Sweet singers! This week has been a momentous one for the SSS, as it has seen the establishment of our first local chapter, Spontaneous Singing NYC. It all happened rather…spontaneously…as about 50 singers converged on a resonant tunnel in Central Park under the guidance of visiting Brazilian teacher Zuza Gonçalves. It was an exceptionally joyful session, with passersby joining in for some deep play, as you can see in this video. If you are near NYC, let’s use this Facebook group to plan future sessions in the fall.
On to the week’s prompt. It’s a special one, since as we send this out, many of our singers are gathered at the Omega Institute in New York for the annual Circlesongs workshop. This is where Amado and Jascha met, and anyone who has been there knows that it is a phenomenal hub for all kinds of wonderful singers to study with Bobby McFerrin and his circle of teachers. Participants include conductors, music teachers, students, professional singers, community organizers, and spiritual seekers.
The main event is circlesinging, which is impromptu choral music, composed and arranged on the spot—a simple format that holds so much potential. It can help singers develop skills like “blend, balance, tuning, and sensitivity” as well as “harmony, counterpoint, rhythmic precision, and deep listening”—and with luck they return home to spread this approach with their peers and students.
So this week, let’s consider about what circlesinging mean to us. As usual, there are options. You can sing about what the Omega Circlesongs workshop means to you (whether you are able to attend this year or not); or you can just jump in and improvise your own circlesong. Whatever you do, you will be joining the ranks of scores of spontaneous singers whose spirits are lifting together this week.
Note 1: Because this prompt is going out late, our usual Monday deadline will be extended to the end of the day on Friday. So wherever you are, you’ve got time to sing.
Note 2: The SSS will hold its first Annual Meeting — on Wednesday afternoon at 2pm at Omega! Come help us develop new prompts, tell us how we can serve you better, and join us to improvise our very own SSS anthem (you didn’t think we’d compose it, did you?). If you’d like to join on speakerphone, just let us know.
It’s good to have options. Here we offer ways that you can meet this prompt right where you are; or, alternatively, ways you can challenge yourself more deeply with it.
Option A: What Circlesongs means to me. The question for this option is: What does the Circlesongs workshop mean to you? Whether you’re there right now, have been in the past, hope to attend some day in the future — close your eyes and consider what Circlesongs means to you. The strains of song, the sweet people, the vegan treats at the cafe, the dining-hall jams, the groundhogs, the voices, the MUSIC. Feel it on your skin, feel it in your heart. Then SING. Melodies, rhythms, words known and unknown—whatever comes out. Sing!
Option B: Sing your own circlesong. Make up your own circlesong. Just start singing, out loud, no filter. Chances are that before too long you’ll find your way into a pattern that wants to repeat. So repeat it. If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by a friend or two — or perhaps 150 — then have one section repeat your part back to you. Improvise over it, freely, until you find another repeating pattern. Give that to the next person or section, and so on, until the texture feels full. Then experiment with soloing over the top, conducting parts in and out to serve the music. Let the music guide you to a natural end!
* If you happen to be at Omega, then find a free moment, recruit your own choir (easier than you might think!), and get circlesinging! (Be sure to ask their permission before posting a recording of their voices.)
* If you happen to be alone, you can use a looper as your choir. Sing strong, you self-reliant circle of one!
The steps are as follows:
- Step 0: Sign up for a free SoundCloud account here. Join the SSS group.
- Step 1: Record yourself singing a circlesong; or singing about what Omega means to you.
- 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 Friday, August 21, 2015.
Description: It would be awesome to include a short description of where and when you sang your piece.
Title/Tag: When uploading to SoundCloud, put “[sss-circlesongs]” in the title of your track. Also include the term “sss-circlesongs” 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 “SSS Prompt 29: Circlesongs.”More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org .
Thank you, sweet singers!