Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Chorus of (dis)approval

Happening to catch an item on the excellent 'Woman’s Hour' recently reminded me of one of the less enjoyable aspects of my forshortened stay in Frinton: the wireless television receiver. It sits in the corner of my sister’s small withdrawing room and jabber-jabbers all day long. First, it’s the news; then recently the wall-to-wall Olympic Games (which, incidentally, seems to be returning to its Hellenistic origins judging by the decreasing size of the lady-competitors attire. Perhaps Miss Cake would care to comment? And as for some of the so-called ‘sports', don’t get me started. Synchronised jumping into the swimming pool, for Heaven’s sake! Whatever next? Ballroom dancing? Ballet? Snail racing, Mr Two-Sox?).
Now, where was I? Ah yes, choral singing. And Radio Four. Jenny Murray first. Her mellifluous tones informed the world that when the Olympics come to Britain next it will be greeted by massed choirs of choral singers echoing to the joyful strain and enjoining all-comers to raise the happy refrain (as long as said refrain isn’t something by John Rotter). This gave rise to a discussion of the role which choral singing has traditionally played in the cultural life of this sceptered isle. Of course, a selection of so-called ‘experts’ had been wheeled into the studio to inform the listeners that approximately 80% of men are baritones and a similar percentage of women, mezzos. Utter rubbish. Complete balderdash. Total piffle. How do they think a four-part choir could function if only one tenth of the sound was generated by the soprani? (The same would not, of course, apply to the tenors, whose number could be dimished almost to zero without any adverse effect on most choirs - sorry, Mr Clack.) Nevertheless the lady speaker did at least say that to be sure of one's tessitura one must consult an expert – a singing teacher. Yes! So if anybody out there wants to know precisely what they are, I’ll tell them. For, of course, a small fee.

10 comments:

Doshea3 said...

John Rotter. Hear hear. The Caleb Simper of the 21st century.

I was always a confirmed bass, only once or twice finding myself forced to sing in a tenor line and producing a most unpleasant effect (my top note being comfortably an E-flat, no less!). However, I recently discovered a new talent—a rather satisfactory alto range. I have been practising and would consider myself just about skilled enough to pull it off. On our recent choral expedition to England we sang our Saturday evensong in the quire and when my services at the charming little chamber organ were not required, I stood in and sang alto for the Smith responses. The priest (who was facing me) looked at me oddly once or twice, though I'm not sure that's because I was a singing organist or that I sounded like a woman. I won't be the next James Bowman but it makes a change for me. Though I haven't yet mastered the art of singing in alto parts from the organ (whereas I am quite skilled at singing in bass lines).

Can Bass 1 said...

I envy you, doshea. Most basses can sing alto; I'm afraid my efforts are more reminiscent of cats being slowly strangled. I suffer such disappointeds stoically.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Another opportunity for you to take charge of proceedings and become Master of Ceremonies literally here methinks Can Bass(failing the choral Simon Cowell to sort that upstart television out)

I have recently blogged on the anticipated format of 2012 as you will see, (if this is any help)...

:-)

PS: I discovered my alto-ego some time ago, but alas my voice is nothing special.

Working mum said...

Sorry, I don't need your services, I know I'm a mezzo, my motto is: "I don't do Bflats"!

btw when the Commonwealth Games came to Manchester we were told there would be a mass choir of local singers. Being "The Manchester Chorale" we signed up and offered our services. Apparently we weren't required. Children's choirs and all-singing all-dancing choirs were required - remind you of something?

Can Bass 1 said...

Indeed it does - how very disappointing, working mum (and I'm sure I could get you up to a Bb in time!). Your Olympic Games proposal sounds fascinating, Laura - I shall check it out forthwith. As for taking charge of things - well, you flatter me. The only thing I'd like to take charge of is this choir, especially when the confounded nuisance of an organist is 'conducting'. How I would like to show him how it's done; how we all would. I'm afraid he wouldn't get very far on 'Maestro'!

Eddie 2-Sox said...

I never knew that Johnny Rotten had his musical roots in the choir stalls, thanks for the information.

As for Olympic Snail Racing, I would of course offer to serve my country (England) - but following a season's best second place by Stripey at the World Champs I'm afraid I would not make the cut.

If they introduce Terrible Poetry as a demonstration sport I'll encourage Barry Teeth to get involved.

having my cake said...

LOL. I have to admit some of the ladies' outfits looked particularly uncomfortable. Some of those poor girls must suffer with cheek chafing when they run so fast. And lord knows how the field events competitors cope with the sand. As to the male costumes - well, obviously, the tighter the better :)

Rob Clack said...

Now you be careful, CB1. Insult me and I'll flounce out, and then where will you be? Non-quorate, that's where! You first basses would be drafted in to sing tenor, and there's nothing worse than a first bass struggling to hit a top F.

That or the second altos. Oh, don't get me started!

Rob Clack said...

Wow! I rattled off my comment before reading those already there.

Impressed, doshea3. E-flat even! And organist and alto. Wish I was as accomplished!

I do hope it was the Smith 5-part. Can't see the point of the 4-part myself.

Kind of agree about Rutter, though I have heard stuff of his that I liked. The biggest disappointment was his Hail to the Creator of Light (I think), which I thought started off really rather good, and quite Holst-like (think Hymn of Jesus), but then degenerated into the usual Lloyd-Webber rubbish about half-way through. Very sad.

Lavinia said...

I daresay I'm a coloratura. Or maybe I just like the word....

I didn't watch even one second of the Olympics....a total betrayal of my Hellenic origins I daresay.

I heard about 'when the rains came' on your fair isle. Goodness, any more of it and I'd have to start calling you Noah.