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A capella group forming

Dear all,
I am thinking of starting a 5-person a capella group (all women) and I have two questions for you all:
1) How can you tell from an audition whether someone will blend with others?
2) I need to improve my part-writing skills.  What books do you recommend?
thanks so much!!!
Replies (2): Threaded | Chronological
on December 12, 2012 10:10am
Hi Amy,
Do you have some women already picked out for this group?  Even one other including yourself would be a good start for auditions.  When you audition other women, have them sing with you and the other ladies.  Take time to stop singing and listen to how they sound together.
Another blend test is to have the auditionee sing a perfect 5th above or below you.  Tell them to close their eyes once you've started together, and that you will be changing vowels and colors.  Their job is to conform their sound to you as quickly as they can.  Some people do exceptionally well at this.  You'll know when you hear it. 
For women's part-writing, just follow these basic rules:
1) Thirds are good
2) Avoid parallel 5ths and octaves (though if you hear it and you want it, then break the rule!)
3) Try to write each part using as much stepwise motion as possible, and try to avoid leaps over a 4th (though women's voices work well with large leaps too.. exlpore)
4) Avoid gaps of over a 6th between neighboring voice parts (again, if it's intentional, break the rule when you want to!)
5) Stick to strong chord progressions (root movements of 4ths, 5ths, and ascending 2nds are good.  root movements of 3rds/6ths/7ths and descending 2nds should be used sparingly)
6) Enjoy dissonance.  Dissonance sounds especially good in treble voices. 
7) Don't be afraid to use unison and 2 part singing.  Simple is good too :)
Hope this helps!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 12, 2012 10:55am
Dear Andrew,
Thanks so much for both topic responses!  You've given me a lot to work with here.
When you suggest that an auditionee sing a perfect 5th below me, do you mean that she sing a note 5 whole notes below me or that she sings the 5th from my note an octave below the actual 5th?
In other words, does she still sing the 5th (she would sing a G below middle C to my middle C) or would she sing a 5th below me, which would be an F?
You introduced a new concept to me - "root movement".  What is that, please?  Or, if it's a rather complicated question, is there a book on harmony that you would recommend?
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