in the key

# w ## w # wWe # # Do" # #"Do" #"First w bysystem, willkeys use acan "Moveable meaning that will be the "Tonic" or Scale Degree" # Sharp be detrmined ascending one step from the last sharp in the key & # win every key. (Eg. In the# Key of D major, "Do" will# be# theww pitch "D"; in F# Major, # # # "Do" w will be F#.) w & G A step up from F# # D A step up from C# # Aw A step up from G# # E A step up from D# keys canF# be ascending from AtheCity sharp in G# the An key Elegant order of detrmined sharps DcanAbybestep remembered as: "Four Girls Dance A stepThe up from GSharp E ABallet" up fromone C#step Alast step up from step up from D# w w # # # # # # w # # wcan be remembered as: #"Four The order of sharps Ballet" w City Girls Dance An# Elegant & One flat in the key signature indicates the key of F Major œ Dance The order A of œsharps can "FourœCity Girls œthe keyœ of Fas:œMajor œ œAn Elegant œ be remembered A œ Ballet" indicates œ & bOneœ flat inœ the keyœ signature G A step up from F#

& b Doœ

œ

Re

œ AFaœ

Mi

D A step up from C#

œ Sol

œ

La

œ

Ti

A A step up from G#

œ

Do

œ

Do

œ œ œ Aœ Ti La Sol Fa

OneDoflat inRethe key signature indicates the Major Do Ti La Sol Mi Fa are Sol La keyTiof F Do Fa Flat keys detrmined œ the œ nextœ to last œ byœ identifying œ flat in the key

œ

Mi

œ œ œRe œDo

Aœ œ œ œ œFlatA œkeysbareœwdetrmined by identifyingb the next to last flatœ in the key b b b b b w Ti La Sol Fab b b b bMiw Re Do Mi Fa b Sol La Ti Do Do w b b Ebw b b b b Abw b b b b b Db Flat keys are detrmined by identifying the next to last flat in the key Db b Bbw The order of flats b b canwEb be remembered as: b"Before b b b wAbEating A Donut, Get b b bCoffee w First" b b b & b First" flats ofcanmusic: be remembered as: "Before Eating A Donut, Get Coffee When presented The withorder a newofpiece

& bb œ œ & b b Dow Re & b Bbw

Mi

Re

Do

Bb Eb 1) Identify timeasignature; Identify the keypoint signature; 3) Find "Do" and "Sol"; 4)Db Count off to andthe GO! Alternately, tonalthecenter canpiece be 2) any reference we Ab choose, but particularly referring When presented with new of music: pitch class we name ‘Do,’ so as to the between 1) Identify the signature; 2)immediately Identify the keyunderstand signature; Findrelationships "Do" andGet "Sol"; 4) Count and GO! Thetime order of flats can be remembered as: "Before 3) Eating A Donut, Coffee First"alloffother pitches andPractice that reference. - name and identify "Do" and "Sol" for each of the following key signatures. When presented with athe newMajor piece ofkey, music: # #for#"Do" 1) Identify the time signature; 2) Identify the key "Do" Find "Sol"; off and GO! # #to Practice #key, #harmonically # will - name and 3) "Sol" each and of the following key signatures. b b b the Major bsignature; b b b4)b Count # andinidentify # # It’s easy think, however, that we live a modern world, speaking, and we rarely b b b b # & # b ## ## # # # b b b b b # # # b have & a fundamental bdrone our performance bpractice. Frequently, the lowest we hear will be b b b notes b the in b and "Sol" Practice - name Major key, and identify "Do" for #each of the following key signatures. a mélange of bass lines that have their own agendas sung by basses who also have their own ## #### #### # b b b b b agendas. bb bb b b bb # &

!

26!

!

E A step up from D#

!


