Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Story of My Art 2

The Story of my Art 1

It was an uphill battle from the start for the choir and me.  Given the fact that the pool of auditionees was limited to members of the organization, to say that there were scant options is an understatement.  Nonetheless, I personally listened to those who auditioned, and handpicked people who had  sharp ears and good tonal memory.  The rehearsal period was very short, and I'd really rather have a group who  were fast learners rather than singers with beautiful voices.

My gamble paid off.  We finished off the piece of our choice in three days.  I was excited with the fact that I managed to secure the permit of the arranger of the score to have the group do the Philippine premiere.  It was actually a commissioned work for a foreign choir; another Filipino choir had sung it, but only performed it abroad.  Luckily, I was also able to ask the choirmaster of that ensemble to allow us to premiere the work here in the Philippines. With his blessings, he gave the go signal.

The required piece was another animal altogether. Like I said before,  it was very hard.  The moment I saw it, I thought I might have bitten more than what I could chew.  It makes almost impossible vocal demands on the singers, and the harmonies are dense and complex.

But I like a good challenge when I see one.  So I plunged into it.


Between all the shouts and temper tantrums I threw at the group, we managed to learn the required piece on schedule - barely.  So now that the notes were in place, it was time to make music.

Let digress and ramble about the creative process of musicality and music-making in general.

Making music doesn't simply involve singing the notes in tune.  The judges expect the singers to do that. What would spell the difference is how the music is treated.  Interpretation can be tackled on several levels, and after spending several nights and days thinking about it, I decided to highlight the inherent romanticism of the discernible melodies in the first section of the required piece.  I hinged on the fact the other choirs would probably take a faster tempo in that section.  Therefore, I deliberately slowed it down, providing enough space to phrase the music and make it more expansive.

Phrasing also isn't easy to to study nor teach.  It's the aspect of the art that is intangible and involves a huge amount of intuition and personal taste. The closest thing I could think of it is the kilig or kilabot factor one get's whenever beautiful music is encountered.  The music transcends from a series of notes strung together to a melody that strikes a chord in someone's soul.  It is what makes music musical.

Sure, there are analytical ways to break down and study the art of phrasing. But nothing beats the aural experience of performing it, both as a tool to learn and as a tool to teach.  And that's what I did to the group.  I had to demonstrate it to them, line by line, how to phrase and shape the interweaving melodies in the first part of the required piece.

Good thing they're smart kids.  They pick up fast.

Otherwise I would've hurled the heavy keyboard at them.


  1. Well, dalisay, busilak, at mayumi to the contrary, I'm not at all surprised you're an expert at handling...notes.

  2. nakakatakot kang vocal coach!!!


  3. Ruddie: you know me, the veritable note whore hahahahah

    Engel: oh, this involves conducting choirs. I pretty much don't touch theri voices anymore hehehehe

  4. passion creates art. not just art but a masterpiece. I wonder how your choir's performance turns out. :)

  5. Dude, I wonder who you get your choral (im)patience from.. nuninuninooo

  6. Galen: read on thurs. naka schedule na yung post wahahahahahha

    welcome back, btw :D

    PKF: you know very well from whom I got it. Let's hide 'em under the names of Jewel, Nate, and Dennis lolz

  7. masama kang kasama sa videoke! hahaha!

  8. Commuter: ay. sige sama nyo ako next time.

    kanta ako ng my way!