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Magic Choral Trick #297 Show It, Then Sing About It

Got a new Presentation phrase from this month’s BHS Harmonizer magazine.

“Show it, then sing about it.” This is another way to describe ‘telegraphing’ – creating the next phrase’s emotion near the end of the phrase that’s being sung. This happens in normal conversation all the time:

“I’m going to be driving all the kids to the movie on Saturday (insert shocked, surprised face here) Oh my goodness! I forgot that I have that gig! I won’t be able to drive them!”

As the thought occurs, the face shows the shock – then we say what it is that we’ve just thought about. In order for a song to be believable, this process gets turned around a little. We need to establish the emotion of a phrase, then create that emotion for ourselves at the end, or just before the end of the previous phrase – as if that thought had just occurred to us.

As a director, I’m used to constantly thinking a note or a phrase ahead – giving reminder cues to the chorus in time for the singers to see and react to them. But a singer’s brain is filled with so many other elements, that thinking ahead tends to get lost in the shuffle – especially if there’s a director out in front who’s handling that aspect. However, with drill, this too can become just another good singing habit.

This could be rehearsed in the warm up on a vowel/technique exercise. Just before coming to the first breathing spot, a sign is held up (wistful, frightened, contented) and faces all change together before the breath is even taken. The next phrase is sung with that emotion – until near the end, before the breath – when the next sign is held up. This may have to be done in slow motion for a while.

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