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Thread: Working on Acapella Choral Motettes

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    Default Working on Acapella Choral Motettes

    Hi, all!

    I was accepted to my university's chorale! I'm so excited.
    We are currently working on Mendelssohn's Herr nun lässest du Diener in Frieden fahren and Brahms's Da unten im Tale which are both a cappella.

    I am doing the bass parts, but I can't seem to follow.

    Do you guys have any tips for a poor sight-reader like me?

    Also, I feel silly that I have to go home and practice! Did anyone else have to pluck out the notes on the piano when they started singing in choruses?

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Congratulations!
    I'm not familiar with the two pieces, but I would not feel silly at all practicing my part at home by picking it out on the piano. I would want to ensure, by any means, that I am as prepared as I can be for the next rehearsal. Remember:
    Practice is for learning your part.
    Rehearsal is for learning how the other parts fit with yours.

    Do you know how to read music notation? If you do, and you have a piano at home, you have a good start to learning how to sight-read intervals and rhythms. I entered "vocal sight reading exercises" into Google and got results that may help you.
    If you're familiar with intervals and how they look in music notation, play them on the piano and create mnemonic devices by coming up with songs for each example (i.e. "Here Comes the Bride" for perfect 4th).

    If you're not familiar, start with your choral parts and work on identifying the intervals. Make sure you know what a major and minor triad look and sound like and you can use that as a reference to find many intervals. Beware the tri-tone!
    Last edited by Lunasong; Feb-22-2012 at 03:20.

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    And...
    it may be even more important to improve your ability to count rhythms (and rests!). "One-ee-and-a-two-ee-and-a-tee-ee-and-a-four-ee-and-a" (note the use of "tee" instead of "three"). First, look at your part and count it out without singing, only vocalizing the rhythm (so it may sound like One--and--Two-ee--a, etc). Then try singing it without the words on a "La" syllable. Follow the contour of the pitches and, if you have any sense of harmony, you'll at least come up with something that sounds right, even if it isn't right. Bass parts often follow the chord roots, with note lines moving up and down between those roots. Most of the large "jumps" in the part are to get to a root.

    I found both these pieces on YouTube, and you may be able to find an appropriate video with which to practice. Make sure you take notes during your rehearsal on everything your conductor wants your section to do with the piece, which may include pronunciation guides, emphasis on dynamics or notes, etc. Circle anything in the part that you miss more than once or is giving you a consistent problem. That way it won't surprise you when it comes up again. Sometimes I will make little notes in my right margin about what is coming up after the page turn (like whether the pitch line is going up or down) so I'm not thrown if I fumble the turn (which can happen even if I have my finger there ready to go).

    Your choral score should look like a historical document of all your rehearsals when you are done!

    I hope these notes help you and would like to hear more from you as you continue rehearsal.

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    Congratulations!
    I'm not familiar with the two pieces, but I would not feel silly at all practicing my part at home by picking it out on the piano. I would want to ensure, by any means, that I am as prepared as I can be for the next rehearsal. Remember:
    Practice is for learning your part.
    Rehearsal is for learning how the other parts fit with yours.

    Do you know how to read music notation? If you do, and you have a piano at home, you have a good start to learning how to sight-read intervals and rhythms. I entered "vocal sight reading exercises" into Google and got results that may help you.
    If you're familiar with intervals and how they look in music notation, play them on the piano and create mnemonic devices by coming up with songs for each example (i.e. "Here Comes the Bride" for perfect 4th).

    If you're not familiar, start with your choral parts and work on identifying the intervals. Make sure you know what a major and minor triad look and sound like and you can use that as a reference to find many intervals. Beware the tri-tone!
    The song "Maria" from West Side Story stars with an upward tritone; that has always helped me reproduce that interval. For that matter, "I want to live in America" is great for 3-against-2 rhythms! (1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1 and 2 and ...)
    Last edited by Barelytenor; Mar-11-2012 at 21:28.

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