Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Preparing to Sing My Lyrics

Preparing to Sing My Lyrics

I’ve blogged about writing lyrics before.  The next step after writing is preparing to sing them.  I had some difficulty with that.  I revised the lyrics several times to insure that the important words fall on the musically stressed notes (on the beats of each measure.)  I also revised my writing like I revise my prose, i.e. examining every word and pause (punctuation) to see if there was a more precise or meaningful alternatives.  I kept changing the lyrics until the final practice. I don’t think I would do that if I were doing a reading, but the final change simplified things. Lord knows I could benefit from simplification.

When writing prose I can just delete the old and replace it with the new.  Unfortunately for singing, the old words and punctuation stick around in my head.  I have to read the text to get the new version that I’m singing.  As part of the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus, I wanted to differentiate between the two in the song.  In some music showing Pilate and Jesus interacting, each man’s words are sung by  different singers. To emphasize the difference each singer uses a different range.  For example if Pilate’s lines are sung by a tenor, Jesus’ lines would be sung by a bass.  I finally decided to speak Pilate’s part and to sing Jesus’ response. While I speak the piano is quiet.   Stopping singing is easy. Coming back in at a precise point and more or less in tune is difficult. 

It is more difficult because I got lost reading the sheet music at home. I practiced singing the wrong notes, which reinforced the error.  Pausing to remember in the middle of a song does not work well.  Silence from me while the piano plays on is quite noticeable to the audience.

Fortunately I will be singing at church.  The accompanist is excellent.  My church does not practice excommunication.  And the lyrics are new.  My performance will be the world premier.  If I mess it up people might think it was meant to be like that. 

This dabbling in music is expanding my knowledge base.  I think I will stick with it.

Have you started down a new path and, if so, what were the results?


Kait said...

Interesting blog, Warren. I must say your comments make me realize how much music and math have in common. Your variations on spoken/sung liturgy and the difficulty in coming back to song in all the right ways brought this home. Sounds like it will be a wonderful service.

Warren Bull said...

Math and music are clearly related. Both song pick ups are on the second beat of the measure.

Gloria Alden said...

I admire you, Warren, for starting down this path. I love music, but don't think I'd be able to sing in front of people. In church with others is okay, but never on my own.

I started down a new path when I entered college in my forties to become a teacher. That was a big step for me, but one I never regretted.

E. B. Davis said...

I love music, but I never chose to develop my talents--I think I had some talent, but there was always something more compelling to me. Athletics, reading, and writing were always the focus of my time.

Good luck on your knew venture. You point out details that would never occur to me. Break a leg!

Shari Randall said...

Let us know how the premier goes! Always exciting to try something new.
My new path began about three years ago when I entered a short story in the Chesapeake Chapter Sisters in Crime anthology contest. Don't know where the path will lead, but so many interesting people and experiences are on the path, I think I'd like to see where it ends up.

Kara Cerise said...

I'm impressed that you are writing lyrics and singing, Warren. I hope you put your performance on YouTube.

I've become interested in the year 1893--lots of interesting events happened--and I purchased some magazine articles on eBay from the time period. This is a rather new and unexpected path for me.