Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Singing The Lord of the Rings – Part 3

Singing The Lord of the Rings - Part 3
By Guillaume Schneider
Part 1 is available HERE.
Part 2 is available HERE.

The following sessions of TTT and ROTK were scattered, taking place at irregular intervals. It was perfect for me since February and March was my period of vacation. After the first rehearsal, Mr. Gropper had told us to practice at home, not necessarily by singing out loud but rather by reading the lyrics at a swift pace. It would not only result in a smoother rendition of the chorus, but also improve our mastery of the elvish language, so I noticed. No, just kidding. It would have been nice, though, having the translation beneath the stave. At least there was the phonemic transcription, showing you how to pronounce words like «hwaer», «kwom» or «haer».
Do you remember the moment in FOTR when the fellowship runs down the stairs near Khazad-dûm ? Do you also recall the deep, fast, guttural and omnipresent men part of the score during the whole sequence? Well, first I was disappointed for not being able to sing it because I would only take part in TTT and ROTK, but then remembered while listening to "Glamdring" that there is a very similar part in the beginning of TTT. And I can tell you that the first time we worked on this part, few of us bass singers actually made it through. Not only are the lyrics … well, elvish, but we have to sing (shout!) eighths, keeping up with an insane rhythm of 168 bpm which eventually rises to 193 bpm. Who said singing wasn’t a sport ?
Now, apart from the part mentioned above, there were some challenging passages indeed. Traits that distinguished them from the rest were for example the high pitches in the women part and the low ones in our part. Each voice was subdivided into 3 groups, ranging from high to low. My voice was more adapted for the middle group, but even singing the middle voice didn’t save our small group from «extreme» notes. I especially struggled with the low ones, so I sometimes switched over to high bass until Mr. Shore decided to stop the torture. I didn’t seem the only one troubled, so I didn’t complain much. The most demanding part was without any doubt the end of ROTK. The choir part of "Journey to the Grey Havens" (2:30 - end) consists of a hummed melody. Try humming high notes for more than 4 minutes and you’ll see how you feel about making a sound afterwards! At least you feel proud of yourself for not giving up. Also, there is a nice reward for everyone: we get to listen to an awesome live performance of "Into the West" by Kaitlyn Lusk!
Some of the nicest passages are those where the men don’t actually have a part (I know, what a traitor, right ?). Now, I hope that mentioning "The Eagles" rings some pretty heavy bells. After the Eagles arrive to pick up Frodo and Sam, there is a divine melody hummed by the women. I absolutely love it, so imagine being right in the choir, just listening to this divine (I had to say it again), gentle, soft and sweet music! It’s also my favorite moment in the movie, by the way …
I have to admit we sometimes showed a lack of concentration, making avoidable mistakes like not following the rhythm, singing a completely wrong note or even starting at a different point from the one Mr. Gropper had asked. He was a demanding leader and didn’t hesitate telling us how well or bad we performed, which in my opinion clearly made us progress. The ensemble occasionally got tips from veterans, that is people who sang at last year’s Live to Projection concerts. The advice mostly concerned spelling problems and missing crescendi, some of which were printing mistakes.
Rehearsals became more than rehearsals as we passed a certain stage. I grew accustomed to the two choirs and soon, there would be a time where it all ends and I didn’t know when I would sing again.
[To be continued ... ]
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