Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Night 24 Italian Song Marathon

Some followers of this blog may have been wondering what became of my 24 Italian Arias in 24 Weeks project in the event of my having had the little blog crisis (written about in the post Avocational Singer -- MIA)

Well, I'm sorry to say that at the time the blog flew out the window, the 24 Arias project kind of went with it.

It was a very sad thing for me, because, as you know, I was very attached to that project and very excited about it.  In fact, my pursuit of vocal arts was on the verge, for the first time in over 25 years, of being completely abandoned.

I let myself get out of vocal shape over several weeks, and could not even look at a song.  I could barely sing in choir.  It was a real crisis.

However, I did pick myself up and begin the discipline again of my daily practice.  It took a while to get my vocal cords responding well again -- a few weeks.  Once they were back in balance, I could resume my progress.

However, I couldn't bring myself to look at one of the 24 until this week.

Tonight, I decided to revisit the 9 songs I learned over those nine weeks when I was intensely working on the project.  I just sang through the songs to see if new vocal insights about breath pressure made a difference.  I have also had a breakthrough in understanding about vowel formation when the guest conductor for our choir -- Leonardo San Juan -- modeled the positions in a way that finally got through to me.  (see post about working with a living composer) With the combination the the new awareness of regulating the breath along with this new insight about forming vowels, I am headed in new directions and I'm excited about it.

Once I got going singing through the songs tonight,  I decided to just keep going and I had a little mini-marathon.  I took out some of the other of the 24 that I had worked on over the years before I started this 24 Arias in 24 Weeks project.

By the time I got finished, my voice was pretty shot -- heh heh! 

I'm laughing because even though I probably oversang tonight, I had a LOT of fun and I can feel that everything will be all right in the morning.

My cords are pretty strong.  I think I was ready for a marathon like this. In fact, some of the last few songs I did -- Caro mio ben, Se florindo, Nel cor, O del mio dolce ardor -- were actually sounding better than when I started.

There are so many wonderful musical advantages to knowing these 16 songs, but one of the best, I have been realizing, is that I have a set of pieces that I can take out and work and re-work as I discover new vocal ideas.  It is fantastic -- simply fantastic.  If I'm working on my "Eh" vowel, for example (written about in last post, "From "Ay" to "Eh"), I can whip out one of the learned songs and play around with the new ideas.  They are almost like song templates or something, where all the issue and problems of singing can be figured, configured, and reconfigured.

I can explain this to you in words, but it is an experiential thing, and one has to experience getting to know so many of these songs intimately to really understand what it is like to have them as tools in the background of one's singing life.

I could do well with these 16 songs.  Really, there's enough there to take me through so much.  However, I cam going to proceed with my project and learn the rest of the songs.  I may not do one a week.  I may go faster, or I may proceed more slowly, but I shall continue to familiarize myself with this wonderful set of teething rings for singers!  Stay with me for more.

In the meantime, you can hear all 16 songs I sang through tonight (if you can stand it) in Frescamari's Practice Room if you care to:  Click here for the Sunday Night 24 Italian Song Marathon

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