Christmas carol problem.

Posted by: Jean Claude

Christmas carol problem. - 12/02/12 06:56 AM

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.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/02/12 09:27 AM

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
Posted by: Jean Claude

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/02/12 10:05 AM

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?
Posted by: daviel

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/02/12 10:21 AM

I would have suggested going with the hymnal keys, but apparently there has been a shift-change!
Posted by: DanS

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/02/12 01:03 PM

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.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/03/12 11:13 AM

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).......
Posted by: jdw

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/03/12 12:58 PM

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.
Posted by: Jean Claude

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/28/12 03:16 PM

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.
Posted by: Quaver Pyjama

Re: Christmas carol problem. - 12/28/12 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: DanS


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

hahahahah