Thursday, September 08, 2005

At Choir Practice

Our choir director lives for moments like this: from within the tenor section [in a very proud, lightbulb-going-off sort of voice] someone realizes aloud, "Oh, right! I see why we were ahead. We need to hold that note for six counts, not four." Uh-oh. Mr. Director hops up on the rounded, ornately-carved edge of the pew and perches there precariously as he begins his litany. "How many times have I talked about this? We never 'hold' notes. Notes are sustained, never held. You have to let them go, let them travel; sound is always moving, always on the go somewhere. If you hold onto a note, you prevent it from moving forward. Sustain, sustain! Give some direction to that note even as it is sustained on one pitch." The director often speaks quite passionately on the difference between holding and sustaining pitches, and tonight I envisioned another take on the issue. These notes we sing are like a little community of people, and you can't hold a person too tight for fear of extinguishing their creative impulses--their musical "movement" and direction, if you will. Yes, let them go, let them wander and explore. The best you can do is offer guidance, sustain them somehow, and give shape to their meanderings. Dear Palestrina. If I had to live in a piece of music...well, it couldn't get any better than that.

2 Comments:

I told Terry that if I were picking a piece of music to live inside, right now, it would be the Schubert string quintet, D. 956. That first movement!

Which choir are you singing in?

--Lisa Hirsch

By Blogger Heather, at 8:14 AM  

I just read Mr. Teachout's musings on this post and had to laugh. It makes sense that I would love living in Palestrina, in an exercise of counterpoint where the lines all run along horizontally. Ah, nothing like that feeling interconnected independence. In the design of counterpoint I can always squirrel my way out of the vertical hug of harmony. Not that hugs aren't nice, of course...

By Blogger Heather, at 8:14 AM  

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