Mudcat Café message #1091121 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55223   Message #1091121
Posted By: Bassic
12-Jan-04 - 10:38 AM
Thread Name: Using a music stand
Subject: RE: Using a music stand

I am fortunate to have a fairly decent voice, and have done quite a lot of singing in choirs and as a boy chorister. In singarounds and at sessions, when people hear me sing harmonies or in choruses of other peoples songs, I often get asked why I never take a song to a session. They know its not nerves from my instrument playing, they know I can sing from hearing my voice in other peoples songs. Now you have the answer. Its because I am intimidated by the tyrany of the memory police!!

This summer, I heard Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman for the first time and was moved to try to learn "My Lady of Autumn" as it fitted my voice well and I liked it. Only 3 verses and a chorus to learn, nothing too hard in that you might think. I got the words from the Mudcat, spent the 4 hour journey home playing the track over and over on the CD player in the car, and the next 2 months practicing it daily. I found links in the lyrics to my own life experience (and so I felt connected to it emotionally) and spent hours writing out the words to try to get them to stick reliably in my memory.

I could "perform" the song within the first few minutes, with emotion, feeling, musicality and frasing, breathe in the right places etc etc etc.......................with the words in front of me. And I really enjoyed doing it. I have sung the song in public twice since without words. The first time I was word perfect but 90% of my concentration was on remembering the lyrics, the second time I fluffed the lines 2 or 3 times. I kept going by substituting other lines from the song but it made a mockery out of it to my mind. I have probably sung it 3 or 4 times with the words as a prompt and I believe have given the song a reasonable treatment, and probably only galanced at the first line of each verse during the preceding chorus.

My point is, its not due to lack of practice or lack of preparation, inability to "conect with the meaning" or lack of musical skill or training. Its simply a word memory issue. I know I am not alone in having this problem, it affects other areas of my life as well. All I ask is that people dont rush to make ill informed judgements about the worthiness of a performance based simply on the presence of some kind of aid memoir.

As for performance standards in general, that would make a fascinating topic for another thread (and I am sure it will have been "done to death" already). Technical perfection vs spontinaity, acuracy vs flexibility, improvisation vs control, heart vs head etc etc.

For myself, despite my formal music education, if I have to have a compromise in the music I perform/listen to, then its the technical side that is less critical to me, though I do get to a stage where this just interfears too much and I cant get past the technical flaws in a performance.

(Thanks GuestSusanl for thinking again about this issue, no need to apologise:-)