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More on Hymn Keys

 
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eagles



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 17
Location: Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 12:22 pm    Post subject: More on Hymn Keys Reply with quote

I take the liberty to reintroduce this thread as its original headed in a totally different direction, in part because of my hijacking one bit of it, I'm sorry to say.

Guest wrote:
I am always amazed at the high keys in which the typical hymns and carols sung at weddings, funerals and Christmas. This conspires against the proper participation of most of those in the congregation - including many with good voices.

I can understand why this is the case, but not why those responsible for publishing hymn and carol books do not do something about it. The worst offender is the OUP Carols for Choirs books which have audience carols set for Kings College Chapel voices.

Few organists are able to transpose confidently and in any case may well feel that they should adhere to the composers' intentions come what may.

Is there any move afoot to do something about this, or am I a lone voice in the wilderness?

Cheers

Edwin Smith
PS I am a very experienced choral singer (LSC etc) with a very wide range (bottom B flat to top G), but still find this annoying.

I remember this from when I was a kid - I'm in my early 70s currently.

Although of Welsh heritage I never learned to harmonise, something which is done automatically by the Welsh in their own land, and probably in Patagonia too. I had to learn to harmonise, initially singing arranged music written with each voice in its own staff, but more recently, by ear - which is where my singing leadership has been for several years now.

If one looks at choral music, it is usually with the sops and tenors that the melody line goes, placing it automatically out of reach of us lesser mortals who have a middle range of vocal notes... something that our physical struture of our vocal chords determines.

Something I've always mentioned in singing groups where I've had some leadership role is that by and large few men are either bass or tenor, it's like that silly curve that shows that few geniuses and morons actually exisit, compared with the rest of us.

Similarly, few women are top sops or altos. Most singing voices are in the middle.

Maybe the problem of too high a key, therefore, rests with the composer not knowing about this sort of thing? Not trying to push a barrow here, but it is something I've pondered over for many years.

A good example of an impossible hymn for most to sing is "Christians awake, salute the happy morn". Impossible indeed.

Something I've noticed with the more "with-it" style of worship music is that generally it is written for maximum participation. Take Graham Kendrick's stuff, for example.

Now if I'm way out, please say so. But my ramblings are from several decades of pondering... or is it prepondering? lol


Richard downunder
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diapason8



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 365
Location: West Somerset, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our hymnbooks - published by Kevin Mayhew - have tried to address this by transposing hymns down if the melody line goes over E. This helps if the organist can't transpose at sight, but can leave the basses and altos struggling. A happy medium can be hard to achieve!

Nigel
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lancecornea



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 526
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When The Australian Hymnbook came out a couple of decades or so ago all the higher tunes were transposed down a tone. I'm sure most modern hymnbooks would do likewise. This enabled baritones like myself to fill in on the tenor line! Laughing
20 years later for me, even baritone lines are tough if they hover too long around D. Sad

Lance
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eagles



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 17
Location: Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lance, I know the feeling well, lol Smile
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