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Suggestions for better choral Tone

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 16:25:43 +0800
From: SIM KOK HENG
Subject: What are the characteristics...(Compiled)


Thanks to all who responded to this survey! Many thanks to well wishes
and thanks also to Suzanne Tiemstra who kindly corrected a spelling error.

On 13 January, I posted a survey:

>
1. Based on what criteria do you rate a choir's sound as excellent?

2. What do you think is the most important aspect that would help
achieve an excellent sound?
>
#####################################################################
Results:

I grouped balance and blend together since some people may use it
interchangeably. I also put technique and technique related areas in
consecutive lines. Characteristics are counted as long as they are
mentioned since some responses for more than one aspect.

I did not include the respond which came in a binary file with Dr. Thomas
Bookhout's expectation of his choir - West Virginia Symphony Chorus.
Instead I will attach it with this compilation, please read it because
it has got great stuff!

1>
Blend 7
Phrasing 4
vowel 4
Rhythm 3
Diction 3
Intonation 2
Dynamic contrast 1
Understand text 1
Expression 1
Appeals to humanities spiritual nature 1
True to style and period of the music 1

2>
Unified vowels 5
Technique 3
support 1
Resonance 1
Free of tension 1
Diction 1
Affection 1
Complete understanding of music 1
Listening 1
Phrasing 1
Ability to communicate 1


#################################################################

The responses:

From: Richard Messenger

1> Phrasing; does the music move forward? Is it "musical"?

2> Unified vowels among the choir.

Richard Messenger
Choral Music Director
Irvine High School
Irvine, California
*******************
From: Richard D Mathey

1> If the tone is blended, balanced and in-tune, a choir is on its way to
achieving an excellent sound.

2> The most important aspect in achieving an excellent sound is singing
technique. The tone must be fully "supported" and into the body. When
the technique is doing good things, tuning, blend and balance follow. In
addition it is important that a director be: Persistent, insistent, and
consistent (PIC).

R.D. Mathey, director of choral activities BGSU

College of Music
BGSU
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
mrichd(a)BGNet.bgsu.edu
*******************
From: David Wayne Anderson

1> I listen for vowel production- are the members of the choir singing
consistently? Do they all use similar vowels? I listen for consistent
tone- does the choir keep tone throughout a pitch? a phrase? a line? a
work? I listen for accuracy in rhythm- is the choir unified?

2> I believe that if all members of the choir are using their instrument
well, the choir will sound good. I don't believe each person in a choir
has to sound exactly like the next- that may lead to improper use of an
individual instrument. There are things that should be consistent will
all, but each voice will have its own characteristics. If all are
singing well, the overall will be good. That doesn't mean a
free-for-all, a whole bunch of soloists doing their own thing, rather it
means good singing in each voice.

Of course, this is rather simplistic, but it is where I start.

David Anderson
Choral Music
Seattle Pacific University
*******************
From: david sonnichsen
1> An excellent sound of my personal taste is a unified sound in which no
one sticks out. This does not mean that every choir needs to sound the same
since each voice has its
own timbre.

2> Vocal Technique and Unified Vowels are at the top!!

David Sonnichsen
dsonnich(a)d.umn.edu
Choral Education student at University of Minnesota, Duluth
*******************
From: Mishel VandeKamp

Let me preface my opinions with the disclaimer that I am an undergraduate
student in choral-vocal music. I believe the key to a good choral sound
is vowel unification. This facilitates blend and diction. Other
characterisitics of a good choral sound are matched timbre, balance of
parts and within each section, clear text declamation, sensitivity to
dynamic contrast, and musical phrasing.

Mishel VandeKamp
California State University, Long Beach
*******************
From: John Tiemstra

>From a choral conductor:
1> a. Vowel qualities.
b. Vowel unity (every singer has same concept and execution of vowel
sounds).
c. "Line" - phrases are shaped.
d. Diction (appropriate to style of repertoire, language, etc.)

2> a. Vowel unification.

Suzanne Tiemstra
Grand Rapids Cantata Choir (community choir of 55).
*******************
From: Richard Pinkerton

1> Blend - do the voices listen to each other?
Vowel harmony - an instant killer of otherwise great sounds.
Togetherness - does everything happen as one body (this is a test not of
the choir, but of the conductor!)

2> It is the conductor's job to make it all work - we all strive toward the
blend and togetherness - but when one listens to the purity of many
Swedish choirs, the Vowel Harmony shines forth as a maker of pure choral
sounds!

Rich Pinkerton
First United Methodist Church of Akron
rpinkerton(a)acorn.net
*******************
From: PTcoul(a)aol.com

1> Choir "sounds" excellent when it is in tune, sings musically,
understands the text.

2> Singing free from tension, strain, personal affectations and diction.
Getting rid of what choristers don't need and get them to use only what
they do need...AIR.
*******************
From: OhSuzan419(a)aol.com

1> Intonation, balance, blend, diction, rhythmic precision.

2> I think there are three indispensibles of excellent sound: first,
knowing how to produce the desired sound physically; second, learning the
music one is presenting completely; third, listening to the other
singers in the group while performing.

Susan Hoffman
Director of Music
Lord of Life Lutheran Church
The Woodlands, TX
*******************
From: Rodger Schoonover - Security Group

1> Expression. The ability to be musically expressive!
Does the music touch your emotions?

2> Phrasing. The ability to structure the words and music to express the
emotional context of the music.

It is not blend. Blend simply means that the choir sounds uniform.
Uniform may mean only "bland." It is not intonation. Some of the music
that has affected me most has been slightly out of tune. Some cultures
use 1/4 tone steps and ornaments which we, in western culture, consider
"out of tune." It is not vocal production purity. Every culture has its
own concept of purity of vocal production. Each of them different.

That which defines music is expression (aesthetic expression); the
ability to communicate / evoke an emotional response in the listener ( a
specific emotion ).

Rodger Schoonover
*********************
From: emskye(a)cougarnet.byu.edu

1> An excellent sound is one that appeals to humanities spiritual nature.
It also is well blended and true to the style and period of the music.

2>Behind the idea of technical aspects of vocal production, an excellent
sound is one that comes from the heart. A performance is excellent when
the music is felt and experienced by the listeners.

Emily Neil
####################################################################

Yours sincerely,

Sim Kok Heng
National Institute of Education
Singapore
on January 16, 2005 10:00pm
I felt most responses are right on, of course, depending upon the group one has at that point. So many might require a slightly different re-conceptulization. Anyway, with my adult civic chorale (65 singers ranging from age 20-70)-- and including college and university groups of the past -- vowel uniformity is a matter of continual development and understanding. However, with 40+ singers, revisiting
*the techniques of breathing, concepts of tone based on healthier;
*more recently re-studied habits of breathing,
*visualization of tones and how better to support them at our ages
*inhale for the beauty of the 'long-held note', and rehearse that for singers for all ages . . i.e., vocalizes that at some time in your warmup procedure requires singers to sing fermati and listen to them, and be aware of the breath support necessary to continue singing those notes, and with varied dynamics (cres. and decres.)
*on those 'long-held' notes, ask singers to use both hands in showing grow and broadness of notes, and of their maintained vowel sounds.
*'long-held' notes during vocalizes places the concept in minds of your singers to which you can return -- "remember the 'long-note' -- keeping the vowel pure as we've work, and uniform with your neighbor . . ."
on September 16, 2007 10:00pm
Hi,
Pls. give me examples of choral speaking texts. I want it is suitable for elementary school. Thank you.