Beethoven is not primarily thought of as a vocal composer, but why not? The choral collection compiled by Jan Schumacher, which contains both well-known and unknown choral works by Beethoven and original transcriptions of Beethoven’s works by other composers, reveals a great deal of extremely attractive repertoire.
The widely-held prejudice that “he could not write for voice” sticks to few composers as much as it does to Ludwig van Beethoven. This may be due to the fact that his place in music history is primarily as a revolutionary symphonist and creator of incomparable chamber music like the string quartets and piano sonatas. To take this to mean that he had no understanding of the human voice or did not know how to write for chorus, however, is to draw the wrong conclusion. Beethoven, like nearly every other composer of his age and indeed until the first half of the 20th century (with a few notable exceptions such as Chopin and Paganini), was equally used to composing for voice and instruments.
You and your choir have worked tirelessly on uniform vowel formation, well-tuned singing, focusing the tone, singing correct notes, beautiful phrase lines. You’re feeling good. But step back and give a listen and you’ll often find there isn’t a consonant to be heard. It is our task as singers to articulate so the listeners can share in the delicious words and message.
We want clear, well-defined consonants in our singing and it’s a challenge to achieve. When our listeners know the text as in a well-known hymn or carol, we are understood because the context is known. This is far from the case when the text is unknown.
The topic of consonants is far-reaching, but here are a few tips I use in rehearsing in the English language with my volunteer choir.
A music retailer is asked every day for assistance with repertoire. It can be both challenging and amusing. For example: I need a thrilling SATB anthem for Easter Sunday with brass accompaniment, and the sopranos can’t sing above an ‘e.’ Can you make a suggestion?
We smile at this request, but it can be a reality for a choral director. Those of us who conduct adult church and community choirs deal with the aging voice constantly. It is a fact that with age, our singing mechanism does not improve. Yet, it is my experience that senior singers are some of the most devoted choristers, and the joy of singing is integral to their lives.
If we, as directors, wish to optimize this lifelong joy for our choristers, and ensure that the aging singer is a benefit to the ensemble, we need to offer tools that will optimize the singing voice as the body naturally and inevitably ages. more “Sing Better as You Age”…
As many of you already know, the audition process for obtaining singing roles in opera, musicals and other shows can be quite challenging. Just like singing, auditioning is a skill, and it can take a few tries to get a grasp of how the process works.
Today we will be sharing singing and audition advice from Lyric Baritone and Character Tenor – Donn Bradley. Donn is a native of Santa Cruz, CA, and current resident of wherever the work is, USA. Donn is a versatile singer, with solid technique in Opera, Musical Theater, and several popular styles.
He has performed five major roles with Townsend Opera, and narrated five major works for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra including Façade by William Walton, and performed as Bass soloist for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with VITA Academy in Sacramento (2008).
Previous major Opera/Operetta roles include: Ko-Ko in The Mikado (2012), Major General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance (2011), Njegus in The Merry Widow (2010), Monostatos in The Magic Flute (2009), Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore(2009),Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus (2001), Papageno in The Magic Flute (1998), The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance (1998), and Louis in The Wandering Scholar (1997).
Hi Donn, thanks for taking the time to interview with us.
In my many years of singing, I’ve realized that the topic of vocal range can be very tricky, but always worth discussing. A singer should invest in voice lessons if they want to improve; however, if lessons aren’t an option, there are a few tips that can help. I can’t guarantee you’ll be hitting the high notes like Mariah Carey by the end of this article, but hopefully you will learn something new!
Tip #1: Proper Placement
You cannot increase your vocal range in a safe and healthy way without learning how to sing with proper placement. If you’ve ever sung in a choir, you’ve heard the terms “sing in your mask”, “sing through your eye balls”, “sing through your cheekbones”, etc. As a singer, you want to take care not to sing from your throat and that you, essentially, sing from the same place you naturally speak from. One great exercise for this is more “How to Improve Your Vocal Range”…