When navigating the tonal world – however modern – I have found it a helpful guide to always have a ‘Do’ tucked in you back pocket, like a compass, so that you can pull that reference out whenever you need a realignment. This will, undoubtedly, take some practice and can be best accomplished through experience in the real world. Anchors When approaching a new piece of music – hymns, anthems, solo singing – I have found the following checklist to be invaluable in the development of my sight singing chops. A quick tour through the following aspects of the new piece will automatically set you up with the tools needed for a successful read.  What’s the clef tell you? This may seem obvious, but there may be instance where the clef is not what you think it is, particularly for the lower voices. Tenors may often have to read bass clef (especially in hymns), and Basses may find themselves called upon to sing melodic lines written in treble clef.  What’s the key signature tell you? A quick look at the key signature will give you a couple of options – major or relative minor most frequently. However, there could be a modal scheme employed, or (in modern works) a composer may not even use a key signature if the piece is to shift among several tonal centers. If these are possibilities, the key signature can be used in combination with the next tip.  What’s the first chord? In choral and liturgical music written up to the mid 20th century, there is a very high probability that the first chord will designate a tonal center. You should learn, then, to be able to identify a chord’s root (the pitch that gives a chord its name) and quality (major/minor) as an indication of key or tonal center.  Find your Do-Sol anchors. Once a tonal center is identified, you can locate what pitch you will call ‘Do,’ as well as its corresponding ‘Sol.’ From here, all other pitches will relate. The Do-Sol anchor is the most crucial of all tools in this checklist.  Get your rhythmic footing. A number of clues will point to the proper setup of your rhythmic understanding of a piece.  What does the time signature tell us? Again, simplify things by reading the time signature as a sentence: In every measure, there will be (top number) (rhythmic value indicated by bottom number). If you need help, a rhythm primer with practice exercises can be found in the workbook.  Define for yourself what rhythmic value will get the beat. This may be suggested and/or helped by whoever is conducting your ensemble.  What is the tempo marking? Frequently, a composer will be so kind as to suggest a tempo (with a numeric metronome marking or any number of verbal tempo markings that could indicate a wide rage of speeds), along with an emotional characterization written in English, German or Italian directly above the first measure. A metronome, or even a clock with a second hand, will give you a heads up on the speed of the beat (one beat per second gives you a metronome marking of 60, twice per second is 120, etc.). Find the Do-Sol, count off, and GO! !

27!


Sight singing without a tonal center Believe it or not, the same techniques used to establish a foothold in the tonal world can be used when sight reading music that has multiple tonal centers, or no definite tonal center. This is the ultimate beauty of the moveable Do system – your own parameters can be established and your own anchors found. Inter-part references One of the easiest ways to get your footing in any choral work - let alone those that eschew a tonal center - is to become intensely aware of your surroundings. When in a rehearsal, simply ask, “ How does my part relate to those around me? Here’s a particularly thorny passage:

!

Note how the soloists part gives both choirs their starting pitches. You can look for these cues all over your own scores, remembering that every part relates to each other – even in the most complex of circumstances. Take the following examples: Linked Phrases For particularly diabolical sections in your own part, look to whatever anchors exist along its course. This is a slightly modified version of the “Keep a ‘Do’ in your back pocket” technique, but requires multiple levels of working memory. Take the following example:

!

Example A gives you an instance where the presence of a strong Bb will give you the bookends of a lengthy passage, and a reference for the faster moving parts of the phrase. This same Bb comes up on the down beat of the second measure, and third beat of the ¾ bar, as well – further reinforcing that pitch’s strength in the passage. Try it with a Bb drone.

!

28!


Example B shows how to pivot on an enharmonic anchor. The B natural and the Cb are enharmonic, but relate to the surrounding pitches differently. In this example, the B Natural leads up through the C Natural and D Natural toward the Eb. The Cb, in turn, sets up the Eb, Ab and Gb in relation. Try this passage with a B Natural/Cb drone. Example C highlights a chromatically descending passage, that can give you the footing needed to outline the leaps that follow. Try this with several drones and see how the quality of the harmonies change. Better yet – hold a Gb drone and sing the passage as it slowly works it’s way down to match pitch with your drone. Singing the gesture One of the things this method attempts to do is to take choral sight singing out of its own box, wherein the “current interval” is only considered. No more clearly can this be seen as when one makes a conscious effort to sing a gesture, as opposed to only the notes. What does that mean? It means that - in all music, but especially choral music – the line and shape of a passage should be the single most important contribution to its proper execution. This goes for the most florid melodic gesture as well as the “divine filler” of the one-note alto part. Everything must have shape and flow, and recognizing this shape and flow can help your sight singing. The most frequently available occurrence where one can take advantage of a melody’s shape is the sequence. A sequence is a repeated gesture, however the second, or third iteration of this gesture begins on a different pitch from the preceding gesture. Take this example:

!

