Choral work on William Blake (Day 154/365)

Tonight we had half the octet meet to go over the music for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn. Ginny, Malcolm, Marc, and I met to learn parts and try out our solos.

I had set up my computer, iPod, boombox, speakers, and keyboard in the dining room. We sat around the table and went from piece to piece, stopping to pluck out parts and get a little surer.

We weren’t bad. It will be interesting to put the whole group together next week to see what it sounds like. Marc and I are both strong basses, while Malcolm is a light tenor, so we’ll have to pull back and give Matthew some room to balance us out when he joins us.

The music stands up very well. I have fears that it’s going to sound crummy with people singing words: I try to plan it so that it will all work right, but the truth is that I only hear the piano/orchestra/”choral ahs” when I’m working on it. That’s a lot different than humans trying to articulate the lyrics.

In 2. Blake’s Wonderful Car Delivers Us Wonderfully Well, for example, I think the first section could be sung straight through, but it’s very rushed with no room for a real breath. And so we divided it up between two alternating groups. It will sound fine that way, and I probably should have realized that to begin with.

One cool tool we used tonight was a little program called djay. I blogged about it before, saying that I would probably forget that I had it when I needed it, but I did remember it. It’s actually a double DJ turntable thingie which hooks into your iTunes collection. You can drag files to the two turntables and do your mixin’ thang in all kinds of interesting ways.

I however only needed it to do one thing: slow down the complicated passages without changing the pitch. We tackled both the end of Sun & Moon Circus and the storm sequence of Tale of the Tailor that way, and it was a great help.

Tomorrow is a workday, and I think I’m going to be at loose ends most of the day. I have to print out a new score for me and one for the techie, even though no one’s volunteered to be my tech person yet, and I think I will also go through my score, listening to the sound files and marking times. That will make it a lot easier to find the sections we need to go back to tomorrow night and next week.

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