Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In one of my singing groups we encountered a problem common to ensemble music-making: One of the singers was singing the wrong vowel. While everyone else was producing Oh she persisted in Oooo. The sound was not in tune. It turned out she was obsessing about her attack. But the point in group singing is that there is no individual attack: a group intention produces the in-tune sound. How to agree on that? Simple: Look around; match the facial preparation of your fellow singers, and the vowel will come out in agreement.

To do this you have to tolerate losing control of your individual sound, in a way, of your individual will.

Concerts are full of such refusals to become part of a whole.

Then there is the opposite: equally upsetting. Too much blend at the expense of individual passion in linear playing. This requires some sophisticated musicianship and the appropriate setting. A string quartet is not an a cappella singing group.