‘A’ shows a lovely passage. ‘B’, however, shows a passage with the same shape (three descending steps, one step up, four steps down, ascending third), but starting a step lower than A. ‘C’ shows an answer to the previous statements that is organic in quality and shape to them. Simply following the shape of the gesture when sight reading will allow you to take in an entire phrase with a wider-angle lens as opposed to one note’s movement to the next. Remembering the shape of the phrase will help in later instances when it repeats, or is used sequentially. Later, a broader understanding of the structure and form of a piece will help you identify recurring passages and harmonic changes that you can use to inform your reading, not only for the piece right in front of you, but also for works that have similarities in their structure.

!

29!


Utilizing a Drone in non-tonal music Parts can be learned when singing them over the drone of your choice using the chromatic intervals found in the exercises above, and strengthened through your improvisation and tetrachord [Title] 2 experiments. Give these a whirl:

& œ

œ #œ

œ

& œ bœ bœ nœ

œ #œ

œ #œ

œ #œ bœ

#œ nœ #œ nœ

œ #œ

œ

œ nœ

!

Try multiple drones per example, both changing your Do, or really testing your hearing and tuning by keeping the same solfege structure over a moving bass drone.

&

!

68 œ .

œ.

Epilogue Ta Ta

œ œ œ œœœœœœ ti

ti

ti

ti ri ti ri ti ri

As in depth as this all may seem, the work detailed in this method only scratches the surface of experiencing harmony in a choral setting. A listing of further practice using familiar hymns in various harmonizations is included in the workbook. As with most things, utilizing these techniques as realized through the singing of Bach chorales and hymns will work wonders for not only your hearing but also your confidence as an ensemble member.

&

!

?

!

For line independence, I stress investigating the masters of 14th through 16th century counterpoint. Machaut, Dufay, Palestrina, Josquin, Lassus, Byrd, Victoria and Gesualdo demonstrate over and over again that the clarity and interest of the individual line will create vertical sonority, but the integrity of the lines themselves remains paramount (generally good advice for composers of choral music, as well). As with everything musical, solitary practice is key, but rehearsal with others is where the real work takes place. Even if fraught with error, what better way is there to learn? fp

! ! !

!

30!


Workbook

• Basic Technique • Rhythm  Rhythmic Practice  Rhythm – Hymn Exercises • Major Scales and Modes - Practice exercises  Stepwise motion  Stepwise and skipping motion • Sight Singing – Hymn Exercises ! !

!

31!


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Basic Technique Without a knowledge base in the fundamentals of musical technique, one would still be able to reap the benefits of developing the ear to gain a better understanding of musical phenomena. However, if one is to fully grasp the possibilities and potential of melodic and harmonic experience, let alone sight read anything with any accuracy, the basic skills of deciphering rhythmic values and pitch differentiation are necessary. This review is meant to present new takes on the basics. I urge you to think of these concepts as another way to interpret, standardize, and normalize what you already know intuitively, so as to express them to those under your direction. Numes Traditionally an aural/oral practice, the earliest remaining evidence of written representations of Western liturgical singing appear around the beginning of the 9th century, and may have been mnemonics used to imitate singing styles that had developed in different regions. These shapes and squiggles – generally referred to as numes, a word that traces back to the Greek word for “breath” – gave, literally, the shape of a sung passage, but did not indicate a particular starting pitch, did not specify any relationships between pitches, and gives no indication of rhythm (to this day, no one knows what the rhythm of chanted liturgical practice sounded like).

The Staff

Sidebar: This isn’t theory, it’s musicianship: the knowledge and applicability of the substance of music. I recall one fumbling experience in a choral sectional where a director tried to get the tenors – who were all adults and mostly volunteers – to use a combination of numbers and hand signs to reinforce a particular passage. When this director asked one of the older volunteer singers to utilize this method and repeat it back to him, the singer replied, “Oh no, I don’t know anything about music theory.” I realized that this singer (and probably many like him) thought about “Theory” as a secret decoder ring without which no one can decipher the magical inner workings of the music of the spheres. As such, it can have the power to turn people off tremendously. !

