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#1993536 - 12/02/12 06:56 AM Christmas carol problem.
Jean Claude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 441
Loc: France
I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question but here goes anyway.

I have been asked to play at a carol concert in a couple of weeks time, a repeat of a similar event last year. On the last occasion I played all the tunes in the keys given in Hymns Ancient and Modern and I found that some of the tunes were pitched too high to be comfortable for singing. I guess that part of the problem is that few in the audience are regular singers.

Does anybody have any suggestions as to choosing keys in these circumstances?

Many Thanks, J-C.

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#1993568 - 12/02/12 09:27 AM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Jean Claude]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12638
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
It's very hard to find ranges/keys that are comfortable for both men and women. Something to keep in mind that many traditional hymns have a range that it outside of most people's comfort zone now than when they were written.

Usually anything lower than C above middle C will work for women, and men the same an octave lower. So it's best to look at the range that the particular key signature will span, and then adjust accordingly to keep it comfortable. It's OK to go higher than this for one note or two, so don't obsess about it. wink
_________________________
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#1993580 - 12/02/12 10:05 AM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Morodiene]
Jean Claude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 441
Loc: France
Thank you for your reply.

It's interesting isn't it. Most of these tunes were written in the 19th century and many of the melodies go up to E. Presumably when they were written that would have been comfortable for a congregation; today apparently not. It is hard to believe that there can have been any organic change in 150 years or so which could account for it so is it perhaps self-consciousness or lack of practice?

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#1993597 - 12/02/12 10:21 AM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Jean Claude]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
I would have suggested going with the hymnal keys, but apparently there has been a shift-change!
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
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#1993648 - 12/02/12 01:03 PM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Jean Claude]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 625
Originally Posted By: Jean Claude
Thank you for your reply.

It's interesting isn't it. Most of these tunes were written in the 19th century and many of the melodies go up to E. Presumably when they were written that would have been comfortable for a congregation; today apparently not. It is hard to believe that there can have been any organic change in 150 years or so which could account for it so is it perhaps self-consciousness or lack of practice?


I don't think people sing as much as they used to. I know that sounds a little crazy, but 150 years ago, entertainment was sitting in circle having a sing along. Today, entertainment is staring at the TV while breathing through your mouth.
_________________________
"In opera, there is always too much singing" -Debussy

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#1994082 - 12/03/12 11:13 AM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Jean Claude]
bennevis Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 6060
You'll never find keys that will suit everyone if they aren't singers. What people should do is go down (or up) an octave if the note gets too high or too low for comfort. But many people can't pitch properly on big intervals anyway (how many times have you heard people - especially men - singing the octave leap in 'Happy Birthday' as a major 6th? grin).......
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#1994142 - 12/03/12 12:58 PM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Jean Claude]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1138
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I would not change keys if the arrangements you have don't go above the E above middle C in the melody. Some carols (such as Silent Night) will start to get too low for people if you take them down lower than that.
_________________________
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Currently working on:
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Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2
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#2005635 - 12/28/12 03:16 PM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: Morodiene]
Jean Claude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 441
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
It's very hard to find ranges/keys that are comfortable for both men and women. Something to keep in mind that many traditional hymns have a range that it outside of most people's comfort zone now than when they were written.

Usually anything lower than C above middle C will work for women, and men the same an octave lower. So it's best to look at the range that the particular key signature will span, and then adjust accordingly to keep it comfortable. It's OK to go higher than this for one note or two, so don't obsess about it. wink


Spot on! I transposed all the carols so that the top note was either C or C#(to avoid repeating keys)and found that there were no problems for either male or female voices, so thank you very much.

J-C.

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#2005712 - 12/28/12 06:05 PM Re: Christmas carol problem. [Re: DanS]
Quaver Pyjama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/11
Posts: 114
Originally Posted By: DanS


Today, entertainment is staring at the TV while breathing through your mouth.

hahahahah

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