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Magic Choral Trick #271 Your Back Story

Someone once told me that to get a cohesive presentation plan for a song, we had to have every person agreeing on the specifics of the story – exactly who was singing, and to whom, the place, the time of day and the events which had led up to the what was being said in the song.

Do you have any idea how impossible that is with more than just a couple of people in your chorus? Some of you are nodding sagely. Some of you have just said a quiet, jaded ‘yep’ – and some of you, the lucky ones, have never even heard of such a thing.

My women’s chorus was supposed to be singing a love song to a man about being in a blissful relationship for many years together, and we were having a tough time with most of the chorus being able to relate to this. Many women don’t have blissful relationships of this kind.

What really helped was to come up with specific emotional markers – an emotion for the opening, then a different one for whenever the mood of the lyric shifts. So the mood shifts do have to be identified.

We had some difficulty when we tried having people memorize a list of emotions – one for every phrase. Too hard. Didn’t work.

What we discovered was that if the song was well written, there was an obvious and natural progression in the lyrics.

However, each chorus member needed to find some reason, from their own life’s story, to be saying these words. We didn’t have many people sharing their stories – but some did tell us that instead of thinking of a romantic relationship, they were singing to a child or a beloved pet. We didn’t do much sharing because we didn’t want anyone to feel that their story was somehow ‘wrong’.

After the general emotional guidelines are decided upon, the story from the individual singer’s life that elicits the greatest emotional intensity is the right one.

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