! Among Guido’s many contributions is the staff (plural: staves), a system of horizontal lines. The standard modern staff has been expanded to five lines (less for non-pitched percussion) from its earliest incarnations, and can be extended above and below with the use of ledger lines. On the staff one can represent both pitch (the higher the placement on the staff, the higher the pitch) and time, which progresses from left to right. Clefs

While indicating basic high/low pitch differences, the staff itself does not specify exact pitches. For that, a clef is needed to establish a reference point. In modern choral usage, you will see only two types of clefs: The ‘Treble’ or ‘G clef,’ so called as it is typically used for treble, or higher pitched instruments or voices, and it shows the position of the ‘G’ above ‘middle C,’ customarily placed (but not limited to) the second line from the bottom of the staff.

!


The ‘Bass’ or ‘F clef,’ so called as it is typically used for bass, or lower pitched instruments or voices, and it shows the position of the ‘F’ below ‘middle C,’ customarily placed (but not limited to) the fourth line from the bottom of the staff. In addition, tenors in the choir will often see a treble clef with an ‘8’ below it, indicating that the pitches are written an octave higher than they sound. This is done for convenience, so that excessive ledger lines can be avoided, displaying the normal tenor range within the staff. Other clefs in common use, but are rarely seen in modern choral settings are the ‘Alto or ‘C clef,’ which shows the placement of ‘middle C,’ and the Percussion clef which relates to non-pitched percussion instruments. On the staff, pitches are given fixed letter names. Adjacent lines and spaces are named in alphabetical succession when moving up the staff and reverse alphabetical succession when descending.

!

!

Sidebar: For many years, I have searched for an answer to the question of how ‘C’ became the tonal center of keys with no sharps or flats (and, not incidentally, the ‘Do’ of a fixed Do system). The answer probably lies somewhere in the Latin translations of the Greek musical treatises, particularly those of Hucbald and Beothius, in the 8th and 9th centuries.!

! Rhythm Rhythm is the organization of sound and silence. It is the when of musical expression. It is natural, ever-present, and engrained in our beings. In Western music (the musical systems developed in Europe and points west), the following graphics are used for the most common rhythmic values found in choral music. Moving from left to right, each graphic value represents half of the rhythmic value preceding it.

!

Sidebar: The word ‘rhythm’ is used to describe the seasons, the flow of a year’s time, the organization of our day, our sleep patterns. The body’s natural processes juxtapose polyrhythms of varying complexity, the simplest example being the interaction of breathing (a duple) and a heartbeat (a triple).!

Anatomy

Thankfully, the graphic representations of rhythm consist of similarly named parts: - The head, which can be closed (filled in) or open (not filled in). - The stem, for rhythmic values of a quarter note and smaller. - The flag for rhythmic values of and eighth note and smaller Rhythmic values with similar flags can be connected with a beam.

! !


œ

œ

Beat Ta

œ

Ta

œ

Ta

Ta

The simplest musical experience of rhythm is the beat, which are pulses interspersed with silence of the same length, so that the pulses happen at regular intervals. Graphically, a beat is represented by the same symbol over and over again. The rhythm of the beat can be expressed verbally using the syllable "Ta" for rhythmic values assigned to whole beats. Consider the following examples:

œ

œ

Ta

œ

Ta

œ

Ta

œ

Ta

œ

Ta

œ

Ta

w

Ta

w

Ta

œ

Ta

w

Ta

w

Ta

w

Ta

w

w

Ta

w

w

Ta

w

Kr Kr Kr Kr œ œ œ œ

Ta

Ta

Ta

w

w

rK rK rK rK œ œ œ œ Ta

Ta

Ta

The rhythmic value (quarter notes, whole notes, and 32nd notes in the preceding example) that gets the beat is arbitrary – you can decide for yourself which rhythmic value will be expressed using “Ta.” Isn’t that liberating? Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta

Ta

Ta

rK rK rK rK œ œ œ œ

Ta

Tempo

The only variation of the beat is its tempo. Generally referred to as the “speed of the beat,” the Ta Ta pulses. Ta Ta tempo is actually determined by length of time that measures the silences between Experiment with this – turn on any metronome and hear the sound of the pulse it produces. Then alter the metronomic marking and notice that the pulse does not change, only the silence between pulses. Division of the beat

j j we’ll begin by splitting In order to start interacting with different j j the beat into two œ œ œ rhythmic œ œ values, œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œthan œ œtheœ beat equal parts. This “simple division” of the beat refers to one rhythmic valueœsmaller Ta Ta Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti itself. The division of the beat is expressed verbally using the syllables “titi – titi.”ti Remember – the Ta Ta Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti rhythmic value assigned the beat is up to you!

