Sing a Song

The thing that makes singing relatively simple, is that it requires no outside equipment and no knowledge of theory, the ability to read sheet music or formal training. We learn by mimicking what we hear from others or on the radio. We rely on our ears–again, standard issue along with the voice box–to tell us what sounds “right” and what doesn’t. I’m astonished at a child’s ability to make up songs as they play.

Melody is the most basic component of a song–the words and the tune they are sung to. And many songs work perfectly well with a melody alone. A richer sound, however, can be acheievd when more voices, singling slightly different notes, join in. This is called harmony.

I seem to recall an SNL skit in which they poke gentle fun at the Indigo Girls “harmonizing” up on their mountain day after day, but I can’t seem to find it; my search-fu isn’t strong enough. Still, that duet is a really great example of harmony and since I’ve now got their songs stuck in my head… Here, let me share 🙂

Ensembles are the Only Group Project I Never Hated

Did you ever feel that way in school when you were forced to team up with others? I hated group projects, even when I was working with friends. I much preferred working on my own and, succeed or fail, be the sole body responsible for the outcome. Except singing, singing I was glad to do in a group.

I was a band geek throughout middle and high school and the theory seemed to be that those who can [sing], join chorus, those who can’t, join band. That might be true for some but there were a few dual-enrollments in high school and then there were kids like me: in band at school but sang every weekend in the church choir. And then some. See, I was one of 4 girls all around the same age all in choir–hello, girl group. But not in the Contempo-Christian vibe you might be thinking. Oh, no, ultra-conservative, folks, but it was fun.

We usually sang in 2 or 3-part harmony: soprano/alto or soprano/second soprano or mezzo-soprano/alto. I was being taught the 2nd soprano bit since my range wasn’t anywhere near my friend Jen’s on the upper end. While singing the melody or lead is often easier, I did enjoy the challenge of singing the harmony part.

I’ve long since reformed my ways and no long attend a church or perform with a choir. My recent attempt at karaoke on last year’s cruise was abysmal (but still kinda fun!) and brings home the power in choosing the right song for one’s voice and the need to practice. And by practice I don’t mean just singing along with the iPod.

Have you ever done Karaoke? What song did you do and how good/bad do you think you did it? Would you ever do it again?

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