Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yeah, I brought the house down

It is so fun to have the perfect timing and right thing to say that makes the whole room of people laugh, and I did it last night. . . (I might add, for one of the first times in my life)

We are in the process of learning an original composition called Missa Brevis, written by our assistant conductor, Donny. He is a genius and is able to arrange orchestrations to any song we are singing. To be able to write all the music for every piece in the orchestra of the particular arrangement we happen to be singing takes musical genius, I think. He has written so many orchestrations for different arrangements of Oh Holy Night, for example, that he has started calling the song "Oh Holy H.e.double.toothpick". Except he uses other wording. He means that in the most reverent way, of course.
But Donny doesn't stop there. He also writes original compositions. And he particularly loves stuff that breaks all the composition rules. I don't pretend to even understand any of the rules, let alone manage to sing them. But to give the reader an idea of what I am talking about, let me explain. Usually on Mozart-type compositions, the music has a harmony, it has a regular beat. It is fun to listen to. On pieces like Missa Brevis, there is much discord. Don't get me wrong, it is a challenge to sing, but it is enjoyable. Especially when we sing it just right. I just don't envy the listener, unless he likes Benjamin Britten music (which has MUCH DISCORD). I love singing Benjamin Britten music, because it is really hard to learn, and you feel so accomplished to learn such a piece. But I have been in the audience of a Benjamin Britten opera, and it was torture.

Anyway, we have spent the last month and a half, learning three of the five parts to this composition by Donny. The pages are written like he would for an orchestra. We get only the alto part. for instance, and have no idea where anyone else is compared to us. This is different than normal choir arrangements, but this is good, because it makes the singer count and concentrate only on their own part. Anyway, after all that explanation, suffice it to say. The learning has been intense, hard and long. You go away from practice with a headache from concentrating for two hours.

So, last night, Sterling, our choir director, was explaining that we had now learned 3/5th of Missa Brevis, and actually we only had 3 more minutes of song to learn. He further explained that when we perform the next two parts in the concert, they will really only last 3 minutes. That is when I piped up and said: "Is that in Foot Ball minutes? or regular minutes?"

Yeah, it brought down the house.


Sailor said...

Actually, I have been noticing your wit and timing sharpen them selves for the last little bit. We will be talking about something serious and out of left field comes this quiet little comment, and if I am not paying attention, goes totally over my head. I love your sense of humor, and that you love to laugh.

Jenny said...

Alas, a little part of me dies each time I hear someone say "discord."

Annieofbluegables said...


Your comment made me sad that I offended you.
I looked the word up:
(1): a combination of musical sounds that strikes the ear harshly (2): dissonance b: a harsh or unpleasant sound

perhaps I should have used the word dissonance? Would that have been better?
Main Entry:
15th century
2: a mingling of discordant sounds; especially : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord
I couldn't think of another word for what I was writing, and I am so sorry to make a part of you die.

Jenny said...

Oh my goodness, I was trying to be funny. That obviously didn't work.

No dissonance is even worse, actually. I'm just being a pill, a typical modern composer, turning my nose up at anyone who doesn't understand 20th century music. Ignore me.


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