Why does someone sing in a group ?
There are people in this world who just love to sing. There are those who sing alone, as solos, and others who love the energy and excitement of group singing. You might think that it would be harder to sing with a choir or quartet, for example, but there are so many other benefits for each singer and for the company of performers, as a whole.
The sound, and style
The sound coming from a community singing group or a church choir or a small pop group is that of multiple voices rather than a single solo voice. Take a peek at the Temptations here. There are a variety of interesting ways of musical expression that a group can use:
- Unison, in which everyone sings the same melody
- Harmony, in which the melody is sung by one set of voices and the others provide support to give the song some ‘colour’ and interest. These can be divided into high and low female voices, and high and low male voices known as Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, respectively. The voice you sing is usually determined by audition.
- Solo and back-up, in which a soloist sings the melody, and the rest of the performers support with harmony together or in dialogue.
Knowing what to sing
Every group of singers has to be led by a musical director with experience in separating vocal parts, ear training, vocal training and reading music sheets, if necessary. Most importantly, they need to be experts in detecting incorrect pitch and timing. The director trains by way of a musical arrangement, either his/her original arrangement, or of one published and purchased through music sheet websites and chooses accompaniment in rehearsals and performance.
What is an arrangement?
This is a creative way of delivering a song based on a given melody. It is all that goes on in the song. Examples of this are:
- The musical director may choose to have the group start in one key and repeat that section in a different key
- A song might start in harmony, and for renewed interest, have everyone sing in unison for a section, or a verse
- A deviation from the regular rhythm, with a passage of a different and interesting bridge before returning to the song
- A lyrical deviation, where, instead of singing words on and on, a short passage with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ are used
- An instrumental interlude. It can be beautiful to have a break from voices at some well chosen point in the song
Arrangement of a song, by using these and other considerations, raises the quality of expression, its content and its impact to an amazing new level.
Benefits of group singing
- In a church, it enhances the worship experience and gives a feeling of ‘oneness’and ‘devotion’
- In all groups it gives power and motivation through messages of love, hope and achievement
- It is a social outlet. After years of singing together, many members become friends
- It enables development. People become better singers because in a group they become more aware of pitch, rhythm, dynamics and contrast.
- It teaches tolerance. Members of a small group (trio, quartet etc) or a large choir have to practice patience through rehearsals, and make allowances for the differences in ability
- It enhances bonding within family and between friends in informal settings
Remember those days ?
I am sure that every now and then your mind flips back to those days when you performed with your school choirs, or sang back -up in a band. Just the vibration of singing with others made you so happy, that you coud not wait to get to the next rehearsal. Maybe you never sang in a formally directed group but you recall that, along with your friends, you got so much delight in singing some songs under the tree or in a backyard and laughed about it all.
So were you ever a member of a singing group ? Would you like to sing with others now? Maybe it is time to stop reminiscing and bring back the pleasure, the contentment, the joy and the gratification of all that group singing offers.
Make a promise to yourself to start again.
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