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Monday, September 2, 2013

How My Maiden Performance With Maiden Vermont Informs My Latest Edit Of My Novel, The Literature Preferred By Wild Boar


















Something Lindi, our choral director, said during the dress rehearsal made sense to me not just for singing but for my writing. In barbershop groups it is all about the right balance of the different parts, lead, bass, tenor, and baritone. A smaller group was singing "Nevertheless" and she commented afterward that if she didn't know the song she might find it difficult to know where the song was going, therefore it needed more melody so the leads should sing out more. 


It helps me to think of melody and the lead part as being like the plot or the main character in my novel. One comment on the novel I have received I could paraphrase as: The writing is beautiful and certain threads interesting but one third the way through and I don't know where it's going. It occurs to me that I need to amplify the melody, let the lead voice sing out. I sing the lead in Maiden Vermont so that should be easy. But it is not easy when you are new at it and there is a tenor or a baritone singing in your ear.


Is singing well in a barbershop group difficult or easy? I was attracted to it at first because I thought it would be easy: familiar sing along type songs and I'd sing the melody. But I found that it took a lot of study and practice to master even a very short song. Many of the women in our group belong to other musical groups or bands, they play an instrument or act in plays. Later the fact that barbershop takes skill, talent, musicality, and learning also began to lure me in as I discovered it wasn't a piece of cake. At the same time there is something magically easy about singing because it's part of human nature, just like telling stories.


I'd been reading Debra Lynn's book The Bel Canto Buzz and practicing with her warm up CD in the days leading up to the performance at the Compass Music and Arts Center in Brandon. My husband wished me luck the day of the performance and I told him, "It's easy all you have to do is smile with the corners of your mouth up showing your front teeth, smile on the inside of your mouth too, then take a deep breath expanding and lifting your rib cage, now sing" We both did everything I said, as I said it, and a beautiful note Came out! I was stunned. 


I am hoping that I will find this ease in revising my good novel into a super good novel. I didn't want to use the word "great", that's too loaded. Ease is found when you take just the right guidance and commit to it. "Nailing it" in artistic endeavors is sort of like manually landing the Apollo 13. Mistakes in aim are magnified in outerspace. Without the aid of computers you just have to eye ball it, trust that little bit of guidance you have with you at the time and go for it. 


My guidance comes from my perceptions, my senses, my heart, my experience, my skills and talents, my research, and trusted friends in the field. Maybe some guidance comes from God, inspiration, meditation, and as gifts from ancestors.


At the Maiden Vermont concert I noticed that at some point in almost every song a waterfall of trembling nerves awakening in my neck let me know that we had reached a really good place. It writing I think it is more an upswept windy feeling that says, "go, go, go!" Just like in the song, Tuxedo Junction.

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