Deb: Since I can remember I have sung the harmony. I have the Beatles to thank for that. And my nature, I suppose. I literally do not hear the melody when I hear a song. I mean, yes, I hear it, but it does not resonate with me. The melody and I are not harmonious.
I am in the choir at church. I have to harmonize there because I am an alto. Or as my friend Cheryl says, “a base passing as an alto.” It’s lucky for me that I love harmonies because my low voice could not possibly reach the gorgeous high notes of a soprano line.
But I love it. I love reading the music as I am learning to do more and more. I love the “where are we going now” aspect to it. Harmony takes me to unexpected places, I guess that’s what I really enjoy. One minute I am right beside the melody, note by note, and the next moment I am soaring above it or scraping the bottom kissing the base-line.
Last night we did our annual Carols by Candlelight at our church and it was, as always, a wonderful evening. This was our fifteenth annual concert and it did not disappoint. Our special guests are always the Salvation Army Brass and all the offering goes to them and their very good work. This year their need is higher for obvious reasons and I am happy to say that the crowd who attended last night doubled their givings from last year!
As I was sitting in the choir loft during rehearsal, I thought about the melody and the harmony and realized that I would not want to sing in a choir at all if I had to do the melody. Isn’t that odd? Don’t misunderstand me. I love the sound of the melody, the beautiful ladies voices reaching the heights. But it doesn’t appeal to me. It would not keep me engaged. I was singing in a small women’s chamber group for a lovely piece in the concert. At one point the altos had to carry the melody and I had to stop myself from rushing it, so I could sing my way back to the harmony.
Now, descant. Descant is another story. Oh the places I could go with descant. It sends chills through my body. I am thrilled and awed by the sound of descant. But of course an alto can’t do descant so I continue to search for the twists and turns and blending sounds that a harmony can make.
For me, the melody is a gorgeous walk down a lovely path. But the harmony is adventure!
Barbara: “But the harmony is adventure”—you said that to me recently and I just love that. The adventure of singing! I’ve always noticed that you sing the harmony, Deb. I didn’t so much question it as appreciate it—so many of us follow the regular path and never have the courage to jump around all over it. Of course, with someone singing the harmony, the song also sounds more lush and interesting, more complex. It’s why I’ve always loved when you’re on the singing team (ie carols’ time coming up!). Sadly, I am not a very good singer and it’s an effort for me to sing on key all the proper notes of the melody, so I will stay where I am for the time being (maybe learning as I go), and I will marvel at and appreciate your vocal adventures!