The very best use for Onion Skin Stacking is on descending scale passages.
The Bass part in the final phrase of My Foolish Heart had always defeated us. And it didn’t seem to matter that every one of the Basses knew this, and was trying hard to prevent the inevitable pitch sagging.
We needed something that would bypass the conscious mind – which was when we decided to try Onion Skin Stacking on this short descending scale passage. The result was nothing short of miraculous. It was in tune for the very first time ever!
I then decided to try it with tuning other types of phrases, with the whole chorus singing in unison. So we did it with the all time prizewinner of songs that get sung out of tune – the round, Dona Nobis Pacem.
I had them do the ‘taking the hand out from the bottom and placing it on top’ gesture on these traditionally impossible notes:
Do – NA, No – BIS Pa – A – CEM PA – CEM
That whole first section seems to be made up of flatness traps. There were still a few squinty notes – but inside my head I was not screaming. A first with that song.
I used to say that the day I was able to figure out how to get amateur choirs to sing in tune would be my last day in the choral directing business. But suddenly, everything was so much more fun!
As I mentioned in my first Onion Skin Stacking post, because the chorus has rehearsed the hand movement while singing, their sub conscious minds know what to do when I use the movement – in a more subtle form – as I direct.
This is the original post – which describes the Onion Skin Stacking hand movements.