Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

03 October 2005

"If You Were the Only Girl in the World"

". . . and I was the only boy. . ." Gack. A bit too much on the schmaltzy side for me. And, frankly, why would I want to be one of the two people left in the world? What does that imply? World plague a la 'The Stand'? Who would work at Starbucks, making the Have-A-Happy-Day mochas? And how much time do I really want to spend with anyone? Yeah, this one's really not working for me.

When I studied voice in college, at Penn State, I was at the bottom of the School of Music barrel. Not a voice major, just pursuing a BA in Music, with voice as my main instrument. But I was lucky enough to study with an excellent teacher, Suzanne Roy, and doubly lucky to have her encourage me to sing in one particular choir, where I sung under an amazing director, Douglas Miller. And somehow I got all the way to the senior voice recital. My voice teacher knew me pretty well at this point (5 years into my college career), and so we chose music where the text interested me as much as the music did. No songs about love, none about God, but bloated corpses? Absolutely!

I remember at the time that Dr. Roy was having ongoing discussions with the Music Theory instructor, Burt Fenner, about the importance of text. He refused to give it the weight that she thought it deserved. And that still sticks in my head. I've sung in French, Latin, Italian, and German, and more often than not I felt I really had to know the meaning of what I was singing, word for word. And most times, it seemed that the composer really wanted me to know, as well. Classically composed sacred music is all about the text, holding up the Divine on a high 'C'.

When I wrote my own music, later, it was still about the text. It came equally from my love of poetry and love of singing, and I've often thought that the reason I haven't written any songs lately is that I'm not reading enough poetry, not enjoying the play of language as much as I used to.

My voice teacher recently suggested that I work on my articulation in my everyday speech, since speaking really isn't that different from singing, and when I make some effort (or when I'm excited about something, or have some determination to get my point across), I can make myself heard very clearly indeed. *This is what I want heard and understood.* I call it my 'on stage voice', it feels like a performance in a good way. I'm looking forward to singing about the corpses again, and leaving no doubt of what I'm singing. Maybe I'll find some better love songs to work on as well.

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At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

You know, I still have a tape of your Senior Recital performance. I found it most recently earlier this year and listened here and there, but mostly to "Trouble in Tahiti" and "Her Kind". In fact, I'm not sure I've heard your singing voice since, sad as that statement sounds. But I've always enjoyed it.


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