Here is a first for our website. We have been on the look-out for a guest blogger.
We have found one, who writes under the pseudonym ‘Mélomane.’ It is French for music lover.(Ed.)
Has a choir ever been thought of as a human orchestra? If the answer’s ‘yes’ then what I’m about to speculate may seem a little laboured, so I hope not.
An orchestra is a large ensemble of musicians playing instruments in sections. Strings, brass, woodwind, and percussion.
Sometimes a piano or harp may join along. But either’s absence wouldn’t undermine the term ‘orchestra’.
Choirs have only one instrument, the human voice.
Orchestras produce sounds all the richer for the range and variety of the instruments.
And of course, a beautifully performed orchestral piece can undo emotional reserve and stir the soul.
But the choir has a music dimension that is beyond the orchestra.
Just as instruments consist of all kinds of precisely made parts, the human voice is more than just a larynx. The lips, tongue, jaw, and soft palate all weigh in to shape the sound.
The more talented the singer, the more complete the quality of the performance.
If the human voice is both instrument and musician, then in terms of simplified arithmetic, the fine singer must be at least twice as rare as the fine musician.
Two qualities, the instrument and the skill to exploit it, must be present in one individual.
Then there is that other artistic dimension, the words. It is an intriguingly beautiful effect when lyrics sensitively match up to melody.
Bobby Darin’s 1959 recording of ‘[easyazon_link asin=”B004O6KV3W” locale=”UK” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”denanddismalv-21″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Beyond The Sea[/easyazon_link]’ is bright and lively. Consummately performed and in its time a hit single both sides of the Atlantic.
But it sounds rather trite when it’s compared to the original source. ‘[easyazon_link asin=”B001OTQEC4″ locale=”UK” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”denanddismalv-21″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]La mer[/easyazon_link]’ with its slower tempo, lush strings and soaring vocal backing.
I’m not a French speaker, but the mystery of a foreign language doesn’t impede the poetic sense of Charles Trenet’s beautifully inflected French.
A translation – not by me, I needn’t add – fulfils the romantic promise of softly sung awe. Invoking mind images of clouds as white sheep. Corralled by angels, shepherdesses of the infinite blue.
Isn’t it curious how Darin’s ‘Beyond the Sea’, with words I understand, doesn’t affect me anything like as much as Charles Trenet’s ‘La Mer’, with words I don’t understand? A music conundrum.
Music for the Night
I’m not proud to confess that I’m not a Welsh speaker either. But that surefire crowd pleaser ‘[easyazon_link asin=”B00JA5Y0QQ” locale=”UK” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”denanddismalv-21″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Ar Hyd Y Nos[/easyazon_link]’, (‘All Through the Night’ to ignoramuses like me), weaves its words, music and collected human voices exquisitely by a choir in ways an orchestra can’t.
Does the choir aspire to be an orchestra, or an orchestra aspire to be a choir? The clue to my perspective is that I wouldn’t dare submit my observations above to any blog run by an orchestra.
In short, Cymru am byth, a chorau am byth! (Wales for ever and choirs for ever!)