Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)
- TITLE: Homemade Harmony
By Kristi Wood
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As I drive around town running errands for my family in my old green minivan I’m usually singing along with the radio or a CD. For some reason I think I sound the best in my van: even better than singing in the shower. The next song on this CD was one of my favorites to sing along with because it was out of my range and I had to sing the harmony part.
I grew up in a musical household and went from early piano lessons to junior high clarinet star. I even got the fun solos and won a few awards with them in band competitions. But it was singing in my church choir and in small ensembles that I found the most joy. There was just something about the teamwork involved and the difficult intricacies of balancing the voices that made the results so spectacular when it came together. When it didn’t come together, well, nobody enjoys listening to that!
In choir settings I tend to be classified as a ‘second soprano.’ That doesn’t mean I’m the second in command of a mafia family but it does mean I get to sing a lot of harmonies. The thing about singing harmony is that it takes a good ear. It takes a good voice to be on the melody line but it takes a good ear to find that harmony line and to balance your part within the whole group. But what I think makes ensemble singing the most fun is the sense of teamwork.
I married a nice light baritone of a man who also played saxophone in high school band and we had two daughters. The first one showed her musical inclination nice and early but any dream of forming my own family ensemble was dashed with the arrival of my tone-deaf and rhythm impaired daughter. She’s quite happy to remind all of us that David wrote in the Psalms to make a joyful ‘noise’. He never demanded any level of competence. Now that she and her sister are both teenagers I feel that the key word in David’s Psalm is actually ‘joyful’.
Just like ensemble singing, family life depends more on balance and a good ear. When we all work together sharing the spotlight and supporting each other in their parts the results can be spectacular and moving. Yes, harmony parts can be a lot more fun to sing than the melody. And best harmony parts are those songs where the melody is intertwined in the close-knit relationships of the harmony parts themselves.
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