Magic Choral Trick #113 Presentation – The Emotional Story
Who’s speaking? Is the singer a witness to a story? Is the singer a mother speaking to a child, someone in trouble who needs help from the intended audience, or someone in love?
Who’s the intended audience? Is the song directed at an individual? If so, is this a love song? Is it a song directed at someone who’s done you wrong? (Goody Goody, Who’s Sorry Now?) Is it telling a story to a general audience? Is it song of praise about God, or directed to God?
What’s the message, (Hope, Peace, Love, Anger, Sadness, Unbridled Joy…) and how does it develop over the course of the song? This will have an impact on the use of tone colour, dynamics, rubato, tempo, dramatic pauses, the quiet denouement or the all-guns-blazing tag.
When is this all happening? If it’s a story about something in the past, why is the singer telling the story right now – what’s the connection? Is the song a present moment declaration of love, or a present moment plea for Divine intervention? Is it a song of hope about some future time or event?
Where is the intended listener – physically, in relation to the singer(s)? By this I don’t necessarily mean the audience that’s sitting in the seats, although sometimes the song is speaking directly to them. (Another Opening, Another Show) If the song is directed at the love of your life, it’s much more powerful if each choir member can get a sense of singing directly to them – even though they’ll have to look at them through the director’s head! If at the climax of the song the director turns around, there needs to be a clear plan about the place to where the visual focus has shifted.
Why is the song being sung? What’s in it for the character who’s singing? Why is this communication important to the singer?
Once upon a time during the est training, 200 of us in the room thought of all the possible different communications that we could imagine. Then, in a process rather like finding the lowest common denominator (in math) we broke down these communications to their essential message. For the life of me now, I can’t remember exactly how it was done, though it made such sense at the time. What I do remember vividly was that there was only ever one communication, which takes many many forms. I love you. That’s it. Once I realized this, I also saw that every song, no matter what it appears to be about, has the potential to be powerful and transformative.