- April 2, 2018 at 9:14 am #559645
My choir is going to a big competition on Thursday( april 5) and I’m really happy with how the group is coming along. Our set is Ndikhokhele Bawo by Michael Barret, O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen, and Ain’ a that good news by stacey gibbs. Everything sounds beautiful, but My choral director is always saying that the basses have to be louder. To compensate she’s having to have the sopranos and everyone be quieter making the songs less powerful at some big parts. I sing Bass 2 low split and there are 3 other people in the 40 person group who sing mypart, because in O magnum it requiresa low D. Two of the 4 that can hit thelow D are really just low baritones and notgood basses. I can hit the note comfortably but when I try and belouder with my singing of the low F to low D range the pitch goes very sharp, so the low D is the volume of my speaking voice, and the low F is better, but I want it to be louder. How can I try to get better volume out of those notes that I can sing comfortably, without sacraficing Tone or Pitch? It’s very important because the low D in O magnum comes at the biggest part of the piece where it’s most important, and in Good news we hit low F every five seconds, both baritones and basses, so if its’s not loud enough it just sounds like we just cut outApril 4, 2018 at 5:35 am #559802
These are good questions. You have already given the best answer by saying you do not want to lose tone or pitch. The balance is not your worry. The composer and the director must take care of that and not by asking some singers to sing louder than they can with beauty. Stick to tone, pitch and beauty, as you clearly wish to do, and you are serving the music.
There are ways of preserving your low register. Choral directors don’t always like them. Sleeping until just before the performance works but you will lose too much alertness. You could leave all the higher stuff to the baritones and not attempt to sing top Cs Ds and Es before trying to sing below the clef. That is why some directors allow low singers to warm up differently from high ones. If they prefer exercising your higher register it is probably because that is what they care most about . You could also allow yourself extra time to breathe really slowly and drop out a few notes before the passage you want louder. I can’t see many directors liking that. Save these suggestions for discussing with the director after the competition.
A technique directors prefer is to use a more resonant vowel. That increases the harmonics rather than the fundamental. It does make you louder but because everyone else is singing your harmonics it won’t make you heard above them.
Returning to my first point, carry on doing the right thing. Sing for musicality rather than volume. Best wishes for tomorrow’s performance and do please let us know how you get on.
Nigel.April 4, 2018 at 4:27 pm #559885
Musicality and vocal health must be paramount. Singing too loud, too low, is one of the fastest ways to become hoarse.
It is tempting when singing low notes for the singer to pull the tongue back in the mouth, increasing the tension in the throat and thus improving the conduction of sound through your bones to your ears. But this is not healthy for the voice, and nobody else hears the improvement you do, since they are not hearing through your bones.
Relax, keep a steady but small breath flow, and keep the tongue forward and relaxed. Accurate and unanimous pitch is essential among the Bass II. As a conductor, I encourage Bass II when they are below the staff to use a bright ee, ah, or a (as in sad) vowel, regardless of the vowel the rest of the choir sings for the actual text. As an instrumental analogy, think contra-bassoon instead of tuba.
Don’t let your lips cover your teeth — lips are soft and will absorb sound and overtones needed for your low notes to be clear.
Low choral notes are most effective when the choir is singing softly. (think of the low, low B-flat at the end of the Rachmaninoff Nunc Dimittis from the Vespers) In general, if a composer writes basses below the staff and a forte or fortissimo dynamic for the rest of the choir, I consider it a compositional error, since there really is no way for a few guys singing low to balance the whole rest of the ensemble singing forte.
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