It’s Christmas time and whether you like it or loath it, there is a lot of choral music and carols around. Choral music and carols are very often sung in harmony and that’s what we’re look at in this blog – choral music and harmony singing in general.
What are harmonies?
Harmonies are when you are singing two different lines that have different notes and patterns but quite often they’re creating a chord sound. So a chord would be something I play on a guitar, which is lots of notes, but they’re actually usually just the same three notes repeated.
And those three notes are the main three notes of a chord. So quite often when you’re singing in harmony, you’ll be singing a chord to begin with which will then split onto different stepping stones in between, before you reach another chord. Some of those will work wonderfully together while others will pull ever so slightly apart – that’s what makes it so wonderful .Harmony singing at its essence is when no one part is louder than the other. So the whole point of when you sing in a choir is that you’re not singing solo. You shouldn’t be heard above anybody else. It should all blend into one sound.
Unless you’re singing in the classical genre, you do not have to worry about whether you’re a soprano or an alto because that is very much part of the structure of classical music. It is all to do with being able to sing in a certain placement to get that classical sound, and more importantly, to get that classical projection.
So for me, if I was singing within a choral group, I would probably sing an alto part because I’m very strong nowadays in my lower voice. I can sing those top sopranos, but if I went to the very, very top notes of a top soprano, they might not be wonderfully strong. So if I was singing within the classical genre, I would classify myself as an alto.
But because I don’t sing in the classical genre, I am not an alto. I am what I am. I know my range.
You have the soprano, the alto, the tenor, and the bass. Now in traditional mixed choirs, the soprano and the alto are the female voices, and the tenor and the bass are the male voices. However, obviously if you’re working in a male voice choir or if it’s some of the the boys choirs from Winchester or such, or some of the cathedral choirs, they’re going to be all male within that.
Some of the younger males will be taking those higher notes. But think that within the classical genre, what happens is generally a soprano will have a certain range. She will be expected to go from a certain note and to a certain note, and her lines will be written within those notes.
An alto will have a certain range and her lines will be written within that range. And the same for tenor and the same for bass. Tenors and altos quite often overlap each other quite a lot. It’s just that altos will be a female voice quite often, and the tenor will be a male voice quite often. The bass will be a lot lower and and won’t overlap onto each other.
So that’s a really quick overview of harmonies, how that works within choral music, the idea of soprano, alto, tenor, bass, what that means and how you can use that for yourself if you are in a choir. If you have any other questions about that and your specific voice and you want to understand more where you should sit and why things are hurting, or if you can avoid things hurting, then get in touch.
So get yourself Christmas shopping and I’ll see you later on.
Check out the video that goes with this blog too!