Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown
We were in the cities this past weekend for a family gathering, and managed to squeeze in the season’s last “Singing in the Light” event Sunday afternoon. This is led by my friend Barbara McAfee, a local singer/songwriter and voice coach. (She has given a couple of fun concerts with Claudia Schmidt, which a few baboons have attended.) It takes place in the Art Gallery (huge room) of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, on maybe seven Sunday afternoons out of the school year.
I’ve written here before about singing in song circles or community sings, which have been around in Minnesota in one form or another since WWI. The kind I am most familiar with involve song sheets or books, and requires a couple of people on guitar. While that’s very enjoyable, I’ve noticed that much of the time is spent looking at the lyrics we’re singing – we interact with people mainly at snack break.
The Oral Tradition, on the other hand, is singing without written music or lyrics to look at, and is done “a capella” – without accompanying instruments (Italian: “in chapel style”). The music is described as “songs, rounds, and chants from around the world — from the sublime to the ridiculous.” All ages, all abilities (don’t have to read music!), are invited.
It works like this: someone (in this case Barbara) teaches us the parts via “call and response”, which we repeat, sampling them till we know it well enough to choose one. We move to that part of the room, then practice till we sort of know our part, and give it a whirl. After we get going we are invited to walk over to where they’re singing another part – heck, on some songs I was able to try out several – and move around the room. This goes on till everyone gets their part down well, and it sort of organically winds down or gets softer, and then that song’s done.
Meanwhile, all of a sudden there is this beautiful music, and we are making it. We are also looking at each other as we sing and walk around. It is the most satisfying kind of singing I have ever done, and sometimes brings me to tears. I wish everyone who loves to sing could get a chance to try it. I’ve never felt more alive while singing.
What is a regular activity of yours where there is eye contact with other people?