œ œ œ œ

Ta

Ta

Ta

Ta

w w w w

Ta

Ta

Ta

Ta

j j w w w w œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ w w w w

Ta Ta Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti Ta Ta Ta Ta

Kr rK rK Kr KrK KrK ˙ ˙ ˙ œ˙ ˙œ ˙ œ˙ ˙œ œ œ œ Krœ œrK œ rKœ œrK KrK KrK œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Ta Ta Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti

ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti

ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti

Subdivision Kr of Kr the Kr beat Kr KKr KKr œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Ta

Ta

Ta

Ta

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

The next level of parsing the beat is the simple subdivision, which is a division of the beat into four Ta Ta Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti equal parts (or the division of the division of the beat). This is represented graphically as one rhythmic value smaller than the division, or two rhythmic values smaller than the beat. The beat’s subdivision is expressed verbally using the syllables “ti – ri.”

œ

Ta

w

œ

Ta

w

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

ri

ti

ri

ti

ri

ti

ri

œ œ œœ œ œ œœ


œ œ

œ œ

Ta Ta

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Ta Ta

w w

ti ti

w w

Ta Ta

Ta Ta

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ri ri

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ti ti

ti ti

ri ri

ti ti

ri ri

ti ti

ri ri

œ œ œœ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri

KKK KKK Kr KKKr KKKr KKKr KKKr K K K œr œr Counting œr œ œ œRhythms r œr œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ (simple œ œ meter) œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Kr œKr œ

Ta Ta

Ta Ta

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ti ti

ri ri

ti ti

ri ri

ti ti

ri ri

ti ti

ri ri

Rhythm can be counted - regardless of meter - using "Ta" for rhythmic values assigned to whole beats, "ti ti" for the

The beat canofbe divided a multitude of additional ways: four, five, six, seven, and on and division theequally beat and "ti ri" for theinsubdivision of the beat. on. Likewise, these divisions can be subdivided in any way imaginable. However, the simple division and subdivision is the most common rhythmic variation to be found in choral music, and For example: if we assign the whole the quarterofnote: any additional extrapolation can beat be tothought in terms of these simple operations. See the index and source materials for rhythmic practice work.

&œ œ œ œ

Meter

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

ti ri ti riI’ve ti ri found ti ri ti that ri Sidebar: the interpretation of the time signature is one of the hardest things to try œ toœ œteach. œ œ œThis œ œ isœ aœ tough œ œ œ concept œ to master because it makes you ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri attempt to nail down the meaning of a beat and the concept of the beat being the measurement of w basic w form, w time w signatures ˙ ˙ can ˙ ˙be read ˙ ˙as ˙a ˙ œ œ œ time œ œ in œ œsuch œ œaœway œ œasœ toœ negate œ œ any In its&most sentence: “InTaeveryTameasure, there will be (top number) of ti ri ti other possibility. As we’ve already Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri ti ri (rhythmic value indicated by the bottom number).” For shown, the concept of the beat is example, in 4/4 time, the time signature reads: "In every not limited to any particular can be readnotes." as a sentence: rhythmic value (particularly the measure, thereTime will signatures be four quarter What value gets the " In every measure, there will be (top number) of (rhythmic value indcated by thenote). bottom number)" beat is up to us, for counting purposes, quarter Therefore, what is 4 but it is implied that the For example: the time signature 4 reads: "In every measure, there will be four quarter notes." rhythmic value indicated by the bottom number can be the necessity of confusing the assigned a numerical beat. The therefore can bebyreplaced more?therefore We’re for It is further implied that‘Ta’, the rhythmic value indicated the bottom number ismatter assigned theeven beat. Rhythms, liberation, are weas not? by a number tocanindicate beats in atomeasure; be read using numbers indicate beatsdivisions in a measure;and divisions and subdivisions can be counted follows: [Title] ! 2 can remain the same. subdivisions Ta

