Monthly Archives: November 2019

Magic Choral Trick #386 The Propellant Dot’s Sister

Last Sunday morning at my church choir’s pre-service rehearsal I played through the anthem as the choir sang – and as they did, I noticed the musical energy on every single one of the dots that followed the piece’s quarter notes. I turned around to give them a ‘bravo’ and just choked up. Being aware of that second pulse has made such a difference to the way they sing, and clearly that willingness to act on their awareness has warmed my heart.

Twenty minutes later when they sang it for the congregation it’s unlikely that anyone listening would realize what made those phrases so musical – but the choir and I knew.

To recap (from a previous blog post) – the Propellant Dot is the conscious acknowledgement of the pulse on the dot following a quarter note. (ie a dotted quarter note) I refer to it as conscious acknowledgement simply because I don’t want my singers to feel like they need to bear down on it. Instead I ask them to re-express the emotion on that beat, to rethink or intensify the vowel, to add more emotion, to love that second pulse or even to open the mouth cavern a bit more.

The Propellant Dot’s Sister is really just applying all these same ways of thinking to the second beat of a half note. In both cases, it creates conscious and musically intelligent forward motion – which creates more emotional engagement in both singers and listeners.

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