Thank you so much to Wendy McCoole for showing us this one last weekend.
It worked so well with my women’s chorus that I tried it with my guys at last night’s rehearsal and the results were spectacular.
Absolutely fantastic trick for cleaning up synch issues in an uptune!
1. Have all Basses form a circle facing inward.
2. Surround the Basses with another circle made up of everyone else.
3. Basses sing their part for a section of the song (other parts listen and give feedback on synchronization)
4. When that part of the song is clean, locked in and in time, have the other sections ‘oo’ their parts along with the Basses. Since Basses are the ‘engine’ of the chorus, they are the part that drives the rhythm and keeps everyone else on track. (Though you may get resistance on this power issue from Leads in a Barbershop chorus, or Sopranos in a choir!)
Because everyone else is just ‘oo-ing’ while the Basses are singing, it’s still easy for all the other parts to hear the engine that’s driving the rhythm.
5. Next, have the other parts sing the lyrics too – but still singing quite lightly, and still really listening for the Basses.
At various points along the way, those who like to use their eyes as well as their ears are grateful for me conducting a very clear, steady beat pattern. (Not often used in the Barbershop world I know – but still an effective tool) When I was doing this last night, I stood in the inner circle with the Basses.
6. When everyone’s ears are attuned to the Bass part all parts can revert to their planned volume levels.
Ears have been opened and awareness has been raised.
Because all the chords are now lining up the sound is richer and fuller, and there’s the relief of a rock steady beat.
But the big surprise to me was the tuning. So much better! But after thinking about it, it makes sense. If the parts are out of synch, the singers never hear a clean chord. When the chords are not clear, each member of the chorus has to guess about tonality.
And that never ends well.