Ta

Ta

Ta

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ti

ri

ti

ri

ti

ri

Now that have tools, Andwe if we assignthe the rhythmic whole beat to the half we note: need to set up the framework so that we can keep everything in a usable order. The& rhythmic ˙ ˙meter˙ is the˙ tool that œ œweœuseœto œmarkœ off œ the œ œœ measurement of time in a score. This is represented graphically Ta Ta Ta Ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti by the Time Signature, recognized as two stacked numbers, ti ri found atorthe beginning to the whole note: of the piece or measure in question. 7

& 44 œ œ œ œ

& 1 2 œ

3

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ# œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ

œ 4 OR:œ11 &te# œ22

œ #œ 3 te 4 te

œe

& a

2

œ # œ3 eb œ&

& 3 & 4 &

1

e & a

te

1 ta te ta 2 ta te ta etc.

a

4

e & a

While the bottom number is limited to those corresponding to rhythmic values (1 = whole, 2 = half, 4 = quarter, 8 = eighth, etc.) the top number can be any number at all.

68 œ bœ #œ nœ n œ & # œ n œ œ # œ œ n œ into two parts are referred to as simple meters. œ Meters in which Meters in which beats areb divided beats are divided into three parts are called compound meters. In compound meters, the bottom number of the time signature indicates eighth notes in most situations. However, the bottom

6 & 8 œ. Ta

œ.

Ta

œ ti

œ ti

œ ti

œ œ œ œ œ œ ti

ri

ti

ri

ti

ri !


œ

Ta

w

œ

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Ta œ Taœ œ ti œ ti œ ti œ tiœ œti riœ tiœ riœ ti ri ti ri

œ

Ta

ti

w

ti

ti

ti

ti

ri

ti

ri

ti

ri

ti

ri

w w ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ

number in these time signatures are frequently counted as the division of the beat. Here’s an example: in each measure, there measure, buttitheri dotted Ta Ta are sixtieighth ti notes ti inti each ti ri ti ri ti ri quarter gets the beat. ti ti ti ti ri ti ri KKK tiKKK ri ti ri Kr Kr KKr KKr r r Ties and dots K œ K œ K K œ KKrœ KKrœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Kr Kr Kr Kr œ ofœtwoTaœor more œTa œrhythmic œ tiœ riœthetiœsameriœ pitch) Theœdurations values combined. ti œ ti œ ti œ ti(sounding ti ricantibe easily ri Ta

Ta

ti

Graphically, this is represented with a tie. Ta Ta ti tiThese ti tied ti rhythmic ti ri values ti ri

j œ values œ These tied rhythmic j œ œ ˙

˙ j œ

j œ

ti

w

ri

ti

ri

w

sound the same as this one rhythmic value therhythmic same as value this (also known as the division of that A tie from any rhythmic value to the nextsound smallest can be simplified by These tied rhythmic values... one with rhythmic value rhythmic value) can be simplified graphically the addition ofaadot dot. adding

œ

These tied rhythmic values...

œ

œ

˙ œ

œ

˙ œ

œ

œ œ œ

œ

œ

œ. j œ ˙.

œ

j œ

can be simplified by adding a dot

œ. œ ˙. œ œ œ.

œ.

œ.

Sidebar: I’d like to point out that I rarely use the word ‘note.’ This word is frequently used to refer to either a pitch, or a rhythmic value, and I prefer (and encourage you) to be more specific. !

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Rhythmic Practice Don’t worry about pitches here, but use these exercises to practice speaking rhythms using Ta, ti-ti- and ti-ri-ti-ri, or by counting beats and subdivision. Remember – the value assigned the beat is up to you!

Rhythms - Quarters and Halfs 1

&c œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙

2

3 &4

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˙

œ œ œ œ ˙

Œ Œ

Œ

Œ

Œ

3

4

œœ œ

5

œ œ œ œ œ

6

œ œ œ œ

7

œ ˙

8

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

2 &4 &c &c &c &c

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Œ

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Œ

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3 & 4 ˙.

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Soprano Soprano 1

1

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Rhythms - Quarters Eighths Rhythms - Quarters andand Eighths

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j œ œj œ

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j j œ œ œ

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Œ ‰ j œ ‰ j œœ

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‰ j ‰ j j œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

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6

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Rhythms - Quarters, Eighths, Sixteenths 1

2 &4 œ &Œ

2

& 42 &

3

œ œœœœ

Œ

œ œ œ œ œ œœœœ ˙

œ œ œ œ œœœœœ œ œ !

