Sunday, November 18, 2007

E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come

Here's how it's supposed to work:

I want my Traveling Choir to be able to click on any Scorch link below (download Scorch plug-in) and view and hear the music for each voice part of Paul Manz's most famous anthem E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come. I've extracted each vocal line and typed in the solfege to help my Traveling Choir learn their parts, but I can't figure out how to make the .htm link just show up in your browser when you click on it. For me I have to download both the .htm and .sib files to the same location on my computer (my desktop) and then open the .htm in my browser. The .htm and .sib have to appear in the same folder, so I put them both in the same folder on my website.

Soprano solfege .pdf .htm .sib
Alto solfege .pdf .htm .sib
Tenor solfege .pdf .htm .sib
Bass solfege .pdf .htm .sib

UPDATE (Sunday, Nov. 18, 11:56 AM)

I just got an email from a former student (Thanks, Buddy!) who read the above post and offered a solution. I think my .Mac account iDisk automatically compresses files that I store on it and then forces you to unzip them after downloading them. Buddy is going to temporarily host my E'en So files until I can figure out a solution with my web space.

Try these links instead: (make sure you have downloaded and installed the Scorch plug-in first!)

Soprano solfege
Alto solfege
Tenor solfege
Bass solfege

Now why? Why use solfege (a.k.a "tonic sol-fa", a.k.a. "do, re, mi"). Why stick something else, another language as it were, in between reading notes and singing them? Well, the short answer is to help the singer find the notes they are supposed to sing. The long answer is to help the singer understand how their notes fit into a major scale, relate to the other voices of the choir, fit in the harmonic structure of the composition, and sing in tune.

Four years ago, when this year's seniors were freshmen, I programmed, taught, and led a shape note hymn festival with the choirs from Winnebago Lutheran Academy. Initially I was interested in the melodies of the shape note hymns. What I discovered after teaching my students how to read the shapes of the notes was that solfege (technically "Fasola" when referring to shape note singing) was a very powerful teaching tool. Students could look at the shape of any note on the staff (square, diamond, triangle, or circle), know its syllable (fa, so, la, fa, so, la, mi) and be able to correctly pitch the note. I was amazed!

Then this past October I attended the 2007 Wisconsin State Music Conference in Madison, WI and listened to James Jordan give three presentations (The Choral Rehearsal Warmup, Rehearsal Techniques for Choirs at All Levels, and The Musician's Walk). Once again, I heard of the power of singing solfege in the process of learning a new piece of choir music. It was a gentle reminder to change the way I was introducing new music to my choirs and to return to a layered approach to reading music: concentrate on one musical element at a time.

How do you use solfege to learn your part? First off, you have to know where "Do" is. "Do" (pronounced "doh" or "dough" by most people, but pronounced "doo" by James Jordan) is the first note of the major scale. Most people know the song Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music. You usually can find "Do" by reading the key signature and determining the tonal center of the music. Once you know which note "Do" is, you can sing your do-re-mi's for that scale and find the starting note of your part. From there on in, "when you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!" (Point for Julie Andrews!)

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