Monday, September 11, 2006

Post-drunk music blogging

Not quite drunk, but I did meet a friend, T., from the music department for food and drink, followed by a return to his apartment to sight-read some music. He's an accomplished pianist and harpsichordist in addition to a music historian, and he organized a performance of Purcell duets last spring that I was involved in. We each have a pretty good idea of what the other person's like as a musician. We looked at some Benjamin Britten arrangements of Purcell songs, one or two Handel arias, some Poulenc -- but we'd both been drinking wine, and by the Poulenc, I was reading French over his shoulder and trying to adjust from friendly, predictable Baroque patterns to 20th-century jazz-inflected melody, so I more or less flubbed those. (T. was getting a bit sloppy too, but had seen these pieces before, at least.) Lastly, for a respite, a Vaughan Williams setting of a Dante Gabriel Rossetti poem, much more readable and folk-tune-like. T. kept asking me whether I'd sung particular pieces, and we realized that I've never had a voice teacher who's really taken me through the typical voice student repertoire. I took lessons regularly in high school and college, but I was singing mezzo repertoire for part of that time, and none of my teachers have been pushy about exposing me to a wide variety of rep.

So even if I can't find a regular teacher this fall (I had a promising lead, but she hasn't been emailing me back lately), I've decided to order some books, and work on learning a set of super-typical songs. If I'm going to work on technique, rather than just coast along, I'll have to look both at pieces that are technically challenging (fast tempi, coloratura, sustained phrases, etc.) and at those that are more simple vocally but still require thought, expressivity, and interpretation. Sometimes it's the pieces that are simple on the surface that demand the most attention - they don't just sing themselves.

Also, I'd like to find a way to work on my sight-reading skills. Maybe the answer is just to persuade T. to play for me and give me wine once a month or so (preferably in that order, since drinking before singing tonight led to mixed results).


Jane Dark said...

Call me a sap, but I really enjoy singing Vaughn Williams.

And I unfortunately also like Martha Wainwright's cover of "Whither Must I Wander."

What I really came over to say, however, was that I know exactly which Tavener photo you mean, because it's on the cover of a score that I've sung from too many times. He looks like a Weimaraner gone wrong.

kermitthefrog said...

lol! poor Weimaraners!