Friday, May 28, 2010

Abide with Me

I am taking Basic Conducting this term as part of my music minor. All our tests are filmed so we can watch and critique them. This is my test on May 5. At the beginning of the class, my instructor, Dustin Graden, told us to forget everything we ever learned about conducting. So you'll notice that my movements are quite pedantic. I didn't know where to look, which made me look awkward and uncomfortable. There is a huge contrast between my expression during the piece and right after my cut off--suddenly I don't look so bored anymore!

Stars and the Moon

The video was too large to upload, so if is available on my facebook page for those of you who are friends. This piece is from the musical Songs for a New World. I really focused on making this quite speechy, particularly in the last verse. The notes I hit on "Hollywood," "Warm," and "Paris" are the closest I've come to a good belt. Many of the issues I dealt with working on Philosophy also apply to this piece.

My New Philosophy

This is from the musical You're A Good Man Charlie Brown. I sang it with a little bit of an edgy mix. The goal in gestures is to embody a six-year-old girl. I felt like there were points when I nailed it and others when I used to much hip movement or my movements were too legato. Along these lines, one of the challenges in doing musical theatre is mastering the voice, the emotion, and the gestures all at once. Throughout this performance you'll notice that one often gets sacrificed for another and often the one getting sacrificed is my voice. In my practice I sing the piece three times and rotate my focus between each element then sing it a fourth time trying to combine them all.

The Mermaid's Song

This is Haydn's The Mermaid's Song. Like Pieta Signore, this piece also caps at a high G. Unlike Pieta Signore, the higher range was easy to swing in and out of in this piece. My greatest struggle was the runs. We did "belly laugh" exercises to help me gain the active elasticity that the runs require. The voice has to be allowed a lot of freedom. It reminds me of the last workshop I did with Clayne Robison when he said that the thing that makes classical singing so alluring is that the singer is always on the precipice of losing control. I thought a lot about that concept as I worked on this piece. And you'll notice that in my efforts to balance on that razor edge, my voice does get out of control sometimes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pieta, Signore!

This is the hardest piece in Twenty-four Italian Songs and Arias, but I loved it so much I couldn't resist choosing it as one of my classical pieces. Initially I planned on competing in the classical division of NATS, singing this and the following piece--The Mermaid's Song--but decided I was not prepared enough (a direct consequence of choosing such hard pieces). Some problems I consistently had were getting off the breath in the lower register and pressing too much in the higher register.

Winter 2010 Final

Just as before, the following four pieces are live clips from my voice final with Sister Bounous recorded with Audacity. I am also including video recordings of Stars and the Moon and My New Philosophy that I did later in order to archive the gestures.

Barbara Streisand Belt Clip

Here is the heart-wrenching final scene of Funny Girl.

Who Will Love Me As I Am?

This was an extra piece that we threw in so I could work on my belt. It is from Sideshow and is a duet by siamese twins. Belt has all the space of classical but tips beyond the precipice and borders on shouting. Needless to say, I tried to practice it when no one was home! My belt usually ends up being an ugly sounding mix more than anything else. The beginning sounds too pleasant for this piece and the end sounds strained. Those notes are not in the high part of my range, it is just a poor attempt at a good belt. If you would like an example of premium belting, listen to Barbara Streisand. I've heard her referred to as the last great belter. The best examples are her Broadway recordings, I'll post one of my favorites for you to listen to.