i’m applying to do a circlesinging activity at a festival event, and here’s one of the questions on the application: “how loud or quiet is your activity?” an answer sprang to mind unbidden: “as loud as joy, as quiet as prayer.” of course, i didn’t leave it at that; i added clear examples to describe the volume levels. but i find that phrase compelling.
another story, and stay with me because it relates. i have a pianist buddy, and i’m fond of saying that he’s got more dynamic range between mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte than most people—myself included—have from pp to ff. just, super-extra tasteful, and feels no need to exaggerate dynamic contrasts for bombastic effect (unlike the man in the mirror). SO!
your prompt: sing a song in which you explore the possibilities of dynamic range and dynamic contrast. solo vocal line or looped/layered; improvised song or a piece that you know; really anything that gives you a chance to explore the volume levels between whispering joy and boisterous prayer. (or vice versa.)
it’s good to have options. here are ways to perhaps make the prompt a bit easier, or ways to go a bit further with it.
option a: SUBITO! – this is the word you see in printed music when the composer’s intent is that you suddenly shift volumes, as in “subito piano” for suddenly quiet. for this option, use dramatic, sudden volume changes in your song, and use them as musically as you can. maybe your “verses” are a sighing lament and the “choruses” explode into a shout of righteous anger. or, something else. see where it takes you.
option b: subtlety – for a deeper stretch, see if you can musically use a plethora of different volume levels—each clearly different from the other. standard music notation allows for 8 volume levels from ppp to fff, but maybe you have the expressive power to be able to get from (say) mf to ff in very small, clear steps in volume level that can’t be quantified with an f. (and if that’s confusing. blame the present author. all i mean is, find volume levels that are clearly different, but only very very slightly different.) and remember: use this tool to do something musical, as best as you are able.
the steps are as follows:
- step 0: sign up for a free soundcloud account here. Join the SSS group.
- step 1: record yourself singing your dynamic song.
- step 2: upload to soundcloud and post the track to the SSS group.
- step 3: listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow singers. (play nice!)
deadline: your tracks should be uploaded by midnight wherever you are on monday, march 21, 2016.
length: the length of your finished work should be about 2 to 5 minutes, or however long you need to sing your song.
description: it would be awesome to include a short description of where and when you sang your piece—and how it felt.
title/tag: when uploading to soundcloud, put “[sss-dynamics]” in the title of your track. also include the term “sss-dynamics” as a tag. this will help us find it.
group: once the track is uploaded, click on the “add to group” button below the waveform and make sure to select the Society for Spontaneous Singing group. (this option will only appear if you have already joined the group! so do that now.)
linking: you are welcome to include this info in your description:
This track is a reply to “prompt 60: as loud as joy, as quiet as prayer.” More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org. You can join the SSS at https://soundcloud.com/groups/society-for-spontaneous-singing
thank you, sweet singers!