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œœœœ

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œœœœ œ œœœœ œœœœ œ œœœœ

!

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œœœœœœœœ œ Œ

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œœœœœœœœ Œ

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œœœœ œ

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œ œ œ œ œœœœœœœœ œ œ œ

& 42 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ

œ œ œ œ œœœœœœœœ œ

Œ

œ œ œ œ œ œœœ œ


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Œ

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& œœœ œ œ œœœ œ œ œ œœœ œ œ

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œœœ œœœ œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ

œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ ˙

5

2 &4 œ œ œ œ œœœ œ

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œ œœœ œœ œ œœœ œœ œ œœœ œœ ˙

4

& 42

Œ

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& œ œœœ œœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œ œœ œ œœœœœ œœœ œ œœ œ œœœœœ ˙ Rhythms - Quarters, Eighths and Sixteenths

6

2 &4 œ

7

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& 42 ‰ œj œ œ œ œ &œ

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Rhythms – Hymn Exercises Tune Adeste fideles Andujar Carol Cradle Song Dundee Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag Gaudeamus pariter In dulci jubilo O Heiland, reiss Psalm 42 Shillingford Three kings of Orient Une jeune pucelle Wachet auf Were you there West Park A la ru Carlisle Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam England's Lane Gartan Go tell it on the mountain Hampton Hilariter Mach's mit mir, Gott Perry Stille Nacht This Endris Night Tibi Christe, splendor Patris Venite adoremus Mighty Savior Petrus So giebst du nun

special qualities common time compound compound compound uneven compound uneven compound syncopation syncopation uneven compound dots uneven uneven uneven compound dots 8th rests dotted eighths dots syncopation dots 3/4 time uneven dotted half compound compound common time compound uneven syncopation tuplets, dots

difficulty easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate challenging challenging challenging


Major scales and modes Step-wise motion

1

2

3

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© 2010 Frank Pesci www.frankpesci.com

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Close Harmony Excercises Step-wise motion

& 43 1

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Close Harmony Exercises Step-wise and skipping motion

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Sight Singing – Hymn Excercises Tune Antioch Es flog ein kleins WaldvÜgelein Gloria Helmsley Hymn to Joy Irby St. Botolph Veni, vent Emmanuel Were you there Assisi Christ lag in Todesbaned Erhalt uns, Herr Fortunatus Merton New Dance Nocte surgentes O lux beata Trinitas Old 113th Puer nobis Sicilian Mariners St. Kevin Star in the East Tantum ergo Sacramentum Te lucis ante terminum The First Nowell Ton-y-Botel Toulon Wareham Wem in Leidenstagen Werde munter West Park Aus der Tiefe rufe ich Bourbon Conditor alme siderum Cradle Song Donne Elmhurst Ermuntre Greensleeves Hampton In dulci jubilo Jesu, nostra redemptio Le Cantique de Simeon Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus Quittez Resurrexit

special qualities Linear Skips Linear/Skips Skips Linear Skips Skips Skips Skips Linear Linear minor Fa/Fi chromatic Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear/Skips Linear Fa/Fi natural minor Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear minor minor Skips Skips skips minor modal Fa/Fi modal skip Skips Skips Skips Skips leaps altered noted

difficulty familiar familiar familiar familiar familiar familiar familiar familiar familiar easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy easy moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate


Salzburg Solemnis haec festivitas St. Albinus Stuttgart The King's Majesty Uffingham Verbum supernum prodiens Vruechten Wachet auf Was frag' ich nach der Welt Bangor Bromley Cornhill Dix Herzliebster Jeu London New Nรถel nouvelet Regent Square Rushford Straf mich nicht Shillingford

altered notes Skips skips and leaps skips and leaps minor minor Skips leaps skips and leaps altered notes minor chromatic altered notes skips and leaps minor Skips modal leaps Skips Fa/Fi Tonal center changes

moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate moderate challenging challenging challenging challenging challenging challenging challenging challenging challenging challenging very challenging


Hearing and Singing - a guide for choirs